Which Fluke Multimeter Should You Buy?
When it comes to buying a digital multimeter, there is one brand that blows all the other brands out of the water: Fluke. Many professionals all over the world will gladly invest in a Fluke. There is no other brand that delivers a professional quality in quick and accurate readings the way Fluke can. But what if you’re not a professional but you still want to invest in the best multimeter money can buy? How do you know which one to pick?
In the article below, we will list the three most popular multimeters anyone can buy. All three are Flukes, but there are big differences between them. The most obvious difference will be the price. These are the three best multimeters in three vastly different price categories. Which one makes your best buy, depends on what you need a multimeter for and how specialized your needs are. Read on for a comprehensive guide to buying a Fluke.
The Fluke 101 is exactly what you’d expect from a digital multimeter with that name. It’s the basic starter model, and it’s both very basic and very good. Fluke has created this model to serve customers who demand the very basics from their multimeter, but still, want to have the best quality on the market.
To offer Fluke quality at a very accessible price, there have been some sacrifices. First of all, the Fluke 101 isn’t made in America, like most Flukes are. It is designed in America but made in China. This keeps costs down, while also guaranteeing a premium engineering quality.
When we look at the performance of the Fluke 101, we do indeed see that engineering quality at work. While there have been some concessions compared to other models, the Fluke 101 works like a charm. The engineering is sound and solid, even when you open the model to have a closer look like we did. The device feels small and lightweight, making it an easy tool to keep around in your pocket while you work on your projects.
The readings are fast and reliable, and even this basic model is CAT-III certified up to 600V. Functionality is limited for the Fluke 101, and while it does have the basic functions everyone will use in a multimeter, it lacks some of the functions you will generally find on a multimeter in this price range.
In making the Fluke 101, the Fluke designers had to perform a careful balancing act to keep prices pretty low, while not sacrificing performing quality. That doesn’t just mean that there is a limited number of functions, but also that some features are missing that are not essential for the performance of the multimeter. That means the backlight for the LCD screen is absent, which might make reading the measurements more difficult in less-than-optimal settings.
If you’re looking for premium quality with all the advantages of added convenience, have a look at our next model: the Fluke 117.
The Fluke 117 is the most advanced model in the Fluke 110-series. This series, like the Fluke 101, aims to deliver great performance while staying affordable. That means that the Fluke 117 is also made in China, which gives you a great price/quality ratio.
Unlike the Fluke 101, which is made as a general-purpose multimeter, the Fluke 117 is more specialized. Each of the four models in the 110-series is made with a very specific target audience in mind, such as HVAC specialists. The Fluke 117 is the most advanced model in the series and aimed at technicians who work either before or behind the box (meaning they work in the home or on the electrical equipment that leads to your home).
But just because it is made to serve electricians doesn’t mean it can’t serve you, too. Because it is the most extensive model in the 110-series, it packs most of the punch while still staying budget friendly.
Compared to the Fluke 101, it has almost double the functions, and quite the convenience extras added. It offers non-contact voltage detection, allowing you to detect live wires without touching them. It also has an AutoVolt function that automatically detects and switches to AC or DC voltage, a low input impedance which eliminates false readings due to ghost voltage, and it does come with the backlight for the LCD screen.
And unlike the Fluke 101, the Fluke 117 is not the result of a careful balancing act of weighing costs and features. The convenient extras take away nothing from the premium quality of the device. It is rugged, engineered to perfection, and delivers readings fast and accurately.
For someone who requires even more from their multimeter, the last multimeter in this comparison might delight you…
The Fluke 87V is the heavyweight in Fluke’s handheld digital multimeters. It might be the best-known Fluke and is generally accepted as the industry standard for digital multimeters in an industrial setting. It replaced an all-time favorite model (the legendary 179) and while it’s clearly aimed at electricians and those professionals working with heavy equipment, everyone can profit from the exceptional performance of the Fluke 87V.
As you may expect from the biggest model in this comparison, it offers the widest range of functions and measurements. It offers a 6,000 count LCD display (with backlight). It can carry out any test imaginable and comes with alligator clips to reach places that normal test leads cannot reach easily.
With the built-in thermometer, you can measure temperatures up to 1090⁰F. The Fluke 87V is CAT-III certified to 1,000V and CAT-IV certified up to 600V, meaning it can safely be used on heavy equipment. Test results are very accurate when tested next to a full-size industrial meter.
As a True-RMS meter, it can measure distorted waves. It has a lightning-fast continuity test, which is a notorious slow test in many multimeters. It does feature an auto-ranging function, so you don’t lose time selecting a range for your measurements.
The main reason to buy the Fluke 87V would be the reliable, fast, and precise measurements. The Fluke 87V doesn’t have some of the fancy extras that its little brother has, but it outperforms any hand-held multimeter inaccuracy. If you plan to carry out precise measurements regularly, there is no other digital multimeter that can serve you for decades than the Fluke 87V.
We’ve covered three Fluke models in the article. While all three are vastly different in functionality, they all share some characteristics that make Fluke the most coveted brand in the field of digital multimeters. Whichever model you decide fits your needs best, the quality and durability will be guaranteed to outperform its peers.
For someone looking to buy a great basic multimeter, the Fluke 101 is your premium choice. While it doesn’t have as many functions as its peers, it will outperform them on any measurement it does do. For most people, the limited functions are just the functions they need.
The Fluke 117 has a lot more to offer and packs it all in a surprisingly affordable multimeter. For someone who needs more functions and enjoys more convenience with it, the Fluke 117 is a great choice.
The Fluke 87V is the single best multimeter you can buy. That doesn’t mean you should if you only plan to use a multimeter for the most basic functions. But if you regularly use a multimeter and rely on precise, fast, and accurate measurements, you should look no further.