Hi! Hope you are having a good life. In this post, I am going to share what I have learned so for when buying a decent multimeter. In more appropriate words this post is like my own multimeter buying guide book.
I was not that smart at the very beginning, I bought my first multimeter just considering it should measure voltages and resistances. That was all my buying preferences. But with time as I continued to learn electronics and practice projects, I learned what should I look for in a multimeter as different projects demanded different types of measurements.
Hopefully, you will find my these time learned tips useful for buying your own multimeter.
- 1 Multimeter buying guide
- 2 Conclusion
Multimeter buying guide
You know, buying a multimeter might sometime get very tricky. A buyer gets no clear idea of what he should look for in a decent multimeter. I was myself in that position too.
Following are the tips, I learned with time, you should consider when going for your multimeter. These tips are not final, I will keep updating it as I gain some more knowledge about the mentioned topic.
1. Digital vs analog multimeter
There exist two types of electronics products – one is the old technology called the analog and second is the latest one called the digital. And luckily we are belonging to the later one, which is very cool.
I love this digital world and the same goes for selecting a multimeter. There exist people who appreciate analog multimeter saying it is more accurate, but for me, analog is no more a choice.
There are a few reasons why I don’t like the analog multimeters.
- You cannot see your measuring parameters directly on an analog multimeter screen, it has just a needle which points to a value which you have to manually read it by yourself.
- God knows if your eyes vibrate like me then there is no chance for you to accurately measure the readings.
- Further, the written values on it are so messy and condense, you need a training tutorial on how to read the values of your interest.
- I appreciate analog meter for measuring signal strength in dB. But who cares for this when we know a multimeter is not a very specific device for it. I can say it is an extra feature.
2. Auto range vs manual range
If you are a beginner or don’t have money then you can buy a manual range meter. Else, just don’t think of it. It is a waste of time and very tedious to work with.
Auto range meter selects its range itself. You just need to connect the device, select the parameter on the meter which you want to measure, read the value on its screen. Done! It can’t be more simple than this. All the rest of the work will be done for you.
While in the case of a manual meter. It is very tedious and very annoying when you have to deal with many values and components for a project. You have to yourself select the range by turning the nob all the time.
3. Safety features (CAT safety measures)
Safety is my first priority when dealing with any electronics tool. If you are a beginner and just want to measure resistance values and play around with small 5V DC voltages, I can say go for any cheap meter.
But looking for a professional meter, where you are going to measure high current and AC or DCvoltages, safety can’t be replaceable with any cost. And please don’t play with your life, get yourself with a high-quality meter from a trusted manufacturer.
Besides the above, the following are the must features.
- The first thing you need to do is to check for all the fuses a meter using. If it is using a glass fuse, and you want to measure high current or low currents, don’t waste your money on it. Multimeter measuring currents must have high-quality cartridge fuses to make it safe. If your multimeter doesn’t have these fuses it is not safe, it can burst and can catch fire if you make a mistake.
- The second thing to look for is a CAT III rating. These ratings ensure your multimeter will not blow in your hands and you will be safe if you accidentally short the mains.
- The third thing is to have quality probes i.e. made of silicone rubbers.
4. Range limits
Ranges are of the most important things to look for. You never know what value parameters your projects may demand. Like, my first meter could not measure current in milli range. I noticed this issue when I had to measure some sensor current values.
The point I am emphasizing is, you multimeter ranges should cover your present and future projects demands.
Following are my recommended ranges;
- Current Range: 10uA to 10A
- Resistance Range: 10 Ohm to 20MOhm
- Some picofarad to a decent high range (maybe in milli range); In electronics, we usually deal with small capacitances so my focus is on how low-value capacitance a meter can measure.
I didn’t use a multimeter for high voltages measurements, for me voltage range from few millivolts to 600V is fair enough.
5. Input resistance
Some of you may be encountering this for the very first time. So, let first explain it a little bit. As the name suggests, the input resistance of a multimeter is the resistance it offers to the device connecting across its probes.
The higher the input resistance, the better your multimeter is. Typically, 1MOhm is considered a fair value.
When we talk about multimeter accuracy, I really don’t consider it that much important. A 0.5% DC volt accuracy with 4000 or 6000 counts is fine. Greater than this value makes your meter not professional and a waste of money.
Furthermore, a multimeter must have true RMS reading when measuring AC voltages and measuring bandwidth beyond 50kHz.
7. Diode measuring feature
You can find this feature under diode or continuity function symbol on your multimeter. Most multimeters have this function but the problem is, it test voltage range is close to 2V. A good meter should have its test voltage range close to 4Volts to measure almost every device.
8. Continuity response time
The quicker the response time, the better is your multimeter. It is very handy when you are analyzing your circuit for short or open situations. If the response time is slow, it can be very time confusing and annoying.
9. Battery time
Battery time is very important when you are a regular user of the multimeter. A 1000 hours battery time is considered decent. Don’t waste your money buying any meter having battery time below 1000 hrs if you are serious about learning electronics.
10. Auto hold function
This is a very handy feature to look for in a multimeter. What does this feature do? It makes measurement easy. You connect the probes using your both hands and multimeter reads the values even when you are not looking it its screen.
The reading remains on the screen even if you remove the probes. This is a very good safety measure when you are working with AC mains, where you need to be just focused on connecting the probes right and making sure not to touch any wire accidentally.
This is all I could share the best of knowledge about a multimeter buying guide. A multimeter is a very basic tool you must have in your lab if you are taking electronics for serious.
You can buy any meter without wasting a second on thinking. But by doing so you may end in a bad quality product using which you can harm yourself. And multimeter can be very dangerous. So, in this post I try to explain a few parameters you should pay very close attention when you are buying a multimeter.
Hopefully, this article added some value to your life and helped you in some way.
Thank you and have a good life.
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