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Old 10-17-2020, 03:22 PM   #1
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Best Digital multi-meter for boats

Hey Guys...Both my electrical bags are crowded with triples or quads of poor quality testers decisions. I’m kinda worn out from keeping alive these barely passable multi-meters that may be OK in the house but not so useful for some things specific to the boat. If one was to buy a good meter for his or her vessel, what would you choose out of the plethora of quality market options.
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Old 10-17-2020, 03:49 PM   #2
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Fluke 77. Been a standard in the military for years and are balls-on dependable.
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Old 10-17-2020, 03:52 PM   #3
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The best value for the dollar that I have found is the Blue Sea clamp meter. Available on line for about $150. https://www.bluesea.com/products/811...imeter_-_AC_DC
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Old 10-17-2020, 04:50 PM   #4
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@healhustler
The best value for the dollar that I have found is the Blue Sea clamp meter. Available on line for about $150. https://www.bluesea.com/products/811...imeter_-_AC_DC

I’ve got this one. It’s served my purposes. Not a Fluke tho’.

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Old 10-17-2020, 04:53 PM   #5
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Klein makes a few nice ones too. I have a 6 or so year old one, ran about $130 at Home Depot.

Similar (but updated) models there, Amazon, etc..

Pros have responded that Klien is a pro grade tester too along with Fluke...except maybe for the higher end ones or ones you need for specialty work.

When in doubt .....compare specs and then see if you really need more or less.
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Old 10-17-2020, 05:30 PM   #6
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I paid up and got a NewMar ESA, which if you do a search is a rebranded something else (I forget, an Extec (?) maybe). It has served me well with a lot of use and abuse for 13 years now. It is a nice size for boat work, and does both AC and DC. Really has taken a beating from a clumsy owner. I got mine from Puget Sound Instruments. Great piece of kit.

https://www.poweringthenetwork.com/digital-instruments/
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:35 AM   #7
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Fluke Brands for a good meter.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:39 AM   #8
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The reason that I recommend the Blue Sea meter is that it is a clamp meter with reasonable ranges as well as a digital multimeter, again with reasonable specs. Many times I have been trying to help a client troubleshoot a problem remotely and asked them what is the current indicated. They don't have a clamp meter so troubleshooting just got lots harder.

A further note: As a pro, I have a couple of thousand dollars tied up in meters and instruments; Fluke 289, Fluke 322, Yokogawa 30031A, Extech, etc., etc. I use them all for specific purposes. The meter that is in my tool bag is a Fluke T Plus Pro https://tinyurl.com/yb9v99sa. It is my "go to" meter that gets used on almost every job I work on. BTW, it does not measure current.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:26 AM   #9
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The only time i ever needed a better than el cheapo digital meter was when I needed to measure frequency because I could not access the rotating parts of the generator to use the photo tachometer.
I have never had to measure current in decades of boating.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:50 AM   #10
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@healhustler
The best value for the dollar that I have found is the Blue Sea clamp meter. Available on line for about $150. https://www.bluesea.com/products/811...imeter_-_AC_DC
I like this Extec better. The reason is the clamp is smaller as is the meter, and it fits in more tight places.

This Extech is cheaper than the Blueseas, don't own one, but might be a budget alternative.

If you own one of these clamp ammeters and learn to use it, you will find it spectacularly useful on any boat with a DC system. None of them, even the Fluke 325, are a wonderfully convenient general purpose multimeter as they are too small - though they do work. If I had only one I'd take the Extech 38041.
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Old 10-18-2020, 11:45 AM   #11
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I am not going to mention a brand. I am going to mention an accuracy level. Due to the new dock electrical requirements you need a meter that can measure to .0001 with accuracy.
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Old 10-18-2020, 12:51 PM   #12
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Fluke devices are probably some of the best (and price will reflect that). Maybe look online for a used one...

If not, Klein makes some solid units that have a ton of features packed into the device.

https://www.amazon.com/Electrical-Ma...s%2C219&sr=8-4
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:27 PM   #13
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I have a fluke in my electrical bag but the bag isn't always on the boat so I keep a Harbor Freight throw away on board for the occasional need. If i'm rewiring or installing something the bag is with me.
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Old 10-18-2020, 02:02 PM   #14
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I like this Extec better. The reason is the clamp is smaller as is the meter, and it fits in more tight places.

This Extech is cheaper than the Blueseas, don't own one, but might be a budget alternative.

If you own one of these clamp ammeters and learn to use it, you will find it spectacularly useful on any boat with a DC system. None of them, even the Fluke 325, are a wonderfully convenient general purpose multimeter as they are too small - though they do work. If I had only one I'd take the Extech 38041.
Yes, thanks, that first one is the Extech I was thinking of that NewMar re-branded. Great rugged piece of gear.

I was kind of surprised to see someone say they never had occasion to measure current. That was a regular thing for me in any number of applications. Interesting.
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Old 10-18-2020, 02:13 PM   #15
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I have a Fluke 75 in my bag since the mid 80s plus a cheap DC clamp-on stored onboard for special occasions. When you ask “best”, Fluke is the best in quality.
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Old 10-18-2020, 05:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiltrider1 View Post
I am not going to mention a brand. I am going to mention an accuracy level. Due to the new dock electrical requirements you need a meter that can measure to .0001 with accuracy.
.0001 what? Ohm, amp, volt?
Most digital meters if not all will be able to measure 1/10 of milliamp or millivolt.
I have a digital Fluke that is more than 30 years old, was used by my father at work who gave it to me 5 years ago. I also own a digital one made by a well know hardware store that cost less than 50$ as well as an analogical one (you know the kind with a needle instead of numbers lol). The low end from hardware store is doing the job as much as the fluke one, however it is less rugged and I don't expect to have it in 30 years (but who knows), also its accuracy % is lower than the Fluke one but enough for average users like most of us.
Fluke is without any doubt the best brand and of very high quality but with a price tag not necessarily required for everyone.

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Old 10-18-2020, 06:36 PM   #17
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The best Multimeter is a clamp on meter with leads (standard measurements) and to be able to measure as low as 1mA.
i will let you select the brand as I do not know your price range.
Good luck.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:41 PM   #18
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Another Fluker here.
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Old 10-18-2020, 08:00 PM   #19
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Without a doubt Fluke has the best reputation and a price to match.



A better question might be what features are desirable? Here are a few I find handy on the boat:
1 -Back lighted Display. 2. Third hand case (holds a probe on the case) 3 Sample and hold mode.4 Long leads with strong clamps -- not just pointed probes. 4 - Four digit display (occasionally 5 Clip on amp meter 6 Loud continuity audio. 7 adjustable auto shutdown timer, 8 Common or rechargeable batteries.


https://www.amazon.com/AideTek-VC97-...s%2C482&sr=8-4
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Old 10-18-2020, 08:19 PM   #20
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I have a Fluke 75 in my bag since the mid 80s plus a cheap DC clamp-on stored onboard for special occasions. When you ask “best”, Fluke is the best in quality.
While I agree on the quality of Fluke, their high resolution DC clamp version, the 325, is more annoying to use than the Extech. I own them both, along with many other Fluke meters. Again if only one, the Extech. The best combo is the Extech for current measurements, and a non clamp Fluke for other stuff.

For something completely different, order a Pokit. A lot of really neat features if they ever ship it. I gambled on the kickstarter campaign about a year ago, I may still get it this year. Includes oscilloscope functions, and with two they sync for two channel. No clamp on current measurements though, extremely important on a boat so again - if only one, the Extech.
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