The Fluke 17B vs. 117 – An In-depth Review

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The Fluke 17B vs. 117

If you’re looking for a multimeter to conduct a variety of DIY projects around the house or complete your set of industrial diagnosis tools, choosing between the Fluke 17B vs. 117 is a great place to start. Both devices offer top-notch quality with their provisions, including compact designs that make them easy to store and use. The Fluke 177 exhibits faster response rates as compared to its older counterpart.

The application of multimeters has become a common aspect with electricians and other professionals based in similar fields. This diagnostic tool is capable of a range of measurements, making it suitable for various DIY projects around the house, as well as commercial use. Though these instruments are designed to fulfill a general-purpose in the market, the levels of satisfaction enjoyed can depend on the capabilities of your final choice. This review is designed to help you identify the various differences and similarities between the Fluke 17B vs. 117, in a bid to help you make a well-informed decision.

Differences between Fluke 17B vs. 117 – How do they compare?

Model
Fluke 17B
Fluke 117
True RMS
No
Yes
Safety Ratings
CAT III 300V
CAT III 600V
Non-contact voltage detection
No
Yes
Bar graph
No
Yes

Fluke 17B vs. 117: What is the Difference?

Availability and Target Audience

The first noticeable difference between these two alternatives is their target audience, in relation to the device’s availability. The Fluke 117 highly rates its American roots and is mainly produced for this market, as well as on an international scale. This is seen in its packaging, where the contents have tried to incorporate a global feel with its presentation. It’s also easily available in a variety of stores around the country, as well as on various online platforms.

The Fluke 17B, on the other hand, has its main focus on the local Chinese market. This is portrayed by its packaging, which entails a large section of the information provided in the Chinese language – including the content printed on the box. It’s also primarily available in this country when seeking a physical outlet, with very few if any stores outside the region offering this product for sale. This multimeter can still be acquired from online platforms such as eBay and Amazon, however, if you’re fully intent on purchasing this particular model.

Average Response Times and Safety Ratings

Another crucial difference between the two devices is the speed at which both multimeters can provide results during diagnosis. It has been noted that Fluke 17B takes a few extra seconds to produce its data, as compared to the 117 counterpart, which boasts almost instantaneous results. This might not be a serious issue when dealing with DIY projects around your home, but it can be slightly annoying with commercial applications – especially when working under pressure.

Though a few seconds may seem like an insignificant amount of time to an amateur – it can really get on your nerves if you have previously worked with faster models in the market on an industrial basis. This slower reaction time can also be viewed as a negative portrayal of the diagnostic capabilities of the 17B as compared to other alternatives. Think of it this way; faster computers are generally seen as one of the industry standards in determining the strength and capabilities of products in this sector. The same can be said when judging the capacity of a multimeter’s system.

Accuracy

The levels of accuracy available with the Fluke 117 greatly exceed those of its 17B counterpart. Though the precision of the latter is not so bad that it’s unbearable, it will not measure up to users with vital industrial needs. Working on equipment such as HVAC systems requires a level of accuracy that is not available from an average response multimeter. This is due to the fact that you might encounter a variety of waveforms when conducting your diagnosis – which might have an adverse effect on the accuracy levels enjoyed, depending on the type encountered. Fluke 117 comes with True RMS capabilities, which is the best solution for measuring distorted waves. Though both alternatives will offer the same precision with regular sin waves, variations such as square and single-phase alternatives can prove to be an obstacle for the average response multimeter.

Warranty

Another crucial element to take into consideration when looking at these two alternatives is the warranty available with the products. Both the Fluke 17B and 177 come with reliable warranties that are provided by the manufacturer. However, it should be noted that the intended target audiences for the instruments play a big role in the kind of coverage on offer. As mentioned earlier, the Fluke 17B is mainly aimed at the Chinese domestic market, as portrayed by its availability and prevalent language. As such, the warranty provided with this multimeter in most cases is only redeemable from outlets in this region.

If you order your instrument online, for example, and suffer some sort of setback covered with the warranty – you will have to find a way of redeeming the said guarantee from the Chinese region, as the agreement will be declared null and void in the American market. This process can consist of additional costs and time that you may not have. The Fluke 117, on the other hand, also features a reliable warranty – with the main difference being that you will be able to enjoy this coverage within the USA. The Fluke 117 also offers a longer warranty of 3 years, compared to the one year that comes with the 17B alternative.

Additional Features

Both the Fluke 117 and 17B come with attractive additions that are not present with some other alternatives. If your work entails dealing with a lot of temperature measurements, for instance, then the 17B might be right up your alley. This model comes equipped with thermo-sensors that ensure you can measure temperature levels whenever needed. It’s highly crucial to note that not many multimeters come with this specification, so if this is a feature that you’re highly interested in – you will have to make a point of ensuring this element is listed with the specifications. The range provided in this category is also not that impressive, operating at levels between -55°C – 400°C. Fluke offers a variety of other options for people looking for a better range in this sector.

