Are you upgrading your lovely home and seeking a current clamp? Do you seek a complete guide on how to use a digital clamp meter?
Congrats! You are at the right place. Our today’s article is an in-depth guide on this topic. But before we dive into it, it would be best if we go through the definition of the test tool and other relevant information.
Let’s get started!
- What is a digital clamp meter?
- What are the differences between a digital clamp meter and a digital multimeter?
- Basic structure and components
- How does a clamp meter measure the current?
- How to measure DC amps.
- How to measure resistance
- How to use digital clamp meter?
- Important notes
- Final Thoughts
What is a digital clamp meter?
Well, it is a modern variant of the conventional multimeter. It boasts a jawlike structure on its top, allowing contactless measurement of voltage and current.
Accordingly, you can clamp the structure around the conductors to detect any current going through it. An advanced clamp meter allows the measurement of many quantities, making analysis and troubleshooting easier.
As it saves you from the burden of plug testing leads/probes to live circuits and disconnecting the system to take measurements, it has been among the most critical tools for any electrician.
The test tools are regularly used to measure the voltage and current. You can also use it during the installation and equipment reparation.
What are the differences between a digital clamp meter and a digital multimeter?
They are different from each other. Here are some aspects where a clamp meter is different from a digital multimeter:
- Employed for AC and DC amps measurement
- Lower resolution
- Contactless quantity measurement
Both regularly go together since you cannot utilize them interchangeably for several testing applications.
Besides, the multimeters can measure only the current of up to the tenth, while high-end clamp meters can measure up to the hundredth of a unit, you do not need to worry about properly calibrating the tool.
Basic structure and components
It is helpful that we learn about the basic components.
Below we have Fluke 376FC True-RMS with iFlex. As you could see in the picture, this meter comes with a lot of parts. Here is the list of the key components:
- Clamp with jawlike structure wound around the conductors: measuring and detecting the current
- Tactile barrier: protecting your hands & fingers from electric shocks
- Hold: freezing display reading until you press again
- Dial: changing resolution and quantity
- Display: LCD screen
- Backlight button
- Min/max button: measuring the average, lowest, and highest magnitudes of the quantities
- Inrush current button: negating inrush current from measurement
- Shift button: selecting functions on the dial
- Lever: releasing the jaw
- Alignment marks: for conductor between two marks
12, 13, 14. Input jacks
How does a clamp meter measure the current?
It operates based on the transformer action’s principle.
The structure comprises a copper-winding ferrite core, acting as the secondary winding.
Thus, when the structure is clamped around a conductor, it will detect and couple it. The current is transferred from the core of the ferrite to the tester’s input shunt.
As the current is small, the tester adjusts the value by providing and multiplying the current magnitude. Accordingly, can measure high magnitudes of current.
If you’re measuring a conductor carrying a 1 AMP current, the tester could detect it as one milliamp and cover it into the original value displayed on the digital screen.
The test tool’s other function is to measure voltage. It is slightly more complicated. You are going to break out the probes instead of using only hard arms. Below is the process of measuring voltage:
- Select the voltage to measure: DC or AC
- Plugin the probes. While the black connects to a COM port, the red one goes to the V/O port.
- Choose the range
- Touch the probe tips to the conductors for reading
- You can use the hold button for easy reading. Even if you leave the position, these figures are temporarily saved.
How to measure resistance
Above is how to measure amps with a clamp meter. Now is another application: resistance check.
To measure resistance is merely similar to the voltage measurement. You still need to ensure the resistance function is selected. Then you plug in the probes and choose the range.
Next, you connect the probes’ tips via the circuit you need to measure instead of touching them. You probably wonder what the difference between voltage and resistance measurement is?
You have to measure the resistance with the power-off circuit. And unlike voltage or current measurement, resistance can damage the meter or circuit.
Now we are going to the main part of the article today!
How to use digital clamp meter?
As analog models aren’t common to use these days, it would be best if you went for a digital alternative. We will focus on their operation.
You could follow these steps to know the way to use them.
- Step 1: Switching on the clamp meter and removing the probes (if any)
- Step 2: Selecting the DC or AC function with the dial. The screen shows a jaw sign, confirming the measurement detected via the clamp.
- Step 3: Opening the structure utilizing the lever and inserting the conductor via measured current.
Technicians usually do this with the secondary hand. Accordingly, the measurements are noted down with the dominant hand.
- Step 4: Closing the structure and leveling the conductor between the marks found on the jaws.
If they don’t show up on your meter, you can adjust their conductor in the middle of the clamp.
- Step 5: The digital display shows the right reading. You can change its resolution as needed. It is advisable to take measurements for conductors insulated properly.
How to buy the best clamp meter?
Before making the final decision on which test tool to buy, you should think about the types of work you are doing. For instance, if you only need to measure the current and voltage, you can buy a simple digital multimeter.
That said, if you require a more powerful task and improved resolution, you had better buy a high-quality type.
Today’s market is full of advanced meters designed for engine-inrush current measurement to give out better signal processes. The most crucial quantities of the high-end include the ability of DC and AC measurement.
You should seek the one with extra quantities like capacitance, resistance, and temperature. A type with a hall effect that can measure both DC and AC is also recommended. It is quite popular in the electrical industry.
There is a current transformer for better reading AC measurement. Nevertheless, there are two more kinds that are common amongst electricians.
We highly recommend the Rogowski coil’s current sensor. It boasts a helix shape that is good for AC measurement. You can also use it for tight and modest spaces since it’s quite easy to use and compact.
Another choice you could consider is a type that belongs to the iron vane type. It specializes in RMS measurement. Moreover, it can read the DC and AC as well. That said, it is only commonly used in heavy industries.
Next, we are going to share some tips for you when using a clamp meter.
When you measure the current, you should not clamp around two conductors simultaneously. It is because the current going through them cancels each other. Therefore, you should use them on a conductor only.
Besides, remember to wear a pair of safety gloves while using them. It is a must to disconnect the leads before you use the meter to measure the current.
Don’t forget to put your fingers behind its tactile barrier. In many models, the clamp meter indicates if the current is below 0.5A.
You had better use the zero feature when using the DC, removing the DC offset from the measurement.
Lastly, it would be best if you check the function chosen initially before checking others.
It is not difficult to use them if you get everything about it clearly and properly.
That’s all about our guide on how to use a digital clamp meter. We hope it is helpful for your understanding.
In short, if you get how the meter works and follow the guide above, you will be able to maneuver it smoothly and make the best of it. Don’t forget to read the relevant information to make the best buying decision in the end.
Anyway, thank you for reading. If you have any other questions, please feel free to let us know.