Best Clamp Meter 2018: Safer, Durable & Extreme Accuracy
Even with the tiniest knowledge of industrial electronics, then you definitely can agree to the fact that a multimeter is one of the most important tools. Other than the normal multimeter we are used to, there’s also the clamp meters which we’ll be looking at in this section and also how you can get yourself the best clamp meter.
Initially, the clamp meters were designed for the sole purpose of measuring alternating current. Over the years, they have evolved in their use and they now include test leads just like the normal multimeters we’re used to. In addition to this, other than just being able to measure AC current, the clamp meters can be able to measure a wide range of electrical units.
What’s the main difference between the clamp meters and the normal multimeters? Well, this is quite simple, the clamp meters are current measuring devices that possess some voltage measuring capabilities. On the other hand, multimeters are simply voltage measuring devices with current measuring capabilities.
I think that’s enough for an introduction. Let’s now get to the details, shall we?
Best Clamp Meters: 3 of our top picks.
Rather than troubling yourself from reading all through the whole article, why not make your pick from 3 of our recommended choices- get the biggest bang for your buck.
Here’s all there is to know when it comes to getting the Best Clamp Meter.
Moving on to the second section, it's time to take a look at some of the key things you need to have at your fingertips as far as the usage and purchase of a clamp meter are concerned.
What is the technology behind the working of a clamp meter?
The technology behind the working of a clamp meter simply relies on the theory of magnetic induction so that it is able to measure alternating current without actually being in contact with the conducting wires.
Here’s how everything goes…
The electric current that is flowing through the wire will produce a magnetic field. Taking into consideration that AC current reverses its polarity, there will be dynamic fluctuations in the magnetic field created with respect to the alternating current.
Within the clamp meter is a current transformer that then senses the magnetic fluctuations and more so it converts the value to an AC current reading. If you want to measure very high current readings, then you should definitely go for the clamp meter rather than the usual ones.
Other than AC current, you can be able to measure direct current quite conveniently. Unlike AC current, DC current does not have a reversing polarity and due to this, the magnetic field that is created around the conductor also does not change. You need a special DC clamp meter so as to be able to measure DC current since the conventional ones will not register any readings.
DC clamp meters employ the hall effect principle when it comes to measuring current. The Hall effect sensors detect the magnetic field that occurs as a result of current flow. This then causes a tiny voltage across the sensor. The voltage is normally proportional to the current and it is then amplified and then noted down.
What measurements does the Clamp meter take?
If you want to get one for the first time, it’s important to know what the best clamp meter should be able to do, right?
If it does all of these, then you should definitely get it:
Measuring AC/DC current
Considering that even the earliest clamp meters were designed to specifically measure current, the one you get should be flawless when it comes to measuring this.
Current is normally measured in ampere and is simply the flow of charge in an electric circuit. This is the most basic charge of a multimeter. This just so happens to be quite an advantage if you’ll be working with even the most basic electrical appliances such as fans, generators, inductors, etc.
It should be able to measure AC/DC voltage
Though they were not initially designed to measure voltage, the present day clamp meters are actually very good when it comes to voltage measurement.
In order to take the voltage measurement, you first need to set the clamp meter to the voltage symbol ‘V’. Unlike the earlier multimeters, clamp meters nowadays will normally come with probe connections. Plug these into the meter. Have the black probe in the COM jack and the red one in the voltage/Ohm jack.
You should then select the correct range and at the same time, you should be keen not to measure voltages that exceed 600 volts. First of all, disconnect all power to the circuit then touch the black probe tip to the circuit. Power it on and then connect the red one so as to get the voltage reading which will be displayed on the screen.
Ensure that it works flawlessly when measuring resistance
When it comes to resistance, all clamp meters can pretty much be able to handle this. When the resistance is higher than the upper limit of the meter, most clamp meters measure down to 0.1 and if the circuit is open, they’ll display ‘OL’.
Before you measure resistance, you should first ensure that the circuit is powered off to avoid damaging the meter especially if it does not have ohm protection. Speaking of protection, it is worth mentioning that the level of protection varies from one meter to another.
