The popular Craftsman 34-82141 DMM is a fun little meter for those into general DIY electrics. A manual-ranging tool, it comes with all the necessary input ranges to check most things, including voltage, current and resistance. Great for home and vehicle maintenance, it represents okay value for money.
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- Measures to 600V AC/DC
- Measures to 10A AC/DC
- Continuity check with audible tone
- Resistance to 2MΩ
- Diode test to 2.8V
- Non-backlit 2000-count display
- Size: 4.8 (122mm) x 2.4 (61mm) x 1.6 (40mm)
- Weight 9.2oz (260g)
- Meter and leads
- Battery (9V)
- Rubber holster
- Basic instruction booklet (see here for the Craftsman 34-82141 manual online)
In-depth Review of the Craftsman 82141
This meter would be best for small jobs, such as testing batteries, fuses, lighting circuits, appliances, vehicle electrical diagnostics, and so on. It can measure voltage to 600V in both AC and DC current circuits, but is not recommended in testing mains installations directly – more so appliances, such as washer dryers and computer parts. Current can only be tested to 10A for bursts of 30 seconds.
Along with voltage and current, you can test for continuity in a circuit, as well as resistance. The dedicated battery test ranges allows you to put batteries under some load to better ascertain their level of charge. Test ranges: 1.5V, 9V.
Input impedance is around 1MΩ. Ideally, this would want to be somewhere around the 10MΩ mark, so is a bit low. Lower input impedance can have an undue effect on measured results in a circuit.
AC bandwidth: Available bandwidth of the AC voltage and current ranges is 45Hz to 450Hz. It is thus okay for testing equipment receiving AC mains, which is 60Hz Stateside.
Manual ranging: You’ll need to select a specific value of a given range input in order to obtain correct measurements. While this is not a big deal – and indeed many pros prefer this as it is typically quicker than auto-ranging – beginners may find it confusing at first. The MO with auto-ranging is you point the dial to voltage (for example) and it will select the required range automatically.
|DC voltage||200mV / 600V||±(0.5%+2)||0.1mV-1V|
|AC voltage (50-60Hz)||200V / 600V||±(1.5%+5)||0.1V-1V|
|DC current||200mA / 10A||±(1.2%+2) @ 200mA||100µA|
|AC current||200mA / 10A||±(3.0%+5) @ 10A||10mA|
|Resistance||200Ω / 2000kΩ||±(0.8%+2) @ 200Ω-200kΩ||0.1Ω-1kΩ|
|Battery tester||1.5V / 9V||±(1.0%+2)||10mV|
|BATT TEST RANGES||Good||Weak||Bad|
Design and Build
This is a made in China meter and while you can’t expect much for around $20, the Craftsman 34-82141 is quite sturdily built. It is shipped with a tough, removable rubber holster, which protrudes enough to shield the dial selector switch from drops on its face.
The dial itself is ergonomically designed and has a nice click, while the rubber leads are rated a category level higher than the meter and have safety caps on the probe ends and banana plug ends.
The battery and the fuses are accessed from the rear via separate panels. This is especially useful regards the fuses, since some multimeters require you to open up the internals.
Display: The 82141 has an average screen with half-inch numbers and a resolution to 2000 counts (or 3 1/2 digits). It is standard LCD and, while okay when read at an angle, the display is unfortunately not backlit. Most multimeters at this price point are not backlit, however.
Function and Performance
The Craftsman 82141 doesn’t win any awards for aesthetics either, but is easy to use and marked up fairly well. As there is no micro-amps range, it has just the three input jack sockets: voltage, common, amperage.
Rather confusingly, the resistance input range on the dial (Ω) sits over the amperage input. Resistance, of course, is measured when the red lead is plugged into the main (voltage / milliamp) red socket.
As it is a manual-ranging meter, it performs fairly timely. The continuity checker is a bit slow, but you’re never going to get lightning fast response times at this price.
CAT Rating and Fuses
All multimeters are rated to a category or categories – I through IV. The rating of the Craftsman 34-82141 is CAT-II up to 600V. This means it has a potential surge protection rating of 4kV at that test voltage (600V). You wouldn’t want to use this meter to test mains voltage, however, with the CAT-II designation also signifying it is only meant for single phase installations connected to the power source.
In addition, though fused, the 34-82141 has glass fuses only: 200mA for the voltage/milliamp input and 10A for the amperage input. These provide minimal protection against big surges and misuse of the meter. So, again, it is not meant for high energies.
Pros and Cons
- Simple control and interface
- Compact and lightweight
- Battery tester
- Okay accuracy
- Sturdy holster
- Screen not backlit
- Sluggish continuity, quiet beep
- Glass fuses
In the Craftsman 34-82141 review, we have a capable meter for the home, yard and tentative backup for linemen. It has all the standard ranges and can measure amperage, although is manual ranging only and the screen is not backlit. Although it can handle fused mains, electricians and electronics buffs would want something more substantial.
Alternative: The Etekcity MSR-R500 is similar in size and slightly more expensive, but it has a backlight. Mastech’s full size, auto-ranging MS8268 is cheaper again (than the MSR-R500) and is also backlit. It offers capacitance, frequency and duty cycle ranges.