10 Best Clamp Meters | March 2017

All electrical contractors will want to check out these clamp meters, which make it easy to measure and identify any troublesome current fluctuations in household or commercial electrical circuits. They are also good for home users diagnosing electrical problems on cars and boats. Skip to the best clamp meter on Amazon.
10 Best Clamp Meters | March 2017

Overall Rank: 7
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
The Extech DC400 Mini Clamp Meter is an easy to use, single function device that is perfect for troubleshooting automotive and marine DC systems. It includes a holster and plastic cover that keep it safe from damage.
The Mastech MS2101 Digital Clamp Meter comes with a set of test leads and a K-type thermo probe. This unit works on everything from automotive cables to household and commercial wiring, and it reads both AC and DC with ease.
The Tekpower UT202A Auto-Ranging Meter has a data hold feature and maximum power measurement mode, so you can record any abnormal spikes in current for later evaluation. It can measure electrical currents as powerful as 600 amps.
The jaws of the IDEAL 61-744 have a tapered tip to help you separate wires and clamp just the ones you are trying to measure, making it good for work in tight spaces. The unit has an auto power off function that saves its battery.
  • data hold feature saves measurements
  • includes a 2 year warranty
  • compact size good for small tool bags
Brand Ideal
Model 61-744
Weight 1.1 pounds
The Milwaukee 2235-20 400 Amp clamp meter has a thin jaw profile, making it easier to get around thicker or hard-to-reach cables. It features a bright LED work light to help you see what you are doing.
  • rugged overmolded grip
  • rotary dial mode select switch
  • cat iii 600v safety category rating
Brand Milwaukee
Model 2235-20
Weight 1.1 pounds
The Extech MA640 Clamp Meter measures loads whether you have direct access to the cable or can only reach the front of the outlet. It has a non-contact voltage detector, and a backlit LCD display that's easy to read.
  • capacitance zero and offset adjustment
  • auto power off to conserve battery life
  • expensive but high quality
Brand Extech
Model MA640
Weight 1.4 pounds
The Amprobe ACD-6 PRO Digital meter senses the average current using either auto or manual ranging. The tool is especially good for taking readings of linear voltage loads that have a sinusoidal waveform.
  • includes a soft vinyl carrying case
  • comes with detachable test leads
  • has a maximum reading mode
Brand Amprobe
Model ACD-6 PRO
Weight 1.1 pounds
The Fluke 323 has a true RMS sensing meter for accurate measurements no matter the waveform, and its jaws are wide enough to measure current in a conductor measuring up to 30 millimeters. It is routinely well-reviewed by owners.
  • audible continuity sensor
  • has a low-battery indicator
  • auto selects appropriate operating range
Brand Fluke
Model Fluke 323
Weight 1.6 pounds
The VE ACM03 calm meter is an incredible value, coming in at less than half the price of other leading brands, yet it is still reliable. The tool is able to measure AC and DC currents safely. It also tests for hertz.
  • analog bar lcd display
  • over range protection for all ranges
  • has a hold measurement feature
Model ACM03
Weight 16 ounces
The Amprobe ACDC-100 TRMS clamp meter can accurately measure linear or non-linear loads from alternating currents up to 800 amps and direct currents up to 1,000 amps. It is certified for Category III installations up to 600 volts.
  • has a relative zero function
  • continuity beeper identifies shorts
  • diode test can find voltage drops
Brand Amprobe
Model ACDC-100 TRMS
Weight 1.4 pounds

AC Clamp Meters Versus DC Clamp Meters

Clamp meters are available in both AC and DC models. A standard clamp meter used to measure AC currents cannot be used to measure DC currents and vice versa. This is because AC and DC currents have different properties. In an AC current, the flow of electricity periodically reverses direction causing a dynamically changing magnetic field. A DC current continuously flows in one direction and has a fixed magnetic field.

AC clamp meters are designed to detect the dynamically changing magnetic field produced when electricity flows through a wire. The fluctuations in the magnetic field caused by the AC current switching directions is directly proportional to the size of the current flow. A transformer inside of the AC clamp meter can detect and measure the magnetic fluctuations and convert those measurements into a current reading.

DC clamp meters makes use of a Hall Effect sensor to measure currents. The Hall Effect principal states that when a current carrying conductor is placed in a perpendicular magnetic field, the magnetic field will exert a transverse force on the charge carrier, which is perpendicular to both the current and the magnetic field. A small voltage runs across the Hall element when it is subjected to this transverse force, which is then amplified and measured to produce a current reading.

How To Use A Clamp Meter

Using a clamp meter is a relatively simple endeavor that does not require you to break a circuit or make a direct connection to any live wires. This makes it the ideal tool for the home DIYer who is still learning how to work with electrical components.

Your first step is to choose the electrical conductor you will be testing. It must be a live wire that is currently under load. If using it on an appliance, this means the appliance should be in operation during testing. If you have purchased a clamp meter which does not have autoranging, you will then need to select the correct measurement function and range. If unsure of the voltage range, it is always best to select a higher range and then decrease as needed.

Next, clamp the jaws of the meter around the conductor you are measuring. The jaws of the device should not be touching the conductor on any of its sides. If there are a number of other wires jumbled around the conductor you are measuring, you will need to untangle them so your clamp meter is only encircling the conductor to be measured. A reading should appear on the meter's display screen within seconds.

What To Consider When Buying A Clamp Meter

Not all clamp meters are created equal and it is important to purchase a quality clamp meter that will provide accurate results in the types of environments where you will be working. One of the first and foremost considerations must be accuracy of the readings. Ideally you should purchase a clamp meters that reports true-rms readings. If not, extraneous electrical noise from light bulbs and other devices in the room can cause inaccurate readings. In addition to offering a true-rms reading, your clamp meter should meet the industry accuracy standard of 2% ± 5 counts. Steer clear of any accuracy ratings stated to ± 10 counts.

Nearly every clamp meter can perform admirably in a clean and controlled lab setting, but more than likely you won't be working in this type of environment. Look for a clamp meter that is designed to work in the kinds of conditions you will be subjecting it to. Some may be specified for indoor use only with minimum and maximum operating temperatures. If you use a clamp meter under or over its specified operating temperatures, your readings will be inaccurate.

Finally, you will want to look at the features of each clamp meter you are considering. It may seem like a no-brainer to go with one that offers the most additional features, but bear in mind that the more gadgets integrated into a clamp meter, the harder it may be to use for its intended application. Avoid clamp meters that have silly features like a tape measure. Instead, focus on purchasing one with the measurement functions you need to get the job done quickly and correctly.

Some useful features to keep an eye out for include Inrush measurement capabilities, which can be invaluable if you will be working on motors, autoranging, and a large blacklit display screen with a wide viewing angle.

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Last updated: 03/29/2017 | Authorship Information