Electrical test and measurement equipment reviews.

  Digital Multimeter, Clamp on meter, Oscilloscope, Electronic component testing tools, all measuring equipment for demanding applications of our times:  Switching or Uninterruptible power supply, PV Inverters, VFD motor controllers, industrial electronics repair & HVAC.

Written by Kiriakos A. Triantafillou, Industrial maintenance electrician, Hellas.

Industrial Test Tools Scoreboard


DER EE/ DE-5203 multimeter Review – By the eye of the Industrial electrician

By Kiriakos Triantafillou – Greece   December 2016  
Within 2015 DER EE Electrical Instrument Co., Ltd. it did a fresh product release, this is a new multimeter series DER 5200.
DER EE this is a company focused at making tools for trouble-shooter electricians. For example their top range of HH multimeter DE-208A and similar, they come with advanced features for measurements’ plus robust exterior case this covered by molded elastic armour.

DER 5200 series by our viewpoints this represents a medium priced entry-level class of multimeter, this aiming a range of applications in which high measuring speed and exterior multimeter robustness these are non important requirements.
This is basically a 22,000 counts multimeter having measuring speed of two times per second, such multimeter this have much to offer for example to people working with computers repairs, another target group could be people thinking to work professionally in electronics and they need a friendly priced multimeter for bench work.
Strong point of DER 5200 this is pack of features them dedicated for components testing.
More specifically, we liked the extended number of ranges dedicated to capacitors measurements’.
For DER EE, a friendly priced multimeter this does not translate cutting corners by sacrificing product quality or safety.
And this is what we admire to DER EE, their specific DE-5200 & DE-5202 & DE-5203 all come with high quality manufacturing regarding electrical safety, and them also include modern HRC fast fuses at 1000V.

When you will finish reading this ITTSB product review, you will be aware of product specifics’ of DE-5203 model.
Part 1: DER EE 5200 series: Base model specifications’
Bar Graph
Peak-max. & Peak-min Hold
Max / Min Hold
Data Hold
Delay Hold
Auto Range & Manual Range
Auto Power Off Selection
Relative Check
AC 3 dB Bandwidth LPF
HCF Signal Detection

DE-5203 additional features’: True RMS, Backlight, Temperature
Part 2: DE-5203 and functions relative to components measurements
Resistor, diode, capacitors,

While DE-5203 this is a 22.000 counts multimeter, within specific selected ranges LCD display resolution this it does varying.
For example at low resistor measurements’ 220 Ohm lowest range, digits resolution this is in 0.01 Ohm.
Only at 2.200 Ohm we have five digits resolution, and also at 2.200 Mohm we have again five digits resolution.

At capacitors lowest range 22.000 nF here display resolution this is at five digits the highest.
For example a 110 Pico farad ceramic capacitor it is measured and displayed as 0.11nF that is three digits resolution.
Just bellow 100nF there is four digits resolution and above 100nF there is five digits resolution.

Now by speaking of measurement speed execution, the first part of immediate measurement this is executed reasonably fast, the second that is final settle of last digits, this is rather slow at lowest range when measuring as low as 40nF.  
At specific test I did use only ceramic capacitors, their capacity it is very stable compared to electrolytic capacitors, even so DE-5203 this needed several seconds to settle.
General picture this improves at 100nF and above, but expect eight to 10 seconds delay about getting detailed measurement at 1000 uF capacitors.

DE-5203 this includes automatic capacitor discharge function, by testing a 15.000 uF capacitor (large ELKO), I did monitor discharge process and when voltage becomes low to 100 mV DC the meter switched at measuring mode.
Larger capacitor rage of DE-5203 this is 22.000 uF up to 220.000 uF, and now take a breath and think of this, no matter if you own an HH LCR meter, due it specifications’ this is unable helping you measuring capacity of a capacitors bank  ( application example  power supply of 500W audio amplifier ).

Now regarding diodes DE-5203 has a maximum range of 2.2 Volts, and display resolution of five digits (0.0001V)
Part 3: DE-5203 voltage and current modes.

DE-5203 AC millivolts range
When reviewed DE-208A back in 2012, I did discover that this is able measuring from a single millivolt compared to other HH multimeter them starting at 6 or more millivolts.
Unexpectedly DE-5203 this is also capable for such low measurements’ making it a very usable choice for audio work applications.
DE-5203 AC mV range this is 220 mV Max.
In my tests this shown good measuring accuracy in the frequency range of 35 Hz up to 10 KHz.
While this is able measuring from single millivolt, measuring accuracy this recover at 60 mV and above.
When activating Hz measurement at mV range, this is possible when input signal this is at least 5mV or higher (I did that testing at 10 KHz).

