Fluke, a company well-known for their high quality digital multimeters and other test equipment, has come out with a new line of premium insulated hand tools.
Fluke says that their new insulated hand tools are designed to keep workers safe near potentially hazardous areas, and are rugged enough to be used in the toughest environments.
The new hand tool line includes screwdrivers and pliers, which will be available individually, in sets, or with select multimeters in “starter kits.”
Fluke’s insulated hand tools are rated to have 1000V protection, and are individually tested to over 10,000V. Fluke says the tools comply to globally-recognized safety standards.
There are 7 screwdriver sizes, slotted in 3/32″, 5/32″, 1/4″, Phillips #1 and #2, and square #1 and #2, and 4 pliers styles, combination pliers, diagonal cutters, long nose pliers, and adjustable water pump pliers.
Buy Now(via Acme Tools)
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Hands-On and Discussion
It seems to me that Fluke has put a lot of thought into their new insulated tools, and especially their storage pouches and roll-up. I really like the pouch, and its double magnet hanger.
As for the tools themselves, they’re high-quality and made in Germany. Fluke kindly send over a set for review.
Even if you don’t recognize the screwdriver styling, the feel is a giveaway – these are made by Felo, at least with 99.9% certainty, and feature Felo’s iconic Ergonic cushioned screwdriver handles.
Fluke press materials say that:
Fluke Insulated Hand Tools are manufactured using state-of-the-art German steel to Fluke’s exacting standards for quality, ruggedness, and reliability.
Frankly, Felo Ergonic screwdrivers are pretty darned good. Tool brands don’t like talking about OEM relationships, and so we probably can’t ask if or how Fluke screwdrivers might differ from Felo’s.
Fluke is a recognized brand, and is a safe choice for pros and industrial techs.
I can’t quite identify the OEM for the pliers (yet), but they seem to be very well-made. I need more use with the tools for a proper review and assessment.
Not to mince words, I’m a little off-put by the pricing. A 7pc screwdriver set is $140 via Acme Tools, and only a little lower on Amazon. A 6pc Phillips and slotted Felo Ergonic set is $36 via Amazon. A Wera 6pc set is $29-32 via Amazon. To be fair, Klein insulated pliers aren’t much less expensive individually.
The pliers are a bit pricey too, starting at $65.
Fluke’s kits seem to be better options, especially for industrial buyers looking for one-stop solutions. The Fluke 87V, which I still consider to be the best handheld digital multimeter (at least for users with more demanding needs and corresponding budgets), is priced at $365 to $387. Fluke has an 87V plus hand tool starter kit bundle, currently priced at $589. For the $200 difference (compared to the average street price), you get 3 pliers, 5 screwdrivers, and a tool case.
If you’re a commercial buyer, these new Fluke hand tools are a safe bet, not to mention high quality.
But if you’re an individual user, and your tool expenditures affect your bottom line, you might want to look very closely at how these tools are priced.
Without a doubt these are good tools and worthy of Fluke’s name and stellar reputation. They’re priced a little higher than I would have expected, but for commercial customers this could be considered a convenience fee for being able to have one-stop shopping.
From a quality standpoint, as well as user safety, you can’t go wrong with Fluke tools.
Context and Details from Fluke
We reached out to Fluke with some questions, and they provided us with added information:
Fluke is known as the world leader in test & measurement safety and people trust us with their life every day when they are exposed to electricity. As a company, we continually reinforce the importance of electrical safety on the job. Insulated hand tools are an integral part of an overall safety program which is required by OSHA directive 1910.335. They are also, without exception, priced higher than standard hand tools. When viewing Fluke’s position in the insulated hand tools market, it is useful to consider:
- The safety element – certified to 1000 V ac and 1500 V dc, tested to 10,000 V – requires a far more stringent manufacturing process than other hand tools
- The design element, which also improves safety, and can be seen in the unique tapered shaft of the screwdrivers that allows customers to get access to hard to reach areas without needing to shave the insulation down (yes, users actually do this)
- The quality element, as reflected in the “feel” that you describe in your review, puts these tools in a higher category than many other insulated tools which don’t work as well in the user’s hand
- The quality element, as additionally reflected in the limited lifetime warranty, indicates a product which will be in the technician’s toolbox for a very long time, perhaps a lifetime
Overall, we feel the value offered through safety, usability, durability and warranty is more than commensurate to the price.
We are working closely with our tool suppliers, and we do offer certain insulated tool models with unique attributes not available elsewhere.
I’m still waiting for these to come to the states.
I own several NWS and FELO tools and feel that I am more biased towards the NWS feel.
