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Fluke 117 HVAC Multimeter Review

Fluke 117 Multimeter

Fluke 117
Cutting Edge Quality from Fluke

Our Rating: 4.9 out of 5

Reviewed by: Elriegh Bunton

Published on: September 24, 2017 

               Top Product

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    Design   8.5/10
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    Funtionality  9.5/10
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    Price 9/10

Fluke 117 Overview

You can be forgiven for thinking this is simply an upgraded version of the Fluke 116. However, that's not the case.

Instead, what we have here is a tool that caters more towards electricians, whereas the previous model is designed for HVAC usage.

The most common use for the 117 is in high demand areas such as a hospital or a school. With this in mind, Fluke has made sure the item comes with a VoltAlert non-contact voltage detector to ensure your safety is kept as a big priority.

The big selling point for this product is it's true RMS feature. Units that lack this component will occasionally present false or inaccurate data, therefore invalidating any recordings. The Fluke 117 avoids this however and allows you to have confidence in the product.

As before, we will begin with an overview, detailing what the item is. This will be followed by the key features, before moving on to our pros and cons. We'll also take a look at what other users found when buying the product before giving our final verdict.

Fluke 117 HVAC Multimeter

As previously mentioned, the 117 is aimed at electricians this time around. It's great for this line of work due to the unit having good versatility, coupled with an easy to use and intuitive design.

Accuracy is critical for anyone in this line of work, and thankfully, Fluke is well aware of this. Equipped with min/max/average readings allow for measurements of frequency and capacitance to be pinpoint and time saving, another aspect that will be gratefully appreciated in the field.

As expected with Fluke, the unit itself is durable and feels sturdy and able to withstand an accidental drop, which provides some peace of mind if you happen to be a little bit clumsy on occasion! The display is large enough not to be obnoxious, but provide you with the data in a presentable and clear format that allows for the quick digestion of the information.

Speaking of facts, it's time now to take our inspection to the next level and uncover the specifics of this item.

Specifications

Being priced at $179.99 you would expect there to be numerous features to examine. As we know with Fluke, this is often the case and continues here with a nicely populated list which is as follows.

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  • VoltAlert TM technology for non-contact voltage detection
  • AutoVolt automatic AC/DC voltage selection
  • Low input impedance: helps prevent false readings due to ghost voltage
  • Measures 10 A (20 An overload for 30-seconds)
  • Resistance, continuity, frequency, and capacitance
  • Min/Max/Average with elapsed time to record signal fluctuations
  • Compact ergonomic design for one-handed operation
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    Auto shut off feature
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    Compatible with optional magnetic hanger (ToolPa TM) for hands-free operation
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    CAT III 600 V safety rated

With the core components in place, let's highlight three of the above in greater detail to establish what this product is all about really.



1. ​True RMS

Briefly touched upon in our initial overview, the true RMS element of the 117 is worthy of closer inspection and detail, due to its importance.

It is a vital element for providing accurate readings on the job and sets apart the best multimeters from the rest. To properly assess a unit, you require an instrument with a good range and resolution.

The Fluke 117 doesn’t have an issue with amperages or volts; able to display values within 0.5% accuracy, which is very impressive.


2. The Screen

Easily noticeable is the big and bright digital screen. This provides an easy reading solution that many units fail to achieve as products have too much clutter that obstructs clear review. The screen is also lit with an LED backlight if you choose to have this turned on.

The key here is a choice, as in a well-lit environment this will not be necessary, and the LED light does not come on automatically, but at the press of a button. This is great from a practical standpoint as well as an economic one, as you will save the battery.


3. VoltAlert Technology

Again, we mentioned this before, but the VoltAlert technology housed in the 117 is a great touch from a safety perspective and also for job efficiency. This feature allows you to test if there is voltage present without the necessary leads. Simply hover the 117 over the object to be tested and wait for an audible signal to sound. If this happens, you know the voltage is present around the circuit.

 So how does all of this information stack up with our pros and cons? Let's take a look and analyze the good and bad aspects we found with the Fluke 117.


Pros & Cons

There is plenty to praise with this model. To begin with, the accuracy and definition of readings were absolutely on point, which is of course due to the true RMS feature.

As before with the 116, the unit is compact and easy to hold in one hand, while feeling sturdy and strong, but it feels solid, which is a huge plus. Other features we liked were the auto-shutoff aspect, the non-contact voltage detection, and the low input impendence.

However, it's rare to find a perfect product, even if the complaints are minor. The display suffers from the same pitfall as the 116 model, as in some lighting conditions, the contrast is lost which can be frustrating and make readings hard to obtain.

