The Fluke 117 is a typically reliable digital multimeter aimed at domestic and light industrial electricians, as well as hobbyists. Compact and sturdy, it is part of the 110 series, which is Fluke’s cheaper range of multimeters. Despite this, it features a solid build quality and has many impressive features, including True RMS, auto-ranging, non-contact voltage detection and an Auto-V/LoZ function.
This is a highly capable tester, boasting a high level of accuracy, quality and durability. Based on this Fluke 117 review, we thoroughly recommend it.
- Rubber holster
- 9V battery (400hr)
- Probe leads
- Compact and ergonomic
- Measures current, voltage, resistance, continuity, capacitance, frequency
- LoZ (low) input impedance test
- Large backlit display
- CATIII safety rated to 600V
- Rated to 10A normal load (Max 20A to 30 seconds)
- VoltAlert™ detector
- Min/Max mode
- True RMS
- Size: 6.6″ (168mm) x 3.3″ (84mm) x 1.8″ (46mm)
- Weight: 1.3 lbs (590g)
In-depth Review of the Fluke 117
This is the top of the line of the Fluke 110 series. It has all the functions of the highly rated 115 with the addition of VoltAlert™, allowing for quick voltage detection. This small multimeter has an ergonomic chassis, easily held in the palm of your hand, and a trademark large display area that is backlit.
Along with the many special features of the 117 are its basic measurements: AC/DC voltage and amperage, resistance, continuity, capacitance and frequency. Most important of the test criteria is the 117’s CAT III rating, with a ceiling of 600V. This gives it the ability to analyze outlets, appliances, control panel boards and switch gear, both single and three phase. Underground works and service drops is in the realm of CAT IV.
The amperage range has a sensitivity of 1 milliamp (mA) increments up to 6A and 10mA increments from 6A to 10A. There is no dedicated milliamp or micro-amp range, however, which is not a big deal for general purpose use, leaving only electronics experts short. Resistance is from 0.01 ohms (Ω) to 40MΩ. There is also a diode check, limited to 2V.
Although there is no case included, it is shipped with holster, leads and manual. The manual is easy to decipher, even for non-electricians, and is in several languages. It is also downloadable in PDF format – Fluke 117 manual.
|AC voltage||to 600V||±(1%+3)|
|DC voltage||to 600V||±(0.5%+2)|
|AC current||to 10A||±(1.5%+3)|
|DC current||to 10A||±(1%+3)|
|Resistance||6MΩ / 40MΩ||±(0.9%+3) / ±(5%+2)|
|Capacitance||1000nF / 1000μF||±(1.9%+2)|
Some of the features of the Fluke 117 electrician’s multimeter are pretty impressive. This is a True RMS meter, such that if you have an erratic sign wave or square wave scenario, you still get accurate readings. Where the signal is constantly fluctuating, recording and averaging the reading through the Min/Max feature also gives a fairly accurate result.
LoZ screens out ‘ghost voltages’ on neighboring circuits through its low input impedance mechanism. Together with this is the Auto-Volt setting, if unsure of the range of a given circuit. This setting will pick up either an AC or DC range up to a maximum 600V and will read the result correctly.
The main difference to other meters of the 110 series is the addition of a VoltAlert™ detector. With its sensor on the head of the tester, you can quickly ascertain voltage through a cable or wall, as with a voltage stick. Though you don’t get an actual value onscreen, it saves having a separate piece of equipment. There are two sensitivity modes, Hi and Lo – good for roughly five inches and one inch respectively.
The most obvious feature of this multimeter from other series’ is its small size and shapely design. Though also fairly light, it is no slouch, being both sturdy and very durable, built as it is with quality materials. In fact, the 117 is quite beautifully designed, with a contoured case and raised input dial selector for easier control with one hand.
The dial is offset and is able to be operated by the thumb alone when held in the left hand. This gives the user freedom to test, monitor and adjust when there’s nowhere convenient to place the meter.
