Our Rating: 4.9 out of 5
Reviewed by: Elriegh Bunton
Published on: September 24, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!