Electronic – What are the dangers of a DIY fuse in a multimeter


For the past few years I have been running my Fluke 79III without a fuse in its F44.100A 1kV fuse holder. This has meant that I've been unable to use the 40mA circuit.

When I blew the old fuse, I discovered that it had been previously 'repaired' with another fuse soldered to the original Buss DMM-44/100 fuse. Then I went to look for replacement fuses and was aghast to find them selling for £10 each, so I wasn't surprised that the previous owner had 'repaired' the fuse rather than replacing it.

What I now wonder is what the consequences of once more 'repairing' this fuse might be. I don't play with three phase, and I'm unlikely to play with more than about 260VAC, so could I safely use a 250VAC, 500mA fast acting fuse in its place?

Watch Big Clives Things you should know about fuses. (including a 15kV one) video if Spehro Pefhany's answer hasn't already convinced you not to try this.

Best Answer

It's the same with disabling or bypassing any safety device, I believe you could be completely safe, but what if someone else picks it up and uses it? The danger is of arc flash, of course.

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Perhaps if you could mark it (and cover the model/Cat/IEC markings that would lead one to believe that it's safe to use on 600VAC? "Do not use on mains". Not sure if that is legally necessary or sufficient in the UK, but it might reduce the possibility of injury.

Here's what's left of a multimeter that was involved in an accident that killed two people.

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Evaluation of the meter circuit showed that it used a small glass 8AG fuse rated 0.5A at 250V for circuit protection on some functions. According to Underwriters Laboratories, the interrupting capacity of this style of fuse is only 35A at 250V. It has no specified interrupting rating above 250V. An estimate of the fault current through the meter shows that it could have been from several hundred to as much as 1,000A at 277V

The whole story is here. Note that the circuit was not even an industrial circuit, and "only" 277VAC phase-to-ground, but 480V phase-to-phase. The available fault current was not small.

I once tested some 5A/250VAC rated ordinary 5x20mm fuses on a light industrial 240V circuit (50A circuit). Almost every time they arced from end cap to end cap, and the glass tube literally exploded. Molten metal was found to have solidified in a layer on the glass shards, so there was a cloud of it after the tube ruptured. A plastic housing would have contained the shards, but anyone foolish enough to be closely observing without a face shield or safety glasses could have been injured or blinded. Interrupting (current) capacity is an important factor, and it's not marked on fuses generally.

Wow, there's a huge price range on that fuse- I see everything from $5 to $36.

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