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Multimeter (how much should I spend)

When it comes to small electronics (like the ones presented here) what should I be looking to spend for a digital multimeter?

Does brand matter? ...Also some of them have ranges? Im not sure I understand what that means. like a 15 range......39 range etc...?

What range should I look for minimum?

 

thanks

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Is there any minimum like "qualities" it should have/read

like Im assuming It should measure at least resistance...and volts

but what else?

 

Btw thx for the answers so far.

I think all you'll really need as a beginner is

  • resistance
  • voltage
  • continuity (sounds when there is a short)

Current can be calculated as voltage divided by resistance.  You will probably really like the autoranging feature as it makes using it much quicker for people new to multimeters.  I have this autoranging one from Radio Shack ($30 USD) which works fine for what I use it for.  It was given to me because someone blew the fuse, a replacement was inside.  This is the one I usually use as it is convenient.

I recently bought this cheap one from DealExtreme ($13.50 USD) which has nice terminals for measuring capacitance unlike some other multimeters which use the leads instead.  I needed an extra as well as a capacitance meter, so it was a no-brainer.  FYI capacitors can be much harder to read values from where as resistors are very easy to tell, and the tolerances on capacitors are typically large so a capacitance meter is a nice thing to have (especially on a multimeter).  Note this doesn't have autoranging which means you have to select the multiplier (aka range) of what your measuring.  This means you have to cycle through all the ranges of a given measurement type (ie resistance) to get an accurate/valid measurement- not as convenient.

Accurate enough with most of the features (transistor tester, capacitance, multiple-amp current measuring ability) that I always thought would be nice to have (and they are). The only prob was the written description indicated there was a plug for a thermosensor but in the picture there was not. Guess which one was right :\ I recommend anyway.

Basic features are AC and DC voltage, resistance, and current.

More advanced features have been mentioned by others, like:

  • Autoranging
  • Capacitor and inductor measurements
  • NPN/PNP transistor measurements
  • etc.

I'm still pretty happy with my basic model. Every once in a while, I really which for the ability to measure capacity or a transistor. I don't really mind having to manually select the range, but I bet if I got used to an autorange model, I would get to like that feature.

As a hobbyist just get any autoranging el-cheapo brand, although eapacitance, frequency and inductance settings can be very handy too. I`ve just started a new job and am about to pay $500 for a multimeter :(

I got a sweet one for about $13 from dealextreme.com.  As a bonus it measures capacitance and NPN/PNP transistor beta!

Everyone has their favorite - you could search this site for multi-meter or "measuring thingy" and read the posts.

Here is an example - http://letsmakerobots.com/node/3470 

Auto-ranging is a nice feature,  my old one had it, my new one does'nt... I miss my old one.  Anyway its pretty difficult to go wrong on getting a multi-meter, because there is a huge difference between "having a multimeter" and "not having a multimeter".  And they all are (or should be) relatively inexpensive.

They are coming out with new models all the time, so read a few reviews.  Once you own one, and start to use it, it will be your "favorite" too.

 

And I still recommend the one I had posted in the linked topic above(it's nice, cheap and you find out how useful the extra ranges and features can be compared to the 15 dollar cheapies(not that they are bad as I still use my RS special).)....The only thing that I would think might be useful is one that can measure inductors, but that gets up in price when you need or want something like that.