Asking which is better, the Fluke 116 or the Fluke 117, is like asking what’s a better shovel—a shovel for digging dirt or a snow shovel. They’re both superior with regard to their intended uses. In the case of these Flukes, the 116 is designed for HVAC work while the 117 is geared toward electricians. They’re also both from Fluke’s 110 line of digital multimeters, which means that aside from their specialty designs, they’re essentially identical.
But we’re going to go with the Fluke 116 because, despite the fact that we weren’t entirely sold on its built-in thermometer, at least it can measure amperage down to the micro level. That’s a feature that many similar models come with. And while there aren’t a ton of things that require it that low, there are enough that if you’re looking for overall, everyday use that the 116 is probably the more versatile of the two.
The 117 comes with contact-free voltage sensing. You can tell if a line has a current without touching the leads, which is handy, fast, and makes the job safer. That’s for electricians. The 116 has a built-in thermometer and can read amperage down to the micro range. That’s for HVAC work. But this is also why we gave the 116 the nod. If you’re doing straight-up electric work, the electrician’s feature makes it a lot more attractive. If you’re doing all-around work, you’re more likely to make use of the 116’s microamp measurement feature.
Both cost basically the same. That makes a lot of sense since they’re basically the same frame with slightly different guts packed in. These are specialty models of a basic multimeter, and neither specialty is particularly more expensive than the other. Depending on the day and what deal you can find, either model might be more affordable than the other.
Fluke’s reputation for rock-solid building is well earned. These multimeters can take a beating and are as reliable as old Toyotas. They stay accurate for years and years. And, again, the 116 and the 117 are built from the same frame. So, neither model can claim any kind of advantage.
Both come with Fluke’s low impedance input to reduce ghost signaling. We weren’t really crazy about the 116’s built-in thermometer because we felt like the margin of error was pretty big at the outside part of its range, but it did okay in field testing. We also liked playing with the 117’s voltage alert feature. But we liked the 116’s ability to measure microamps, which is a handy departure from other Flukes that don’t do this.
Fluke’s 116 is designed with HVAC work in mind. It measures microamps and has a built-in thermometer to take temperature readings. It also incorporates Fluke’s reputation for making break-proof equipment with the low impedance input to eliminate ghost signaling.
The Fluke 117 is designed for use by electricians. It combines the usual wide range of things it can measure with Fluke’s reputation for hardy equipment and adds in a low impedance input to reduce ghost signals and a contact-free voltage alert system.
We get it. You think you probably would like us as people, but at the end of the day you don’t know us and we don’t know you. So you’re wondering if you can really take what we say all that seriously. You’d like to get a wider range of opinions available on the Internet, but there are so many kooks with keyboards that you wonder how much time you’ll have to spend to find reliable feedback. We also check out online reviews when we look at tools to make sure that we haven’t had an outlier experience. We’ve summarized our experiences below.
People generally like both multimeters. Of course they do. These are both Flukes. They’re designed and built to give accurate readings for long, long years. Fluke has gotten this part of being a test tool company down.
Overall, both models were also very much liked by the professionals they were designed for. More than one electrician called the 117 an electrician’s best friend. Others called the 116 essential for HVAC technicians. These are heady endorsements.
Probably because these multimeters were built on the same frame, they share a common complaint: the LED display isn’t always so easy to read. This is a complaint that’s common to the 110 line, so it’s probably not model specific.
But that’s really about it. Both models are popular with their customers for reasons that are familiar with Fluke multimeters in general. They’re built to take punishment and to deliver accurate readings quickly.
We liked both models of Fluke multimeters as great investments within their respective professional groups—for HVAC technicians it was the 116 and for electricians it was the 117. Both models came with features built for those professions. And it was one of those features—the 116’s microamp measuring capability—that ultimately prompted us to give that our nod. The 117’s contact-free voltage alert might be handy, but it’s not necessary. If you have something with microamperage, then you absolutely have to have a multimeter that can test it. But, that little hitch aside, both are great multimeters that offer a generous return on your investment.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!