(Because E-bay limits the size of buying guides, I had to split my Fluke buying guide into sections and sub-sections. This section is about some of the different Fluke meter types, and the different versions of each. Please see the main guide for additional information.
Link to Main Guide
Also, this section had to be divided into sub sections, as it's length grew beyond E-bay's limit. These are linked below.
All specifications are from Fluke's website and/or published manuals.
Please contact me if you find any errors or omissions - use the E-bay "contact member" feature (my E-bay username is "excavatoree") as E-bay rules prohibit me from giving my e-mail address here.
If you can't vote this guide as "useful," I'd appreciate some feedback about why, so I can make this guide better. I thank everyone who has pointed out errors or let me know if a point was not made clearly enough. I revise these guides frequently, as I have time to do so.
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MODELS and SERIES:
often uses the same model number for different meters. In most
cases, there is a "series" designation to distinguish the different
models, but in some cases this is not true. (These differences tend to
be more minor.) I'll group the various meters into "types" and
describe each type. Fluke uses Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V)
on the front panel of the meter to indicate series, but I tend to use
Arabic numerals when describing them. (e.g. "Series 3" or "Series 4")
note: Fluke also makes/made versions of these meters for the government
- these have no "series" designation, but a slash and two letters after
the model designation. (Fluke 77/AN for an example.) There is a
corresponding "civilian" version of each of these, and the difference
is a labeling only. The military versions aren't "more rugged," "more
accurate," or "better" in any way.
UPDATE!!! To every rule, there are
one or more exceptions. There is at least one exception to this rule. One of E-bay's expert meter sellers has informed me that the Military version of the Fluke 27,
the 27/FM is a true RMS meter. (The "non military" 27
does not have the True RMS feature.) This
is such a rare case that the Fluke representative that answered my
question did not know that the 27/FM was a true RMS meter! So,
the 27/FM is better, because it has the "true RMS" feature. Please see my section "TRUE RMS" in my main guide (linked)
FURTHER UPDATE!!! Recently, the US government has begun selling newer Fluke 27s as surplus. These look like civilian Fluke 27s - The LCD bezel is printed "Fluke 27," but they have a label on the back that states "Fluke 27/FM." These are NOT true RMS meters. As far as I know, only the meters with "Fluke 27/FM" printed on the front of the meter (LCD surround) are true RMS. (see my sub- section on Rugged Types of meters. Also linked below)
Compact Types (Sub Section):
There are three types of meters that I have grouped in my "compact type" section.
The "10 Type," which consists of the 8, 10, 11, 12, 12B, 16 and 18 models,
The "Testers," which consists of the 7-300 and 7-600, and
The "110 Type," which consists of the 110, 111, and 112 models.
Please see my sub-section: Compact Types.
70 type (includes most 20-something models as well.)
standard meters in this series are the 21, 23, 29, 70, 73, 75, 76, 77,
and 79. The automotive meter in this series is the 78. These have
plain, rectangular cases with no contouring or tapering. The 20-something models are yellow, the 70-something models are gray or green. (older meters are green, the newer meters are grey)
There are holsters available for this type. A holster is a meter cover designed to protect the meter. There are two types, the "Old Type" is square and green, the "New Type" is rounded and was available in yellow or grey, with the yellow version being the most common. The grey versions was available for a short time, but it was discontinued first.
The yellow version, although available longer, has now been
discontinued as well.
(sorry, E-bay limits picture resolution.)
Left: Old type - green, square
Middle: New type - grey, rounded
Right: New type - yellow, rounded
All three holsters are interchangeable, and often a newer holster was
purchased for an older meter, or an older holster was used with a newer
The first, or oldest group have no series designation on the meter, but are sometimes called "Series 1" meters. Early 70-something models are green, later 70-something models are grey. All of the 20-something models are yellow. Early models of both have a somewhat greyish-green mask around the LCD, the later meters had a pure grey mask around the LCD. The holster for the earlier meters is the green "Old type." (see holster descriptions, above) The newer meters used the rounded, "New Type" holster in either grey or yellow. Some meters were sold with a holster, some were not. The holsters were also sold separately as accessories.
The next group are the "series 2's" or "series II" as shown on the meter. The 70-something models are grey; the 20-something models remain yellow. The mask around the LCD is the pure grey for both 70-something and 20-something meters. The holster for these meters is the rounded "New Type." Some meters were sold with a holster, some were not. The holsters were also sold separately as accessories.
third group are the "series 3's" or "Series III" as shown on the
meter. These are also grey in color, with the rounded yellow holster either sold with the meter or available as an accessory. Only the 70-III and 73-III are of this type, ("70 type") the other 70-something and all of the 20-something 3
series meters are of the "70-Tapered" type. (See below)
Fluke grouped the 70-III and the 73-III with the meters I call "70 tapered type" and described them all as "70 series" meters. Unfortunately, this has created some confusion. Many sellers list 70-3 and 73-3 meters and copy Fluke's website descriptions, which include information about the newer "70 tapered" type meters. The 70-3 and 73-3 meters do not have the tapered case or the display with larger digits. These features are included on the "70 tapered type" meters, described below.
