On this lazy new year, I do a comparison between some of my old cheap meter (for Capacitance and Multimeter) and my new well know brand, Sanwa.

I finish some measurement for Capacitor and Resistor. It seems even the old cheap meter (cost <US$10) could measure very well compared with my expensive Sanwa (rated at 0.08% accuracy, cost >US$100). But for some special purpose, especially very small value measurement, the more expensive meter would do it better and more accurate. If you don’t mind with the “very standard” (more polite word for “cheap”) build quality, rarely measure small value item, and don’t need extra digit accuracy, then you can go with cheaper meter.

I compare 3 meters here. One is multipurpose meter, Sanwa PC510. High tech meter from Japan brand, Sanwa. Claims 0.08% accuracy, AC True RMS, and capable of testing Capacitance and Temperature (beside a standard AVO function of a Multimeter). This meter cost around US$ 150. The others are two my old meter. One is Heles UX35 (a standard AVO meter, cost around US$ 5) and the other is China brand Capacitance Meter CM8601A+ (up to 20.000uF, Capacitance meter only, cost less than US$ 8).

As the subject, I pick Audio Note Copper Foil Mylar-In-Oil Capacitor (default value at 0.47uF) and three value of 12W Mills Resistor (3R9, 22R, and 22K).

The photo below will speak by themselves.



For the Capacitance testing, both meter show very similar result. I believe, 0.02uF different is less than 0.5% accuracy. Then we start with the 22R Mills.



Now we see some different (21.98R at Sanwa and 22.6R at Heles). This is about 3% different. But do you really care about 3% accuracy? Since most parts like Capacitor or Resistor will have a standard tolerance of 5%. But if you do really a perfectionist 1% standard, then an expensive meter is a must.

Let’s go with an even lower value, 3R9 Mills.



The Sanwa produces exact 3R9 value, while the Heles around 4R1. Now we increase to 5% tolerance. It seems that the smaller the value measured, the more “function” of an expensive meter is shown up 😉

We go to a bigger value, 22K Mills.



Both meter produces similar value, 21.86K (Sanwa) and 21.8K (Heles). With this high value measured (KiloOhm value), the different is less than 0.5%. If you are playing with KOhm value, I believe any meter is your best friend. No need to worry.

Well, although my old cheap meter could get most of the job done flawlessly, but I do love the new meter. The Sanwa PC510 has good build quality, good test probe, stable reading (5 times sampling/sec), extra bargraph (well I can dump my old Sanwa analog meter which still used to measure the good/bad Capacitor purpose), extra temperature/capacitance measurement function and also the ability to connect the meter to PC via Serial connection (special interface used to connect the meter to PC). The bad thing is, I must pay extra cost to get the cable and software.