Author Topic: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12  (Read 52940 times)

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Offline Lightages

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A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« on: November 07, 2012, 06:31:26 am »
It is my intention here to provide a list of meters that appear to be built to the safety standards which they claim to have.  This post will be updated with new submissions as they come in. If a meter is included in the list of meters which appear to not meet their claims, it will NOT be added to this list. Yes I know, this goes against my assertion that it is not a good idea to do this list, but after all the requests for recommendations lately I thought it might save some repetition of discussion that get difficult for those looking for meters to follow.

This in no way intended to be a comprehensive list. If you want information on something not listed here, ASK!

DISCLAIMER: Any recommendation of any product here is not in any way to be construed as a guarantee of the performance of the product, nor any guarantee of the safety of the product. The suitability of anything mentioned here for the use of the reader is solely the responsibility of the reader. Any claim to the accuracy, quality, and safety of any product here is the claim of the manufacturer and not that of this forum, the providers of the information of the product on this forum, nor the owner of the forum Dave Jones. If the reader purchases and uses any product recommended in this thread, the safety and quality of the mentioned product is the sole responsibility of the reader and the manufacturer.

This list is mainly to provide recommendations for alternatives to the major brands where the track record is not as well known.

Now having said that, I will start by providing my tentative list of some of what I believe are meters that I can feel good about recommending to others.:

Amprobe AM-270     Mid range price ($110 or less), great input protection, good accuracy, good features. Review and teardown here:
http://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/teardown-amprobe-am-270-digital-multimeter/

Amprobe AM-140-A, AM-160-A
    Higher end price ($290 or so), very high accuracy, high count, good features, good safety. It appears that the battery wires are routed the same as mentioned later in this thread for the BM86X. It could be an issue. Another issue is that the AM-140-A has fuses rated only for 600V so its CATIII/1000V is invalid. Review for the 140 discussed here: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/amprobe-am-140-a/msg155623/#msg155623
and for the AM-160 here http://mjlorton.com/forum/index.php?topic=236.0

Brymen BM869s and BM867s    These were recently updated by Brymen to meet the latest safety standards. Higher end prices,  $180 to $250, very accurate, high count, good features, good safety. It has been pointed out lower in this thread that the battery wires are close or touching the current input. These meters have a real UL safety sticker on them so they must have passed their ratings tests. Reviews here: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/brymen-bm869-short-review/

Brymen BM257s A very good smaller multimeter for around $135 shipped. Has good safety and is built very well. Probably all the multimeter most people would ever need.

Brymen BM857s A very full featured meter with highest safety standards but an older design. Meets the latest safety standards. Around $150. The latest version also has a much better back light.


Uni-Trend UT10A  Low price ($15 or lower)  Cheap little pocket meter that is recommended for low power/voltage electronics and automotive use, meets specs, many useful features. It is not known for sure whether it actually will meet its CATII/300V rating. Review here: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/uni-t-ut10a-review/

Uni-Trend UT139C A very good budget meter that has good input protection and all the features most people would need. Around $50.

Uni-Trend UT136B A cheap meter, $18, that does what most people need, but not recommended for anything other bench electronics use.

Amprobe AM-520   Low priced general use  ($50 or lower)  Safely designed and strong meter. Suitable for general electrical and electronics. Has flashlight and non-contact voltage probe. Also have a look at the other AM-5X0 meters. Teardown by SherlockOhms  http://www.eevblog.com/forum/product-reviews-photos-and-discussion/amprobe-am-530-a-peek-under-the-hood/

Any Fluke Instead of listing all the Flukes that meet safety it would be a safe bet to buy a Fluke. They are not all best buys nor even the best meter for the use, but they all will generally be safe and well built.

Any Agilent Again as with the Flukes, Agilents have generally proven themselves to built correctly for safety.

UEi DM397 Higher end meter ($250 or so) with many functions, high accuracy and built correctly. Both fuses and battery accessible from the same door. High safety with CATIII/1000V although to earlier 1995 standards. PC software and connection included. Review by jwrelectro and discussion here of the DM397 http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/uei-dm397-video-review-by-jwrelectro/ Further to this I now have one of these meters and would have to say it is not a safe buy right now. There are problems with the quality control and I am waiting for a definitive answer for UEi as to whether they have resolved the issue

UEi DM391 was reviewed by Dave in the $100 shootout and it looks good too at $86.

UEi DM393 is in between the DM391 and DM397 and by inference can be recommended too at  $115 or so. It has the addition of TRMS over the DM391 amongst other features.
 
Amprobe 37XR-A was reviewed by Dave, nice meter with many features, around $150



« Last Edit: March 12, 2015, 02:55:05 pm by Lightages »
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2012, 08:38:37 am »
Looks good. Glad to see you found my teardown.

