In many modern professions, digital multimeters are an essential tool. Most engineers, technicians, and computer network professionals can’t function properly without theirs. They’re a go-to tool in a wide variety of testing or troubleshooting situations. They’ll often make the difference between a job well done or a job not done. But when it comes to buying a digital multimeter, how do you know which fits your needs best?
The Fluke company is a household name in the world of multimeters. They’ve been around for over half a century (so will most of their multimeters) and are one of the big brands to consider. Their Fluke 115 and Fluke 117 are great options for people looking to buy a digital multimeter. But between the two models, which do you need? In this article, we will compare the Fluke 115 and Fluke 117 and help you make your buying decision.
A closer look at the Fluke 115
The Fluke 115 is a great multipurpose tool. As an all-around digital multimeter, it is designed to work in poorly lit areas. The large white backlight helps you read results in less-than-perfect circumstances. It measures resistance and continuity, frequency and capacitance, voltage up to 600V, and 10A ac/dc current.
Unlike some other (more expensive) Fluke models, the Fluke 115 is made in China and comes at a very competitive price. The design is compact and curvy, which makes handling it easier than with some other multimeters. The rubber holster helps with durability and protects the reader when (not if) it is dropped. The device feels heavy and well-made, even for its price.
And although it is competitively priced, it holds up for most professional uses. It is a staple for car technicians, field technicians, military engineers, and many other professions. It is also a very reliable option for anyone who needs a multimeter around the house that will last for years.
A commonly mentioned drawback of the Fluke 115 is the readability of the screen from certain angles. Although it has the LED backlight and the option to illuminate the screen, some people report a disappointing experience from some angles.
The Fluke 115 is sometimes described as the brick house of digital multimeters. It does everything the average homeowner or hobbyist needs and will be plenty for many professionals as well. On top of that, it will last you decades at least, for a price that is competitive with much lower-grade comparable multimeters.
The Fluke 117 in detail
The Fluke 117 is quite similar to the Fluke 115 but can be considered the feature-heavy version. The most obvious difference is Fluke’s VoltAlert technology, which allows for non-contact voltage detection. This means that the tester will activate when it comes close to a live wire, even if it’s isolated with plastic.
It also offers automatic AC/DC voltage detection and a low input impedance that eliminates most false positives. It can also be used hands-free with a magnetic hanger -- a separate accessory. Another accessory will allow you to measure temperatures, too. In short, the Fluke 117 is more better suited for heavier work than the Fluke 115 and more specifically geared towards electricians.
The extra features on the Fluke 117 are especially visible under less-than-perfect circumstances. Because it is labeled as a True-RMS meter, it doesn’t just read clean waves, but can also read distorted waves and ghost voltage. For some professions, this can make the difference between being able to do the job or not.
Some of the drawbacks people have mentioned are the fairly limited measurement ranges. Although the 117 will do a solid job for all but a few people, if your job involves frequent diode checks or requires a frequency measurement over 50kHz, the Fluke 117 might fall short of an optimal performance.
The Fluke 117 is the Fluke 115’s big brother in every way. It’s almost the same but offers some extras that will prove to be especially useful for professionals. The 117 is geared more towards electricians and arrives with a few extra features for a neat price.
So how do the Fluke multimeters compare side by side?
Comparison - Fluke 117 vs 115
For a lot of people looking to buy a digital multimeter, the question isn’t what brand they’re buying, but whether they’re getting the Fluke 115 or Fluke 117. The two look the same, weight the same, and mostly come with the same features. They’re both CATIII certified, which means that you can use both digital multimeters for anything inside the house.
The differences between the two are subtle. The Fluke 117 comes with some extra features and is geared more towards electricians and similar professions. It allows you to read live wires without contact and is the only one of the two multimeters that can read distorted waves. The 115 is the perfect choice for field technicians, professionals working with large equipment, and hobbyists. The real difference between the models is in the two main features that the 115 lacks, and that make the 117 such a great choice for electricians.
The ranges that can be measured are the same for both models, and they feature the same screen and reading options. Those ranges are not sufficient for some specific purposes, but both Fluke models are all-round digital multimeters that are used reliably by professionals all over the world.
Although the Fluke 115 and Fluke 117 look very similar, their users will get quite a different experience out of them. They’re both extremely well-priced all-round multimeters that are great value for money and will last for years.