Here’s how to go about when measuring resistance…
Other than just measuring resistance, a proper working clamp meter should also be able to measure continuity quite conveniently. If you have used the conventional multimeters before, then you definitely know that continuity is a resistance test that is able to distinguish between an open and a closed circuit.
A clamp meter that has got a continuity beeper will allow you to complete as many continuity tests as you want and even better, you’ll be able to do this much faster.
When it comes to the level of resistance that is needed to trigger the beep on the meter, every meter has its own specific limit which you need to take into consideration before you make your purchase. The normal level of resistance you’ll get on a clamp meter that is capable of turning the beeper on is a reading that’s less than twenty to forty ohms.
Things to take into consideration before getting a Clamp meter
Not that you know everything that you can be able to do with a clamp meter, let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when using a clamp meter.
Your safety is the #1 priority.
First off and most importantly, you should not compromise on safety whatsoever. Is the clamp meter equipped with the correct rating for the task you are handling and does the design allow for utmost ease of use when wearing PPE? These are some of the two major things that you should not overlook whatsoever.
The measurement and test tools that you use when handling any electronic components are simply a link between you and the amount of danger you could possibly be in. Think of the clamp meter as an extension of your body to a very risky environment that could possibly result in death if things go sideways.
First and foremost, you should choose a clamp meter that has an appropriate category rating for the type of task you are handling. Something else you need to take into consideration is the reputation of the brand you are purchasing.
This is important since there are a lot of fraudsters out there and any of them could buy a multimeter and just place their brand on them.
Here’s what you should do:
As far as branding is concerned, only a few manufacturers will actually design, build and test their own multimeters so that they are able to comply with the set safety standards on the clamp meters.
Therefore, regardless of how much of a hurry you may be in or your urgency to get the best clamp meter, you should take your time for the greater good- getting the most durable and the safest.
As for the Personal Protective Equipment, just ensure that you can easily be able to handle the clamp meter with the PPE in place.
How convenient is the Clamp meter as far as power consumption is concerned?
When it comes to power consumption, most electrical equipment that is used to troubleshoot electrical appliances will only use AAA or AA batteries. Takin this into account, if your batteries end up being drained while you are using your meter could definitely cost you a lot and to start with, it could cost you valuable time.
Whereas some meters have a low battery LED indicator, you just have to always have an extra pack of batteries with you when it comes to using others.
For a standard multimeter, you can be able to get as much as 150 hours of battery time from a pair of AA batteries- quite cheap and convenient, right?
Well as much as two AA batteries may not be hard to carry around, the multimeter itself should have a lid that’s easy to pop open and secure back in place.
Something else that is worth mentioning about the batteries is that with alkaline batteries, it’s easy to carry around. As compared to rechargeable ones, replaceable batteries are cheaper to carry and you don’t have to wait till they are fully charged before you can use them.
What is the level of accuracy of your Clamp meter?
Regardless of whichever electrical equipment you are getting, the level of accuracy should not be compromised whatsoever.
Simply put, you should ensure that your clamp meter is working with you rather than against you. Just imagine troubleshooting an electrical device the whole day and realizing that the problem is not actually with the device but with the meter.
The best clamp meter as far as accuracy is concerned will normally have the true RMS feature included which we’ll be looking at in a short while. Other than just having the true RMS capability, something else it should be able to meet is the industry accuracy standard.
This is normally 2% add or takes away 5 counts; in some cases, you may get a clamp meter that is stated to be 10 counts. The former should be avoided since they will result in twice the error you could get if you are taking a low current reading.
Your clamp meter should be as reliable as possible.
When it comes to reliability, the clamp meter should be able to work efficiently where and how you do. Here’s what I mean by this…
In laboratory conditions, any clamp meter will be able to work close to perfection. The truth, however, is that you will not always be working in a clean, controlled environment hence there will be a lot of things in play when it comes to working with on in real life conditions.
First off, you should be certain that it will not succumb to electrical interferences from other devices around it. This is normally prevented by a low pass filter that is included within the device.
