I have an old (to me) Craftsman analog multimeter that I love. It’s treated me well over the last 10 or 15 years, but I think I’ve probably dropped it one to many times. The battery cover doesn’t really stay on anymore, the fuse holder only kinda holds the fuse and while I rarely do any precision work with the clamp, today I was trying to measure how many amps a set of LEDs were using and it came up at .5 when I was expecting something much smaller (.1 or less). It actually may have just been the needle moving while I was trying to hold the meter and not get shocked.
Anyways, after I had that one for a few years, my grandfather gave me a digital one (Radio Shack brand) and swore that I would love this one more then my other one because it was digital. To his credit, he was an MIT grad and still worked with electricity, but he had probably never held a digital multimeter in his life. I tried it, I hated it. I still hate it. I do still keep it in my tool bag, hell it’s in my trunk right now, but only because it’s nice to have two meters some times. What I’m trying to figure out is if I don’t like that meter or if I don’t like digital.
My issue with that meter was that it was near impossible to read. You’d turn it on and, touch it to what you want to read, and you could almost never tell what it said. For example, let’s say you were trying to read volts. Well, it might be saying 120V or it might say .0110mV. From a distance, it looks like 110V, but when you looked closer you’d see the decimal and the little tiny m (for milli). The decimal would bounce all over the place and it jumps from V to mV (or a to mA). Basically, it made it really, really hard to tell if you had no power or power, no continuity or continuity.
So, I want to get a new one and analog ones are hard to find. Are digital ones easier to deal with then that?
Next question…can I get a recommendation? Here’s what I need…
I need to be able to measure AC up to 240. Nothing to accurate. Either I have power or I don’t and it’s either 120 or 240. 480 would be nice, but I don’t run into that often. However, the meters I’ve looked at go up to at least 600, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
DC, just for working on car stuff. No big deal there.
Amps…I don’t measure amps often, but when I do I’d like it be accurate. For example, on today’s project, I measured .5 when it should have been closer to .1. This is for a LED retrofit project. What I’m going to end up doing is measuring the amps for the entire breaker before and after the project to get a better feel for how much it goes down, but I was trying to see how many watts the actual light is.
Also, it’s gotta have a clamp as well as nice sharp leads. The clamp is nice for measuring amps, sometimes I can get away with just checking for power that way, and it’s just a good way to hold the meter it a convenient location.
Looking around online, it seems like Fluke actually has a decently priced clamp meter (the 323 for about $100). I didn’t look at Greenlee or Klein too hard yet.