Harbor Freight has been heavily promoting their Ames digital multimeters, clamp meters, and electrical test equipment across all channels, grabbing my attention once more.
Harbor Freight describes the Ames electrical test equipment as being ruggedly built, certified safe.
With tools like these, safety is important, because users might be working with lethal levels of voltage and current.
Harbor Freight asks the question WHY AMES? and answers it as follows:
[Harbor Freight] Ames delivers quality products with advanced features for various applications.
Wow, that’s so… broad. “Advanced features for various applications.” Although, in their imagery, Harbor Freight does say these tools are designed for the tradesperson or DIYer.”
Each [Harbor Freight] Ames meter is independently lab tested and listed by ETL for both electrical safety and durability to deliver best in class performance.
While UL is perhaps the most recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), Intertek ETL is an OSHA-recognized NRTL as well (more info via OSHA).
Harbor Freight says that their Ames meter are certified by ETL to UL 61010-1 standards, which verifies that the meter is safe to use on high voltage and high current circuits, as well as withstanding high voltage transients.
The Ames line of products includes:
- Infrared thermometers
- Electrical testers
- Digital multimeters
- Clamp meters
- Laser distance meters
- Inspection cameras
- Sound level meter (coming soon)
- Airflow meter (coming soon)
- Light meter (coming soon)
Harbor Freight says that new environmental testers are coming soon, for improving air quality, monitoring noise levels, performing workplace audits, or measuring indoor light levels.
I posted about Harbor Freight Ames multimeter launch 2 years ago, and to be perfectly frank I haven’t given it a second thought since then.
Have any of you used Harbor Freight Ames electrical test equipment since then? Would you buy any of these tools today?
Personally, an ETL safety rating isn’t enough to convince me. HF can’t keep throwing “ruggedly safe, certified safe” around as the main selling point. I try to be open-minded, but the marketing continues to be weak. Harbor Freight isn’t doing enough to show they can stand next to industry big boys, such as Fluke, Ideal, Extech, and Amprobe.
How do you feel about Harbor Freight Ames today? Would you buy any of these tools for DIY, hobbyist, or professional applications?
If I’m to trust a brand other than one of my current go-to’s, I’d look towards Kobalt at Lowe’s sooner than Ames at Harbor Freight.