Multimeter Safety

By: Dave Varga | May 06, 2022

In the electrical construction industry, the multimeter is a tool owned by every electrician. This tool is easy to use and is an essential part of job site safety. Using this tool incorrectly can lead to an injury, or worse, death. Let’s take a few minutes to review some common multimeter safety practices. This review applies to both new and old meters. 

Meter Purchase 

Trade professionals need to have a good meter. We are all familiar with industry standards such as Fluke, Klein, Greenlee, and Ideal. Some electricians that do daily, and more precise measurements might need a higher end meter with more functions and better accuracy. Others may simply need a basic meter with basic functions and durability. When purchasing a new meter, I suggest using the local electrical supply house. Before the purchase, ask which meter is most popular and about the product warranty. You want to know how long the warranty period is and if they offer a replacement during the warranty period. Find out what happens if the meter malfunctions after the warranty period has ended. You may pay a little more at the supply house, but they may be able to give you better service as compared to purchasing a less expensive meter online.  

Meter Safety  

The meter you have today may be a few months old or even many years old. Before using your meter there are a few basic safety checks that must be performed. Visually inspect your meter for any damage such as cracks in the case or on the screen. Inspect the test leads for cracks or excessive wear on the insulation. Make sure the probe connections are clean and fit tight. Next, it is important to perform a test on a known energized circuit to ensure your meter is working properly. Meters come in various categories called CAT Ratings. These ratings are based on a specific use application and maximum voltages to be tested. Example, a CAT 3 meter is rated to test voltages up to 600 volts and specific type usages. You can find a lot of information at Fluke.com.  

Product Registration  

When you purchase a new meter, it is important to register your product. Sometimes the manufacturer will provide a product registration card to be filled out and mailed back or a website link to provide the information. Many people ignore the product registration step because they fear unwanted solicitation. While you may begin receiving various emails about new products or sale specials, you are now registered with your date of purchase for any warranty claims and the manufacturer can reach you quickly for product defect alerts or recalls. Even if you don’t have a new meter, you can still go to the manufacturer website and register your meter. It is important to register new and old meters! 

Product Recalls 

It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to discover an issue with a product long after distribution and sales. Once the discovery is made the sellers and end users are quickly notified and advised on how to proceed. For example, Fluke recently discovered a safety issue with their 83V, 87V, and 88V digital multimeters (Fluke 8x V series Digital Multi-Meters). The products impacted were manufactured between June 7, 2019 and August 26, 2021, and have serial numbers starting at 46280001 through 55370001. Fluke is requesting that users perform a simple field safety check to ensure their unit is not impacted by the issue. You can find this safety notice and safety check procedure on Fluke’s website. Once this potential issue was found the manufacturer responded quickly with valuable safety information. Be safe and register your meter with the manufacturer today.

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