“Use of surface-mount technology has made the design of equipment much more compact, reducing the size and weight of the equipment, while increasing the reliability of equipment considerably,” adds Waghchoure.
High accuracy, reliability and safety
When it comes to measurement of electrical quantities like voltage and current, there is always some risk associated due to mishandling or harsh environmental conditions. Siddique points out that many a time users need to use the equipment in high-voltage and high-current environments, which may be harmful for the instrument as well as the user.
“Reliability and safety, especially under tough conditions, are more important than ever before,” says Thakkar. He adds, “DMMs are designed with latest safety standards like the IEC category and voltage rating approved for the environment where the measurement is to be made. Choosing a meter with this rating which also has a UL, CSA, VDE or TÜV certification means the meter not only has been designed to IEC standards but has been independently tested to meet these standards.”
“Accuracy and resolution usually found only in bench-top DMMs of the past are now common in their handheld counterparts,” claims Thakkar. “Some equipment have basic DC voltage accuracy of up to 0.09 per cent and resolution of 6000 counts.” All the meters can be calibrated and have traceability to industry standards, just like their bench counterparts.
Manjunath adds, “Overload protection prevents damage to both the meter and the circuit while protecting the user. Also, some special high-energy fuses provide extra protection for the user and meter during current measurements and overloads.”
Need of the Indian market
Multimeters is a highly competitive market where several established local and global players have created a market for themselves in India.
Siddique says, “The Asia Pacific region is a very important market for multimeters with maximum demand coming from China and India. End users in these regions are highly cost-conscious demanding the best price-value combination.”
Vendors are offering unique features catering to various segments of the Indian market. Sai Venkat says, “With the requirements of flexible configurations, quick setup and affordability, the instruments have gained interest from the electronics industry, educators and students who continue to look for value-added instruments to achieve cost advantages in the ever-challenging world.”
Apart from affordability, ease-of-use, safety and reliable testing, there is also a need for communication in local language. Today, vendors offer a lot of new features and capabilities in handheld multimeters, such as visual and audible continuity indication, IP-54 certification (for water- and dust-resistance), PC connectivity and CAT III/IV safety protection along with user manuals in diverse Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.
Thakkar says, “When evaluating the suitability of several digital multimeters, the best approach is to choose a set of measurements and conditions that approximates your application. Choosing a DMM for the job requires not only looking at basic specifications but also the features, functions and the overall value represented by a meter’s design and the care taken in its production.”
The author is a senior technology journalist at EFY