I’m curious about the needle nose pliers. What is the deal with the various sized gaps in the jaws?
Hey Chris – Needle nose pliers: The various sized gaps are gripping points to pull objects of different diameters for superior grip, so they don’t slip. Thanks!
They already are: http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=75212&cat=1,43456,43400,75214
The linesman pliers and diagonal pliers are Knipex 1000v line with different branding.
I considered that, but the tools aren’t very similar. The insides of the handles are contoured slightly, and the jaws have a grooved pattern that’s not recognizable to me.
The pliers are marked “Made in Germany” at an angle on one side of the handle between the pivot and grip.
I’ve looked at all the brands I could think of, but can’t find a match.
Acme tools website says they are made in the USA…
The tools in my hand say otherwise.
For this set it says it is made in USA
But individually for the pliers it says the country of origin: DEU (Deutschland/Germany)
Probably the multimeter is made in USA, only.
The pliers might be made by Orbis Will judging by the heads.
I think you might be right!!
The inner handle pattern also looks like a strong match.
Definitely Orbis, was about to post that.
In a weird way, the high cost of insulated tools is a good thing; if they were less expensive they’d likely get into hands where they shouldn’t be and create a more dangerous sense of Dunning-Kruger competence.
I’ve got a good Wiha set and filled it in with Cementex off eBay. Not ideal, but kept costs way down.
Good insulated tools are available quite inexpensively.
One of the regional hardware chains in Wisconsin and Minnesota has carried these for at least 5 years now.
I will agree that there are quite few people that are qualified/trained to work on or near energized electrical equipment and that insulated tools may give a false sense of security.
Your mention of a false sense of security and insulated electrical tools, reminds me of a time many years ago when I wanted to save the hundreds it was going to cost me to have the electric meter box replaced on the side of my house. After FPL, our electric company in south Florida, came out to my house to assess the cause of intermittent and momentary power losses, I was told that I needed to replace the worn-out “meter socket” the meter itself plugs into. The issues I was having with power loss had started shortly after FPL had replaced most of the meters in the neighborhood and many others were having the same problem. This is when we all learned that the cost of replacing these meter sockets was to be carried by each home owner. What looked like a quick and simple process soon became rather complex and costly. After speaking with a few electricians, it was explained to me that no electrician would do the work on a hot circuit and that there was no such thing as close coordination between FPL and a private electrician, such that a power disconnect by FPL followed by a waiting electrician to complete a thirty minute swap out of the meter socket and then a power reconnect by a waiting FPL worker. This devolved into a several day process , most without power, ending with a $700 – $1000 bill if I chose to do this.
Frustrated and discussed I decided to see why I couldn’t just do it myself. While I did not have the correct tools to work on a live circuit like this, two incoming live 00 awg or maybe 000 awg, each carrying 120v at maybe 200 amps, I set out to see if I could make it safe. I recall that I bought a new pair of heavy, elbow length, rubber gloves and capped these with a new pair of leather gloves. This along with a face shield, my best insulted tools and a thick rubber mat to stand on and I was ready.
I spent about $50 for a new socket at a local electrical supply house and completed the swap without incident in less than an hour. In fact the only time there were any sparks was when the professionals, an FPL guy, originally came out to assess the situation and he accidentally touched the inside of the box with a wrench when he was tightening one of the lugs. This blew a small hole in the side of the box which I had to repair.
Congratulations on knowing enough to do it safely.
It’s easy to imagine “Florida Man” cooking himself with standard Channellock-type pliers from Harbor Freight, trying to squeeze something tight. “Florida Flicker & Flash” guy came close.
Glad to hear this had a good outcome. I do a lot of my own electrical work, but shy away from the mains.
It sort of like hot-tapping a pressurized gas line. If you know what your doing and follow proper procedures – it can be done safely. But – and its can be a “big but” with both pressurized lines and live electric circuits is knowing that your equipment is safe for the pressure (gas) or Voltage (electricity) you are working with. I suspect that those who work electrical lines live on a regular basis – also inspect and test their PPE and tools to insure that they have not been compromised by wear or misuse. A 4kV rated glove might not be up to snuff if it has a small hole in it.
I also see that OSHA has stepped up their enforcement of the need to wear FR clothing when working on live electrical equipment. We had an analogous approach in dealing with welding – where we trained employees and insisted on the wearing of FR clothing. Common nylon, polyester and most synthetics (I’m not talking about materials like Nomex) are never a good idea around flames and high heat sources.
