Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Reviewed by: Elriegh Bunton
Published on: September 21, 2017
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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!