If you’re trying to make a buying decision between the 115 and 117, consider this: The Fluke 117 is made for electricians. Its non-contact voltage detection is literally a life saver, and the ability to measure ghost voltage is a big plus.
For everyone else, the Fluke 115 is simply the best all-round digital multimeter in its price range. It outlasts its competitors, weighs in with all features that are used by the majority of people, and comes at a very competitive price.
FAQ Fluke 115
Can Fluke 115 measure temperature?
No, Fluke 115 can’t measure temperature as it is a model built for field service technicians. However, if you can do without temperature function, this is a great standard multimeter. Its compact size and accuracy of other functions are enough to satisfy every buyer that is looking for a multimeter that will do its job up to the highest standard.
Fluke 115’s functions are AC and DC amps measuring, frequency measuring, capacitance measuring, and diode testing. Fluke 115 also has a True RMS function that will ensure that you read highly accurate results.
When we add a large three digit/six thousand count display, you know that you will hit the jackpot with this multimeter.
If you really can’t do without a multimeter that can measure temperature, you should try Fluke 116. Fluke 116 is designed for HVAC work and that is visible on the multimeter itself. It has a strong backlight for poorly lit environments, built in thermometer that can measure up to four hundred degrees celsius and a CAT III 600 V certification.
Fluke 116 will give you the confidence to work carefree. This multimeter is also protected from impacts of any sort and you could probably drive a car on it and it would still be fine and in working order.
If you are looking for a basic multimeter, Fluke 115 is the best one you can find. If you absolutely need a thermal function, Fluke 116 will give you what you want and a lot more.
Where is Fluke 115 made?
Fluke 115 is made in factories all over the world. You probably know that Fluke is a company stationed in the United States, in Washington (in a state, not the capital city). That’s where all the planning and designing happens.
Look: I’m sure that those of you that are more interested in this question are eager to find out the specific locations of Fluke Corporation factories so I will list them now.
Fluke has factories in United States, United Kingdom, Asia, and the Netherlands. Finished products are then shipped to one of many sales center’s, where they are either sold directly or shipped to one of the buyers. If you are in the United States, the model that you order will be shipped to you from the United States. For those of you that are located in Europe, the products you ordered will be shipped to you from Germany, France or the United Kingdom, depending if you are located in continental Europe or the United Kingdom. Fluke multimeters are shipped from China, Korea or Japan if you are in Asia. Fluke Corporation also has a sales center in Australia that takes care of Australia and New Zealand.
One thing is certain. There’s a reason why Fluke Company gives out lifetime warranties to its products. If you order a product from Fluke, you can be confident that you will receive a product that had hours and hours of careful work invested into it so that you can be satisfied with the final product that will enable you to do your work up to the highest standard.
How to calibrate Fluke 115 multimeter?
Manual that is shipped with Fluke 115 contains all instructions that are necessary for the user to know in order to safely and effectively operate the Fluke 115 multimeter. One of those instructions is about Fluke 115 calibration. In the case that it fails during performance tests, Fluke 115 needs to be calibrated and it can be calibrated easily. You just need to press a few buttons and refer to the table within the manual. The table contains the values that are to be used during calibration. Calibration of ohms does not require any test leads. When calibrating other values, you will need to use test leads as instructed.
There’s just one catch before you begin calibrating your Fluke 115: Fluke 115 has an excellent protection system so that you can be sure that no one except you calibrated your multimeter. When you first get Fluke 115, the passwords for calibration is 1234. Before you begin your first calibration, you will be required to set the password of your choice, just be careful. If you forget the password, you will need to spend a lot of money to fix your multimeter.
All Fluke models from 11* series contain the password protected easy calibration, the only difference is in the calibration codes that are different according to each model, but that’s no cause for alarm. You can find your calibration codes in the manual that will be shipped with your multimeter. If you want a multimeter with an easy calibration process and a multimeter that will respond only to you, Fluke 115 is the model for you.
How to use Fluke 115 multimeter?
Fluke 115 is used like any other multimeter, but it will shine the most if used as intended by the manufacturer, when experienced users measure basic functions. You can choose settings on the Fluke 115 by turning the dial on the multimeter on a desired setting. This multimeter is used to measure voltage, capacitance, resistance and amperage.
