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Old 08-22-2015, 09:03 AM   #29
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Ok, cheap meters certainly can give you accurate results. However for the non tech guy that gets an erroneous measurement because of cheap connections, crummy probes, or short leads and cannot make a decent measurement, why would anyone that spends tens of thousands of dollars on an RV cheap out on a tool? Give me a break. Most of the people on here are not tech geeks like me but to recommend a piece of crap tool is asking them to buy a cheap knuckle breaker tool.
Earlier I challenged anyone to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a cheap or free HF volt-ohmmeter that isn't broken can't provide results usefully accurate for RV electrical work. Pretty much all I've heard is "don't buy a cheap tool" and "I'm a techie/professional/nerd (respectfully used)/run with the herd and I wouldn't use anything but an Expensive Brand Name that usually comes in a yellow plastic case."

You're more than welcome to prove me wrong with by providing evidence that the cheap and free meters from HF are utter crap. Prove the error of these meters. This isn't rocket science. While you're at it, prove your $100+ meter is as accurate as you believe it needs to be.
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:19 AM   #30
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I've got an old Fluke digital VOM that I've had for 20 years or more! I also have a couple of the Harbor Freight "freebie" VOM's that I keep as a backup!

Unless you need an expensive meter for some reason those cheap, (or free), Harbor Freight digital multimeters and a GFCI outlet tester are all you need.


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Old 08-22-2015, 10:52 AM   #31
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YC1 is making a valid point however the general idea is what is the real need.

The above post is fine regarding the average DIY situation for general troubleshooting as they both indicate a status.

However for those situations where accuracy is needed then they will not be suitable.

In my batch of many red ones I got exactly what I paid in value so no complaints but the ac volts read from 130 to 150 for a 120 volt circuit so a low entry voltage of 100 may indicate 115 and the ac may get cooked.

So as I have been stating all of them will work but you need to be sure of their limitations.

I was using a red one where it mattered but it was in bad areas where I did not wish to loose things if car broken into so I made several measurements with my flukes and a specific red one and made a correction chart so i could determine the almost correct reading.

This was to determine if adjustment was needed and that would be done with flukes and other equipment if needed.

I suggest getting the above set for "first touch" troubleshooting as it can be stored where handy then back them up with a real one that is of good quality.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:27 AM   #32
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I challenge anyone to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a simple V-Ohmmeter like those that HF gives away are inaccurate enough that they cannot be trusted for troubleshooting or other use on an RV. Broken meters don't count for this challenge.

How much meter accuracy is truly necessary for RV electrical? +-1%? Are you gonna say there's a problem with a circuit if a meter reads 123 volts vs 120? 12.86 vs 12.91? Mass producing an inexpensive V-Ohmmeter isn't rocket science, the darn thing doesn't have to land on a comet that is hurtling through space.

And the price is right!

I don't think it's so much a matter of accuracy as it is the quality, but as you said, the price is right!
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:31 AM   #33
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Those "freebies" are not digital but analog! At least all I have ever seen. I keep a couple of them for spares!

Uh, oh! My goof! I just looked at mine and they are digital!

When I bought my Fluke meter is was full-time in the electronics service field and needed something I could always depend on. Also, back then Harbor Freight did not even exist!
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:34 AM   #34
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Old 08-22-2015, 12:03 PM   #35
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I'm with 1bigmess & Mel S. I own a good VOM and it mostly sits in a drawer at home, unused. I have several Harbor Freight el cheapos so that one is handy wherever needed, and I don't worry about losing or damaging one either. All mine were either free or at most $3.99

What is there in an RV that requires accuracy better than 0.1v DC, 2v AC, or closer than maybe 10 ohms? Even the cheapest meter can do that! And nowadays all the digital ones are RMS.
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Old 08-22-2015, 02:10 PM   #36
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Ok guys,
Well, amongst the "discussion" of need for accuracy vs price and or, quality, it seems that "Fluke" appears to be the majority pick for the upper to higher end of Multimeters. While on the low to LOWEST end, it also seems the infamous Harbor Freight Freebie seems to be a pick for many of you. Albeit a basically "throw away" unit, many seem to be satisfied to use it and, even recommend it. I have stated that I have several HF tools including two or three, paint guns. And, like their multi-meter, those little (one is really little for touch-up and detail) paint guns, put out some of the finest spray patterns one can find, at a mere fraction of the cost of the Devilbiss and Binks models.

