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Old 05-30-2015, 06:41 PM   #1
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Multimeter Recommendation (to Purchase)

While I didn't really think I was going to get involved in electrical system repairs, modifications, and diagnostics, reading Air Forums for the past 9 months has convinced me that a multimeter is essential hardware for an Airstream owner. So, I would appreciate learning what brand and model you experienced diagnosticians recommend that a newbie like myself should purchase.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:45 PM   #2
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No reason to spend a lot of money. All you need is basic functions. Check out Harbor Freight for inexpensive reliable multimeters. Keep an eye out for their coupons for free meters and 20% off.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:49 PM   #3
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Can't agree more with AWCHIEF. I've got two Harbor Freight units, they're affordable and good enough for on the road getting the job done.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:50 PM   #4
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Something with decent ranges for AC & DC, and an Ohmmeter. A Fluke would be nice, but that's overkill. Radio Shack if they still exist have reasonable, inexpensive meters.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:02 PM   #5
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Great. I see that there is a Harbor Freight store nearby. I have printed out a 20% discount coupon, and will go check out the store tomorrow. Thanks for this tip. I had never heard of Harbor Freight before. Would the "free meter" opportunity be when you buy some expensive item?
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:41 PM   #6
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In Harbor Freight ads there are two coupons (20% off and a free item), frequently the free item is a multi-meter, flashlight, measuring tape, or some screwdrivers. Just look for their ads in weekend papers, car magazines, lots of 1 or 2 page ads.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:25 PM   #7
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I have enough of their free flashlights, tape measures, screw drivers and multimeters to open my on HF. I keep the coupons including the 20% off ones in the Jeep just in case I stop and find something I can not live without.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:31 PM   #8
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A good midrange unit from Lowes or Home Depot. Been using my HD one extensively restoring for past almost 2 years. Reworded all 120v and extensive work on the 12v. Recommend getting leads with alligator clips if it doesn't come with them. Also, if you're going to get really involved, recommend a small batch of test leads, wires with alligator clips on each end.
Fluke is the bomb, loved them in the service, but unless you're using for work or VERY serious hobbyist not worth the money necessary.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
No reason to spend a lot of money. All you need is basic functions. Check out Harbor Freight for inexpensive reliable multimeters. Keep an eye out for their coupons for free meters and 20% off.
I got 1 of the free multi-meters. I am surprised at how good it's been. I haven't seen any free coupons for a long time, wish they'd come back. I got some of the flashlights which are pretty good too.

I still have my Radio Shack multi-meter from 1970. It's taken a licking and still, pretty much, keeps on ticking. It does the job.
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:18 PM   #10
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Wish I could use cheap tools, but in past experience they have failed miserably every time when needed most.........especially ANYTHING made in China.

I rely on my 2 Fluke meters every day. They gave yet to fail in 15 years of constant use.


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Old 05-30-2015, 10:42 PM   #11
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Hi, I keep a Harbor Freight multi-meter in my trailer and for home use it will work fine; I also have a Fluke 73 in my home tool box.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:02 PM   #12
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If a person is ever going to rely on a multimeter to verify that an ac circuit is dead before working on it, then a reliable one is in order.

I like the inexpensive test lights for this, very little room for error, they light up or they don't.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:16 AM   #13
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My HF freebee is going strong after close to 5 years. It is as accurate as my fluke, and cheap enough that i don't take that good care of it. HF is printing some of those free coupons for the meter lately.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:47 AM   #14
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Agree that a inexpensive multimeter is all you need. $20-30 should get you there for most solutions. I recommend digital they are much easier to read and a little more forgiving of rough use. If you want a top of the line unit i recommend Fluke.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:48 AM   #15
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I agree with the Fluke. Buy a good basic one, take care of it and it Will last a lifetime. I would not want to risk an expensive rig to an inexpensive meter. Only takes one bad reading to ruin your day.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:52 AM   #16
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If you have no electrical test equipment, I would suggest three items:
- Multimeter
- Non-contact voltage tester
- AC Receptacle Tester

Home Depot sells a kit by Klein with these three:
Klein Tools Electrical Analog Multimeter Test Kit-69149 - The Home Depot

Milwaukee Tools also sold a similar kit but I think it is discontinued (I have one of these). I really like the Milwaukee Tools Auto Voltage/Continuity Tester multimeter as it is very simple to use:
Auto Voltage/Continuity Tester W/ Resistance | Milwaukee Tool


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Old 05-31-2015, 11:06 AM   #17
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I pick up the Harbor Freight free meters and keep several in "stock" to give away to people who don't have any meter and would like one. They seem to work OK for casual use.

I am a long time Fluke meter user though, and it is my meter of choice for the rather extensive electrical diagnostics and work I do on solar systems. In fact I have three Flukes, one in each car, and one in the house. But they are not necessary for most people. Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, HF, and even Walmart have decent inexpensive digital meters for occasional use.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:25 AM   #18
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Is there any need to test with a multimeter the AC power at a campground before plugging in?
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:35 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBBeaubeaux View Post
Is there any need to test with a multimeter the AC power at a campground before plugging in?
Absolutely, in fact get and use a circuit tester for voltage, polarity and proper grounding. Low voltage is very common at campgrounds and can be an appliance killer.
Something like this,
Amazon.com: Prime Products 12-4058 AC Power Line Monitor: Automotive

There are many different options available.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:43 AM   #20
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I had a cheap one from Harbor Freight. The leads literally melted when testing a 24v battery (2 12 v in series). I believe I had the unit set for 12 v. So I got one of these from HD. It was on sale, but here is is from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Klein-Tools-MM.../dp/B00EO2HFPI There is a slight delay when connecting the leads (since it auto ranges). It seems very well made and good for novices.
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