Fluke 116 vs 117: Which one is best?

When faced with picking out a multimeter in the stores, it can become a bit overwhelming to know which one to choose from. While there are many brands, models, and statistics on each, today I’d like to review two of the top models in the market today. The Fluke 116 and 117 models are both very competitive and respectable models which we will discuss today.

Comparison of product features

Product feature breakdown

Lets break down each of these products and discuss what each of their best features are and what it can do for you.

Fluke 116 Best Features

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  • Great Display: The 116 has an auto-LED backlight and is optimum in all environment whether low light or bright light. This is optimum when working in darker spaces or at angels as the 116 doesn’t lose much contrast. The text is also in a large font which is great for when it is a considerable length away from you.
  • Built in Thermometer: One of the best qualities of the 116 is the ability to test temperatures of objects and liquids which makes it a perfect companion for HVAC who use this for heating and air conditioning tests. It comes with a probe which is useful for touching specific objects/liquids. As a warning, ensure none of the liquids are corrosive so you don’t jeopardize the probe.
  • Data Capture: For those of you who have a hard time remembering the values or don’t have anything to write it down on at that time, the 166 has a data capturing function. This will store the reading automatically for you until you clear it with a new one.
  • True RMS: The true RMS feature is a key desire for HVAC workers who need a precise and accurate reading. For all true RMS devices, it ensures your readings will be accurate even under unfavorable conditions. Many multimeters on the market lack this currently, but most HVAC multimeters this will come standard.
  • Best in Design: Most all Fluke devices are well designed, but the 116 is made for optimum one-hand usage which is great when your other hand is holding a probe or object. Also for are magnetic holders for the multimeter which is a great accessory for hands-free use.

Fluke 117 Best Features

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  • Auto Shut-Off: If you are like many of us who use our multimeter often, you can easily forget to turn it off. The 117 comes with an auto shut off ability after 15 minutes of inactivity which ensures you will never pick up a dead device. This isn’t just great to save you on battery life, but it also is a great cost-saving mechanism. It’s important to note that while the device continues to detect activity, it will not shut down which is great for long-term projects that don’t require you to change settings.
  • True RMS: The 177 also has true RMS which is a highly needed ability for accurate and precise readings. It can read most all situation, no matter the conditions, within a 0.5% accuracy. While this is quite standard, it is still worthwhile to mention.
  • Non-Contact Voltage Detection: This is probably one of the most useful functionalities of the Flue 117 because it helps to keep the user safe. When you are unsure if there is voltage on an object and want to check, simply hover the multimeter over the object and wait for it to beep. If it does, it means the object has voltage present on it.
  • Display: The display of the 117 is big and bright and while it doesn’t automatically detect low-light, it has a button to turn it on quickly. The display is very easy to read, however, often can be distorted at certain angles.

Pros and Cons of each Device

DEVICE PROS CONS
Fluke 116 Durable and affordable
Precise and Accurate
Easy to use
Display tends to lose contrast under certain angles
Temperature readings can be inaccurate sometimes
Fluke 117 Accurate and Precise
Easy to Use
Versatile and Reliable
Display can lose contrast under certain angles
Assembled in China

Product shortcomings

Each of these devices have great functionalities, but each come up short in different aspects. I’ll tell you the ones which I felt were most noticeable.

Fluke 116 Dislikes

  • Loss of Contrast: At certain angels the device will lose contrast and while it can be a little annoying, it is not often that you will have this and a quick tilt towards you can fix it right away. We did find this to be a bit frustrating though.
  • Thermocouple Inaccuracies: Many reports have come in about temperature readings being inaccurate and while we never encountered this ourselves, it is worthwhile to mention that it may have some difficulties.
  • Country of Origin: While this isn’t the most important part, it is worthwhile to note that although they say it’s a product of the US, they are actually assembled in China.

