The Fluke 116 is part of the budget 110 series of compact multimeters. It is aimed at HVAC electricians and, though relatively basic, it has all the tools to troubleshoot an array of heating and cooling faults, including flame sensor and capacitance issues.
There are some useful touches on this device, such as auto-volts for troubleshooting boards with both AC and DC signals, plus a low impedance range. Professionals and trainees will enjoy the 116 as it is easy to use, reliable, and accurate enough to handle most tasks. Its diminutive size is a bonus for getting into tight spaces.
- Ergonomic design with thumb operation
- Thermometer and micro-amps for HVAC tasks
- Measures AC/DC voltage and millivolts
- Measures resistance, continuity, capacitance, frequency
- AUTO-V to detect voltage type
- LoZ, anti-ghosting, low input impedance mode
- Attractive screen with bar graph and backlight
- Min/Max/Average and hold functions
- Can manual-range as well as auto-range
- CAT-III up to 600V safety rating
- Size: 6.57″ (167mm) x 3.31″ (84mm) x 1.82″ (46mm)
- Weight: 1.21lbs (550g)
In the Box
- 116 meter with 9V battery
- Test lead set
- Temperature probe
- User manual
Complete Review of the Fluke 116
The 116 is a powerful, full range multimeter despite being quite small. It is easier to use than some of the bigger Flukes on account of its thumb dial having mostly dedicated ranges – even the continuity range has its own position. It will handle most scenarios that an HVAC system can throw at it, including flame sensor faults through its micro-amps range.
Auto ranging is default on the Fluke 116, meaning it will select the best resolution for a given signal. You also have the option of switching to manual range mode and selecting the appropriate range yourself. This has the advantage of speeding up readings.
AUTO-V LoZ: this standout feature distinguishes AC voltage from DC voltage without having to switch between one or the other. You also get lower input impedance on this setting (down to 3kΩ) to screen out ghost voltages induced from other circuits that might affect the one you are measuring. More about Auto-V, low impedance and ghost voltages.
The built-in thermometer has a modest range – good enough for most HVAC tasks – and can be switched between Fahrenheit and centigrade. Although there is no amperage range (barring micro-amps), you can pick up an optional amp clamp probe and work the results through the meter’s voltage ranges.
|DC voltage||6V / 600V||±(0.5% +2)||0.001-0.1V|
|DC millivolts||600mV||±(0.5% +2)||0.1mV|
|DC micro-amps||600μA||±(1% +2)||0.1μA|
|AC voltage||6V / 600V||±(1.0% +3) @45-500Hz||0.001-0.1V|
|AC millivolts||600mV||±(1.0% +3) @45-500Hz||0.1mV|
|AC micro-amps||600μA||±(1% +2)||0.1μA|
|Auto volts||600V||±(2.0% +3) @45-500Hz||0.1V|
|Resistance||600Ω / 40MΩ||±(0.9 % +1) @ 600Ω-6MΩ||0.1Ω-0.01MΩ|
|Capacitance||1000nF / 1000mF||±(1.9% +2) @ 1000nF / 100mF||1nF @ 1000nF|
|LoZ capacitance||1nF to 500μF||±(10% +2)|
|Frequency||99.99Hz / 50kHz||±(0.1% +2)||0.01Hz-0.01kHz|
|*Continuity||600Ω (beep on <20Ω, beep off >250Ω)||1Ω|
|Diode test||2V||±(0.9% +2)||0.001V|
|Temperature °F||-40°F to 752°F||±(1.0%+18)||0.2°F|
|Temperature °C||-40°C to 400°C||±(1.0%+10)||0.1°C|
The 116 is a neat looking meter with a relatively large 6000-count display that includes a responsive bar graph. With the bar graph, you get an analog look at the signal, with the full range (32 segments) given over to the current reading. The bar graph does not operate on capacitance and temperature ranges. Although backlit (40-second timer), overall the display lacks the clarity you typically find with other brands in this price range. Viewed at an angle, it looks faded and lacks contrast.
The rest of the facade is straightforward, with most positions on the dial having their own range. The only times you have to deviate is when selecting frequency (on AC volts), DC millivolts, diode test on the capacitance range position, and AC micro-amps. A row of straightforward buttons give extra functionality, to include MIN/MAX and ranging modes. As with most of the 110 series, there are just two inputs on the Fluke 116.
Build Quality and Performance
All Fluke multimeters are built to last and this range is very sturdy. It is made in China to keep down overheads and the price, but can stand up to abuse like any other model. With the offset dial switch, it can be operated by the thumb while held in the left hand, which is a big plus when scrunched up inside an HVAC unit.
Unfortunately, it makes use of a 9V battery as opposed to better performing AAs; however, battery life is pretty good at 3-400 hours. A sleep mode helps preserve usage, which kicks in after non-use for 20 minutes. This can be disabled, apart from when in MIN/MAX mode.
Although one of Fluke’s cheaper multimeters, the 116 comes with a high level of input surge protection. This protects the user from chance power spikes, which can happen any time through lightening strikes, circuit breakers and induction from motor control, for example. Protection is to 6000V, level CAT-III energies at 600V (to ground). This means it is safe to measure single and three phase installations (post switchgear).
In addition to a high quality circuit board/components is a solid case that can stand up to drops and splashes. It is rated to IP of 42, which is essentially a dust-proofing to particles over 1mm, as well as dripping water. The leads that come with this meter are also well rated (to CAT-IV 1000V) and of the flexi-silicone type, with finger guards, probe-end caps and shrouded plugs.
HVAC technicians will get the most benefit, for sure, but also general purpose electricians can use this as their permanent meter as much as a standby one. Those into electronics work, such as ham radio enthusiasts, will also benefit, though resistance, frequency and capacitance ranges are fairly narrow for sensitive work.
Pros and Cons of the Fluke 116
- Measures most ranges, including capacitance and frequency
- AUTO-V LoZ functions
- Auto and manual ranging options
- Temperature range
- Nice and compact
- Tough case with separate battery compartment
- No on board amps
- Auto ranging can be slow (manual ranging quicker)
- Hold function is manual only
- Better displays on cheaper meters
With the review of the Fluke 116, we have a very capable, compact multimeter for the HVAC trades. It includes micro-amps, capacitance, frequency and temperature ranges that will cover many HVAC tasks. While not suited to heavy industrial use, it has a 600V, CAT-III rating and is also good for general purpose electrics and light electronics work. There is no amps range, but you can incorporate an amp clamp as an optional extra. Others in the 110 series are more aimed at the electrician.
Alternatively, Klein Tools, Amprobe and Extech all produce good HVAC multimeters, though one of the best all-rounders is Fluke’s top end 88V.