If you’ve ever shopped online for digital multimeters, you know it can be market that’s hard to judge. There are a ton of models, and it’s not always clear from the product descriptions whether you’re getting a deal or getting a dud.
We believe that customers should be well-informed before they buy, which is why we’ve assembled this list of reviews of the best Fluke Multimeters. This list should help you find a model that you’ll like using, and your wallet will love the price, too.
We also created a buyer’s guide to help people who have never shopped for a multimeter before, or to serve as a refresher course for those who have been away for the market before. Be sure to check that out if you have any questions after reading our reviews.
|Fluke 115||2 lbs||4.7/5|
|Fluke 101 Basic|
(Best for the Money)
The Fluke 117 is a better version of the Fluke 115, which comes in second on our list. While the 115 shares many of the same features, the 117 adds a few features. The 117 handles ghost voltage much better, meaning it won’t show small amounts of current where there is none. This problem is common with cheaper models, so that feature alone is worth the bump in price. It also comes with a non-contact voltage detector, which can tell you if a wire has current without touching, but while held nearby. This is a useful feature for tracing a live wire through sheetrock, without opening it up.
This model comes with automatic AC/DC selection, which makes your jobs a bit faster and easier since you don’t have to switch between modes as often as you would with other devices. It is also a true RMS device, which means you get accurate readings for both sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal waves. The LED backlight is also useful for working in dim or dark conditions. The only complaint about this model is that it doesn’t come with a case, which is something you’d like to see included at this price point.
The Fluke 115 comes in second because it lacks some of the features that the 117 has, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good device. It also features True RMS, which is useful in situations where you’re not going to get regular readings but still need to have a very accurate fix on those readings. It also comes with a LED backlight, which makes it a good tool for working in suboptimal lighting conditions. It features auto-ranging, so you’ll spend less time twisting a knob to the right setting, and spend more time getting your work done.
It’s also very durable and can survive many kinds of accidental drops without taking any damage at all, due to its included padded yellow case. One minor problem is that it’s not significantly cheaper than the 117. While that might make it seem like a deal, you’re losing some really useful features, but the price isn’t dropping much. That means in a lot of cases it makes more sense to spend just a bit more and get a more useful multimeter. Overall, this is a fine multimeter, but it’s always going to live in the 117’s shadow.
If both the 117 and the 115 are outside your price range, the Fluke 101 Basic can be a great choice, since it retails at about one-third the price of the other two multimeters. It’s also a CAT III 600V device, so you’re not missing out on a lot of functionality with the cut in price. You still get auto-ranging, so you won’t have to guess at currents you’re not familiar with and risk inaccurate readings. That’s a time saver and makes this device a pleasure to use.
It also has an easy-to-replace battery, which is most useful if you’re going to be using this device a lot. Quick battery changes mean you can get back to work sooner, and mean you done sooner, too. However, this model doesn’t come with true RMS, so it will give inaccurate readings with non-sinusoidal currents. It also doesn’t come with a backlight, so you’ll need to be in a well-lit area to get convenient use out of it. Overall, this is a great choice if you need a multimeter for home use, or if you don’t need true RMS and are looking to get a great multimeter deal.
We hope that our reviews have already taught you some information about multimeters and given you ideas about what to look for when you shop. If you still have questions about what you should be considering while you shop for a multimeter, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve assembled a lot of good information to get multimeter novices up to speed, while also including good information for people who may not have bought a multimeter in a while and want to get up to date on the current state of the market.
It may seem strange to talk about what multimeters are at this juncture, but there are a couple of similar tools that might meet your needs, and that you might get better value out of buying. A voltmeter, for instance, allows you to measure the voltage passing through a circuit. Depending on the situation, you might need an AC-current or a DC-current model, or one that can switch between the two.
Ohmmeters do the same thing, except with resistance. The strangely-named Ammeters, short for “Ampere meters,” measure the current running through a circuit. Like with the voltmeter, you may need a different model for AC or DC currents, or one that can switch between them.
The multimeter combines all three of these functions into a single unit. Consequently, they give you a lot more information about the circuit in question in a much shorter amount of time. Depending on the multimeter model, you may not even have to disconnect the wires, but twist the dial on the front to change what is measured.