Although easier for use than most other multimeters, Fluke 115 is not oversimplified. Quite the opposite, it is a very delicate machine that will do what it’s supposed to do very well.
Probe jacks are on the front side of the multimeter. When you want to insert a probe in the multimeter, you place it in like on all other multimeters. Probes that come shipped are of good quality, which is standard when it comes to Fluke.
If you want protection caps, you will need to buy them separately, but that isn’t a big deal.
You can replace the Fuses on the Fluke 115 by removing the back lid on the multimeter. Removing the battery is not required for replacing the fuse, but I think that you should remove the battery before doing that because it will make replacing a fuse a lot easier.
It is not required to replace the fuse once you first buy Fluke 115 because it has a quality ceramic fuse that was made in the United States. The back light is turned on like on all other multimeters, you press the button to turn it off and on as desired.
FAQ Fluke 117
How to use Fluke 117 multimeter?
Fluke 117 is a multimeter designed for use by electricians. Although most features remain the same like on Fluke 115, Fluke 117 has two additonal features electricians will find very useful. Those features are AUTO-V-LoZ and VOLT-ALERT.
You don’t need to replace the fuse on Fluke 117 as it is a high quality ceramic one. In the case that you do decide to replace it, you will find the process easy since all it takes is to unscrew the back lid, remove the battery and replace the fuse. There is no need for any additional work, like on some other models that bury the fuse deep inside. Unscrew and replace, that’s all.
Probes that are shipped with Fluke 117 are of excellent quality, although electrical technicians will probably want to replace them with probes that have shields and protective caps, in order not to short out the circuit in case they are working in tight spaces.
Fluke 117 is equipped with a nice screen that is very visible and large, and the screen is also equipped with a back light that will be useful for users that work in low light environments or tight spaces. Fluke 117 also has a true RMS function, that guarantees you the highest standard of accuracy possible.
Fluke 117 does not need to be calibrated when you first get it, but despite this, you should calibrate it because the accuracy will be even better after you do that. Manual that comes with Fluke 117 contains detailed instructions for operation, and is easily understandable.
How to calibrate Fluke 117?
Fluke 117 is calibrated in the same way as Fluke 115 is. You will receive a manual shipped in the package with a set of detailed instructions for calibration. All you need to do is to follow the instructions in the manual. Only one difference exists. That difference is in the calibration codes that are a bit different on Fluke 117. Everything else is the same, even the buttons that need to push.
Fluke 117 is password protected. Once you calibrate your Fluke 117, you will need to insert your personal password so that no one else can access to the calibration process of your multimeter and diminish the quality of your work in such a way.
Manufacturer recommends that you calibrate Fluke 117 with an artificial power source so that you have an external reference point although it is not needed because this multiemter contains reference points that are installed in the software. All that you need to do is to select a code for the setting you need to calibrate and that’s it.
Codes are divided according to the settings and sub-settings of the Fluke 117 multimeter and they are all easily visible in the table that is located within the Fluke 117 manual, near the end of the ‘Calibration’ chapter.
Look: Instructions on the process of calibration itself are short and easily understandable. It will take you one time to read those two pages and you will know what to do immediately. It is so incredibly easy.
Where is Fluke 117 made?
Fluke 117 is made all over the world, depending on the location of the market it is shipped to. Fluke has manufacturing plants all over the world, in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Once built, the multimeters are then shipped into sales centers all over the world. The Fluke Company has sales centers in every major country of the world. You can buy your multimeter in person, or you can order it from Fluke directly or one of the retail sellers that sell multimeters.
If you are concerned by quality, you shouldn’t be, because Fluke has high standards regardless of the country its products are produced in.
There is one more thing if you are skeptical about the quality and that is their shipping rule. If you are in the US, Fluke will ship you your multimeter that was made in the United States. The same goes for Europe and Asia. If you are in Australia, you will most likely receive multimeters that were built in the United States. Besides, the European Union has special laws that require the quality of the products to be at a certain safety and quality level. Fluke would not be allowed to sell their products in the EU if the had not satisfied the standard, let alone to produce them on EU soil.
Fluke does not remain on the top of the multimeter market when it comes to every possible feature of their products without reason. They have set the bar on the market, and they keep setting it constantly. That is the best guarantee of quality that one could possibly have.