Are DMM leads considered consumable? If not how can I make mine last longer

Hey guys, about 4 years ago I bought my first really good DMM (a fluke) and in that time I’ve had to buy 2 new sets of leads which are about $30-45 depending on what store I have to run to when I have to buy a new pair. I’m once again needing a new pair (when the break they still work but their resistance rises and throws off readings)

For you guys who carry your meter around and use it professionally [daily] how are you carrying your leads? Ideally I would leave them straight but 48” leads are a lot to drag around. I’ve tried coiling them up in ~6” coils, I’ve tried wrapping them neatly around the meter’s body.

Or am I wrong that I’m breaking them and they’re just considered consumable parts?

Consumable to me, I really like some of the Fluke leads but they do break easy, I expect a pair to last 6 months if lucky. Usually breaking right at the point they join the probe or plug. I have used a brand called iso-tech, they are slightly cheaper but slightly more robust IME, nearly all my kits Fluke but leads are a weak point of theirs.

Yes, they will break, especially if you’re winding/unwinding them a lot. You can try the over/under wrap technique to see if that helps (it works for AV leads).

I’ve had my Fluke meter for work about 10 years. It doesn’t get used daily, but does see regular heavy use on building sites.

I’m on my original set of leads. The insulation has split on one lead where it meets the molded plastic of the probe. I taped it up with insulation tape and its still working fine. It’s a Fluke 110, so doesn’t measure current, just voltage and resistance and a few other things. I use a clamp meter for current readings.

I wrap the leads around the meter and the probes sit into the rear of the rubber molded case.

I have two sets of leads for my Fluke 77, the original set is OK but shows its age. The second is a heavy duty silicone wire set from BK, very rugged and looks new other than typical dirt & stains.

For what it’s worth, 5 years later I’m still on my first set of leads for my Fluke 115 and it gets very regular use. If I’m carrying the meter I’ll keep it in a soft zipper bag, with the leads wrapped around the body and snapped into their slots in the rubber housing. I’m pretty careful to lookout for sharp kinks in the cables when I wrap them, since you only get to do that a few times before they break.

If the meter is sitting on my bench I’ll just set the probes next to the meter and let the leads drape down off the workbench rather than coiling them up—the less bending and handling of the wires the longer they’ll last. Are you replacing the leads with genuine fluke replacement parts? Their stuff is generally very high quality, and I would suspect them to last longer than no-name-brand meter leads.

I am using genuine fluke replacements yes. The problem isn’t that I’m physically breaking them anywhere (especially at the ends like is common), my issue is their internal resistance is rising over time and being the EE for several coal mines my job requires very precise measurements.

Jeansy what are the “IME” ones you mentioned? A google search for “IME multimeter leads” brought up some “fluke style” leads from Grainger, is that the ones?

I have 3 Fluke meters, 73, 88 and 98, still using the original leads with all of them. The oldest and most used is the 73, it’s seen near daily use (5 days a week) for over well over 20 years. Similar care to IClight’s routine, I would not consider the leads consumable.

The resistance issue is due the male 4mm banana plug being too close, open it a little and work like new.

I have 2 Fluke DMM’s. A ‘73’ and a ‘87 III True RMS Multimeter’. The ‘73’ I’ve had for over 20 years and the ‘87’ for about 10 years. One or the other is used nearly every day and both are still on their original set of leads/probes. No issues whatsoever. What the heck are you doing to your poor meters?

I see you are working in coal mines. Perhaps your resistance problem is simply dirt/dust. Try a q-tip with some isopropyl alcohol in the socket to clean it out and do the same for the banana plugs. Works like a charm.

I have test leads that I’ve been using for over 30 years… good leads are not a consumable item. For cheap leads I like them sautéed in butter with garlic and mishrooms… yum…

Also, I tie wrap my meter leads together, every six inches or so. Only the last 12 inches are loose. This keeps them from tangling into a hopeless mess. In over 30 years I have only had to cut the tie wraps a couple of times to extend the reach between the probes.

Are those cheap ones from FT OK for just general comparison measurements, etc., or are they so cheap they are not even worth using?

BTW, if you ever need to make a real cheap DC sync cord to synchronize two Honda Generators to double the watts, you can grab two sets of these, cut the probes off and join them and now you have a CD sync cord for $3.00 as opposed to the $25.00 or so that the Honda dealer wants.