Damn I’ll give it to ya! Very in-depth approach! I hated working commercial 240-400+v while hot, always bugged me out. Boss was a drunk too so he was little help, sometimes I even would have a drink to calm my nerves while he nursed a 30pk rolling joint after joint… useless! I would manipulate whatever I could to get the power cut. Now in your case, that amperage is loco! You are Le-gendary taking on such a task imo!? Friggin Tesla figuring out that AC changed this country. (Grand)Father of electricity lol I’ve seen these insulated ratchets & sockets popping up more often in my daily tool hunt. I wonder how they fare in the “hot” electricians arsenal? I almost nabbed the Wera version during a KCTOOL sale a few months back, but I’m flexing my discipline to not buy tools I don’t need. When it comes to carpentry & typically anything German I fail, so I feel I succeed that “Tool of the Day” sale!
the buy now amazon link is broken.
Thank you! *Fixed it.*
Stewart you list the available slotted screwdriver sizes as 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm. I think you grabbed the lengths in inches thinking they were the tip sizes.
They should be 2.5mm, 4mm and 6mm (3/32″, 5/32″ and 1/4″)
Speaking of which it’s strange that they jump from 2.5mm to 4mm skipping 3mm and 3.5mm. Which are much more commonly used in industrial electrical and control equipment. I emailed Fluke about 2 months ago when I saw their first email about theses new offerings suggesting that they are missing these commonly used sizes and have not gotten a response. The lack of some of the most commonly used sizes suggests to me that the guys in marketing dont have a good grasp on what is common in industry.
5/32″ is ~4.0mm, and my brain took a coffee break. Whoops. Thanks for the correction! The correct slotted screwdriver sizes are 3/32″, 5/32″, and 1/4″.
It’s possible that this is an introductory offering and that they might add to the line of slotted screwdrivers later on.
Someone on GJ mentioned that they thought the pliers were made by Orbis.
Looking online, the inner pattern of Orbis cushion-grip and insulated pliers does look like what I see on these Flukes.
Hmm, apparently Orbis is a Knipex brand. It’s possible then that these are customized and draw from both Knipex and Orbis styling?
The jaw stylings definitely do have Orbis-specific aspects!
Thanks for that detail!
These pliers are without a doubt made by Orbis. I have two angle nose Orbis pliers and they have the same style of handles with the “Made in Germany” forged in. Also, check Orbis own long nose pliers. They are angle nosed but otherwise exactly the same. Orbis 21-1500/40RV HD Long Nose Pliers “EVOTEL” 9″ with dual-component-VDE-sleeve , $67.99 on Amazon.
The VDE hand grips are probably sourced from a specialist sub contractor.
I’ve considered buying these fluke hand tools and a Klein clamp meter! Haha jk these are great looking tools. If orbis did make the pliers they should be great quality. I’ve loved all my orbis tools.
Brymen meters are much cheaper and do the job.
And for tools – no idea why you wouldn’t just get NWS and other German brands. Hell at those prices you could swing PB Swiss for drivers
I’m not sure if these could be considered as entry level starter kits being that there’s several brands that make similar entry level products appropriately priced for that skill level. I don’t see too many rookie electricians or communications technicians having that kind of money to spend on their first set of tools. And I assume that’s what you mean by the term starter in title of the post. I’ve always been curious to why insulated tools aren’t rated in both amperage and voltage. I’m also curious to why German tools are so expensive. No matter what brand of tools that comes from there, they cost several dollars more than compared to the rest of the industry. Another thing I’m curious about is how do they know how many volts the tools are rated for without witnessing a person cutting into live wires that have 1000 volts running through them to make that determination. Do they use human Guinea pigs? That would be a hell of a job.
I didn’t say these were entry level.
Why should insulated tools be rated in amps and volts? With high enough insulation, the flow of current is perfectly impeded and blocked. If any current is allowed to pass, the insulation has failed and you might see maximum discharge amperage. NO current can be allowed to pass.
Insulated tools are tested to ensure their voltage rating. For say a 1000V rating, the test voltage might be at least 10,000V to ensure a 10:1 safety rating. No, they don’t zap human test subjects to determine the safety rating.
It is the High Voltage that penetrates substandard or damaged insulation.
Voltage down to about 80 Volt AC can be fatal.
When working on live equipment it is also important to prevent the metal parts of your tools to touch and short circuit phase to ground or phase to phase. I used to wrap my pliers’ jaws and sockets/extensions with one or two layers Scotch self vulcanizing rubber tape. I forgot the number but it was either #23 or #33. It is enough to protect for 450 Volt AC if you do it properly.
Remember, When working on live electric circuits YOU and only You is responsible for your actions and Safety !
