The Fluke 177 is an industry standard tool for the electrician. A versatile, yet simple and efficient multimeter, it is known for its high level of accuracy and reliability and has a CATIV safety rating to 600V.
Best employed for plant maintenance and field service repair, it can also be used for electronics diagnostics, but is an electrician’s meter first and foremost. In this Fluke 177 multimeter review, we see that it measures all the important ranges, with dedicated voltage input positions. It is also a True RMS device, meaning accurate AC readings on variable speed drives.
- True RMS
- CATIII 1000V / CATIV 600V
- Manual and auto ranging
- DC volts accuracy of 0.09%
- Measures amps, milliamps
- Measures frequency, capacitance
- Measures resistance, continuity and diode test
- 6000-count, backlit display
- Analog bar graph
- Min/Max recording
- Auto hold (automatically locks reading)
- Smoothing mode
- Closed case calibration
- Lifetime warranty
- Size: 7.3″ (185mm) x 3.5″ (90mm) x 1.7″ (43mm)
- Weight: 14.8oz (420g)
- 177 multimeter
- 9V battery
- Integral protective holster
- User manual
- Test probes
In-depth Review of the Fluke 177
The 177 is part of the respected 170 Series of True RMS Fluke DMMs. These general purpose multimeters set the standard on precision, reliability, usability and safety and should be on the shortlist of any electrician looking for a new tool.
It has a no-mess, non-gimmicky interface, with the important ranges having dedicated positions. These include AC voltage, DC voltage, DC millivolts, resistance, continuity, AC/DC milliamp current and AC/DC current. A selector button switches between ranges on shared positions.
The 177 is an auto-ranging multimeter, so you simply select the range and measure. There is also a range button to convert it to a manual-ranger. Cheaper auto-ranging meters often struggle with response time, but the 177 is super-fast on both auto and manual ranging modes.
Along with speedy auto-ranging is a fast latching continuity buzzer, which Fluke is also well known for – a diode checker shares the same range. In addition, although not essentially built for electronics – there is no micro-amps range – it does come with capacitance and frequency, albeit with modest ranges.
The backlit display is very clear and accurate, with a 6000-count resolution and a very responsive analog bar graph.
AutoHOLD: included in the uncluttered interface for hands-free screen locking. You can also data-hold manually.
Min/Max/Ave: memory function to pick out the highest and lowest values in a fluctuating signal and average them out.
True RMS: essential for those engineers involved with maintaining variable speed drive motors. True RMS will give an accurate account of the output of an inverter despite the distortion of its waveform. An average RMS meter is unreliable in this context.
MAX RANGE / ACCURACY
AC voltage – to 1000V: ±(1% +3)
DC voltage – to 1000V: ±(0.09% +2)
AC current – to 10A: ±(1.5% +3)
DC current – to 10A: ±(1% +3)
Resistance – to 50MΩ: ±(0.9% +1)
Capacitance – to 10,000µF: ±(1.2% +2)
Frequency – to 100kHz: ±(0.1% +1)
+ = extra counts (or digits)
170 Series DC volts accuracy comparison:
175: ±(0.15% +2 cts)
177: ±(0.09% +2 cts)
179: ±(0.09% +2 cts)
If you’re looking for a work of art in the world of multimeters, the Fluke 177 would be on the shortlist, without a doubt. Made in the USA, it is very well designed and built, featuring a solid, ergonomic case enclosed by an integrated holster. It is relatively compact, too, and has a recessed selector dial which is protected in drops.
Probe holders are built into the case, as is the tilting bail, which is quite sturdy when working on a bench. The battery compartment is separate and is easily accessed for replacing the 9V battery. The only thing that lets this side of it down is the run-of-the-mill battery connector terminal, where many meters now have solid terminals.
Since it is built in the USA to a high spec, it comes with a lifetime warranty. This is a limited warranty; ‘lifetime’ being defined as 10 years from date of purchase, or seven years post-discontinuation of product. The warranty is not transferable and doesn’t cover batteries and fuses.