I don't paint cars for a living but, I've done quite bit of painting with automotive paints and, those guns produce a very nice finish. Now, on the subject of those HF meters. Some of you have quite legitimate arguments pertaining to the fact that, even though outstandingly cheap, they (HF meters) are dangerously close in accuracy to say, a $50.00 or, even a $100.00 meter. Now, should say the word "accuracy" or, should it be DEPENDABLE or, maybe both?

When it comes to buying tools which, in and at my age now, is becoming increasingly rare, I still look at how much I'll be using a particular tool, how much do I want to SPEND, will a cheaper version of the tool do and accomplish my goal to my satisfaction, will it "just get me by", and so on?

I've used the HF cheapie meters and, have one that I carry in my tool kit on my Honda Goldwing. It's worked, every time I've needed which, is not very often. I get the HF fliers regularly and, if I wanted to, I'd probably have a dozen of those meters, all free or, even more of the 25' measuring tapes than I've got now.

I'm no expert in the electronics field, either in automotive or, residential or, commercial. I'm in the market for a multimeter now because the $20.00 one I purchased at Walmart back a couple of years ago, is now giving me erratic readings. And, sometimes, no readings at all. I liked it because it had good features, a kick stand to hold it up at various positions so I could read it from different angles, a back light in the LCD panel which was useful in quite a few dark areas, and, at the time, it was the only one that I looked at that had sound producing continuity testing. Sometimes I'm in a precarious position (it seems it's like that a lot with me now) so, having the meter produce a buzz or sound, when continuity testing, is for me, a real plus.

But, as stated, it's now become un-reliable. So, this is why I ask for opinions on here. I know that many of you speak of the use of multimeters when folks ask questions about batteries, solenoids, panels, lighting sockets and a ton more, when they've got issues with their motor homes. So, I figured you would have good enough experience with them to recommend which one(s) might be a good one, for my next one.

OK, enough said. I now have an array of choices. It's time to go get one. Thanks again for all of your help here. Very much appreciated.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:02 PM   #37
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Earlier I challenged anyone to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a cheap or free HF volt-ohmmeter that isn't broken can't provide results usefully accurate for RV electrical work. Pretty much all I've heard is "don't buy a cheap tool" and "I'm a techie/professional/nerd (respectfully used)/run with the herd and I wouldn't use anything but an Expensive Brand Name that usually comes in a yellow plastic case."

You're more than welcome to prove me wrong with by providing evidence that the cheap and free meters from HF are utter crap. Prove the error of these meters. This isn't rocket science. While you're at it, prove your $100+ meter is as accurate as you believe it needs to be.
"Ok, cheap meters certainly can give you accurate results. However for the non tech guy that gets an erroneous measurement because of cheap connections, crummy probes, or short leads and cannot make a decent measurement, why would anyone that spends tens of thousands of dollars on an RV cheap out on a tool? Give me a break. Most of the people on here are not tech geeks like me but to recommend a piece of crap tool is asking them to buy a cheap knuckle breaker tool."

Cheap to me is something below the 30-50$ range. No need to buy an expensive fluke. I believe the one I posted as a suggestion was around $80 and provided clamp on dc and ac current measurements.

The reliability of the cheap meters after they bang around in your tool box is questionable. How can one take confident measurements if the probes become faulty or the mechanisms fall apart inside.

Yes I have had the HF meters open. So I stand by my recommendations. Junk tools will bust your knuckles. Junk meters bust your chops.

Heck, go on ebay and buy a used expensive meter if that interest you. Some great bargains there.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:07 PM   #38
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I always say you can't get two electronic techs to agree on where to eat lunch let alone the best this or that or how to put on a pl259. But it is fun trying,.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:22 PM   #39
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I have a fluke meter that reads 5 volts D.C. under I use it now just for continuity checks


For the longest time, I couldn't get my batteries charged, until I grabbed another meter
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:50 PM   #40
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I have a fluke meter that reads 5 volts D.C. under I use it now just for continuity checks


For the longest time, I couldn't get my batteries charged, until I grabbed another meter

Get it re calibrated?
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:47 PM   #41
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:03 PM   #42
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Contact a fluke dealer they will give you the name of a fluke service center in your area.
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