I'm planning on purchasing one of the Amprobe AM-5xx series meters..Curious lineup. I can't tell whether they are suposed to be better or worse than the 270 and 160 meters or on par, or just completely difference.

Probably will get one of those sometime next month.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2012, 12:20:57 am »
No love for the Fluke 87-5?
You can knock it off a table or drop it from a ladder onto hard tile (accidentally!) and it'll keep on giving with no appreciable cosmetic or functional damage.
"This is a one line proof...if we start sufficiently far to the left."
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2012, 12:37:35 am »
No love for the Fluke 87-5?
You can knock it off a table or drop it from a ladder onto hard tile (accidentally!) and it'll keep on giving with no appreciable cosmetic or functional damage.

That's roughly a $350 meter.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2012, 02:58:36 am »
No love for the Fluke 87-5?
You can knock it off a table or drop it from a ladder onto hard tile (accidentally!) and it'll keep on giving with no appreciable cosmetic or functional damage.

That's roughly a $350 meter.

A little bit of second-hand hunting says you can get one for 200$ CAD. (what I paid for mine)
If you're in USA, it's even easier. (for 200 USD)
And if you're in a pinch, you can grab an 87 with no numerical suffix or an 87-3 for 100-150$.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 03:01:31 am by Fsck »
"This is a one line proof...if we start sufficiently far to the left."
 

Offline T4P

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2012, 03:14:49 am »
With the earlier 87s, hardly any capacitance measurement
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2012, 03:23:01 am »
No love for the Fluke 87-5?
You can knock it off a table or drop it from a ladder onto hard tile (accidentally!) and it'll keep on giving with no appreciable cosmetic or functional damage.

That's roughly a $350 meter.

A little bit of second-hand hunting says you can get one for 200$ CAD. (what I paid for mine)
If you're in USA, it's even easier. (for 200 USD)
And if you're in a pinch, you can grab an 87 with no numerical suffix or an 87-3 for 100-150$.

While true, this recommended meter list seems to be for factory new meters. Not saying you can't get an 87-V for $200, just you can't get a new one for $200. It is a good buy if you can find it used and in good condition/calibration. But it's hard to guarantee that you're going to get a 100% meter when you buy it used.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2012, 04:53:40 am »
Still you should think about what the meter is going to be used for. This blog is about electronics. I can't remember the last time I connected a multimeter to the mains... I'm not an electrician!

The safety ratings have to do with the mains being able to push a lot of power into a short. If that situation can't occur then your money is better spend on features and / or accuracy. Actually I wouldn't consider using my expensive multimeter to check whether the mains is on or not.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2012, 07:38:50 am »
I think a general assumption you can make, or at least from my own experience is..

If it has a good safety rating, and good input protection, you can sort of expect the rest of the meter to be equally good.

Like do they make a CAT I meter that is 0.0001% accurate? I doubt you'll find many. I know some bench meters do not have extraordinary CAT ratings because bench meters usually aren't probing high energy sources. But I would say that the safety goes along with the performance and quality of the meter. Just my observation.

That's not to say that you can't get away with a few $15 meters. That would probably work too...
 

Offline brainwash

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 07:51:06 am »
Still you should think about what the meter is going to be used for. This blog is about electronics. I can't remember the last time I connected a multimeter to the mains... I'm not an electrician!

The safety ratings have to do with the mains being able to push a lot of power into a short. If that situation can't occur then your money is better spend on features and / or accuracy. Actually I wouldn't consider using my expensive multimeter to check whether the mains is on or not.

Well, maybe not, but you will still be debugging PSUs from time to time, not to mention the occasional broken PSU that feeds line voltage at the output. Just think of those cheap USB or mobile chargers and their isolation distance. It's not that the meter might kill you (though it might as well do that) but the loud bang will scare you into doing something worse. I once cracked my skull while testing a PC PSU while crouched under a really heavy table.
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 10:22:37 pm »
The recommended Brymen TBM867 has got loose 9V battery leads routed right next to the Amps jacks and related traces without any protection, apart from the 600V wire insulation, just like the Uni-T UT-71.
Ideally, there should be some extra insulation and heat shielding around those battery leads, like on the Fluke 87V.
Also, the meter shown in this video has only got fuses rated for 600V, which is not allowed anymore, under the new regulations!





« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 10:45:26 pm by Wytnucls »
 
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Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2012, 12:59:19 am »
Here is a better picture of the battery leads on the Brymen:
Since it passed the UL testing like that, it may not be a huge problem, but then for consistency, the Uni-T 71 shouldn't be marked down for the same configuration either.
It does make me wonder about the integrity of the UL testing though...

« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 01:04:31 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2012, 03:31:40 am »
Yes I agree it appears to be exactly the same issue I had with the UT71E. One difference, perhaps, is that the insulation is made to withstand the rated voltage of the meter. I am skeptical that this is the case. The UT71E most certainly has insulation that is actually marked rated lower than the voltage that might be seen and that was my complaint although it might not actually be a problem in any real failure mode.

