Their flagship multimeter, the industry standard, idolized by many; there are lots of superlatives that fit with the Fluke 87V. In short, it is the go-to meter for electricians in industry, with guaranteed reliability, accuracy and robustness to make it one of the best multimeters on the market.
The 87-V (or version 5) is the top model of the revered 80 series, built like a brick and trustworthy enough for the pros to use. It is ideal for troubleshooting electrical and electronic systems, built to handle complex signals and currents up to 20A.
A True RMS meter, it is very accurate and has all the test ranges, including capacitance, an auto-touch feature and an excellent dual resolution, 20000-count display. In this Fluke 87V review we browse its inner workings, enviable features and what makes this Made in the USA diamond tick.
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- Built-in thermometer
- True RMS AC voltage and current
- Selectable filter for accurate motor drive analysis on voltage and frequency
- Auto and manual ranging
- DC accuracy to 0.05%
- Measures up to 1000V AC and DC
- Measures 10A continuous, 20A for 30s
- Resistance, continuity and diode test
- Capacitance to 10,000µF
- Dual display resolution – 6000-count / 20000-count
- Large backlit display
- Analog bar graph for fast changing signals
- Auto hold
- Relative mode
- Probe leads warning
- Safety rating – CAT-III (to 1000V), CAT-IV (to 600V)
- Made in USA
- Lifetime warranty
- Size: 7.9″ (201mm) x 3.86″ (98mm) x 2″ (52mm)
- Weight: 22oz (625g)
In the Box
- 87V multimeter
- Rubber holster
- Test leads (TL75)
- Alligator Clips
- 9V battery
- Temperature probe (80BK)
- Instruction manual (online pdf)
In-depth Review of the Fluke 87V
The 80 series has been around since the 1980s and they are still relevant today for intense electrical troubleshooting. True RMS and low pass filter ability makes for accurate measurements on AC voltage and current signals that are non linear, such as on certain drive system outputs.
Although the Fluke 87 is regarded as an ‘industrial’ multimeter, it is also perfectly adept at handling lab-based electronics tasks or automotive repair work. It measures down to the micro-amps and nano-Farad capacitance ranges, with resolutions of 0.1µA and 0.01nF respectively. It can also accurately measure conductance (down to 60nS).
NOTE: those heavily into electronics might want to pick up the TL71 test leads.
This is an auto-ranging meter, with a Range button that converts it to manual ranging for even faster results. Response times are quick as standard, especially on continuity, which has a super-fast, latching beeper that can be disabled. There’s also a warning beep should you inadvertently plug into the wrong input while testing a given range.
One of the most useful features is the automatic Touch Hold, which captures stable readings without having to press anything while measuring. Min/Max-Average and Relative modes are also very useful for preserving and zeroing fluctuating signals.
Those in the electronic, automotive and DC drive worlds might be slightly perturbed that this multimeter, like most other general purpose ones, defaults to AC on the current ranges. It does, however, have separate AC and DC voltage ranges.
Although the Fluke 87 multimeter uses a 9V battery – where AAs might be preferred for price and capacity – it has quite a low current draw and will generally last for years.
BASIC RANGES AND ACCURACY
|DC voltage||to 1000V||±(0.05%+1)|
|AC voltage||to 1000V||±(0.7%+2)|
|DC current||10A (20A for 30s)||±(0.2%+2)|
|AC current||10A (20A for 30s)||±(1.0%+2)|
|DC micro-amps||400µA / 4000µA||±(0.2%+4)|
|AC micro-amps||400µA / 4000µA||±(1.0%+2)|
|Duty cycle||to 99.9%||±(0.2% per khz +0.1%)|
Stated accuracy is sound. There is no bloat with the 87V. Some of the cheaper multimeter manufacturers will overstate levels of accuracy, only for their meters to suffer on the extra counts/digits.
Build Quality and Design
Even their lower budget models that are put together in China are of a high build standard, but the design and build quality of the Fluke 87V is excellent. This is a Made in the USA product – approved by various agencies, including: UL, TÜV, CSA and VDE. It is constructed using rugged plastics that can handle industrial settings.
Along with a tough case and holster, the subtle design element on the facade has a raised case/recessed dial to better protect the screen and selector. To complement the case, everything is nicely portioned; from the well spaced buttons to the uncluttered selector dial and the protected jack inputs.
Display and Labels
The display is an upgrade over previous versions of the Fluke 87, with sharper digits and a very nice bar graph. The dual display has a 6,000-count (updates four times a second) and a 20,000-count (updates three times a second) resolution – Hi Res. Even slight millivolt changes are registered accurately, while the 32-segment, analog-like bar graph updates at 40 times per second to give a nice overview in virtual real-time.
NOTE: Hi Res doesn’t work for all modes, including capacitance and frequency.
Higher resolutions are attainable in the world of measuring nirvana, but the 87V multimeter is the full package. If you want tighter resolution again, the Fluke 289, or a high end bench meter, would be a better option regards obtaining low drift voltage specs.
The display of the Fluke 87V is backlit and it has a dual brightness feature – one press for light on, twice for extra brightness.
Despite its obvious power and array of features and uses, this is a very simplified device that is as straightforward to use as the 110 series. The dial couldn’t be clearer and the buttons are intuitive.
Function / Performance
This multimeter uses a combination of its eight-position dial selector and seven buttons to cover the standard measurements and more advanced settings. Most ranges can be selected with the dial, with the milli- and micro-amp ranges utilizing a select button to change over to DC. The 3-volt diode tester and the low impedance AC voltage mode also make use of this method.
Response time in the Fluke 87V review overall is exceptional, especially on continuity detection, of which this brand is well known. In addition, battery life is preserved through a selectable sleep mode. Although it uses a 9V battery, it has around 400 hours of typical usage. Note that use of the backlight makes a big difference on battery drain, but it can sit unused for long periods of time and still hold charge.
Yellow select button: changes range on a given input
MIN/MAX: gets the lowest and highest reading of a changing value
RANGE: changes between auto and manual ranging /selects manual ranges
AutoHOLD: automatically preserves and displays the highest value
Hi Res Mode / Backlight: switches between 6000- and 20000-count display resolution / turns on backlight
Continuity: select this when on the resistance input to enable audible beep
REL: relative mode for zeroing
Hz / %: frequency and duty cycle
The four jack inputs are well protected and clearly marked with maximum amperage and category ratings.
°/V/Ω/diode (main terminal)
POWER FEATURES / DIAGNOSTICS
Auto off: 30 minutes – to disable: hold down yellow function button and power on with dial same time. To re-enable, turn back off and on.
Disable beeper: hold Continuity button and power on same time.
Calibration mode: hold MIN/MAX while powering on to AC volts. Avoid pressing anything else but press AutoHOLD for calibration count. Count from factory: 0001.
Smoothing: press Range while turning power on to smooth an edgy signal.
High impedance mode: hold Hz while powering on – for testing sensitive electronics.
Bar graph REL: hold REL while turning power on, press REL to center bar graph – improved sensitivity.
Fuse checker: switch onto Resistance, using red probe only in its ‘home’ (main) terminal, test amps and milliamps jacks – ‘OL’ would indicate blown fuse.
Diagnostic screen check: hold AutoHOLD while powering on to light up every digit and icon.
Button check: switch to AC volts, then push each button for a beep.
Together with good specs and reliability, Fluke multimeters have a sound safety reputation. They bring the user maximum protection, both mechanically and electrically. The Fluke 87V itself is robust and durable with a strong rubber boot and tough case, which itself features a separate rubber banding.
ANSI drop-test: to 1m
It is also quite resistant to oil, dirt and water ingress (to a degree), with the inclusion of a deep groove on the case’s inner and a case banding. In addition, jack inputs are set in a module-type configuration that incorporates a rubber O ring gasket. This helps make it more splash resistant. It stands up well in cold, dry and hot, humid environments.
As to the circuit board, it is systematically designed, with solid traces and PCB components of the highest quality. A metal shield on the rear of the board helps protect both the electronics and the immediate environment. It addition, this tester is quite straightforward to disassemble and clean.
To help prevent damage to the multimeter, there are some nice touches. Say you plug the lead into the wrong input jack socket and then attempt to test a circuit in an incorrect dial range, for instance – in this scenario, you will get an audible beep and a warning message on the display.
SAFETY RATING, FUSES
The safety rating is up to 1000V for Category III and 600V for Category IV – the latter making it safe to use on three phase service supplies in industry. The two amperage circuits on the 87V are protected by high quality, ceramic HRC fuses. The 400mA input has a 440mA, 1000-volt rated fuse. The main 10A circuit, an 11A, 1000-volt rated fuse. Fuse model numbers can be found on the Fluke website.
Who’s it For?
While anyone can use the Fluke 87V – HVAC engineers, installation electricians, plant maintenance, electronics technicians, automotive trainees – it is best suited to industry. This is quite a heavy-duty meter, with more accuracy and advanced features than might be needed for some trades, or in the home. It is the preferred choice of professionals, where problems need to be solved fast.
Fluke 87V Pros and Cons
- Reliable and durable
- Accurate and stable
- Fast and responsive
- Retains accuracy over time
- CAT IV-rated
- Features are well implemented
- Dual resolution screen
- Two screen backlight settings
- No gimmicks
- Good battery life
- Separate battery compartment
- Removable holster
- Test lead storage
- Lifetime warranty
- Fairly heavy
- No separate fuse compartment
- Battery doesn’t have solid terminals
- 9V battery as opposed to AAs
NOTE: These contras are more observations and make no tangible difference to the overall quality, reliability and accuracy of the meter.
This is one of the more expensive devices on the market and may be overkill for beginners, but you certainly get what you pay for and the Fluke 87V review has likely detailed the number one all-round multimeter in the industry. It boasts the hallmarks you’d want to see in a high-end test meter, such as accuracy, reliability, high resolution and solid build. It measures most ranges very well and will easily last for many years of service.
Alternatives: amateurs might want to try the more manageable and cheaper 110 series, such as the popular 115. For electronics-intensive work, the precision 287 and 289 have even tighter accuracy.
Optional extras include a magnetic hanger (for hands-free viewing), and the E2 Combo Kit, which also comes with extra leads and carry case.