Updated: Jan 13, 2016
Clamp Meter Reviews:
- What is a clamp meter?
- Benefits of using a clamp meter
- How much do clamp meters cost? Which should I buy?
If you are an electrician or technician, owning a clamp meter will certainly help you with your job. Clamp meters are also referred to as a tong tester or a clamp-on ammeter. What exactly does a clamp meter do? They are used to measure large AC currents or as my electrician says "circuit loading". The newer digital clamp meters also have the capability to measure voltage and resistance - unlike the older analog clamp meters. Tripping circuit breakers are one main reason why clamp meters can come in handy for electricians.
Homeowners that take on DIY electrical projects may find that having a clamp meter for mapping outlets to breakers is a major convenience. Accuracy used to be a problem with clamp on ammeters, but the latest models from manufacturers like Fluke, Extech, and Milwaukee have improved in this area. Expect to spend at least $50 and upwards of $150 for a top quality clamp meter.
How to Use a Clamp Meter:Many of our visitors are always asking that we provide some kind of video on "how to use a clamp meter". There are some great examples on YouTube, but we have provided one below that at least gives you an idea of how they work.
What to look for in a clamp meter?
When you to talk to experts, most agree that 5 factors should be considered when buying a clamp on meter. Accuracy is the #1 feature that any technician wants in his clamp meter as this can help limit your work load. If you are troubleshooting problems and the clamp meter doesn't give repeatable results (that are accurate), then you are wasting your time.
Secondly, make sure the meter works where you need it to. Some are designed for indoor use while you may need it to function outdoors. Safety is something else you want to look at. Most clamp meters we read reviews on do quite well in this area, but keep in mind you are dealing with electricity and you want to be safe no matter what. Clamp meters with large displays and a backlight are pretty much mandatory.
Some owner reviews mention the display is too small on some models or the viewing angle just isn't sufficient. You want features that function as advertised in real work conditions, not just in some laboratory. Lastly, measuring both AC and DC voltage is a plus (not all clamp meters do this). We found the most in depth reviews posted on websites like Amazon.com where you can read up on all the latest models from Fluke, Extech, and A.W. Sperry. It's always good to hear what other owners have to say before making any kind of buying decision on a product like this.
If you are in question of which product is right for you, Fluke offers a clamp meter selection guide online which is quite helpful. Whether you are a commercial electrician, industrial electrical contractor, HVAC service technician, or in facility maintenance, Fluke has a product that will fit your needs. You can pair your job function to applications you work on and get the correct clamp meter - see the PDF here. You can browse the best selling clamp meters online here.
Best Clamp Meter:
RECOMMENDED - The #1 seller on Amazon and on several other websites is the Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter. Fluke clamp meters are just another product line from Fluke in which they seem to dominate the market. Fluke multimeters are award winning amongst electricians and technicians as well. The Fluke 323 is designed to measure currents up to 400 A and because the meter is small it works well in tight cable compartments. Owners say the 323 clamp meter gives you accurate readings on low current measurements and of course you get the reliability factor that comes when buying a Fluke product.
The maximum jaw opening is 1 inch and maintenance technicians who test outlets, switches, HVAC problems, and electrical appliances say it's the tool of choice in their tool belts. When it comes to basic troubleshooting the added features on the Fluke 323 like DC voltage measurements are what set it apart from the others. The high resolution for loads below 40 Ah is simply one more reason to purchase this model. The cost is $100 and owner reviews are extremely positive for this model. See all the top rated Fluke clamp meters here.
To check out how to use a clamp meter properly - click the image below to go to video.
HVAC Clamp Meter:
RECOMMENDED - Once again the leader in this category is Fluke. Their Fluke 902 True RMS HVAC Clamp Meter sells for a little over $200 but consumers say the product is well worth the price. Expert reviews agree with owners and say that any heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) technicians should carry the Fluke 902. Whether you are diagnosing an HVAC system or actually repairing one, the 902 True RMS clamp meter will be a trusted companion. You get True RMS technology and a CAT III 600 V rating. When it comes to accuracy and job safety, the 902 from Fluke is second to none. Just a few things you can do with the Fluke 902 (per their website) - "conduct flame rod testing, capture flu gas temperatures, measure start and run motor capacitors, and troubleshoot electrical motor faults". If you want something to compare the Fluke with, check out the Milwaukee 2236-20 HVAC Clamp Meter.
Top Rated Clamp Meter:
Looking for a mini clamp meter? One that might fit into your pocket? Well the Uni-T UT210E True RMS AC/DC Current Mini Clamp Meters is certainly worth looking at. They offer both a pocket size and small options. Both are priced below $45 making them very affordable for electricans, HVAC repairmen, etc. Features like 100A AC and DC current measurement and non-contact voltage detection are just 2 reasons we believe this tool will become an essential part of your equipment when doing repairs or services. The LED indication with backlight make the readouts easy to see in all light conditions. Need to keep data for a later time and compare readouts? The data HOLD, MAX-Min, and ZERO mode are perfect for meticulous electricians. The results are accurate and reliable. The Uni-T clamp meter gets solid reviews from professional electricians and DIY homeowners that need a reliable clamp meter.
More videos and resources are here on our Clamp Meter Resource Page.
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