Fluke 117, on the other hand, features low input impedance, which enhances the accuracy of the data provided by identifying ghost voltages. It should be noted that these voltage elements are responsible for the production of false positives with results. It also comes with a Min/Max range function that greatly aids in the stabilizing of fluctuating values during a reading. This feature works by identifying the highest and lowest values from reading and calculating an average from the two numbers to offer a reliable conclusion.

Batteries

A closer look at the batteries involved also portrays the difference in class when dealing with these two options. The Fluke 117 comes equipped with a 9V alkaline version that boasts a battery life of about 200 working hours. Fluke 17B, on the other hand, comes with your run of the mill AA standard batteries – available in any outlet around the country. This feature can act as an advantage or disadvantage according to your particular needs.

AAs are a pretty common standard, meaning you can easily get a new set when yours run out from any store in your area. However, they don’t feature the same reliability and longevity as their counterparts. Thus, if you plan to use your multimeter for extended periods on a daily basis – you might find yourself running to the shop more often than you would like. AAs, on the other hand, are also significantly cheaper than the 9V alternatives available in the market. Both models allow for easy access to this area, with only one screw enclosing this compartment. This is an especially great feature when using the Fluke 17B, as you will likely need to change your batteries on a more regular basis as compared to the 117 alternative.

Fluke 17B vs. 117 Review

Fluke 17B

The Fluke 17B is one of the simpler multimeters on offer with the Fluke range of products. One of the primary things that should be noted about this model is that it comes with an average response reader, which is not very helpful when dealing with distorted waveforms. However, it’s a great option for those looking to perform simple DIY tasks around the house. The instrument also features an ergonomic design that is comfortable to hold and promotes one-handed use. Its compact shape allows you to apply its implementation within constricted spaces easily. The tool is a great alternative for those looking for a solution to perform straightforward measuring tasks and includes the general ranges on offer with common multimeters – including voltage, current, capacitance, and frequency.

Its most attractive feature is arguably the temperature measuring capacity, which is an aspect that is not available with some of the more current models in the market. It accomplishes this capability via the inclusion of thermo-coupling probes that come with the package. A flexible rubber holster is also included with the body to absorb sudden impacts and minimize potential damage. The sturdy design of its casing is also quite attractive and ensures that the tool can take quite a beating before succumbing to external elements.

Pros

  • It’s one of the more affordable options in the market
  • Temperature measuring capabilities
  • Easily accessible battery compartment

Cons

  • Doesn’t entail True RMS capabilities
  • It’s mainly designed for the local Chinese market, making it hard to purchase elsewhere
  • Doesn’t feature an analog bar graph

 

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Fluke 117

The Fluke 117 is a great option for those looking to use their instrument for general light industrial applications, as well as DIY projects. It offers greater accuracy levels as compared to its counterpart and features True RMS, which is excellent for enhancing accurate readings with distorted waveforms. Its non-contact voltage detection system (AlertVolt) also enhances the levels of safety that can be enjoyed by the user when identifying the presence of a live current. It also features auto-ranging capabilities, as well as min/max readings, which assists the user when dealing with highly fluctuating values. Its 9V battery boasts a life of about 200 hours with average use, so you don’t have to worry about changing the battery every few days when using it on a regular basis.

Its low input impedance allows for the detection of ghost voltages, which are responsible for the production of false positives during a reading. Its digital display also features an analog bar graph to help you attain more information during a diagnosis. The package includes an easily understandable manual that can assist you with actions such as the calibration of your device. Another attractive feature is its diode testing capabilities, which are limited to a range of 2V.

Pros

  • True RMS reader
  • Features min/max function
  • Speedy response times
  • Reliable warranty

Cons

  • It’s significantly more expensive than the 17B alternative
  • Doesn’t measure temperature

 

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The Final Verdict

A closer look at both alternatives reveals that the Fluke 117 represents the better option when looking for higher levels of accuracy at better response times. It also comes with a variety of additional features that are not present with the Fluke 17B, including min/max readings and non-contact voltage detection. The 17B is a good alternative when looking for an instrument that you can use around the house every now and then. However, if you plan on implementing commercial projects with your tools, then choosing the more current version is the better option for your needs.

FAQs

Does the 117 come with temperature measuring capabilities?

No. However, there are a few alternatives from the Fluke product line that offer this category and exhibit similar qualities in range and design as the 117 models.

Can I use the Fluke 17B with American equipment?

Yes. The availability of the product in this region is the primary obstacle facing this particular model.

How long are the warranties provided with these products?

The Fluke 17B offers a limited warranty that lasts for a year, while the coverage on the 117 alternative is provided for three years.

How can I redeem my Fluke 17B warranty?

You will have to contact the providers based in the region you have acquired the product from (China) and make arrangements to have these needs met.

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