Products > Test Equipment

Can someone help me pick a DMM? Fluke 87V, BM789, BM215, UT-61E, etc..

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nick779:
After reading 30+ threads and buying guides on different meters and comparing spreadsheets and datasheets, I'm a bit lost on what direction to take here. I also failed hard with searching this forum and relied on whatever google could guide me to on this forum. I hate to start another one of these threads, but here goes:

My 9 year old Ideal 61-340 is starting to show some issues from abuse over the years and I am looking to replace it with something that will hopefully outlast me.

At the moment I have settled on the Brymen BM786, purchased from Amazon EEVBlog store as they are the only distributor in NA I can find for this meter. My main concern is the complete lack of support for this meter in the USA and 1 year warranty.

I've also been looking at the Fluke line from the 117, 179, and 87V but get lost in the differences between them. I've also considered that I'm looking at way overkill meters for what my needs are and that's ok, but again I don't want to buy a DMM twice because I cheaped out.

I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what is the best for my needs and point me in the right direction. I'm pretty basic, but I want more advanced features to try and a very reliable meter when taken care of.

Primary uses in order of use frequency:

1. DC Voltage 0.001v - 20v
2. DC Current 0.1mA - to 10A
3. Continuity/resistance
4. Temperature (would be nice)
5. AC Mains testing (120V and occasional use)

Features I would like: Backlight, auto range, hold, true RMS, buzzer continuity.

Heart wants the Fluke based on name, but for the price difference between the 87V and the BM786 I could buy a clamp meter and a nice lead kit too.

Budget is up to ~$450

I appreciate anyone willing to read through that and help me out. Sorry for being one of those guys =/

bdunham7:

--- Quote from: nick779 on September 19, 2021, 08:32:08 pm ---At the moment I have settled on the Brymen BM786, purchased from Amazon EEVBlog store as they are the only distributor in NA I can find for this meter. My main concern is the complete lack of support for this meter in the USA and 1 year warranty.

--- End quote ---

That is one option and not a bad one.  The meter is a lot of bang-per-buck and you support EEVBlog, which is certainly a good cause.  There's been endless discussion of its technical merits, as I'm sure you've seen, and it does in fact seem to do everything pretty well according to others that have it.  There have been some issues discussed, but certainly not anything disqualifying.  However, your 'main concern' is spot on, IMO.  Dave Jones will honor the warranty at the very least, I'm sure, but there is no support, calibration (Brymen does not release their calibration procedures publicly) or service of any kind available, nor is it possible for the end user to update firmware if that becomes an issue.  Of course, firmware is often not updatable in handheld DMMs, but there are examples that are.


--- Quote ---I've also been looking at the Fluke line from the 117, 179, and 87V but get lost in the differences between them. I've also considered that I'm looking at way overkill meters for what my needs are and that's ok, but again I don't want to buy a DMM twice because I cheaped out.

--- End quote ---

OK, so just to answer your questions directly, the 117 only has a 10A range, no lower current ranges, and no temperature range.  If you were working with AC mains projects, I might recommend the 116, which I have, plus a current clamp like the i-400.  However, that doesn't give you any low-current or DC-current ranges.  The 179 is a classic, but only slightly less expensive than the 87V and I wouldn't consider it.  So if you would prefer Fluke and it's within your budget, go for the 87V.  For your stated intended and possible uses it will do just fine.  The support and "lifetime" warranty mean a lot to me and perhaps you as well--meters can and do fail.  If your Brymen fails 5 years from now, you'll get nothing.  If your 87V fails 5 years from now, you'll get a repair and a new calibration certificate--or a new meter.  You won't regret the purchase of an 87V 10 years from now and you will likely be able to resell it for a good portion of what you paid for it if you need or want to in the future. 

It's not really a technical issue--both meters will do everything you need pretty well.  The BM786 may exceed the 87V in some instances, but I think we get a little bogged down in the minute details in some of these debates.  Try to find an 87V owner who bought their meter new and now regrets it for some reason.

Edit:  If you are looking at the $413 sale model on Amazon, the included test leads are just OK, but the unique insulated alligator clips almost make the deal worth it all on their own.  Also, if you aren't in a big hurry, TEquipment offers EEVBlog members a 6% discount and they have the 87V at the same sale price.

Wolfgang:
I have Brymen and 87V and the 87V is what I use most of the time. It rips a hole in your wallet, but its almost undestructible and has lifelong warranty. So the investment spreads out over many years ...

kcbrown:
I think it's important to know just how important support from the manufacturer is going to be to you.

I mention this because you can buy Fluke 87 series meters used for a steep discount.  For instance, I'm seeing 87 III meters go for around $160 or so on eBay, for something that's advertised to be fully functional (though I think the meter doesn't do temperature measurements).

Fluke might support it anyway, in the event it dies in an unrecoverable way, despite the fact that you're not the original purchaser and the 87 III has been out of production for quite some time (I'm unable to ascertain exactly when it went out of production).

There are some 87V meters on the used market as well, but they appear to command a minimum of around $250.

So, ultimately, I expect the decision will depend on whether it's just the Fluke build and general capability you're after, or if you also need a guarantee of the company's support.  If the latter, then buying new is the only way to get that.

