My trusty MS8209 multimeter failed. It was the second same type multimeter that failed for me. Annoying, but not that bad that both of those multimeters had both lasted around 10 years or more for me.
I needed to get a new multimeter. I wanted a multimeter with the same environmental measurement ranges as my MS8209 had, because I need those occasionally. There is not very many multimeters with all those features on the market. The options I considered were:
- A new MS8209 but was out of stock many places with reasonable prices
- Mastech MS8229 that was marketed as improved follow-up to MS8209
- Biltema 6-in-1 meter 17-338
Considering availability, pricing and brand I decided to get the Biltema. The reasons was that it was cheapest, had decent specifications and I could pick it up quickly from their nearby shop. I have been happy with meters I have bought Biltema many years ago (very good considering the price meter made by Mastech). This Biltema 6-in-1 meter 17-338 had also won a multimeter test in 2019 in Praktiskt båtägande, #3/2019 magazine.
* Display: 4000 count LCD display with back light
* 6-in-1 multi-function multi-meter, Light meter, Sound Level meter, Relative Humidity meter, Temperature meter and NCV indicator.
* Auto ranging
* Data hold and relative function
* Auto power off.
* Double molded housing
* Safety design meets CAT III 300V and CAT II 600V
* Accessories: Instruction manual, 9V battery, test leads and K-type temperature probe
Overvoltage category: CAT III 300 V
Operating temperature: 0–40 °C (less than 70% RF)
Storage temperature: -10–60 °C (less than 80% RF)
Temperature sensor: Thermocouple, type K
Display: 4000 count LCD display with back light
Measurement speed: 3 Hz (nominal)
Size: 170mm x 79mm x 50mm (6.7″ x 3.1″ x 2.0″)
Weight: 342 g ( 0.75 lb )
Temperature -20–1300 °C
Humidity 33–99 % (measurement range)
Illuminance 0–40000 Lux
Noise level 35–100 dB (C)
Dimensions: 170 mm (height), 78 mm (width), 48 mm (weight)
Weight: 335 g
Battery: 6LR61, 9 V
Continuity: less than 50 Ω makes beep sound
Diode test: 1,4 mA (2.8V DC Open Circuit)
Current strength: 0–400 μA to 0–10 A (max. AC/DC)
Voltage range: 0–400 mV to 0–600 V (max. AC/DC)
Resistance: 0–400 Ω to 0–40 MΩ
Capacitance: 0–50 nF to 0–100 µF
Frequency: 0–5 Hz to 0–10 MHz
Duty cycle: 0,1–99,9 %
Biltema 17-338 is is Multifunctional 6-in-1 multimeter with large backlit display for measuring voltage, current, frequency, duty cycle, capacitance, resistance, and temperature, and with diode and connectivity testing. In addition to electrical measurement functions, the multimeter also measures C-weighted sound level dB(C), illuminance (lux) and relative humidity. The multimeter has selectable functions for automatic range detection, current value hold function, saved value (relative value) comparison, non-contact voltage detector with LED indicator, as well as battery status indicator. The meter come with following accessories: fabric bag, temperature probe, set of test cables and 9V battery.
The display is quite normal looking multimeter LCD screen with backlight. Compared to many other multimeters, this meter has three numeric value displays instead of one one. There is the big main number display for the selected measurement in the bottom. On top of the big display there are smaller humidity and temperature displays. During the self test when meter is turned on everything is turned, all numbers and symbols. The display has a couple of indicators that is not used on this model of the meter.
In the center of meter there is rotating range selector that allows you to select the measurement type you want do, meaning if you want to measure voltage, current, frequency, resistance, capacitance, temperature, sound level or light level.
The Hold button will freeze the reading when pressed, usually this is very useful, but sometimes it can be very useful. Pressing Hold button for a longer time turns on the display backlight.
The Range switch button is used to manually select a range. First press will select manual range, the next presses will step through the ranges. Hold the switch down to change back to auto range. Most of the time automatic range selection is best, but having option for manual selection is a good to have.
Pressing Rel button stores the current reading and show all further readings relative to the stored value. Relative reading is sometimes very useful feature.
Ohm range measures resistance. Blue button is used together with the rotary switch to access some measurements functions. This is needed most often to switch between ohms and releated function, i.e. continuity and diodes. The continuity beeps at around 50 ohms or lower resistance.
CAP range is used to measure capacitance. The measurement results seemed to be according what was promised on the manual for several capacitors I tested with it. The measurement ranger can measure up to 100 uF. Smallest resolution is 10 pF.
Hz% range mode can measure signal frequency or duty cycle of PWM signal. Use HZ % button to select between modes. Frequency measurement can measure from 1 Hz to 10 MHz. The PWM measurement works at frequencies from 5 Hz to 15 kHz.
Temperature for temperature there is built in and external type K, can be switched between C and F degrees. The built in thermometer and humidity sensor show the results all the time on the screen. The meter comes with a small type K temperature sensor that can be used for temperature measurement. Any external type K temperature sensor can be connected to the multimeter with a supplied adapter.