In the UT71E the battery wires pass by the Volt/Ohm input jack which will see high voltage every time the meter is used to measure high voltages.

The BM86X has the battery wires passing by the current fuse and as such the wires don't see any high voltages because of the low impedance of the current input, that is until the fuse blows. It could be argued that if this happens there could be a hazard if the battery wire insulation breaks down and then causes high voltage to flow into the battery. Perhaps the BM867 passed the standards test because this event is so unlikely it never occurred during the testing. The recommendation has been updated with this caveat.

In the end, I would believe that Brymen has actually tested their meters for compliance to the standards while I do not trust Uni-Trend to have done so. Call it my prejudiced if you want but the evidence points that way.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 03:44:20 am by Lightages »
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2012, 04:03:54 am »
As we have discovered now, the new test means that 2000V will be applied to the amps jacks for one minute, with the fuses ruptured, to check for arcing between the terminals and the circuit.
The insulation on those wires looks identical on both meters and are probably the standard guage wiring that comes with that 9V battery clip, just like on the Fluke 87V, except that Fluke passed them through a spaghetti heat shield for safety.
Maybe they would pass the test with the current configuration.
In real life, a major problem may arise when a high voltage is measured with the probes in the wrong jacks. The fuses would do their job and rupture, but during the course of the meter's life, if the battery leads are frayed or the insulation damaged in any way, an unstoppable arc could develop, destroying the battery, with all the consequences we know about.
So my point is that, even if it passed the test, routing the battery leads in such a way on any meter, can only be described as careless.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 04:10:15 am by Wytnucls »
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 03:42:38 pm »
Some updates. I am trying to add more meters that can be recommended for anyone, safety considered,  so that people can find more information without asking the same questions over and over
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2015, 02:56:50 pm »
BUMP. It looks like some people need to see this. Many new posters asking the same questions might benefit from this again. Please add your recommendations and I will add them to the list if there isn't any glaring safety issue with the meter.
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2015, 09:30:43 pm »
Point noted. I did say "generally" when recommending Fluke. I will be refining the list as time goes on and adding things from other recommendations.
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2015, 10:04:00 pm »
It is near impossible for the layman to tell if a meter meets its claimed safety CAT rating.
Most meters were released under the previous weaker IEC recommendations, which are still in force outside of Europe.
If you seek absolute safety, look for a suitable meter which has a recent verifiable independent test certificate.
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2015, 12:22:51 am »
The current meters from top manufacturers have been independently tested to ensure compliance with the latest IEC recommendations, so that's a no-brainer. But previous older versions of the same meters have not been retested and may not meet the new standards.
 

Offline Lowpass30Hz

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2016, 11:04:52 am »
Just in case you want to update the post, Agilent's electronic measurement products are now Keysight. So, if looking to buy new you wont be looking for an Agilent product anymore.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2016, 11:18:23 am »
It is near impossible for the layman to tell if a meter meets its claimed safety CAT rating.
Most meters were released under the previous weaker IEC recommendations, which are still in force outside of Europe.
If you seek absolute safety, look for a suitable meter which has a recent verifiable independent test certificate.

I wouldn't be concerned at all that meter doesn't meet the latest IEC standard, just that's it's been independently certified to meet a standard (UL, ETL etc)
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2016, 05:48:32 pm »
Is that also true for the Uni-T UT60/UT70 with 250V glass fuses?

http://mrmodemhead.com/blog/gallery/uni-t-ut70b-dmm/
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 05:56:53 pm by Wytnucls »
 

Offline 001

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2017, 03:26:08 am »
Hi!

This tread is 5 years old now  :-DMM

What about new DMMs for 2017/2018?
 

Offline MartinX

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2017, 08:30:34 pm »
I would like to recommend the DER EE DE-5203, I bought one almost exactly two years ago and having used it for a while I can say it is now one of my most used meters, together with the Brymen 257s.

The lowish update rate is less annoying than you might think because of the really good auto range system that jumps directly to the correct value within one cycle.

My first impression thread here:http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/der-ee-de-5203-first-impressions/

It is still available for 105$ on Ebay and it is one of the best 22000 count reasonably priced meters in my opinion, there is no reason to doubt the safety ratings, and yes I have a prejudice against UNI-T 61-E I admit it  :box:.
 

Offline myrefrigerantmac

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Re: A list of recommended Multimeters, Updated 2015/03/12
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2018, 11:32:57 pm »
If You are looking for HVAC multimeter, then check here. I've listed here some top reviewed multimeter for HVAC. https://www.refrigerantrecoverymachine.com/best-hvac-multimeter-reviews/
 


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