Are Fluke multimeters overkill for amateur hobbyists?

Not long ago I went looking for a clamp meter that would be able to make non-contact measurements of DC current (nearly all clamp meters just do AC current). Cheapest one I found was a: UNI-T UT210D. Direct from China, several listings on eBay for $37USD right now.

I think it would be a pretty safe unit to start off with. The most common way to blow up a multimeter, and possibly hurt yourself, is having it configured for (probe-based) current measurement (“10ADC unfused”) when you shouldn’t. This unit doesn’t have that setting, only non-contact current measurement, so there’s no risk of that. Plus the NCV option in it (and most other new clamp meters) can prevent you having accidents with live AC voltages you weren’t expecting.

If you’re doing more than one or two ethernet cables, but under 100, the cheapest basic LED wire map/continuity testers are good enough. If that shows proper wiring, then performing throughput testing with a real PC is good, and a bit of software is the best tester.

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I love the idea from Adam Savage.

“Buy cheap tools until you know what you really need from that tool, then buy the best version you can afford.” -Adam Savage

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That holds true for tools where a malfunction does not land you in hospital (or worse).

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Just to add to the excellent advice given here, having just mislaid my Fluke multimeter (it IS somewhere in the movers crates honest!) I spent some time last week checking a bunch of unlabelled resistor sets with poor colour on the colour rings.

I had to use my cheapo UK Radio Shack non-autoranging multimeter and that got annoying fast.

Hence the only tip I would add is that an auto-ranging device makes life easier by only requiring you to choose Function (Volts, Amps, Resistance, AC/DC etc) and automatically displaying the measured value plus range symbol :slight_smile:

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I’m far from electricity fluent. But when I wanted a good multimeter I went to my electrical supply house and asked. They asked what I wanted and recommended a suitable meter. Brand name was Extech. Later I bought an Fluke lead set with 3 different ends. And after that I made a 30 foot extension so I could work on trailer lighting (probably overkill but has come in handy a couple times.) The Extech was half the cost of an equivelant Fluke. $170 over almost 2 decades ago. This was before Amazon.

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Bit late in the thread day, but my first voltmeter was for the auto industry and it did me well for a good while.

For cat related stuff, I got one of those generic looking testers, it’s done well so far and didn’t cost very much at all.

Since I’ve been doing electrical work, I’ve gotten a few other tools (these along with insulated screwdrivers and other bits and pieces)

I think so long as you get tools that protect you firstly, followed by protecting the device itself, you’ll be all good. :slight_smile:

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Purchase a few precision resistors to keep on hand for checking the accuracy
Measure with a fresh battery and label them with the reading.
These are handy standards to verify the meters with.

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I just realized this guy is also selling a 100+ USD multimeter that seems to be excellent in reviews. Currently on sale at 114USD + Shipping and probably taxes.

I was about to get the Klein Tools MM450 but above seems like overall a better deal. Made in Taiwan and must be sent for Taiwan for RMAs (its next door so I’ll be fine)

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Necrobump!

I just got a new clamp meter and so far this brand seems decent. I kind of wish it had USB-C charging like all the bleeding edge meters have, but at least it does datalogging which seems to becoming a more common feature.

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I think we’re in a renaissance of good meters coming out with more features than we use to have at ever lower prices so I’d recommend on holding off as long as possible for getting a good meter, and avoiding “old” SKUs of multimeters when you do get one.

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Exposed (yes, even under a cover) sounds like a shock risk to me.

I want accuracy and speed over anything.

Outside of relying upon tech blogs, half the time some major brands sometimes re-brand a variant from another maker so looking up certification info can be interesting. Before the era of Harbor Freight, “store brands” often rebranded a budget model of a major maker.

As far as the topic original title, Fluke & Klein Tools hold their grip on the market as they have service plans to ship/replace for calibration and recert. For a non-professionals most aren’t going to be needing it.

Give me convenience or give me death!
FNIRSI’s got a multimeter with usb-c and has the usual cat ratings. I’d be interested to see Dave Jone’s take on it, I suspect the manufacturer might be optimistic with those voltage ratings for at least the reasons you mention if not others.

I’d happily take a decent function generator on a dmm to drive pwm signals on equipment I want to test over an extra 0.5% of slop in a voltage measurement any day; although I still want measurement speed. I’ve always got the benchmeter for the very accurate stuff.

Also I wouldn’t mind a protocol analyzer just for the simple stuff like i2c/spi and their derivatives… I know this request is less likely to happen anytime soon.

This is very prevalent and the markups on some of the brands are shameless.
HT Instruments is charging more than triple the price for the exact same meter as I brought under their rebrand; there is no difference to the meters other than the color change.

Sometimes the rebrands are cheaper like last week’s Southwire 15190t blow out, a 700 dollar meter for 50-80 bucks.

While I love my Fluke multimeters they are expensive. Were I trying to save a buck on a multimeter for general use, I’d look at Amprobe. They are a Fluke brand and of good quality.

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