Clamp meters are a versatile device that measures the current flowing through the conductor without coming in contact with it. It has two jaws, which open up and allow the operator to clamp the instrument around the electric cable or wire to measure the amperes flowing through it, in a safe manner. A digital clamp meter is generally used to measure Alternating Current (AC). It is easy to take measurements of alternating current with magnitude of 1000 Amps or more. This type of instrument has limitation when it comes to measuring very low AC current (in Milliamperes) and DC current.
The clamp meter works on principle of conductance through inductance, which happens in transformer. The split ring or the jaw of the clamp meter, which is made up of Ferrite iron has a wire wound around it. This makes the jaws of clamp meter behave as one winding of transformer while the conductor cable around which, jaws are clamped becomes the secondary winding. This arrangement induces current in the clamp meter, which is measured and displayed on it LCD screen in an instant.
Advantages of Using Digital Clamp Meter
Measuring the amount of current running through an electrical conductor is all but essential to help guarantee the safety of the conductor and any related devices. There are several options to be considered when attempting this and a common choice is by employing the benefits of what is known as a current clamp meter. So, let us take a brief look at why this meter is an important tool and some of the common situations where it will be utilised.
A Brief Overview of a Clamp Meter
As the name denotes, a current clamp contains two “jaws” which open and close around an electrical conductor, you can see an example on this page. This meter will measure various attributes of the current contained within. The primary advantage of a current meter is that it is less “hands on” than a traditional multi-tester. That is, electrical power does not have to be shut off nor does the conductor have to be removed to ascertain the properties of the voltage within the wire.
Current meters can gauge and analyze a wide variety of metrics within a conductor. Some of the most common measurements will include:
- Alternating current
- Direct current
- Continuity Temperature (in some models)
- Capacitance (in some models)
The Applications of a Clamp Meter
The main application of these meters is to provide simultaneous measurements during troubleshooting tasks where certain electrical equipment should not or cannot be turned off. Examples of this could be in a large industrial complex where a steady supply of power must be maintained to a ventilation system. Another instance may be a location such as a hospital where the main feeds into the complex need to be maintained operational at all times. Additionally, many electricians will normally carry two meters: one to measure the amount of current and another to determine the voltage within a conductor. A clamp meter can gauge both of these variables. Thus, they tend to be more user-friendly while offering the possibility of completing a job faster.
Clamp meters are also widely employed to detect what is known as an “inrush” in electrical terminology. Certain machines may require a massive initial amount of electricity to start up. This can often be the case in industrial environments. This initial “burst” is called an inrush. While the machine may require this amount of current, it must be determined that the surge protectors and the line itself have the capacity to handle such power. Clamp meters can track this load in real-time and will provide a very accurate readout of the characteristics involved in this phenomenon.
Another area where clamp meters are employed is when one needs to measure extremely high voltages. As the current, amperes and voltage can all be determined without physically exposing the bare conductor, clamp meters are often the safest and most logical option. Nonetheless, an increasing number of electricians are beginning to use clamp meters for domestic purposes as well.
As the popularity and versatility of clamp meters continues to increase, it can only be expected that they will continue to play a pivotal role in the electrical and industrial trades into the future.
These devices can be used as attachments to multimeters and as a stand alone device. It is among the most easy to use tool that is quite indispensable while working with high power circuits.
However, there may be irregularities in the flow of power supply. Power fluctuation and failure are some of the most common issues which can lead to massive damages of machineries and loss of productivity. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the flow of current regularly with the help of a clamp meter or current meter.
These devices were found in analog models in the early days. But today the online stores are flooded with a huge variety of meters with digital displays. These modern devices offer accurate outputs and easier analysis of electrical current. These devices are among the most popular tools used by electricians due to its beneficial features.
First match the setting of the device to the current of the circuit to be measured by turning on the dial on the meter. Make a choice between AC and DC. Most of the household wirings include AC power.
The meter should be set to an expected range close to the circuit which is being measured. The power current is often measured in amps and milliamps.
The clamps should be connected around the wires to obtain an accurate measurement. It is important to measure only a single conductor at a time so that accurate readings can be obtained. Pass small amounts of power consistently. Gradually pass large amounts of current to analyze the errors in connection or the equipment. Read the display to obtain accurate measurements.
The traditional Clamp meter functions, if placed around single conductor. However if it is clamped around 2 or more cables then it will not display any reading because the individual magnetic fields of the cables, cancel each other. However new type of clamp meters is available in the market that has group of sensors coil placed around the jaws of the clamp. Such a digital clamp meter can be clamped around a bundle of 2 or three cables to take the reading of combined load flowing through the bunch. The clamp meter prices vary according to the models available in the market and it is to the best interest of the users to ensure that model they select meets all their requirements.