All models are autoranging, and models with the button in the center of
the selector switch can be operated in manual range mode. (70 and 73
series 1 and 2 meters did not have the center button.)
All of the 70 type meters (21, 23, 29, 70, 73, 75, 76, 77 and 79 (all series of each)) have the following capabilities:
DC millivolts (300 millivolt range for DC only)
Confusingly, the current measuring capabilities change with the series number. For
example, the 21 series 2 has the same capabilities as all series of the 23 meters. The 73-III has the same capability as the 77 meters. (see list below)
The 70 (all series) has no current measuring capability at all.
21 (series 1), and the 73 (series 1 and series 2) have only one
current range (DC AND AC) The 21 series 1 has a 300 milliampere
range, the 73 (series 1 and series 2) has only the 10 Ampere range.
21 (series 2), 23, 23 (series 2),73 (series III), 75 (all series), 77 (all series) have
two current ranges. (DC and AC) (300 milliampere and 10 Ampere) Note that some early models have an unfused 10 ampere range. The front of the meter will indicate "fused" or "unfused."
29, 76 and 79 also have two current ranges. Their milliampere ranges is only 40 ma, but their 10
ampere ranges are more precise than the 10 Ampere ranges of the other
meters of this type.
The 29, 76, and 79 also measure frequency and capacitance.
The 76 is the "ultimate" 70 series, with True RMS
78 is the "Automotive" meter of this type. It has built-in temperature
measuring capability (see my TEMPERATURE section for more information), RPM measurement, Frequency measurement, and all of the features of the
73 type meters, except that the 78 has only the 10 Ampere current measuring range. (There is no milliampere range)
70 tapered type:
Models of this type are the 21-III, 23-III, 26-III, 75-III, 77-III, and 79-III. These
have a contoured, tapered, case with a much larger display than the rectangular "70 Type" meters. Strangely, the 70-III and 73-III
keep the same rectangular case and smaller display; they are really "70 type" meters, and are described above. (Fluke tends to group meters by series, I am grouping them by similar meter types.)
The tapered type meters do not have holsters
available - instead, the outer case of these meters is rubberized. Although the rubberized coating is great for gripping the meter, I find that these cases get
dirty more easily, and they are more difficult to clean. For automotive, industrial or
other "dirty area" use, you may wish to consider buying a meter with a separate
holster. (Wit the exception of the 233/A, (see remote display type below) all Fluke "automotive meters" are holster type, to my
knowledge. Thus, there is no "automotive" meter of this type) For laboratory or other "clean area" use, such as an electronic technician's workbench, the lack of a separate holster is not important. The separate holster also provides some shock protection, which may or may not be important, depending on how you will use the meter. Remember, your personal preference is key here - my remarks reflect my personal preference only.
with the 70 type meters, there is no color difference between the 20 models
and the 70 models of the tapered 70 type. the 21-III is EXACTLY like the 75-III, except for
the printing on the meter mask. (the plastic piece surrounding the
LCD, viewed through the window) Similarly, the 23-III and 77-III are
the same meter, and the the 26-III and the 79-III are
the same meter. Why Fluke did this is unknown to me - there may have been marketing or packaging differences.
The capabilities of the 21-3, 23-3, 75-3, and 77-3 are the same as the 70 type 77s. (series 1 and 2):
AC/DC current measurement. (300 milliampere and 10 ampere ranges.) All are autoranging by default, but the range can be manually selected as well using the "range" button. All of these meters also have the "hold" feature.
The capabilities of the 26-3 and 79-3 are the same as the 29 and 79 (all series, 70 type) with the addition of the TRUE RMS feature:
(same capabilities as the 76 (70 type))
AC voltage (True RMS)
AC/DC current measurement. (40 milliampere and 10 ampere ranges.) (True RMS for AC reading)
All are autoranging by default, but the range can be manually selected
as well using the "range" button. All of these meters also have the
are the successor to the 70 tapered type. Meters of this type include the 77-IV, 175, 177, and the 179. These meters have cases very similar to the 70 tapered type. (See above for case remarks) A door was added to allow
the battery to be changed without taking the entire case
apart - a very convenient feature. A backlight was added to some models, and the True RMS feature was added to some models. (see below) There is no "automotive" version of this type.
The 77-IV is NOT a True RMS meter, the remaining models (175, 177, and 179) are.
The 77-IV, 177 and 179 meters have a backlight, the 175 does not.
All models have the following capabilities:
DC and AC voltage (all are true RMS except 77-IV)
DC and AC current (all are true RMS except 77-IV)
Hold function - (175, 177, and 179 only)
Auto-Hold - same as "touch hold" on previous models
The 179 also has temperature capability. (see my TEMPERATURE section (linked))
standard meters of this type are the 83, 85 and 87. The automotive
meters of this type are the 86 and the 88. The 89, (no series) 89,
(series 4) and
87 (series 4) are called "80 series" meters by fluke, but because these meters
are of an obviously
different type, they are described in the "180 type" section below.
