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A great combination - Extech EX355 multimeter & Flir CM46 clamp meter

Why I chose these two meters...

Recently I was in the market for a new multimeter for home and work use.  Why? Well there are two reasons.

The first is that the multimeter I had was lacking a few functions that I wanted.  The second reason, and probably the more relevant, is that the one I had just gave up the ghost.  It was a fairly cheap clamp meter, as I’d only bought it for home use at the time.  And although it was okay initially, it wasn’t long before I outgrew it’s capabilities. 


So, I needed a new meter, one which would suit not only my hobbies at home, but also an electrician on the job.  I had to find a meter that was suitable for

*  Caravanning and camping.  This included basic circuit trouble-shooting on anything to do with caravan and camping set-ups, as well as measuring current drawn by appliances on a DC system and generation back into a DC system.

*  Electronic testing and troubleshooting.  There are two particular hobbies that I have dived into over the years.  They are Arduino projects, and 3D printing.  With the Arduino Board I not only have general electronic testing to do, but there is a plethora of input and output signals available that can be associated with these devices, thus I wanted as much versatility from a meter as possible.  With the 3D printer, I needed the ability to measure heat to confirm printer head and heat bed temperature accuracies.  I also needed to measure the pulse width output to the stepper motors.

*  General electrical work.  This included voltages up to 415V, and circuits from the final equipment, all the way back to the meter on a distribution board. i.e  CAT III.  Also, general troubleshooting on electrical circuits and appliances.


With this in mind, I knew I required the following functions from a meter... 

- AC voltage up to 415V with AC + DC offset capability
- DC voltage up to 325V with AC + DC offset capability
- AC current up to 100A with AC + DC offset capability
- DC current up to 50A with AC + DC offset capability
- DC current to µA resolution
- DC volts to µV resolution
- Frequency
- Duty Cycle
- Resistance
- Continuity
- Capacitance
- Diode
- LoZ Voltage
- Low Pass Filter
- Temperature
- Non Contact Voltage Detection
- CAT III 600V at a minimum.

    On top of all this, I did not want to pay very much money, as the meter was only for home use, and as a backup for work. 


    To save hours of time researching, I used the Delta Pro filtering system to show me the most suitable meters.  This was particularly handy when the filters of duty cycle, LoZ and AC+DC offset were used. They narrowed down the search for me pretty quickly!


    It turned out, I wasn’t able to find just one meter that would do all of what I wanted, without breaking the budget.  But I could buy two meters, that resulted in a low cost but high functionality combination, and which would cover all the bases that I was likely to require.

    I chose the Extech EX355 multimeter, and the Flir CM46 clamp meter. Here’s why...

     

    EXTECH EX355 - $198
    Extech EX355 digital multimeter
    This is a fantastic meter for the price. It has features and functions which covered most of my bases, including...

    * Digital count of 40 000.  This gave excellent resolution, and was coupled with basic accuracy of 0.5% on DCV.
    * AC/DC voltage, 10µV to 600V
    * AC/DC current, 0.1µA to 10A
    * Frequency 
    * Duty Cycle
    * Resistance
    * Continuity
    * Capacitance
    * Diode
    * LoZ Voltage
    * Temperature K-type
    * Non Contact Voltage Detector
    * CAT III 600V

      

    Missing from this meter however, was the ability to measure the higher currents up to 100A, the AC+DC offset measurements, and a low pass filter. 


    Now usually the AC+DC offset capabilities for meters comes with a high price.  However, I found a clamp meter that not only measured the higher currents that I required, but also came with AC+DC offset for both current and voltage measurement, and a low pass filter.  



    FLIR CM46 - $405
    Flir CM46 clamp meter

    It has the additional features I needed, that were not provided by the Extech meter, specifically... 

    * AC/DC current to 400A
    * AC+DC offset voltage and current
    * Low Pass filter
    * CAT IV 300V CAT III 600V

     

     

     

    Between the two meters, I now have massive versatility for a total of only $603.  To find a quality meter capable of all these functions for less than this value, is nigh on impossible.

    So for me now, there’s not much I can’t measure using my new toys!  They suit me with both my hobbies and my work, and they didn’t break the bank.  I highly recommend them both.