This is compounded if the batteries are running low or if the backlight is switched on, so be aware. Furthermore, the origin of assembly is also somewhat of a grey area. While Amazon cites it as the United States, in actuality these units are assembled in China. Not that this greatly affects the quality either way, but it's worth mentioning.

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Pros:
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    True RMS
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    Great Design
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    VoltAlert Feature
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    Reliable
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    Easy to use
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Cons:
  • Made in China
  • Display loses contrast in some lighting conditions

User Reviews: 

Praise is widespread for this model, which is hardly surprising, given its pedigree.

One user commented, "Things I like is that you can force it NOT to shut off automatically. When I am testing panels, it's so annoying to hear your meter's final beep before it shuts off, then un-tangle yourself just to switch it back on"

This is a great point to make and again showcases the versatility of the product. However, as we suspected some users are not overly enamored with the display, stating, " Unless you are looking at the screen from a 90 d. Angle, YOU WILL NOT SEE anything!"

Finally, a simple and positive review states, " This is a great meter for electricians or field engineers. Feels solid and well made, but not heavy. The screen is large and clear."

Conclusion

The verdict is that this is a great product that has a plethora of positives whilst only a few bug bears that largely depend on user interaction or preference.

Once again, Fluke have delivered an outstanding model that is sure to be of use in the field, in this case specifically for electricians. One thing to mention is that there is an additional magnet hanger that is an optional extra (roughly $39) which can make life even easier for you. We would wholeheartedly recommend this product.

Should you be looking for something a little different, don't hesitate to delve within our other broader review pages at Santa's Reviews, you won't regret it!

how to use a fluke multimeter

Fluke 101 Mini Digital Multimeter

Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter

fluke 101
The best compact multimeter from Fluke

Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Reviewed by: Elriegh Bunton

Published on: September 21, 2017 

               Top Product

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    Design   8/10
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    Funtionality  9.5/10
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    Price 9/10

Fluke 101 Overview

Our first budget multimeter comes from the extremely reputable company Fluke. As you saw with our "Best Multimeters of 2017" review, Fluke dominated that scene, although they weren't shy with the prices on some of their models, so it's interesting to see them appear here in our cheap multimeter review.

With that said, this basic and pocket sized multimeter perfectly fits the trope of "don't judge a book by its cover." Whilst the diminutive stature may have some users thinking it won't be up to task, this isn't the case.

It has many features that provide use in the field that will be suitable for quick fixes and smaller jobs. For this reason, its appeal goes straight to DIY electricians who want to get the job done themselves, without getting a piece of kit that's too expensive or complicated.

To get a complete picture of this product, we will firstly begin with an overview, detailing what the item is. This will be followed by the key features, before moving on to our pros and cons. We'll also take a look at what other users found when buying the product before giving our final verdict.

Fluke 101 Review

Fluke is an extremely reputable company that prides itself on safety, robust units and accurate tools. With this entry, the 101, the target market is the home improver who wants to find an easy and simple solution to their electrical diagnostic needs.

Capable of measuring AC and DC voltages up to 600V, it also reads resistance, continuity, capacitance, and frequency with a basic DC accuracy of 0.5%. The most critical factor about this unit is it's accessibility for all. This is applicable for its price range ($49) and its ease of use.

The basic features presented on the model may not be what a seasoned professional is after, but they are still varied and numerous. Let's check them out below and see what we get for our dollars.

Specifications

As we've stated already, this pocket sized, budget multimeter does come with a lot of basic features that can be explored in further detail. Below are the key elements with some explanations to let you know what you're buying.

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  • Basic dc accuracy 0.5%
  • CAT III 600 V safety rated
  • Diode and continuity test with buzzer, Rugged, durable design
  • Automatic shutdown, Battery is easy to replace
  • Auto Ranging
  • Data Hold
  • Compact and ergonomic 

The Best multi-meter under $100

Let us quickly dive in..

1.​ Small and Light

​The compact and lightweight design of this model means it is perfect for one handed use. Weighing in at a mere 0.5 pounds, it won't be a huge burden in your pocket. Instead, it's similarly proportioned to a modern day smart phone, so it won't feel too alien in your hands or clothes.

In addition, it won't take up much space in your garage or toolbox, which is a handy consideration. Also, just because it's small it can still withstand a few bumps and scrapes and won't fall apart from one drop. Fluke are well known for their dedication to providing rugged and long lasting models, so this follows suit.

2. Auto Power-Off

​Time and time again it happens when you'd reach for your multimeter, only to find it's completely ran out of battery. That is a bad situation to be in and it's usually because the unit has been left on by mistake and thus run the battery down to nothing.

