The TekPower TP4000ZC is a very affordable, basic DMM for hobbyists that need data logging capabilities. Although a cheap multimeter, which albeit boasts most input ranges, it can auto-range and is also RS232-interfaced. With that, you can monitor anything from voltage and current to temperature and have it talk to your PC.
It measures AC and DC voltage (to 600V), and has all current ranges – including micro-amps – along with resistance and capacitance. The temperature measurement is also very good and, overall, accuracy is quite surprising. While mostly for DIY-type work, the TP4000ZC also makes for a decent backup for engineers.
- RS232-interfaced for data logging
- Measures volts, amps, milliamps, micro-amps
- Measures resistance, capacitance, frequency
- Measures duty cycle, temperature
- Continuity buzzer
- Auto and manual ranging
- CAT-II (600V) safety rated
- Hold mode
- Relative zeroing mode
- Size: 6.8″ (173mm) x 2.8″ (71mm) x 1″ (25mm)
- Weight: 12oz (340g)
- Probe leads
- Two AA batteries
- Temperature probe
- RS232 cable
- CD / basic instructions – see here for TP4000ZC manual
In-depth Review of the TekPower TP4000ZC
Although this is a basic auto-ranging meter, the inclusion of the RS232 data logging interface has made it a pretty useful tool. This re-badged Digitek is auto-ranging that can also be set as a manual-ranger.
Current measurement is a healthy, fused 10A, and it goes down to micro-amps, making it useful for those with an eye on electronics. Resistance goes to 40MΩ and frequency to 10MHz, though the capacitance range is a bit narrow and slow. Continuity is surprisingly fast, however, with quality leads making a big difference.
The temperature specs are also quite impressive, although it can only measure in Celsius on the device itself. A type-K thermocouple is included with the multimeter and plugs right into the ‘main terminal’ and ‘common’ jack sockets.
Other facets of note on the TekPower TP4000ZC are its Relative mode, which allows the user compare a previously recorded value with a now zeroed display. It is also possible to zero the resistance in the probe leads with this mode. You can also hold the screen on the present value to view later, as well as check duty cycle.
|DC voltage||400mV / 600V||±(0.5%+5) @ 400mV-400V|
|AC voltage||4V / 600V||±(0.8%+5) @ 4-400V|
|DC current||400μA / 10A||±(1.5%+5) @ 40-400mA|
|AC current||400μA / 10A||±(2.5%+5) @ 10A|
|Resistance||400Ω / 40MΩ||±(1.0%+5) @ 400-4MΩ|
|Capacitance||40nF / 100μF||±(3.0%+5) @ 400nF-40μF|
|Frequency||10Hz to 10MHz||±(0.1%+5)|
|Duty cycle||0.1% to 99.9%||±(2.5%+5)|
|Diode test||1.5V, 0.6mA|
|Temperature||-50°C to 750°C||±(0.75%+3°C) @ -50-200°C|
It will need periodic calibration to maintain this accuracy.
The reason many buy the TP4000ZC multimeter is for its data logging function. You can monitor and log temperatures and current draw of a refrigerator, solar panels, and so on.
The software that comes with the TekPower is a bit ropey and you might need a USB > serial converter to plug it into newer computers – from the meter is a 3.5mm jack plug/cable (supplied).
Tip: if you have problems, make sure both the meter and serial port are set to COM1 through Device Manager. Alternatively, the Linux program, QtDMM, is also compatible.
The simple program logs both analog and digital info and can display the results in a graph. In addition, although temperature is only displayed in Celsius on the multimeter, the software also allows you to log in Fahrenheit. After recording data, it can be exported as a file and read by Excel and OpenOffice.
More on RS232 serial interface comms
Despite the price and obvious features, the quality of the TekPower TP4000ZC is pretty good overall. The plastics look a little tacky, but it is quite well protected by a red rubber hostler and the screen is clear.
The buttons and dial selector are also passable and probe storage clips are built into rear, along with a kickstand. The case is held together by screws and nutserts, which is pretty impressive, as even top-end meters usually only have self-tappers holding them together.
The display is 3-3/4 digit (or 3.999 max). It is legible and shows all the icons clearly enough, but is not backlit. Although some cheaper multimeters on the market offer larger displays, this one has quite good resolution for the money. The rest of the interface is color-coded so you can better decipher correct input ranges.
Function and Performance
Volts, amps, milliamps and micro-amps all have their own range inputs, with the SELECT button changing AC to DC. Capacitance, frequency and temperature also have their own dedicated range positions, while resistance is shared with continuity and the diode checker.
The performance of the TekPower TP4000ZC is quite good. While auto ranging is slow – particularly when attempting to measure capacitance – the overall accuracy is good enough for this class of multimeter. Battery consumption is minimal when running the device on general duties, as well as when logging data longer term. The lack of backlight on the display and the auto power-off mode helps conserve the battery.
SELECT: change range input on dial selector, including AC to DC
RANGE: change auto and manual ranging
REL: relative mode, to compare a previous reading and to zero out leads
HOLD: lock reading onscreen
RS232: data logging mode
Hz/DUTY: measure duty cycle – load/no load ratio
There are three standard jack socket inputs and a 3.5mm RS232 input jack.
10A (10 amp AC/DC)
COM (common – black)
V/Ω/mA/Hz (main terminal – red)
RS232 (data logger)
Protection and Usage
This multimeter has a category II safety rating, to 600V. Inside are a 500mA glass fuse and an 11A ceramic fuse. It is as ruggedly built as any other model in this class. Although it’s not going to win any awards for looks and robustness, the rubber holster helps protect it from drops and bangs
The TP4000ZC is best suited to those into general electrics or electronics, and is especially useful for people looking to monitor various electrical items and heat sources. An electrician would rarely have the TP4000ZC as his main meter, but it is a nice alternative to keep as a spare in the toolbox.
Pros and Cons of the TekPower TP4000ZC
- Data logging feature
- Measures all current ranges, including milliamps and micro-amps
- Compact and light
- Temperature probe accurate
- Auto / manual ranging
- Good price
- Display not backlit
- Continuity beeper scratchy with stock leads
- Temperature, °C only
- Manual a bit limiting
- May need to buy a serial converter/USB cable
A surprising multimeter for the price, in a review, the TekPower TP4000ZC holds its own when measuring the basics – voltage, current, resistance and so on. It also measures capacitance and continuity and, although quite slow, the temperature mode is very good.
This TekPower’s main selling point is its RS232 interface, which lets the user monitor various devices and record them into a computer. Such a function would be useful for checking the draw on home appliances, for instance. The addition of a serial converter/USB cable (for connectivity to modern PCs) and better probe leads would make it more usable. For wireless data logging, consider the TP9605BT.