Another standout feature is its innovative battery compartment. Accessible by way of a single screw without removing the holster, it has direct-to-board terminals and a sturdy design. This unit comes with a 9V battery included. Even the most benign part of the meter, the humble stand, has a use other than propping it up. Etched into it are various power settings and options for quick reference.
Display and Labels
With the review of the Fluke 117, the 6000-count display is both impressive and disappointing. While large, highly visible and clear for the size and quality level of the meter, it can become washed out with time when viewed at an angle. However, the LCD display does have an LED backlight, updates four times a second and displays all icons clearly. In addition, the multi-segment bar graph is accurate and responsive with an update rate of x32 per second.
Function and Performance
The input dial is the busiest of the 110 series, with 11 inputs that can be selected effortlessly with the action of the left hand thumb. This can be adjusted with or without gloves. Although there is no milliamp / micro-amp range, everything else is selectable, including: AC/DC volts and amps, millivolts, resistance, continuity, capacitance and frequency. The diode check has an audible beep. This is actually quite accurate and latches so you get a definite, timely tone on positive continuity.
Everything is intuitively laid out as with other models. Voltage and amperage ranges are across other ends of the dial and Auto-V and Volt Alert have their own selector. MIN/MAX and Lo/Hi range have their own buttons too, although the Hold function is not as user-friendly as Fluke’s traditional Touch Hold feature. Though the Fluke 117 multimeter can be operated with one hand, it is compatible with the ToolPak magnet hanger for true hands-free usage. You can pick one of these up at the same time.
Mechanical protection of the 117 is sound, with its sturdy case and rubber boot. Although the dial is fairly prominent, overall it does well with drops and bangs compared with many other multimeters on the market. An 11 amp HRC ceramic fuse protects the multimeter from overload, together with onboard suppression devices. In addition, internal baffles provide added protection for circuitry.
There is also a deep lip built into the interior of the case to help protect against humidity levels and inclement weather, as well as to protect the environment in the unlikely event of catastrophic overload. NOTE: All Flukes are heavily tested at the factory, adhering to rigid safety standards to ensure appropriate operation in CAT III environments.
Best Suited To
General electricians and DIY enthusiasts will get the most benefit. It fares best within the home, light industry, hospitals, schools or for trainees, but is not suited to lab technicians for diagnosing faults in intricate electronic circuitry. It does make for a good backup meter for service technicians in the field, however, as well as for diagnosing faults in the auto industry.
Fluke 117 Pros and Cons
Some of the cons are quite niggly, such as less sturdy holster than more expensive meters, though I have included them nonetheless.
- Small and portable
- Large backlit screen
- Special features like non-contact voltage detection and auto-volt settings
- Can measure non-linear loads accurately
- Very accurate frequency check to 50KHz
- Easy battery access
- Responsive bar graph
- Great build quality
- No milliamp / micro-amp range
- Display resolution could be better
- Fiddly ‘hold’ function
- No case
The Fluke 117 review reveals that this is not a heavy duty multimeter and is also not delicate enough for the lab. However, it is accurate enough for general purpose electrical work and for DIY electricians. Although this series is made in China, there is no letup in the build quality and it is a cheaper alternative to most Flukes. If you don’t need voltage detection or a low impedance feature, perhaps consider the cheaper 115.
If you’re also looking to measure higher current, you might want to consider picking up the Fluke 117 / 323 Combo Kit. This includes the 117 as well as the Fluke 323 amp clamp meter, which can measure current up to 400A. The beauty of an amp clamp is you can measure current in-situ without having to bare any wires – simply clamp the meter over the cables. As part of the 320 series, the 323 is renowned for its usability and can also measure voltage and resistance.
- Fluke 117
- Fluke 323
- TPak magnetic hanging strap
- Test lead set
- Deluxe soft carry case (with shoulder strap)
- User manuals