Display / Labels
This is one of the best looking meters on the market, with a clear interface, an uncluttered dial, nice display and simple jack socket configuration. The display is 3 ¾-digit (6000-count), which will read 59.99 before it jumps across a decimal point to 60.0. It updates four times per second.
The main display is complemented by a digital bar graph that updates 40 times a second. This 33-segment bar graph is ideal for monitoring fast-changing signals. It is easy to get going with measurements, with very obvious dial labels for all ranges, such as volts, amps and ohms. Buttons are also clear and not overrun with multiple functions.
Function and Performance
Everything functions well. There are separate voltage, resistance and continuity ranges, making all around operation straightforward. For current, as this is primarily a multimeter for electricians, both amps and milliamps default to AC. There is no AC millivolt range.
Most cheaper auto-ranging multimeters take a long time to settle on the result. The Fluke 177 is a fast performer and displays results almost instantaneously. This is essential in a high volume, FMCG factory environment, where every second counts in a machine breakdown.
Battery life is around 200 hours of typical usage – this is calculated without overuse of the backlight. On low battery, a ‘batt’ warning will display to prevent any potential of further readings being inaccurate.
HOLD / AutoHOLD: manual hold / displays new value with next stable input
MIN/MAX: record high/low values in a fluctuating signal
RANGE: change between auto and manual ranging
YELLOW Button: change input range on a given dial position
Backlight: turn on display light
The backlight turns off after two minutes to help conserve battery life. This function can be disabled.
The 177 has four banana-jack inputs. From clockwise:
V/Ω/Diode (main terminal – red)
COM (common – black)
10A (10 amps – red)
400mA (400mA – red)
Diagnostic functions include beeper disable, sleep mode disable, check all LCD icons, and smoothing. Smoothing is useful for when a signal is changing rapidly.
CALIBRATING FLUKE 177
The calibration mode on the 177 allows for closed case calibration. This is done via the front panel as opposed to tweaking trim pots on the circuit board as with most meters. Reference signals are fed into the multimeter to correctly ascertain voltage, current, resistance, capacitance and frequency.
Fluke multimeters are among the sturdiest and safest and the company places great emphasis on protection. Mechanically, the 177 is extremely tough, with a strong case protected by an integrated, molded, impact-resistant holster. A groove/trough lip is built into the case to help protect the environment from potential blasts, as well as to help keep out water and dirt.
It is designed to withstand high-voltage spikes, to at least 8kV, and is CAT-rated to 600V (category III) and 1000V (category IV). The internals of the 177 are well engineered, with blast protection built around the fuses, which themselves are largely hidden from the rest of the circuit board. Part components are of high quality.
The fuses are high rupture capacity, HRC type – 440mA and 11A.
Best Suited To?
In the Fluke 177 multimeter review, it is clear that electricians, maintenance engineers and HVAC technicians will benefit most. While overkill for hobbyists, those wanting accuracy, reliability and safety need look no further. There are better, cheaper options for those working with basic electronics, but it doesn’t suit serious electronics work due to low voltage, current and capacitance ranges.
Fluke 177 DMM Pros and Cons
- Very fast and accurate
- Reliable and rugged
- Quite compact
- True RMS AC accuracy
- Separate voltage ranges
- Fast continuity checks
- Sharp, backlit screen
- Auto hold feature
- Battery compartment
- Easy calibration
- Looks good
- Old-style battery connector
- Fuses accessible by opening case only
- No micro-amps
- Carry case optional extra
- Quite pricey
This Fluke 177 multimeter review reveals one of the best electrician’s multimeters on the market. It measures all the main ranges very accurately and has a responsive display and impressive safety ratings. It is perfect for troubleshooting electrical problems in industry, especially with its True RMS function. Although quite expensive, it should last for years and comes with a lifetime warranty.
If you don’t need the high level of accuracy, the slightly less accurate 175 is cheaper, while the 179 does everything the 177 does plus temperature measurements. For a more comprehensive feature-set, consider the 87V.
Options: while the basic 177 doesn’t come with a carry case, it is available as an extra, as are alligator clips and a TPAK hanging kit.