Watch also this video on how to use a Fluke 116:

Fluke 117 Dislikes

  • Loss of Contrast: Similarly to the 116 model, the Fluke 117 has many of the same issues when it comes to screen angles and contrast. It’s important to note that it is easy to adapt to this and figure out which angles show the data best.
  • Country of Origin: Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker, however, Amazon claims it is a product of the USA while it is actually assembled in China. This shouldn’t deter you from purchasing Fluke products, but many people care what country of origin their products come from.

Check out this review video of Fluke 117:


Wrap Up

The Fluke 116 and 117 are both equally great products and have great advantages over most of the multimeters on the market today. When deciding which of these two you need, there are 2 key differences: Temperature and Non-Contact Voltage Detection. The 116 is perfect for HVAC as it can read temperatures of objects/liquids which the 117 cannot. On the flip side, the 117 can detect voltage with no-contact which is great for electricians.


FAQ

The Fluke 116 and 117 have many similarities and differences which it’s important to know prior to buying either one. Here are a few different must-know facts about these two devices that you should know.

Does the Fluke 116 read temperature in C or F?

One of the big advantages of the Fluke 116 over the 117 is the fact that you can use it for HVAC uses as it can measure temperatures using the thermocouple. The Fluke 116 can read temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit so it works well no matter what your measurement preference is.

Below are the ranges for both C/F:

  • -40°F to 752°F
  • -40°C to 400°C

Does Fluke 116 come with test leads?
In order to make measurements with your digital multimeter, you’ll need test probes as the multimeter can’t make any tests without them. The Fluke 116 not only comes with both black and red test lead probes to use to measure voltage, continuity, and more. It also comes with a temperature probe, holster, 9V battery, and a user manual so you have everything you need to get started making measurements right away.

Does Fluke 116 multimeter have an auto-off feature and can it be overridden?

The Fluke 116 has a built-in auto-off feature which is enabled if there is no function change, range change, or buttons pressed for a duration of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes it will turn off to help save on battery life. If you want it to stay on, just turn the rotary dial or press any button to keep it on.

If you prefer that the multimeter does not automatically shut off, you can always override this by holding down the yellow button when powering on the multimeter.

Additionally, the auto-off mode is disabled when you are measuring min/avg/max on the multimeter.

What are the ranges of resistance, capacitance, DC/AC Volts, and Diode Test Fluke 116 can measure?

Each multimeter has different types and ranges that it can measure in. Here are the ones that the Fluke 116 can measure:

  • Resistance: The Fluke 116 can test for electrical resistance between two points of a conductor. It can measure the following range: 600.0 Ω, 6.000 kΩ, 60.00 kΩ, 600.0 kΩ, 6.000 MΩ, and 40.00 MΩ.
  • Capacitance: The Fluke 116 can measure from 10-10000 capacitance.
  • DC Volts: The 116 has 3 different DC measurements depending on your circuit. You can measure up to 6.000V, 60.00V, or 600.0V.
  • AC Volts: The 116 has 3 different AC measurements depending on your circuit. You can measure up to 6.000V, 60.00V, or 600.0V.
  • Diode Test: There’s a range of 2.000V on doing diode tests using the 116.

Does the Fluke 117 multimeter come with leads?

Each multimeter needs test leads to measure accurately. The Fluke 117 comes with both black and red test leads for electrical measurements.

The 117 also has one measurement capability which does not require a test lead. The 117 has a non-contact voltage detection ability which detects if there is an electrical voltage present on a specific wire or metal object. This helps to ensure your safety is top priority.

Does Fluke 117 multimeter backlight stay on or turn off automatically?

The Fluke 117 has a bright white backlight which you can turn on easily by pressing the button which looks like a light-bulb. The backlight will stay on for up to 40 seconds until it automatically turns off.

If you would rather have the backlight stay on, you can hold down the light button when you power on the multimeter. It won’t turn off then until you turn off the multimeter.

Does the Fluke 117 come with the NIST calibration certificate?

If you want your multimeter to ensure it is up to industry standards, then you’ll want one that’s NIST certified. NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Having a multimeter that’s NIST certified means that it has been designed to ensure the users of the device have the highest possible quality and productivity standards.

The Fluke 114 to the 117 all are NIST certified.

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