Audio volume dBC range measures 35-100 dB at frequency 30 Hz – 10 kHz (C weighting). This is not very accurate, +-5 dB error possible. In my measurement the measured decibel values were quite near to those given by my PARKSIDE sound level meter and app on my smartphone.
Light level 1-400 Lux and 10-40000 lux range. It seems to be giving quite believable results. The measurement results matched quite well to the readings my lux meter smartphone app gives (that was quite close what my MS8208 meter gave).
Voltage measurement range covers AC and DC. I did some measurements, and felt that the meter gave very accurate results on both AC and DC ranges. At DC ranges the measurements were very accurate when I compared them to my reference (much less than 1% error). The meter has also mV DC range.
For current measurement at both DC and AC there are several ranges from microamperes up to 10A. The uA range is for measuring very low currents and has series somewhere around 100-150 ohms. The mA range can measure maximum 400 mA with series resistance of around 2 ohms (0.32V drop at 177 mA). This means that at maximum current the voltage drop will be nearly one volt. This range is protected with a 500 mA fast fuse. 10A range very low value (0.005V at 160 mA). At 10 A you are allowed to measure 30 seconds every 15 min. The 10A range is protected with a fuse.
Non contact voltage (NCV) detector is designed to show if there is mains voltage near meter. If mains AC voltage is detected the meter turns on RED LED on the top of the meter display. this feature is always on when meter is turned on. The NCD is said to be designed to detect voltages in 50 – 1000V AC range. NCV reacts typically at 5-15 centers from 230V AC mains cable.
To change battery or fuses it is necessary to open the meter. There is a battery compartment for battery change. For fuse changes the whole meter needs to be opened- The meter works fine and has a good precision. It seems to be a good meter considering the price.
Manual at several languages can be downloaded at https://docs.biltema.com/v2/documents/file/fi/1f8e6f0a-e15c-4c49-a7aa-311e07350e85
When handling any type of wire or circuit, act as if the power is on. Electricity can be incredibly dangerous. When you use a multimeter, It is important to take measurements in a safe space and use a multimeter suitable for the measurement task. A mistake due to a bad environment or wring type of instrument can damage equipment or kill you. Arc flashes are an explosion caused by an arc of electricity superheating the air. Arc flashes are incredibly dangerous.
The safety of multimeter is depends mostly on meter design itself and the test cables. This meter comes with OK looking test cables that use flexible wire rated up to 2000V. The multimeter side of the cables ends with shrouded safety banana plugs. The test probes feel OK and come with tip insulator that let’s a very small metal tip visible (can be removed if needed). Nothing to complain here.
The CAT rating determines what equipment the multimeter can safely be used on. The electrical safety for this meter is rated for CAT III 300 V, which means is suitable for measurement in distribution networks and normal industrial environments provided that the voltage rating is high enough for the measuring task. This means that this meter is suitable for measuring single phase 230V mains circuits. CAT III meters are approved for use on distribution circuits. Distribution circuits include distribution panels, load centers, and feeder circuits.
The meter is also rated for CAT II 600V, which means that the meter could measure up to 600V on appliances, portable tools, and other household loads. This multimeter seems to have proper construction for the operation at those voltages. There are properly rated ceramic fuses that can safely cut high currents (many kiloamperes) at up to 600V AC and DC. It looks that this meter would safely burn the fuse in case of severe overload or measurement mistake (and not explode like some cheap meters with high current short overload). The downside is that new fuses are somewhat expensive and hard to find parts if you happen to burn them for any reason. It is not a good idea to replace the fuses with other type of fuses for your own safety (multimeters with fuses that are not right type can explode). With right type of fuse this meter looks and fells safe.
Who manufactured this meter?
Biltema does not normally manufacture their multimeters themselves, but they buy them from some manufacturer with their logo printed from it.My old Biltema meter from 1990′s wad manufactured by Mastech. This 6-in-1 meter looks like it could be made by CEM or PeakTech.
CEM DT-61 industrial digital multi-function environment meter is 6-in-1 meter. The built-in multi-meter, NCV (Non-Contact AC Voltage) indicator, Sound level, Light, Humidity and Temperature measuring functions replace meters worth over $500. The digital multi-meter function includes ACV, DCV, ACA, DCA, resistance, capacitance, frequency, duty cycle, diode and continuity tests. The specifications looks pretty much the same. This CEM DT-61 seems to be sold out in many places, and at manufacturer page seems to be replaced with DT-61H. From earlier experiences with products from CEM, they have been from OK to a disaster.
PeakTech® P 3690 is a digital multimeter that combines the properties of the most common 4 environmental measurement functions. With the humidity and temperature measurement any ambient temperature, which can influence the measurements of some devices, can be measured and recorded at any time. The PeakTech 3690 is a regular multimeter with functions such as voltage measurement, current measurement, resistance measurement and many more. The manufacturer says the meter is rated CAT III 600V. Otherwise specifications looks to be same.