Something else that you should definitely avoid no matter how tempting the offer may be is going for a clamp meter that is specified for use only indoors. Most of these will normally come with a minimum operational temperature of only 15 degrees Fahrenheit and if you’ll be making your measurements outside, do get a better one.
It should be as durable as possible
As far as working with you is concerned, take into account durability before making your purchase. First off, starting with the physical construction of the meter, it should be rugged enough to withstand as much damage as possible.
Something else you should look into is safety standards such as the overload protection feature which not only protects you but the multimeter as well.
Features to look out for on the Best Clamp Meter.
The true RMS feature.
Multimeters are normally better as compared to voltmeters and ammeters when it comes to current and voltage measurement. Other than this, clamp meters have been adopted for use so much in the past few years and most people are preferring to use these.
Clamp meters are the best when it comes to measuring alternating current. Since an AC current is represented as a sine wave, it cannot be recorded using just the usual working multimeters. In order to measure AC current with a dynamic sine wave accurately, the best clamp meter you could possibly get is one with the true RMS feature.
The true Root Mean Square clamp meters will normally convert an AC current to a DC signal equivalent hence giving you more accurate AC current readings.
Ingress protection rating
Ingress protection rating or rather IP rating is used to rate and classify the highest degree of enclosure protections from dust, moisture, and other foreign bodies. If a clamp meter is adequately protected, then it is suitable for use in a wide range of environments.
Besides just the IP rating, the NEMA ratings could also be relied on as far as enclosure rating systems are concerned.
Though it is not a feature you’ll be getting from every clamp meter, data logging should definitely be present in the best clamp meter.
This is simply the capability of the meter to be able to hot a number of values that can then be recalled later on.
This is something that’s as good for expert users just as it is for first-time users when it comes to the clamp meters.
What the auto-ranging feature does is setting the correct measurement range for you hence, in the long run, saving you the time and hassle of setting the range yourself.
Inrush vs no inrush
Regarding the working conditions you'll be using the multimeter in, you may consider getting one with the inrush capability.
This function is what gives you an accurate measurement of the high current surges that are present when current flows into a motor so as to start it up. This measurement may be important to anyone who is troubleshooting problems such as investigating over-current protection devices.
If you need to transfer data from your meter to your computer for further analysis, you should definitely consider getting a clamp meter with serial ports. These normally include the universal serial bus, the RS-32, FireWire or the Ethernet cable.
Once you transfer the data to your PC, there is a software here that will be able to identify the data and make a record of the same.
What is the nature of the display?
Besides the PC interface, you also need to pay attention to the display. The best clamp meter should have a backlit LCD display. This will allow you to work conveniently even in low light conditions.
Besides this, the display should also be large enough for you to see clearly and at all times. Even much better, the counts on the display should allow you to be able to take a wide range of values- most preferably 6000 counts.
10 Best Clamp Meters in 2018.
Moving on to the second section of our best clamp meter review, let’s take a look at some of the multimeters that could give you the biggest bang for your buck in 2018.
Fluke 324 40/400A AC, 600V AC/DC True-RMS Clamp Meter
Starting us off on our list, we’ve got the Fluke 324 clamp meter. From the construction design to the features that it packs under the hood, this clamp meter will definitely give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Starting with the accuracy, the meter comes with a true RMS sensor that provides accurate measurements whether you are dealing with the linear or nonlinear loads. The meter can also be able to measure AC current to as much as 400 amperes and a voltage reading to 600V for both AC and DC.
This clamp meter can also be used for resistance measurement up to 4 Kilo Ohms and in addition to this, it also does come with an audio continuity sensor to make things twice as easy.
In addition to having an outstanding and close-to-perfect performance, the meter has got a slim ergonomic design which makes it quite easy to work with and carry around.
The safety standards
Complying with the IEC safety standard 61010 and rated for CAT IV installation to 300 V and CAT iii installations to 600v. It just so happens to be one of the safest there is out there.
