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Old 11-13-2015, 07:15 AM   #1
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Electrical meter

What type/brand electrical meter do you use?
What all do I need to be able to check? (Outlets during PDI, amps and voltage at pole,etc)
Thanks!
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Old 11-13-2015, 07:55 AM   #2
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There are many and I have an assortement.
2 Radio shack meters in teh 150-200 dollar range, I strongly suspect the older one is a Fluke repainted

A few Harbor Freight meters in the 50-15 Dollar range including one clamp on AC ammeter type.

And a Crafstman Clamp On AC/DC multi-meter that does temperature and frequency and Amps up to 10 (in line) and 400 CLAMP ON both AC and DC this puppy can measure STARTER CURRENT. 60 bucks on sale.

What meter I use depends on the job... CLAMP ON DC I have only one choice. High Accuracy I calibrate and use the top end meters.. General use the Harbor Freights are just fine. And if I screw up and say run over one.. No great loss.

(If I screw up and run over my Audio Mixer (I sometimes do recordings) I'm going to need a new tire.. Unlike the HF meters, you can run over it without damaging it, or so the maker says (never tested).
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:45 AM   #3
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There are two general levels for a non pro or just about anybody.

"Troubleshooting" grade and "adjustment" grade.

For general troubleshooting accuracy does not matter much.

You are looking for general voltages or connections and will likely be in not the best working conditions so worrying about damaging equipment adds to stress.

For those the free with purchase ones at harbor freight are the best that no money can buy.

Bear in mind that units from different batches will give different results and should not be used for confirming or making voltage critical adjustments due to possible error in readings.

We have some off by 4% which will create battery charging issues.

Adjustment grade are higher quality units like Fluke which can be hundreds of dollars but often can be picked up at yard and estate sales for small change.

If used ones are considered always check them for accuracy by measuring known devices first.

We have a couple flukes we use for inside stuff but anything done in the yard that does not need exact readings are done with the red HF units.

Clamp ons are good but one that will read dc amps below 10 will cost you.

Good to have but not needed that often so focus on getting standard unit then pick up a clamp one later if you desire one.

Get the HF one first then save up and maybe the clamp type for the stuff that matters.
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
There are many and I have an assortement.
2 Radio shack meters in teh 150-200 dollar range, I strongly suspect the older one is a Fluke repainted

A few Harbor Freight meters in the 50-15 Dollar range including one clamp on AC ammeter type.

And a Crafstman Clamp On AC/DC multi-meter that does temperature and frequency and Amps up to 10 (in line) and 400 CLAMP ON both AC and DC this puppy can measure STARTER CURRENT. 60 bucks on sale.

What meter I use depends on the job... CLAMP ON DC I have only one choice. High Accuracy I calibrate and use the top end meters.. General use the Harbor Freights are just fine. And if I screw up and say run over one.. No great loss.

(If I screw up and run over my Audio Mixer (I sometimes do recordings) I'm going to need a new tire.. Unlike the HF meters, you can run over it without damaging it, or so the maker says (never tested).
Run over it with a tire on what...lawn mower maybe...Your mh not so much...;-)
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Old 11-13-2015, 12:15 PM   #5
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Here is some excellent reading on the subject.
Electrical Testing
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Old 11-13-2015, 01:01 PM   #6
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The short story is that there are a lot of reasonable meters out there depending on what you are trying to do. Back in the old days of mechanical meters components and meters were less accurate and more prone to a variety of errors. Today's solid state meter electronics and displays are not problem free but one does get a lot more bang for their buck. More money sort of gets a more user friendly meter and better accuracy especially over time. That said even the cheap one's are usually acceptable within normal limits for troubleshooting most dead circuit problems. For basic troubleshooting any of the free to $10-$20 meters are fine as well as less traumatic when they get lost or broken.

One of the issues with digital meters is conversion accuracy. There is always a plus or minus 1 count accuracy in the lowest digit. Not an issue for 120 VAC give or take a volt but it can be an issue if looking at battery charging when one wants to know 12.45 means 12.44 to 12.46 not 12.3 vs 12.6. For that reason one might want to carry a better meter or carry two with the cheap one in the tool box and a better one stashed for reading batteries and anything else more interesting. I keep one in the "house" and one in the toolbox in the MH at least partly because I do other hobbies where I want the accuracy.

As far as what I have my inventory includes Olson, Instek, Heath, HF house brands, Tripplet, Fluke, B&K and Simpson and maybe some others. In 60 years of hobby and professional work I tended to accumulate. ;-) I would not rule out any brand for the tool box but I like Fluke, B&K or Simpson for the "good" stuff. Not saying the others are bad but those are the good names I have used. I would not hesitate with Harbor Freight, Gardener Bender or Greenlee for a tool box meter. The latter two are aimed at the electrical trade tool box in the big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

FWIW on clamp on Ammeters. They are handy devices but one has to be aware of what one is buying. MOST CLAMP ON's DO NOT MEASURE DC CURRENT with the clamp. The clamp is part of a transformer core that depends on AC to read current with the clamp. Some do use a Hall effect device or other circuit to measure the field around a DC cable. Most will read DC current if connected in series with the load. Make sure what you have does what you think it does. I have never seen a low cost clamp on that does DC with the clamp.
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Old 11-13-2015, 04:37 PM   #7
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Few rated for dc measure low dc very well.

A Fluke 375 does but costs the same.
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Old 11-13-2015, 04:57 PM   #8
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I bought a 30amp Surge Guard 34730 off Ebay for less than $100 which does a great job monitoring line voltage to the RV and current draw. It will also protect from voltage spikes or low voltage. I have a Klein digital multimeter for testing other voltages in the RV or electrical systems, fuses etc. There are many good brands, I used a $20 Radio Shack for many years. The Klein was less than $100. I have an inexpensive Harbor Freight Clamp on unit that I have in the RV but have never used.
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