The latest models are the 83-5, 87-5, and the 88-5. The 86 and 85 have been discontinued.
there have been a few variations of this meter type, and to keep the size of this guide below e-bay's maximum, I created a new guide just for this sub-section which describes these meters and their different versions. Please see
separate sub-section MODELS
and SERIES, 80 TYPE (linked)
meters have three holsters available:
1. Old Style - Yellow
Old Style - Grey
3. New Style - Yellow
(Picture to be added)
are the 87-IV, 89, 89-IV, 187, and 189 meters. These are higher
precision meters that do more than the 80 type meters. These also
have the rubberized overmolded cases instead of an available holster, so the
remarks in the "70 tapered" section about the integrated holster apply to these meters as well. This
meter is not likely to be used under the hood of a car, and there is no
"automotive" version of this meter. Until the introduction of the 280
series, the 89, 89-IV and 189 were the "top of the line" in Fluke hand-held
meters. Fluke did/does sell a 189-II meter, but this is a "280 Type" meter prepared for government contracts, and is discussed below.
Although there was never an 89-2 or 3, some 89s are labeled "89-IV." Others are labeled simply "89" with no series designation. The 89 and 89-IV are the same meter - the only difference is the printing on the LCD mask. I suppose Fluke did this to indicate it was grouped with the 87-IV.
Other than the data logging capability, present only on the 89, 89-IV, and 189, the meters are identical in look and operation - only the printing on the mask is different. (see remark about IR interface, below)
All meters of this type have the two-level, white backlight.
The 180 type meters have the following functions:
DC and AC volts (including dual display of AC and DC components, as well as the DC+AC option)
DC and AC millivolts
Resistance and Conductance
Temperature (see my TEMPERATURE section (linked)
DC and AC Amperes
DC and AC milliampers
DC and AC microamperes
Display results in DbV and DbM, with adjustable
Data Logging (89, 89-4, and 189 only)
With the optional Infra-red receiver and FlukeView software, these meters can send readings to your computer.
A reader informed me that I had not mentioned that the 89 and 87-IV meters use a different Infrared adaptor cable from that of the 187 and 189. The 87 and 89 use an IR to serial type cable, and the 187 and 189 use an IR to USB type cable. The software, however, will work with both types of cable, but you must be sure to get the correct cable for the meter you are using.
These meters can be used in auto-range mode or the range can be set manually.
These are the 189-II, 289 and 287 models. The 189-II is the same meter as a 287. (I believe this is a meter for a government contract, but some are being sold on E-bay by sellers who buy government surplus for resale.) See Fluke's website for information about these meters, which are the successors to the 187 and 189 meters. These are the latest
models and they represent the "top of the line" in hand-held, general purpose meters. (when this guide was last revised) The 287 and 289 (and 189II) have a 1/4 VGA dot-matrix LCD that can display a graphic representation of the measured waveform or several lines of data such as present reading, maximum and minimum reading obtained, and the average of all readings.
The data logging capabilities are increased from those of the 189. Unlike the 180 Series meters, Both the 289 and 287 have data logging capability. The only additional features of the 289 are a low pass filter to eliminate high frequency interference, a low impedance AC Volts function, and a low ohms range for measuring resistances less than 50 ohms.
Remote Display Type:
Picture, I do not own one. See Fluke's website for pictures and additional information)
These are the 233, and the 233/A models. The 233/A is labeled an "Automotive meter." From the information I see on Fluke's website, the only difference between these two models is the printing on the LCD surround. These appear to be exactly the same meter.
meter's case looks similar to
the 170 and 70 tapered type but it is a bit larger and heavier . These
meters do not have external holsters, but have the rubberized
covering. (See 70 tapered type above) The 233/A is the first automotive meter that does not have a separate
The most obvious new feature of this
type is the remote display - the LCD and the buttons underneath are part
of a removable module. The display can be up to 10 meters (~30 feet)
away from the rest of the meter. There are many situations and places
where this would be very useful. The remote display module has a
magnetic back for easy mounting.
When the remote display is
attached to the meter, the transmitter is off, to avoid any interference
See Fluke's website for more information about this
Capabilities are similar to the 179 meter:
voltage (true RMS)
DC and AC millivolt range (AC
AC current (true RMS)
Hold function -
Auto-Hold - same as "touch hold" on previous models
Temperature (see my TEMPERATURE
are the 8025A, 8025B, 25, 27, and 27/FM models.
Please see my sub-section Rugged Types.
New Rugged Type:
These are the 27-II and 28-II.
(No picture. I don't own one, but see Fluke's website for pictures and additional information about these meters)
Please see my sub-section Rugged Types.
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