Cheap Multimeter Advice

I have been searching around for a cheap digital multimeter, and found a couple. This is the one that I am leaning towards, but I would like your opinions.

I can't afford anything expensive right now, I just want to know if you guys think that the ranges this meter covers are sufficient. I read some positive reviews on, but I haven't been able to find a professional, objective review anywhere.

That should work fine; looks similar to the Cen-Tech sold by Harbor Freight. It may not be the most accurate, but it is good enough for hobbyist purposes (I have a ton of the Cen-Tech meters myself - you might see if you have a Harbor Freight near you, if you live in the US - sometimes they sell them for as low as $1.99).

Should work fine, inexpensive multimeters have become almost a commodity item. The important thing is to learn how to use it properly and safely. For instance having the meter leads and function set up to read current but then placing the meter leads across a voltage source causes a short circuit the can cause damage to the meter and/or the circuit. Also remember that the meter will always display a number, but you may be confused with what the actual meter range or units you are measuring in are, easy to get a wrong answer in your head. ;)


Something else to keep in mind: When using a meter, try to get in the habit of probing a circuit with only one probe, not both. Why?

Well, for most things, you should probe with the circuit off, if you can, or hook the meter into the circuit and then turn the power on. The idea being that by having both hands over a circuit and probing, which may be ok for a low voltage circuit, can be hazardous on something with more voltage (and the circuit in such a situation would be nearly across your heart if you brush up with both hands on the wrong part).

There's also the issue about using both probes, and touching the wrong contacts accidentally that could put voltage across the probes when measuring resistance or something else like that, or even high-voltage when on a lower voltage setting.

Basically - getting into the habit of probing with a single probe, when possible (and/or not probing at all), may save you some grief in the future...

thats why I use a alligator clip on my common probe (just an old probe with the end cut off and a clip soldered on )

  • its just 100 times easier to deal with

thats why I use a alligator clip on my common probe (just an old probe with the end cut off and a clip soldered on )

I first read about it on a site dealing with troubleshooting old tube amplifiers. When I went to tech school, we weren’t taught this, so I have been trying to unlearn “bad habits”. For what we were learning, it wasn’t really a big deal (mainly low voltage digital electronics - essentially the same thing as what the Arduino and related circuits are); but I figure I may never know, especially on an unknown circuit, what I might be probing…