WTB $20 multimeter?

I'm in the UK so guessing a chinese site is best, just need a cheap $20 multimeter to take readings on batterys and tail cap readings...the basic kind of things.

Anyone recommend and link to anything?

https://budgetlightforum.com/t/-/3603 Post #8

But I'm not sure about international shipping

Doesn't seem an option over here, is there a chinese version?

Whats a popular one with everyone here anyway? that is at least kind of budget.

What about UNI-T DMMs? For less than 20 bucks (@ebay) you can find these models: UT10A (~$15), UT20B (~$15), UT33B (~$14), UT33C (~$17), UT33D (~$17), UT33A (~$18)

I have UT33A and happy with it ;)

That'd be great, but I seriously have no idea when it comes to multimeters...could you tell me how these differ other than design?

watkins buy from maplins


That one seems okay for me. Unless someone knows different?

Yes that seems o.k


No idea what I'd do with the frequency, but could the temp be used to measure the temperature during a long runtime test?

ps sorry for being a ball ache with all the questions

Start with checking all that links I've put for you ;) Check "Basic functions" first. UT33A has automatic range, for example. UT33B has batt. test and backlight, UT33C can measure temp...

it's sold out ..

Definitely ut33A. Want decent amp measuring with 3999 display? Only option from those uni-t...

VC97 (and the VC99) is an excellent multimeter, I compared it with a recently calibrated and certificated, very expensive multimeter, and it really rocks!


It is a little "slow" (but not too much), but readings are excellent. It also can measure up to 20A AC.

The Maplin ones are pretty much all rebadged UNI-T ones - at way more than you need to pay for them. Worth looking for clearance / discontinued / 50% off models there though. But find the equivalent elsewhere and compare the prices even with hefty discounts as Maplin is infamously overpriced.

That is enough for checking batteries, but far from enough to make it a good meter. Most meters has a good precision on VDC with a DC source. Measuring fast pulsing DC current (like in a pwm controlled flashlight) is something else.

Is there anything budget that you would recommend, HKJ? Or simply not?

Usual I uses fairly expensive meters like top of the range Fluke, Agilent and Gosse, but I have a couple of budget meters, they all work ok for simple measurements. The VCxx (Do not remember the number just now, but it is probably VC99), looks like a good meter and I like the that it can show up to 6000.

BUT I have not tested them (maybe that would be a good project if I get some spare time). Some of the things to look for/test are:

General precision on the different ranges (I would expect nearly all meters would handle this nicely).

General handling and layout (mA on the volt socket is prohibited, one mistake and you either have a blown fuse, exploded meter or damaged the DUT (Device Under Test)).

How does the meter handle low battery (Many cheap meters shows a wrong value).

Voltage drop on ampere range (Cheap meters are often just as good as expensive meters, sometimes even better, but the probes on cheap meters might be very bad).

For any meter that is used on the mains I require CAT III rating (Some cheap meters has a fake CAT rating).

Any meter that is used in a car or on mains must have fuses on both current inputs (I do prefer to always have fuses).

For just checking LiIon batteries any cheap DMM will work.

For checking batteries every DMM is enough.

I like this video comparison from Dave Jones, in this video he compares some cheap DMM included VC99 (very similar to VC97), he has tried LOTS of instruments and he knows what he talks about, I think it is an objective review.

For measuring PWM, i prefer to use the scope instead of a DMM. For little µA the VC99 is very precise, I would like that you could compare it with your DMMs and have your opinion.

Happened once to me :~ Was checking A (and not mA) and forgot to change the socket. Well, can't see any malfunction. How can I know/check if something is broken?

He is very entertaining and informative, but I do not agree with him in everything.

A scope is fine to measure the PWM, but to measure the current a DMM is sufficient.

Here are my measurements (All are for DC):

Fluke 8846A: 4.200V 1.200V 1.993A 19.00uA 190.0uA
VC99: 4.201V 1.201V 1.998A 18.9uA 189.3uA
VC830L: 4.17V 1.203V 2.00A 18.86uA 189.5uA

All very good results, but the VC830L is at the limit for LiIon checking.

The VC830L is within specifications, the last digit must vary +/-4 on top of the stated percent tolerance. For LiIon the 6000 display on VC99 does improve the precision significantly.

Here is a picture of some of my DMMs: