Cool Tools: FLUKE Handheld Digital Multimeter - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Cool Tools: FLUKE Handheld Digital Multimeter

Author: jdlui

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Test Equipment

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Genera DMMs (Fluke, other)

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Major concerns with the FieldSense selector dial, and the possible situations where someone is mistakenly led to believe that a circuit is not live.

Detailed Review:

The Fluke T6 is an interesting slender DMM that offers a contactless FieldSense measurement for reading AC voltage and current from live wires. It has a decent construction, feels good in hand. The long slender design is conducive to being held in one hand. Back cover opens easily enough to allow access to the 2 AA batteries, although you need a screwdriver to change the batteries. That screw is going to get lost!

 

Listed battery life is 360 hours with probes, 200 hours with FieldSense. The selector dial feels large and rugged enough that you could probably turn it on easily when wearing work gloves. The T6-1000 model allows readings up to 1000V AC or DC with the probes (+/- 1 V resolution) and also with the FieldSense feature, you can read up to 200A current (+/- 0.1 A resolution).

 

The Fluke T6

 

Battery compartment uses those coiled springs on both sides. Hard to replace batteries and confusing also.


Basic Probing

Basic probing works well, especially since the prongs are flattened for easy insertion into outlets. Cables feel like nice quality rubber. There is a HOLD button for you to freeze measurements. I’m not sure that I see the benefit in a HOLD button since I need to take my hands of the probes to handle the DMM. Perhaps they should design some newer probes with a button on the sleeve, and this sends a hold signal to the DMM?

 

One cool thing you can do: mount the red probe in end of meter so you can more easily take a reading with the probes and still read the screen. This is probably the best improvement over a traditional DMM, and might actually give you an opportunity to reach that HOLD button.


You can also take resistance and continuity readings. Resistance resolution values seem a bit more reasonable, with readings possible in the 2k +/- 1R, 20k +/- 0.01k, and 100k +/- 0.1k ranges.

The T6 could work decent as a household meter for your heavier jobs and home rewiring projects, but the voltage precision (+/-1V) is too low for small hobby electronics projects and battery checking.

 

FieldSense is an interesting option they offer for a safer electrical read. Instead of using prongs you can use the coil built into end of the DMM to take a reading, and you ground the reading through a capacitive coupling from your body to the contact on the back of the device.

The ground contact on back of device

 

FieldSense is pretty easy to use: just flip from the ACDC voltage read mode to the FieldSense mode with selector dial. You also need to ensure that black lead is inserted into the DMM, since this makes the circuit with your capacitive ground connect on the back of the device. When you have sufficient ground connection and a live wire is detected between the prongs of the DMM, you will see a little lightup to show you that a live circuit is detected, and the device will give you a voltage and current reading. You can even toggle a button to check the frequency.

 

Opening up back, here is the big coil.

Some shielded components the grill? And a ribbon cable from coil assembly to the main board.

Big coil, and some flexible circuitry. Odd looking solder balls

On back of battery compartment cover: The weird spring system for loading black probe and connecting it to that ground contact on the back. Contact area on them is limited since the probe point pushes into a spring loaded piece of steel. By this is OK? Design choice?

 

Major concern I have about FieldSense and the design of this device: The red probe WILL NOT deliver a reading when you switch dial to FieldSense. All you will get is a little wimpy warning light and a lightning bolt symbol on the meter. That’s not good enough in my opinion. If you accidentally move selector to FieldSense instead of regular reading and start probing, you may mistakenly think that a circuit is open/dead when it is really live. I believe that the design of this device should allow the voltage readings from the more traditional red/black probes to override the settings and always give you voltage reading, even if you are in FieldSense mode. Electrical experts and electricians, please prove me wrong!

 

 

Limitations:

FieldSense accuracy seems very limited for readings with larger power supply cables and might only be intended for reading from mains wires.

With heavy wire I can only read about 70 volts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IexExHTGp8

With thinner wire I can read 100V. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKaWgnxsXgM 

Accuracy is either affected by insulation thickness or by the multiple mains wires in a power cable. I wonder if the FieldSense is designed for only taking readings from single mains wires, not multi mains wires power cables. I am very infrequently opening up my home wiring to access mains wires, so this again leads me to question the usefulness of this device for the average electrical hobbyist.

 

Fluke's website seems to show that you can accurately take that AC reading with a super heavy cable, so I don't know what my problem is. However they show the exact same 119 VAC 7.4 A reading for a smaller wire in a subsequent photo. Hmm...

 

Fluke T6-1000 Electrical Tester | FlukeFluke T6-1000 Electrical Tester | FlukeFluke T6-1000 Electrical Tester | Fluke

 

Price comparison

Fluke T6 sells on Amazon.com for about $225 USD. I think there is much more value in getting an industry standard Fluke DMM in a regular form factor. Something like Fluke 117 for $160 USD has everything you need. Even Fluke 101 would probably suit my amatuer needs. Although the probes look horrendous.

 

Summary: There is a lot of negativity online about this meter and a lot of concerns about the quality and safety of FieldSense readings. From my basic electrical understanding I believe the fieldsense readings are safe, and you can’t get serious current delivered to you when you are capacitively coupled to ground during a reading. However I see that this device probably doesn’t meet the needs of the home DIY hobbyist and tinkerer due to limited resolution in voltage readings, but is more suited for heavy electrical work. Since I don’t have any electricians on hand, I may have to wait to find their feedback on the practical utility of this device in the field.

 

Bottomline: I do not think this is worth paying an extra $60USD for the home hobbyist. Unless you really need a simultaneous voltage current reading. And I would only trust that reading on single mains wires. Not wrapped, shielded cables or power cables.

As a general device it seems good quality. For a home hobbyist I think it is not well suited. Stick with the old Fluke DMMs! If you want that handed-reading, make a little sheath to clamp one probe to your DMM.

Anonymous
  • Good roadtest. Interesting point you make about the the readings when using the probe with the meter turned to field sense function. Electricians testing to see if a circuit is live or dead, should follow a prove-test-prove method. So in proving the tester on a known source they should pickup that the meter is not displaying correctly. There is the possibility that they could prove the tester and then accidentally knock the selector switch, but that is why the tester is then proved against the known source again, once the circuit to be worked on has been tested.

     

    Following that method correctly should warn the user and prompt them to check the tester and recheck the circuit.

     

    With regard to using the tester around multi-core mains cables, you are probably lucky you got any reading at all. Generally a clamp (open or closed types) meter will only display accurate readings when used on single core cable. The magnetic field that the devices pickup is affected by the other wires in a multi-core cable if not cancelled out completely.

     

    Megger did make their MMC850 unit a while back that can be clamped around multi-core mains cables and show the current reading, but it is no longer manufactured.

     

    Given the price of the unit, I would say it is more likely to be used by electricians working in the domestic / light commercial sectors. I am not sure that the device as it stands is particularly useful, but the technology certainly has development potential, especially for power analysers where voltage and current connections are both needed. A single clamp device to read both the voltage and current would make those devices easier and safer to use.

     

    May be that is the way Fluke is heading and the T6 is a market tester to see how the device is accepted and proved in the field. Hioki are also producing a contactless voltage measurement probe, albeit at lower voltages and for scope use, it also carries a much bigger price tag.

     

    Hioki SP3000

     

    Kind regards

  • Nice roadtest review.  There are a lot of positives and negatives to any given design.  I think that you fairly expressed your views and opinions.

    Gene