Thankfully, the 101 negates this problem by having an automatic power-off feature. As the name suggests, after a few minutes of inactivity, it will automatically shut down. This saves time and in the long run, money, as replacing batteries constantly would get irritating and expensive!

3. Data Hold

Perhaps not to be expected with this product, but a welcome addition is that of the data hold. In fact, many other units in the best multimeter under 100 dollars category don't have this aspect.

It works simply in that measurements and readings can be stored in the data memory, which is a great feature to have if you are short of time or don't have a pen and pad to hand.


Pros and Cons


There's plenty to admire about this model and as the specifications above show, there's lots to take in and digest. We were really impressed with the amount of functions this unit can perform, especially for the price.

As we stated, one such function is the data hold, which is pretty unique for a model in this category and really helps it stand out. Ease of use is again something we've highlighted a few times, but for good reason; it's a top feature of the product and allows even the most new DIY handyman to get to grips with this product.

 However, there are always drawbacks for any product and this is no different. The display doesn't come with a backlight, so that can cause irritation in certain lighting conditions. Secondly, the auto-range function isn't as responsive as could be desired, which again impedes efficiency. There are definitely more good points than bad though, here's what we found overall
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Pros:
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    Great Price
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    Portable
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    Easy to use
  • Data hold
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Cons:
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    Lack of backlit display
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    Auto-ranging might lag 
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    Probe Placement not Optimal

Amazon Reviews

The proof is always in the pudding and plenty can be gauged from how other buyers found the product. On the whole, reviews are positive, with praise generally in line with our thinking.

One such review stated, " Great device. Fluke has always been top quality. Great and cost effective anyway for a small, portable, accurate mulit-meter."

This was echoed with another positive statement which explained, "It's a FLUKE so it shares the same reliability, robustness and functionality that they have grown their name on. It's a great multi-meter and perfect for 90% of what most people do."

Negative opinions are hard to find but some users did have some niggles, like so, "If you need a throw down meter. Here you go. It's durable and is fairly accurate. If you're a pro working in the electronic industry it's not for you. I tried reading ohms on a resistor directly from a resistor. 47K and it Reads 80K. Then I try it again and reads 50K."

Conclusion

We can deduce many conclusions from this first entry in our list. Primarily, it's obvious that this is a good product, particularly in its price range and maybe the best multimeter for the money.

There's no denying however that it is relatively basic, with a few components missing from the overall product that includes things like a backlit screen and the auto range not being as responsive as desired.

As the reviews from other buyers indicate, the consensus is that Fluke has another well made and accurate model to use, especially for a beginner. However, as one review alluded to, if you're a professional in the field then this is probably not suitable for you. Regardless of this, we're still big fans of the 101 and think it would be a worthy addition to your shelf, particularly if it's not going to be used more than occasionally.

Should you be interested in a more powerful gadget and budget is less of a worry, take a look at our Top-End Multimeters and see what the best of the bunch can do!

how to use a fluke multimeter

Digital Multimeters for Dummies

Digital multimeter ports

A digital multimeter (DMM) is a device utilised by specialists in the electric business to measure different values such as current, resistance, and voltage.
These units superseded the needle-based simple meters and have been around for quite a long time now.

Digital Multimeters in 2017


The DMMs of today are more dependable and have more impedance than their analogue counterparts could ever muster.

The digital multimeters currently on the market consolidate various testing features in one unit.

If you have never worked with a Digital multimeter before, then you will be amazed at the convenience of having so many different options in the palm of your hand.

Most of the mid to upper range multimeters can test both AC and DC voltage and current at surprisingly high levels If you wish to measure unusually large currents, then you can always bypass the fuse by plugging the red lead into the auxiliary port.

digital multimeters for dummies



DMN's typically include some advanced features for technicians who require specific functions. Read our guide on advanced multimeter functions for more details.

Let's get back to the basics:

A standard digital meter consists of four components
- an LCD to view measured values
- buttons which perform various operations
- a rotary switch which you use to select the appropriate measurement values (ohms, volts or amps, AC or DC)
- input jacks for the test leads.

digital multimeter components

Picture credit to Fluke Multimeters


You also receive two leads with your multimeter, a red and black for positive and negative poles.
These leads are made up of insulated wires that plug into the unit and two test probes at the end of each lead.

You may have heard the term “resolution” used for LEDs and LCDs, but for electrical testing devices, this means something completely different.
In multimeters, the resolution is not the number of pixels on a screen, but rather it describes the sensitivity of a particular device.