Multimeters are both a safety tool and a diagnostic tool. You use them before you start work on an electrical device to make sure no current is flowing, which prevents you from receiving harmful, or even lethal, shocks. They can also be used to determine the nature of electrical problems by showing you if the current is irregular, or different from what it’s supposed to be.
Since you’re working with electrical current, you need to take the proper safety precautions before you begin working. This online guide doesn’t contain everything you need to know, so make sure you properly educate yourself before you start working.
There are two kinds of electricity that you need to protect yourself from while you work, and each multimeter comes with a pair of descriptors that tells you how much they can protect you.
Every multimeter will be either CAT I, CAT II, CAT III, or CAT IV. This tells you how much power the devices can handle without burning out while the current is regular.
CAT I multimeters are designed for use on in low-power settings, like the insides of a printer or other office electrical equipment.
CAT II multimeters are designed for use with portable tools and household appliances, and for outlets that are at least 30 feet away from CAT II sources or 60 feet away from CAT IV sources.
CAT III multimeters are used for many kinds of industrial equipment, electrical panels, and industrial lighting systems. The Fluke models on this list are CAT III devices.
CAT IV multimeters are for use where the utility company connects to a building, on things like the electric meter or the overhead line.
Keep in mind that each of these categories tells you how much power the multimeter can handle under normal operating circumstances.
In some instances, there will be a spike in power in the line that can be many times what the normal power is. The second descriptor tells you how much power the multimeter can handle in a spike without burning out.
For instance, a CAT III-600V multimeter is safe for general work in industrial lighting systems and can handle power spikes up to 600V. More than that, and the multimeter is likely to fail. Keep in mind that while a CAT II-1000V might have more transient resistance than a CAT III-600V, it doesn’t have the same durability in normal CAT III situations, and you could destroy the equipment and injure yourself if you choose to use it there.
Originally, multimeters were all analog, but now you can buy digital ones. Digital ones tend to be more expensive, but they have more features. Neither has a distinct accuracy advantage over the other, but digital multimeters can be easier for novices to use.
Digital multimeters often have some useful features that you can’t get on an analog multimeter, such as the ability to hold or record the reading. You can also find digital models that you can change between measuring current, voltage, or resistance, without moving your wires around on the multimeter, which makes them easier to use than a similar analog model.
It’s a good idea to look for a multimeter that has a good LED screen, and preferably one that has a backlight as well. You’re not always going to be working in well-lit situations, so having a backlight and an easy-to-read screen can make the experience easy, while not having them could make it frustrating.
Getting a multimeter with the ability to record or hold measurements can be very useful, as it gives you more time to record measurements by hand so that you can reference them later.
Finally, finding a model with automatic range setting and automatic AC/DC switching saves you a bit of work every time you start a project, which doesn’t sound all that significant but adds up over time.
No one multimeter is going to be the right one for all people. If you’re choosing between the three models on this list, you first need to figure out which price point better fits your budget. The Fluke 101 is a good entry-level multimeter available for a fraction of the cost of the other two.
The Fluke 115 is a great mid-level multimeter with a lot of upside, but you could spend a few extra dollars and get the Fluke 117. It comes with anti-ghost voltage protections, and also has a contactless voltage detector, which is an excellent feature at this price point. The 117 is better value overall, though if you really needed to save a small amount of money, you’d do just fine with the 115.
The Fluke 117 is our top Fluke multimeter model, coming with true RMS, contactless voltage sensing, and automatic AC/DC selection, all while reducing ghost current. If it came with a case, it would be the perfect model. The Fluke 115 is similar to the 117 and features auto ranging, true RMS, and an LED backlight, but it’s not cheap enough to make up for the features the 117 has over it. Fluke 101 Basic is inexpensive, comes with an easy-to-replace battery and auto-ranging, which makes it the best value model on our list.
Hopefully, our reviews and our buyer’s guide have taught you some new things about Fluke’s digital multimeters. Armed with that information, you should be able to find the model that will best help you attack your next electrical problem.