Here is a link to a short discussion about insulated tools:
1. Klein’s tools are always high priced. It’s kind of like Fluke…you’re buying into the name. It will likely not be “cheap” (as in quality) junk if you stick with that name but it won’t be “cheap” (as in price). Having Klein tools among electricians is like flashing your Fluke meter, Carhartt jacket, and Milwaukee drill. It says either “a fool and his money are soon parted”, or “pro” depending on the crowd. I love their Veto-style backpack which is better priced than Veto, and their 5-in-1 screwdriver is hard to beat (not happy with the 7-in-1).
2. A man named Charles Dalziel kicked things off in terms of measuring electrical shocks in the 1950’s before anyone else had really actually studied what happens. He determined that the potential for fibrillation and death is directly proportional to body weight of any animal including humans. After that he didn’t need test subjects anymore. There is a point in his research papers where he sort of hints that he probably did testing in this area under controlled medical conditions but never goes into details. As in there are data points but no data. His work has been corroborated by later research. His work is the foundation for electrical substation and lineman safety and design standards, and the 2-3 mA standard for GFCI’s. With electricians we accept some shocks but not permanent injury. With the general public we use “perception” as the threshold. He also measured resistance through the body. Later it was refined with how it varies with voltage. He also measured the effect of frequency among other things. Turns out that picking 50-60 Hz was the worst frequency we could pick from a safety point of view! Also exposure time matters. Under about 8 milliseconds doesn’t matter and if your heart rhythm is not messed up after about 5 seconds, there is very little likelihood it will. Voltage it turns out really doesn’t matter, it’s current. As little as 100 mA is enough to induce fibrillation but it takes 1 A or more to burn tissue. However since resistance is known it’s pretty easy to figure out the corresponding voltage. That lets us do things like set the minimum voltage standard to 50 V for occupational exposure…we know that somewhere around 70-80 VAC or so, fatalities can happen but under 50 VAC after decades of time, no one has died according to OSHA records. Most IEEE and IEC standards on shock hazards have about 5 pages of engineering data on the subject. IEC is more strict than IEEE but some of the science behind their methodology is questionable. They measured the impact of voltage on skin resistance (drops from 1,000 ohms down to about 600 ohms) but then apply it to ALL cases for instance even though Ohm’s Law says that’s impossible.
3. There are third party labs and ANSI testing standards for all electrical tools for shock hazards. They normally subject insulated tools, gloves, wiring, etc., to 200% of the rated voltage plus 1,000 V. It’s an ANSI standard. The tool is spritzed down with water ahead of time to simulate being out in rain. There is also a certain spacing between the electrodes. I forgot how the tool test goes but with lineman’s hot sticks they use 100,000 V across 1 foot and test every 6 inches. Gloves are actually filled with water inside and out and the electrodes are in the water. Lineman tools must be tested every 6 months and it’s a significant expose.
4. Insulated tools do not have to be expensive. I have a set of insulated precision screw drivers from Harbor Freight that was I think $20-30. I have tested them both on purpose and accidentally. The insulation itself on ALL tools is very soft and pretty easy to gouge up under normal use. Many electricians keep their insulated tools separate for that reason. My idea is that’s what the lifetime warranty replacement is for. The problem with the HF set by the way is the tips are overly hardened and snap off way too easily.
5. The insulation in the handle is for the operator. Also there is a guard or grip to keep your hand from slipping down into the business end of the tool while in use. That’s what the ring or hand grip on meter probes is for. The insulation along the shaft is to prevent “butter fingers” moments from happening where the tool slips some place it is not supposed to be or gets dropped into the equipment. The exposed metal is supposed to be minimal to prevent a phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground short circuit. EPRI which is a utility research consortium actually clamps vice grips onto copper bus in many of their tests because the arc you get off a tool is a little different from the standard IEEE all copper or all aluminum tests.
Awesome information and insights, thank you!
Here is some interesting reading:
We all stand on the shoulders of giants,
Don’t get me started on the fluke t6-1000 in the picture. Do I ever have buyers remorse with that one. I reach for my t5 over that pos.
Hi Joe – We’re upset to hear of your experience with the T6-1000. We’d like to understand the problems you are having and try to make it right. Can you please email us further details at [email protected]? Thank you.
I both want these tools, and despise what they stand for — all at once.
Firstly, i’m sure they’re excellent tools. Wonderful to use, and the yellow/red standard of VDE calls my inner consumer to open up my wallet …
But then again, why do we need another private-labeled “Brand” pushing tools from manufacturers that are already known to be great? These are Orbis/Knipex pliers and Felo screwdrivers. All awesome. All of which have their own insulated lines.
Anyone willing to pay these prices likely has already delved into the Knipex/Wera/Wiha world. So who’s the untapped market for these tools?