An In-Depth Guide to Making Your First Test & Measurement Purchase
What is a digital multimeter, and why is it a necessity for all electricians?
Which one should you buy?
How much should you spend? What should be avoided?
We consulted some top electrical training instructors about what their advice would be to young tradespeople making their first test & measurement purchases and got the scoop on what the best options are.
Be warned - this may get technical! However, the answer may be simpler than you think…and it comes with the simpler disclaimer: it depends on what you plan on doing in your electrician career path.
Functions of Meters
To jump right into it, it’s critical to understand what a meter does. They’re simple diagnostic tools that accurately measure voltage, amperage, and continuity. These devices are used in the testing, install, and repair of electrical components of all capacities. Combined with our specialized knowledge as electricians, we can determine if faults exist, verify proper circuit functionality, keep infrastructure up and running, and above all else: prevent unsafe situations.
So what’s the best one to get?
- Short answer: it really depends on what you do as an electrician and where you plan to use it. It’s safe to consider this type of tool an investment.
- Long answer: your work environment - now and in the future – is the greatest determining factor when choosing which meter to buy. Getting something future proof for your career path is important. Will you be working only in residential settings? Or plan on being involved in work with industrial, high-current applications? Lineman, commercial, and industrial electricians all require different tools rated for their particular application. It’s safe to consider this type of tool an investment since you get what you pay for, so it’s important to choose wisely based upon your career path.
The capacity at which a meter can measure and the way they go about it may be different, but their function is straightforward. There are situations in which probes are necessary, and actual physical conduction is needed in line of a circuit to take a measurement. However, many measurements are made without breaking the circuit, which is the benefit of a clamp-on meter or fork meter, which are able to measure the electromagnetic field around the conductor to make a reading, making them far more useful and much safer in many applications. Many clamp and fork meters also include probes as well for situations where direct conduction is needed.