Clamp meters are a suitable testing instrument that allows current measurements without circuit interruption. While you are making current measurements with a normal multimeter, you should cut wiring and connect to the circuit that is being tested. Digital technology is used to bring instant readings. Here is an easy guide to use a clamp meter.
Clamp Meter with two jaws can lock around an electrical conductor like a crab and measure its current and properties. What makes a clamp meter unique is the ability to measure current without breaking the circuit which ensures the safety needed for testing high currents. It can measure the net AC/DC current through its clamp. The current it measures is vector i.e. it is direction specific. It is normally used to measure high currents but there is a trick you can use to measure very low currents. Just, wind the wire (if you can) around the clamp ‘n'(around 10) number of times and then divide the measured value by n. The problem remains because this way it gives only an approximate value of current.
The major manufacturers of clamp meter are Hioki and Fluke. The usefulness of a clamp meter is determined by its voltage and current rating. A minimum range of 400 A and 600 V is a must for clamp meter to be usefulness.
In addition to current, most clamp meters typically measure voltage, resistance, continuity and other functions commonly found in a digital multimeter. But to get a more accurate value of low currents Digital Multimeter is used.
6 things to consider before buying a clamp meter-
- The Shape and the width of the jaw can make calibration sometimes difficult. So, choose accordingly.
- Choose a clamp that gives accurate results which are precise over time.
- Not all the functions are useful for everyone, so save your money by first listing your requirement and then buying clamp meter which satisfies them, not the other way round.
- Choosing a clamp meter which is suitable to the environment you work in. If you work in a dark lit place, backlight becomes an important feature.
- If accuracy is what you are looking for then the true RMS value feature is a must, as it cancels out the readings from other equipment.
- The display size shouldn’t be small and the viewing angle should be sufficient for your use.