With out exaggeration DE-5203 AC mV range, this is a small treasure hidden in a friendly priced multimeter.

DE-5203 ACV range
When your millivolts measurement this is beyond 220 mV by switching to ACV range you are good to go for higher measurements with very good accuracy specification at 0.7%.
First ACV range this is at 2.2V with 22.000 counts and five digits resolution.
ACV ranges / autorange:
2.2V, 22V, 220V, 1000V.

DE-5203 Low Pass filter

DER EE added to DE-5203 and Low Pass filter feature, this is useful for variable frequency drive motor controllers.
DE-5203 LPF filter this has selectable options as 1 KHz or 10 KHz or to be disabled.
I keep mentioning in all my latest reviews that VFD controllers are not all equal and they differentiate according to Max operating frequency.
There is out there VFD controllers at 100Hz, 200Hz, 300Hz, 400Hz, this translates that as long base frequency this differentiate, harmonics frequencies’ them changing too.
Some multimeter come with LPF filter this engaging at 600Hz and above, some other at 1k Hz.
DE-5203 LPF filter setting as 10 KHz this seemed as unusual implementation to me, especially when ACV range accuracy specification this is 1.5% at 1 kHz up to 5 kHz.

Now, common sense this it does require comparable measurements’ no mater the brand or model of a multimeter even with LPF filter in use.
After testing DE-5203 LPF filter, I found comparable results when this is used measuring a 200Hz VFD.

DE-5203 measuring current modes ACA & DCA
Measuring current of electric motors this is a demanding application, and this can be served correctly only from meters able to do five measurements per second or more.
DE-5203 shown as poor performer in my test bed, at 10 Ampere range this was tremendously slow at measuring and displaying current at 450 mA.
My test bed this is a regular kitchen mixer with variable speed selector.
At lowest speed this motor requiring 280 mA and 400 mA at Max, by powering up my test bed the multimeter needed about 7~9 seconds to measure correctly compared to faster multimeter which them require no more than 1 second of time.

At ACA mode I also tested features of Peak measurement and also of Min/Max.
Peak measurement was rather good, at 390 mA the multimeter calculated around 650 mA as Peak ACA, and this was confirmed also by another multimeter.
At Min/Max mode, DE-5203 shown as poor performer again at measuring and recording any Min/Max points.  

DE-5203 measuring DCA
Neither in this mode this DE-5203 managed to impresses me.
My new test bed this were now a high quality DC motor this removed from an old VCR player, DC motor specifications’ 6.5V 60 mA.
By this motor I did manage to explore this 220 mA DCA range with out any fear of burning this 250 mA SIBA fuse which this protecting this range.

DE-5203 at 220 mA (0.8% +5) and at 10A (1.2% +10) DCA ranges, this shown somewhat faster behaviour of five seconds for a stable and accurate measurement.

Additionally I have to mention that DE-5203 defaults at DCA mode, and this requiring from user him to select ACA if required.
Part 4: DE-5203 advanced features.

REL button this is a must have feature especially at measuring low values of any electrical parameter.
DER EE recommends use of REL especially at small capacitors measurements’.

HOLD & Auto HOLD this is another useful feature of DE-5203, but here DER EE made an implementation that I had never see before.
Auto HOLD this upon activation it is operate by the use of a timer this waiting for you for six seconds.
Definably this is a totally wrong implementation of this feature, if this multimeter where designed for outdoor use and this taking measurements in hard to reach locations.
But DE-5203 this is a companion for bench work, and theoretically those six seconds of time they might shown as sufficient about you placing your test leads over circuitry measuring points (DUT test points).

Temperature measurement this is a friendly task with DE-5203, this has dedicated range, and all that you will need this is a thermocouple.
In temperature measurements’ DE-5203 this is very fast as it uses three digits resolution up to 99.9 Celsius, and four digits resolution above the 100 Celsius mark up to 400 Celsius that is end of first range, the second range this measure from 400 ~ 1000 Celsius.

Hz & Duty cycle,
Regarding HZ measurement this is another real offering of  DE-5203, and I am saying this because several other much cheaper multimeter, them are able to perform frequency measurements’ up to 30 ACV limit, and not at 220V mains voltage.
DE-5203 product specifications’: Range of 20HZ up to 400 kHz.
At 1 KHz LCD display this has four digits resolution, above 10 kHz the multimeter operates at full 22.000 counts up to 220 KHz.
Speaking of sensitivity, at ACV range just a 50 mV RMS input signal (Sinewave) this is enough so to trigger frequency measurement from 50 Hz up to 15 KHz.  