2. Etekcity MSR-C600 Digital Clamp Meter Multimeters
We're all about giving you the best of the best that there are in the market. Other than our first one, you can rely on the Etekcity MSR-C600 for your day-to-day tasks
Starting with the extra features that it comes with, the meter will be giving you the data hold function that allows you to freeze your readings and take them at your convenience. Other than this it does have a max-reading and easy-to-read large LCD display that will definitely come in handy.
So as to save on power, the clamp meter enters sleep mode automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity. Speaking of power, you'll only be needing 2 x AAA 1.5v batteries to have it up and running. The most interesting part actually is that you'll have a pair of these already installed for you out of the box.
The meter also does have the overload protection feature. For AC current, it has a maximum of 400A RMS. When it comes to voltage, the overload protection is 600 volts for both AC and DC voltage.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the clamp meter also does come with a carry bag which makes it simpler and more convenient to carry around.
3. Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter
As far as accuracy is concerned, this clamp meter might just be what you are looking for. It measures AC current to an outstanding 400amp and AC and DC voltage to 600V. as for the resistance, it measures this to 4kilohms which should be enough for most of your tasks.
The meter has got an audible continuity sensor hence it is much easier for you to troubleshoot any disconnections in your electrical circuit.
Considering that it is a true RMS meter, you’ll be getting accurate readings when measuring both the linear and the non-linear loads regardless of the nature of the waveform. The meter also comes with a slim ergonomic design that makes it much easier to work with.
So as to ensure it is safe enough for you to use, it meets the IEC safety standard 61010-1 and is rated for both CAT IV and CATIII installations to 300V and 600V respectively.
4. Digital Clamp Meter Testing, UYIGAO 6000 Counts
From the title alone, this clamp meter will definitely be giving you a whole new experience when using clamp meters. It does have the auto-ranging feature which saves you the time and hassle when setting the range since it does this for you.
When it comes to the usage, you can use it for voltage measurement, resistance, capacitance, temperature, frequency, duty cycle, inrush current, NCV and diode measurement. For both industrial and simple home use, it sure is the best.
The multimeter comes with a convenient flashlight making it easier to use in dim light conditions and in addition to this, the LCD display is backlit as well. The one-hand holding design allows you to do your testing much easier and in addition to this, it has got a pack bag which allows you to take it almost anywhere.
Something else that is worth pointing out is that it comes with a low battery indicator and the auto power off feature to save on battery power. It also does have the data hold feature that makes it much easier for you to take your readings.
5. Crenova 6016A Clamp Meter
We’re almost half-way done with our list and we’re doing good so far. Let’s take a look at what the Crenova 6016A has got in store for us now, shall we?
First off, it is an auto-ranging clamp meter which makes it an outstanding choice to have with you if you are taking a lot of measurements. Also, the auto-ranging feature makes it a better option when it comes to saving you the time and troubles of setting the range yourself.
The meter is user-friendly in the sense that it comes with a large LCD screen with the maximum data hold function which makes it easier to use.
Energy efficient- to save on energy, it comes with the auto shut down feature if it is not in use for 15 minutes. In addition to this, it also does have the low battery indication added to it. You'll always know when it's time to carry an extra set of batteries with you for replacement.
For extreme safety, it conforms to the IEC61010-1, IEC1010 and the CAT III 300V safety standards which guarantee double insulation and in more so, overvoltage protection.
6. Klein Tools CL800 Auto-Ranging 600 Amp Digital Clamp Meter
If you’re all about quality, then this is one clamp meter that you should definitely check out. First off, it comes with the true RMS feature whence as far as accuracy is concerned, it surely will not disappoint you whatsoever.
Something else that is worth mentioning about this clamp meter is that it does come with the auto-ranging feature. The auto-range function is one, among other things, that defines the best clamp meter since you don't have to go through the hassle of setting the range yourself.
The meter also comes with test leads for measuring voltage, resistance, continuity, frequency as well as capacitance hence utmost convenience.
When it comes to safety, it does have the CAT IV 600V, CAT III 1000V and in addition to these two, it’s got the double insulation safety rating. There is also the low impedance mode that is able to identify and eliminate any stray or ghost voltages.