By knowing a meter’s resolution, a technician can determine whether it’s possible to detect a small change in the signal. For example, if a multimeter has a resolution of 10mV on its 300V range, it means you’ll be able to detect a change of 10mV on a measured voltage. This means that you can measure voltage in 300 000 steps!

Another way of putting it is the resolution of a multimeter refers to its sensitivity.

Modern DMMs had advanced and evolved significantly with regards to sensitivity and precision since Fluke introduced the first digital multimeter in 1977. As the demand for accuracy grew, it made much more sense to use a digital meter instead of an analogue one.

Modern digital multimeters are extremely versatile, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Below we list the main categories for digital multimeters:

General purpose (aka Testers)
Standard
Advanced
Compact
Wireless

Here, at Santa's Reviews, we favour auto-ranging digital multimeters. This means The auto-ranging feature saves a lot of time and hassle because you don’t have to know the actual range yourself; the unit does that for you.

It also still allows you to set the range manually if you wish to do that.

A final note on safety

Whenever you perform a task with your digital multimeter, it will present potential safety hazards.
After all, you are measuring live current.

Before using any electrical test equipment, you should always first refer to the user’s manual for proper operating procedures, safety precautions, and limits.

So join us in celebrating the era of the digital multimeter, and let's help you choose the best DMM for your individual needs.



How to use a Fluke Multimeter

how to use a fluke multimeter

For those who enjoy tinkering with electronics or performing do-it-yourself projects that involve electrical components, there is probably no greater tool to have than the digital multimeter.

Digital Multimeters (DMM)


Often abbreviated DMM, the digital multimeter allows you to measure a wide variety of things and see what is going on inside electrical circuits.

Depending on the particular model you are using, you could measure voltage, current, capacitance, inductance, or continuity. Based on the capabilities you require or desire, digital multimeters are available in a wide range of prices from a large number of manufacturers.

A brief overview of Fluke multimeters


A well-known and highly-trusted company that sells digital multimeters is Fluke. Founded in 1948, Fluke is a leader in the manufacture, distribution and service of electronic test tools and software. If you currently own or are considering purchasing a multimeter, we'll cover here the basics on how to use a Fluke multimeter.

For starters, let's get familiar with the essential components of your multimeter. Nearly all multimeters sold today are digital and therefore have an LCD screen where you will be able to read the measured values.

You will also find various buttons or in some cases a dial or knob, that you can use to select the function you would like to use (voltage measuring, current measuring, etc.). Finally, you will have a set of leads or probes.

These probes usually come in tow colours, one black and one red, and are what you will use to take measurements with your Fluke multimeter.

How to use your Fluke multimeter


Using your leads to take measurements is quite simple, and the process varies slightly depending on the type of analysis you are trying to make. When measuring the voltage between two points in a circuit, use the buttons or dial to indicate you would like to measure voltage. 

Most models offer the ability to measure both AC and DC voltages, so take care to select the correct voltage type you would like to measure to make sure your measurements are useful. 

fluke multimeters

Next, place the black lead at the location of lowest voltage (usually ground) and place the red lead at the location of highest voltage.

After doing this, you will be able to read the voltage between these two points on the digital LCD. If you're reading happens to be negative, simply swap the locations of your red and black leads.

When measuring current with your Fluke multimeter, you will need to be sure to break the continuity of your circuit so that you can place your multimeter "in-line" and allow the current to flow through it.

It is important to note that your red lead should be located at the point in your circuit from which the current flows and that your black lead should be placed at the point in your circuit where the current will flow too.

Similar to voltage readings, if your measurement value is negative, it means the current is flowing in the opposite direction than you thought. Simply swap the locations of the red and black leads and the measured value will be positive.

Features that sets Fluke Multimeters apart


Probably one of the simplest, yet highly useful, functions of your Fluke multimeter is the continuity tester. Testing for continuity allows to you determine whether or not electrons will be able to flow freely between two points.

To put your multimeter into this mode, just press the button for this function or turn your dial to it. For testing continuity, it does not matter where you place the red and black leads, just place one at your first location and place the other at your second location.

If the path between your two points has a low enough resistance that electrons can flow from one to the other in a relatively free fashion, your multimeter will begin to beep.

 This audible alert is useful in that you don't have to have fixed sight of your multimeter while taking these measurements.

If you do not hear a beep when you place your leads between two points, then there is no electrical connectivity between them.

Conclusion


A multimeter is a powerful tool for both troubleshooting and double checking your work when it comes to all things electrical. As stated before, there are many models out there with many different capabilities. Hopefully, these basic instructions will help get you started with your Fluke multimeter, take a look at our Top Multimeters and see if any take your fancy (Fluke does make an appearance)!