At Duty cycle testing DE-5203 this shown no problems as it did measure correctly up to 95% duty cycle (End of it range).  
Part 5: LCD display / switch selector / Buzzer / Fuses / accessories

DE-5203 this has an LCD display that is crisp and clear with elegant regarding design digits, it is a pleasure to watch and also there is no issue at all regarding viewing angles.

Regarding DE-5203 switch selector (range switch), while this is working well regarding mechanical movement, the feeling this is not the same as is with more expensive multimeter.

Buzzer volume this found to be very low, for my taste this is unacceptable.
While continuity mode this is extremely fast and latched, the little buzzer inside the meter this is audible only in a quiet working environment.

DE-5203 this come loaded with SIBA (Made in Germany) HRC Fuses.
uA & mA range this is protected by 250 mA Fuse at 1000V (part code 70 172 40).
10A range this is protected by 10A Fuse at 1000V (part code 50 199 06).

DE-5200 multimeter series this has plastic case body and DER EE offering to it a rubber holster for additional protection.
This is actually 4mm of rubber armour plus two test lead holders at it back.

Regarding test leads, DER EE offering this is quality test leads, but with new type of covered test leads tips (exposed tips length this is 4mm and isolating covers them are not removable).
Test leads cables are soft and medium grade compared with silicone ones of highest quality.

The multimeter this is also escorted by a User manual, this is well written and detailed.
For my taste this is rather small regarding external dimensions, 30 pages with tiny fonts, it is not a wise choice.
User manuals they should come at the size of the carton box (packaging), and them to be easy to read (regular fonts size).

DE-5203 this is powered by two AA alkaline batteries, and they are Zinc Chloride Super Heavy Duty "Novacell" Brand NV-UM3S.
My very own rule this is always me using batteries from known manufacturer them with extended expiration date.
"Novacell" Brand website this does not provide any documentation, and expiration date this shown as sort to me.
Part 6:  ITTSB comments over the design  
I am afraid that DE-5200 series this is not going to impresses any demanding users, but neither DE-5200 series this is aiming for them.

I did noted the smart game of DER EE R&D team,  they offered 22.000 counts, and by limiting digits resolution in some ranges, they made the slow engine of two measurements’ per second this to deliver somewhat acceptable results.

Speaking of accuracy in all modes this is acceptable but not comparable with better multimeter.

Speaking of ACV bandwidth, I am somewhat confused, while this can serve electrical measurements’, I am trying to understand if this meter can be also suggested to a hobbyist him working with audio projects?
This 220 mV range and also this 220 mA range, they can assist electricians (about them measuring sensors), but also such features they can also serve audience from the area of audio electronics, preamplifiers etc. etc.

Now regarding Low Pass Filter and VFD, and also Min/Max and Peak measurements’, personally I think that such features they must be added only at faster multimeter.
While DE-5203 this is a complete economic solution, capable to engage in a tremendously wide range of applications, if this gets used in applications related with electrical motors? This will somewhat disappoint the user.
Part 7:  conclusions

DER 5200 series this is a product package including safety, this is build by reliable materials, this including a huge pack of features, and this is made by one very reliable company in Taiwan.

Despite my own likes or dislikes, this multimeter at a price point of 130 USD retail, it is an entry level multimeter which this will aloud to a greater number of people them to start exploring the world of measurements’.

With it you may engage at DCV or ACV measurements’ of stable loads, you may also perform components testing, and even measure a bank of capacitors instead a single one.
22.000 counts this is significant feature at the right hands, PV testing, battery testing are just a few applications which them require high resolution and not high speed.

Hz measurement at any input voltage this is among it strong points too.

I am not aware why DER EE this insists at using backlight with blue LED as this is rather less bright than any other color.

My last word this is that I believe that DE-5203 this is good as first multimeter purchase, and it will help you to advance your own pack of experiences.
If this was coming with higher accuracy and speed, and more exterior armour, this would cost three times more.  

I wish to thanks DER EE Electrical Instrument Co., Ltd. for their good cooperation with ITTSB Blog, over the years.
Every product review made by me this works as another confirmation that DER EE brand logo this represents a healthy philosophy.
Speaking of expectations, only safe and honest made products are what you should expect from this brand.

Pictures gallery.