7. Digital Clamp Meter, Multimeter Tacklife CM04 TRMS 6000 Counts
We’re already past halfway on our list and we’re doing good so far. Coming up seventh is the Tacklife CM04. From the title, we can see that this is a 6000-count meter which makes it one of the best as far as taking a wide range of readings is concerned.
For more accuracy, it does come with the true RMS feature and more so, there is the data hold function which allows you to lock the readings on the LCD screen for better recording.
When it comes to safety, the meter has got the overload protection feature. This prevents the meter from being easily destroyed. Other than this, another outstanding function it comes with is the auto power off feature that automatically turns the device off after 10 minutes of inactivity hence saving on a lot of power.
Owing to the fact that it is an auto-ranging clamp meter, it just so happens to be the best for both first-time users as well as expert users. The meter automatically sets the correct range for you hence saving you the time and hassle it takes to set this right.
It does come with a buzzer for continuity teasing and as far as its usage is concerned, you can use it even in dim light conditions since it is constructed with a backlit LCD display.
8. DMiotech 600V Digital Clamp Meter
If you’re looking for a whole new experience when it comes to clamp meters, then this clamp meter will definitely blow your mind away.
First off, it’s completely safe for you since it is compliant with CE and FCC. In addition to this, it is constructed to meet IEC-61010-1, IEC 61010-2-30, IEC 61010-2-032, safety requirements for an electronic measuring instrument and the overvoltage CAT III 600V standard.
Other than having a low battery indicator, it also does have the auto power off feature that is triggered if the meter stays idle for 10 minutes
When it comes to the usage, it's got a data hold function that freezes the readings and the display, on the other hand, is backlit LCD 6000-count. This makes its usage in low light conditions much easier. It’s also lightweight and compact for easy handling.
9. AstroAI Digital Clamp Meter, TRMS 6000 Counts Multimeter
We’re almost through with our list now. Let’s have a look at what the AstroAI Digital Clamp Meter has got in store for us, shall we?
First of all, it boasts to be one of the few meters with the True RMS function. This makes it an accurate clamp meter when it comes to taking both AC current and voltage readings. Speaking of accuracy, there is also the auto-range function that allows for both faster and more accurate results.
Though it is designed to be used majorly in commercial settings, you can use it just as conveniently troubleshooting household or electrical appliances. It comes with the temperature test, transistor test, diode test, continuity test, capacitance, and frequency test capability.
The display is a 6000-count backlit LCD. The count allows you to take a wide range of values and as for the backlit display, you’ll be able to use the meter even in dim light conditions. Even better, the display has the data hold function for ultimate convenience when taking your readings.
10. Mastech MS2115A True RMS DIGITAL DC/AC CLAMP METERS
Wrapping things up, we’ve got the Mastech MS2115A clamp meter concluding our best clamp meter review. Let’s take a look at what you’ll be getting from it, shall we?
Starting with the display, it’s an outstanding 5999 count. In addition to this, it’s also got the backlight function added to it hence making working with it in low light much easier. Besides the backlight feature, you’ll also be getting a flashlight which makes it more convenient to work with in low light.
So as to save on power, it's got the auto power off feature which saves a lot of power. Speaking of power, you’ll only be needing a single 6F22 9V battery that is easy to replace.
As far as convenience is concerned, you’ll conveniently be able to measure DC/AC current up to 1000A. Other than this, you can test both AC/DC voltage and current, resistance, capacitance, frequency as well as the duty cycle. When it comes to safety, it comes with the short circuit protection and there’s a buzzer to let you know this as well.
Comparison on 10 Best Clamp Meters of 2018
Now that we’ve known all there is to know about using clamp meters as well as the things you should have in mind when shopping for one and 10 of the best, it’s time to wrap things up. First off, there’s a lot to consider when getting yourself one.
Is it durable enough? Is it accurate enough? Where will you be using it? These are just but some of the questions you ought to be asking yourself prior to paying for one.
Speaking of paying for one, always have in mind that what you settle for should not be based on the price tag it comes with. Only pick one based on the convenience it offers and the features that it packs under the hood.