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davidpm 12-29-2009 12:25 AM

Best Multimeter
Do to post Xmas blues I'm thinking of treating myself to a new multimeter. I have had cheap ones and most anything will measure voltage it seems. I would be willing if it is worthwhile to move up a step. I'm not sure I want to spend $900 for a scientific quality fluke but maybe about $200 unless you want to convince me otherwise. I like tools and am willing to pay for good tools if they serve a purpose.

This unit was recommended: Clamp Meter MS2108 Inrush Reading

It seems like anything can measure voltage but in-rush amps with a clamp on is where the features start to add up.

What would you recommend.

wind_magic 12-29-2009 12:42 AM

I like the cheap ones the most because I tend to misplace them, or destroy them, so I like meters I can replace easily and inexpensively, that pretty much narrows it down to radio shack. :)

The next step up for me is the radio shack meter that has a serial port on it, I like that one because you can easily hook it up to something you want to measure and hook it to a computer so you can use it as a kind of data logger. Nice when you want to do something like measure the voltage over a period of time and see a graph of it, or put the data into a spreadsheet.

Measuring amperage I do in different ways, the less sophisticated way is with a clamp meter I have that plugs into the probe ports on any multimeter and basically gives a voltage reading that tells you how many amps are going through the cable you clamped on to. I usually do that first so I can make sure I am not going to destroy a more precise meter with too much amperage.

I don't have any expensive multimeters, I destroy them too often to spend money on one. I do love my scope, however.

jrd22 12-29-2009 12:50 AM

Never heard of Mastech, price looks pretty good. I just use a $25 Sears special, figured it would be a throw away but it's actually a lot tougher than I thought it would be.

Faster 12-29-2009 01:07 AM

For the types of measurements generally needed to troubleshoot a 12 v system on a boat I think even the "cheap" meters will do. For industrial use we insist on at least a 20Kohm/volt rating, and that generally puts you into the $200 and up range.

My students buy a Fluke 179, around $300 or so... but lately most of them are finding them cheaper on Ebay and Craigslists.

mitiempo 12-29-2009 02:31 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I have a Blue Seas clampmeter shown below Mini Clamp Multimeter - Blue Sea Systems
as well as a cheap digital I bought from Radio Shack years ago. The cheap one is good when I'm crawling into a tight bilge on someone's boat and not much of a loss if it gets banged about. I like the Blue Seas meter and it lists for 199 but you could get it for less.

tager 12-29-2009 04:27 AM

I would either go for the fluke or the $30 special. Anything in between is a waste of money.

CarelessNavigator 12-29-2009 06:23 AM

I just bought a fluke from ebay a few months back. I got a fantastic deal too, the meter was in new condition for a great price.

Before I bought anything I researched like crazy (for about three months) for the features I wanted in a multimeter then I looked all over for the best deal which happened to be ebay.

UEI is supposed to be a good meter but not good as fluke.

btrayfors 12-29-2009 08:10 AM


Mastech is a Chinese electronics manufacturer. They turn out some pretty good stuff. I have had their 20A 0-50VDC power supply (HY5020E) for two years, and find it very well made. Based on this, I would expect their other products to be pretty good, too.

The meter you're looking at has some very desirable features, which many less expensive meters don't. Among these are: In-rush Current measurement and Clamp-on Frequency measurement -- both are very useful for working around generators, electric motors, etc.

I have top-of-the line Fluke meters (Fluke 189 and Fluke 337), but the Mastech meters at about half the price of the Flukes would probably be good values for medium-duty service.

For really cheap multimeters, I prefer the Velleman....can be had for under $20. Handsome, rugged, functional. I open them up, adjust them to read in the 12V range exactly the values measured by my Fluke 189, and give them to my clients! Every boat should have an accurate multimeter aboard :-)


eherlihy 12-29-2009 09:31 AM

I have an Extech EX830 Clamp Multimeter

It measures: AC/DC Current,
AC/DC Voltage,
Temperature with an Infrared probe
Diode and Continuity test
Peak function captures inrush currents and voltage transients
True RMS Current and Voltage measurements

I got it on Fleaybay for about $120

Maine Sail 12-29-2009 09:34 AM


I own the Mastech 2108 and discovered that it is not as accurate or fast for measuring DC in-rush as I would prefer. For all other features it is spot on and a great value. When I bough this it was to replace a Fluke that I had loaned to my dad for over a year. The day I got it back I dropped it out of my pocket from the dinghy and into the water. Ouch!!!! Should have left it with my dad a little longer..:mad:

The Fluke 337 will accurately measure DC in-rush but the Mastech 2108 is not as fast. It works ok for AC in-rush but I do not believe it captures peaks as well as my old Fluke did for DC in-rush.

I do plan to buy another Fluke but have not been in a huge rush for these very short duration peaks as they have not been a huge priority recently. The Mastech has proven to be a decent meter though. For the price, the 2108 is an good value and a surprisingly durable meter. My only complaint other than the DC in-rush (does AC in-rush fine) is the size of the display numbers, too small..

I believe Extech makes a clamp that will do DC inrush that is as fast as the Fluke so you may want to check them out as well. I also own a UEI meter, though not clamp, and that meter has been beat on for years and years and still keeps ticking...

If you find a good deal on a Fluke 337 let me know, I need a new one. I still recommend the 2108, with the DC in-rush caveat and the small display peeve..

If I had to do it again though, for an in-expensive DC clamp, I might try the Extech EX 830 1000A AC/DC clamp, it has a built in infrared thermometer and will capture DC peaks greater than 1ms in duration (about $210.00) or the EX-730 which is an 800A AC/DC clamp that also captures DC peaks greater than 1ms and costs about $160.00.

Edited: I see Ed beat me to the EX-830 recommendation...;)

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