Fluke 117 Multimeter Review
Editor Rating: 4.7/5
Fluke 117 Multimeter
Reviewed by: Timothy Henderson
Published on: March 12, 2017
HVAC multimeters are a necessity if you’re a professional who’s dealing with various applications on a daily basis. The good news is that there are a lot of available multimeters on the market at the moment. However, the bad news is that it’s not easy to choose the right one. Many of them have hidden flaws, or they simply don’t offer as much as others do. The lack of quality is a serious problem because most of the time people overpay a product while thinking they got a good deal. It doesn’t take much time to realize you’ve made a mistake, but it’s not easily fixable. You either have to return the product and ask for a refund or purchase another one. Both of these options aren’t favorable whatsoever.
We are here to help you make the right choice. We’ve covered a few HVAC multimeters that we consider are worth checking out. Take a look at our reviews, and you’ll get a better insight into the features of a particular product. Our reviews will certainly help you to comprehend some aspects you didn’t know about.
Fluke 117 – The Basics
One of the best things about the Fluke 117 is its versatility and ease of use. You can measure voltage, capacitance, frequency, and much more. You can also test the condition of a diode and determine the continuity involved. The major difference between basic multimeters and HVAC devices is the range and resolution. This particular model can measure voltage as low as 0.001V. In fact, the exact range is 600mV which is sufficiently sensitive for most HVAC applications.
The True RMS function is what makes this multimeter a great accessory for professionals. It offers accurate and precise data under unfavorable conditions. Many units that don’t have the True RMS tend to offer false and inaccurate data occasionally. However, you can rest assured that you’re going to get the same readings every time you conduct a test, without major fluctuations, which is the main benefit of having True RMS.
One thing you’ll notice right away is the bright digital screen. It’s large and easy to read. A lot of units have an underwhelming display with incomprehensive symbols and numbers. While the features are important, quality of the screen is a critical aspect as well. Luckily, the Fluke Company made sure to pay attention to both the display and features. The result is a complete multimeter with very few shortcomings.
As far as the backlight goes, it’s bright and white. The LEDs don’t turn on automatically but with a press of a button, which means you’ll save battery if you’re working in a well-lit environment.
As we said, the True RMS function is one of the critical ones for accurate readings and tests, especially when HVAC units are in question. You need an instrument with a good range and resolution if you want to handle HVAC units properly. Needless to say, the Fluke 117 doesn’t have an issue with amperages or volts; it will display the values with 0.5% accuracy, which is impressive. While the True RMS should be a standard in HVAC models, it still deserves to be mentioned.
Auto shut off
Many people consider this feature irrelevant or at least non-crucial. However, it’s quite important, especially for people who deal with electricity every day. A lot of times people simply forget to turn off their instrument after use because they’re in a hurry. Leaving the unit turned on leads to empty batteries, and empty batteries lead to unnecessary expenses. As you can see, this function doesn’t only prolong the battery life, but it saves money as well. The concept is pretty simple – the unit will shut down after 15 minutes of inactivity. However, if you’re conducting a continuity test that lasts more than 15 minutes, the unit can detect activity, and it won’t turn off.
Fluke is a well-known company because of their design and the quality of production. A vast majority of their instruments are built to last for years. While the Fluke 117 isn’t a small unit by any means, it fits in the palm of your hand without an issue. Many people have a problem with large multimeters because some of them require two hands. However, professionals who deal with HVAC applications on a daily basis probably need at least one of their hands-free. The rotary switch is also pretty smooth which means you can set the mode single-handedly.
Non-contact voltage detection
The concept of this feature is self-explanatory. If you want do test for the presence of voltage without the test leads, all you have to do is hover over the object you’re testing and wait for the audible signal. If the unit starts beeping, you know there’s some voltage present around the circuit. While it’s a great addition to this already versatile instrument, it’s a crucial safety measure as well.
Who Can Use This Product?
Anyone who’s looking for a quality multimeter should check out this unit. While it’s quite simple to use, it still has a ton of necessary features for testing various HVAC devices. Professionals love its versatility and precision. If you have a decent budget, feel free to check the Fluke 117 out, you won’t regret the decision.
The encouraging thing about Fluke is that they issue a lifetime warranty for most of their products. It’s more than enough proof of quality and reliability. Not many companies are ready to guarantee flawless service forever. On the other hand, the hobbyists have the opportunity to find a product for a more affordable price. It may be considered as overkill for DIY-ers because it has a somewhat premium price and it offers a lot of features you won’t use if you’re planning to test the gadgets in your household.
Accurate and precise
Easy to use
Versatile and reliable
Display tends to lose contrast under certain angles
It’s assembled in China
What We Didn’t Like
There aren’t many downsides when it comes to the performance of Fluke 117. It works great, and it offers reliable data. However, there are a few things that could have been better. It’s important to point out the minor disadvantages so that you know what to expect if you decide to purchase this particular model.
The display tends to lose contrast under certain angles. In fact, if you’re not looking at a 90 degrees angle, you might have a hard time reading the values. It’s even harder to read it when the backlight is turned on, or the batteries are weak. However, you won’t have an issue adapting to the weak contrast. Once you figure out the right angle – it won’t be a nuisance anymore. Bear in mind, adapting to the screen isn’t a time-consuming process, it doesn’t take more than a day.
Another thing we didn’t like is the confusion about the country of origin. While Amazon claims it’s made in the United States – that is not correct. It’s assembled in Asia, specifically China. Although there isn’t any major difference in quality, it’s still worth mentioning that you’re getting a product assembled in China and not in the United States.
There seems to be a lot of devices that were returned to the manufacturer for whatever reason and launched on the market again. Many people have been receiving used units, and it’s not good for the company’s reputation.
Is this a complicated multimeter?
While it’s not the simplest one available, it isn’t as complex as you might expect. As long as you know how to use a multimeter properly, you won’t have an issue. Also, make sure that you read the manual first, regardless of your prior experience with these tools.
Does it come with the test leads?
Yes, it does. However, the holster is not included. You’ll get a user manual and a pair of test leads.
Can beginners use this instrument?
It’s completely possible. However, if you aren’t an expert for HVAC units, it’s probably not smart to spend money on features you’ll never use. If you need a wide range and a good resolution – go for it.
It this unit considered expensive?
It depends on what do you consider as expensive. While it might seem like a premium price, it’s worth every penny due to the usefulness of its features.
Is it an auto-ranging unit?
Yes, it is.
What do The Users Say?
Professionals who tested and bought this model seem to like it a lot. It doesn’t have any major downsides, and most of the existing ones are easily solvable. It’s safe to say that people enjoy its versatility, ease of use, and price.
It has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon which is a great indicator of good quality. It holds the 13th place in the “Multi Testers” category.
You won’t make a mistake if you opt for this particular model. It has everything you’ll ever need for testing HVAC devices. One could argue that the display could have been designed better, but it’s not a significant issue because most people get used to it quite quickly.
If you didn’t find this multimeter interesting enough, feel free to read our other reviews, you might get lucky.