Note that, strictly speaking, "lifetime" means 7 years after production of the meter ceases, or 10 years after purchase, whichever is longer.  That's what Fluke's warranty stipulates.  In reality, I seem to recall instances of Fluke providing support for their meters long after that point, even to people who weren't the original owners.  If my memory isn't faulty, then that would make purchase of even these older meters worthwhile for your purposes.

nick779:

--- Quote from: bdunham7 on September 19, 2021, 09:37:06 pm ---
That is one option and not a bad one.  The meter is a lot of bang-per-buck and you support EEVBlog, which is certainly a good cause.  There's been endless discussion of its technical merits, as I'm sure you've seen, and it does in fact seem to do everything pretty well according to others that have it.  There have been some issues discussed, but certainly not anything disqualifying.  However, your 'main concern' is spot on, IMO.  Dave Jones will honor the warranty at the very least, I'm sure, but there is no support, calibration (Brymen does not release their calibration procedures publicly) or service of any kind available, nor is it possible for the end user to update firmware if that becomes an issue.  Of course, firmware is often not updatable in handheld DMMs, but there are examples that are.

--- End quote ---

Technically speaking the specs on the BM786 are more than I need, which is great. I don't know how necessary calibration is as I've never had one done on my DMMs in the past and and my projects typically don't require the utmost precision. I have read a few of the 786 issues, but I believe most were manufacturing defects or bugs that were resolved. 


--- Quote ---OK, so just to answer your questions directly, the 117 only has a 10A range, no lower current ranges, and no temperature range.  If you were working with AC mains projects, I might recommend the 116, which I have, plus a current clamp like the i-400.  However, that doesn't give you any low-current or DC-current ranges.  The 179 is a classic, but only slightly less expensive than the 87V and I wouldn't consider it.  So if you would prefer Fluke and it's within your budget, go for the 87V.  For your stated intended and possible uses it will do just fine.  The support and "lifetime" warranty mean a lot to me and perhaps you as well--meters can and do fail.  If your Brymen fails 5 years from now, you'll get nothing.  If your 87V fails 5 years from now, you'll get a repair and a new calibration certificate--or a new meter.  You won't regret the purchase of an 87V 10 years from now and you will likely be able to resell it for a good portion of what you paid for it if you need or want to in the future. 

It's not really a technical issue--both meters will do everything you need pretty well.  The BM786 may exceed the 87V in some instances, but I think we get a little bogged down in the minute details in some of these debates.  Try to find an 87V owner who bought their meter new and now regrets it for some reason.

Edit:  If you are looking at the $413 sale model on Amazon, the included test leads are just OK, but the unique insulated alligator clips almost make the deal worth it all on their own.  Also, if you aren't in a big hurry, TEquipment offers EEVBlog members a 6% discount and they have the 87V at the same sale price.

--- End quote ---

I did somewhat factor in the cost of 8000 series probemaster leads for the 87V.

I think at this point based on my low voltage/current needs it's really between the 87V, BM786, and perhaps a few of the recommended ~$65-130 models (AN870 or 37XR or similar). That's a huge spread to look at but I guess I'll just have to deep dive into them to see what is adequate or if spending the money on the Fluke is worth it. It's a strange spot to be in considering the cheaper models are easily replicable as designs improve for the cost of the 87V. Granted the 87V might last 30+ years. Decision paralysis has always been something that I suffered from.


--- Quote from: Wolfgang on September 19, 2021, 10:10:59 pm ---I have Brymen and 87V and the 87V is what I use most of the time. It rips a hole in your wallet, but its almost undestructible and has lifelong warranty. So the investment spreads out over many years ...

--- End quote ---

I work 99% with DC voltage. How annoying is needing to switch from AC at every power on?


--- Quote from: kcbrown on September 19, 2021, 11:00:02 pm ---I think it's important to know just how important support from the manufacturer is going to be to you.

I mention this because you can buy Fluke 87 series meters used for a steep discount.  For instance, I'm seeing 87 III meters go for around $160 or so on eBay, for something that's advertised to be fully functional (though I think the meter doesn't do temperature measurements).

Fluke might support it anyway, in the event it dies in an unrecoverable way, despite the fact that you're not the original purchaser and the 87 III has been out of production for quite some time (I'm unable to ascertain exactly when it went out of production).

There are some 87V meters on the used market as well, but they appear to command a minimum of around $250.

So, ultimately, I expect the decision will depend on whether it's just the Fluke build and general capability you're after, or if you also need a guarantee of the company's support.  If the latter, then buying new is the only way to get that.

Note that, strictly speaking, "lifetime" means 7 years after production of the meter ceases, or 10 years after purchase, whichever is longer.  That's what Fluke's warranty stipulates.  In reality, I seem to recall instances of Fluke providing support for their meters long after that point, even to people who weren't the original owners.  If my memory isn't faulty, then that would make purchase of even these older meters worthwhile for your purposes.

--- End quote ---

I'm not normally opposed to used, but I've seen a few threads on counterfeit meters over the last few days. Not sure how widespread that is. That said, I would probably buy new from an authorized distributor.


Overall though I suppose that's the chance I take. $475 for an 87V and leads for at the very least 10 guaranteed years from Fluke OR 2-4 meters over the years that could outlive the Fluke, but with no support.

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