Using a poorly made clamp meter can be so frustrating, so if you want to know the best clamp meter for HVAC to purchase, read through this article as we talk extensively about the various HVAC clamp meters.
A clamp meter is a device used to determine the flow of electrical current in any conductor without any direct contact with the cables. It is essential to use a quality clamp meter to avoid estimating wrong values while taking measurements.
There are several factors you should consider whenever you want to purchase a clamp meter for HVAC. Some of the factors to be considered include:
● How safe is the equipment?
Safety is an essential factor to consider before getting a clamp meter. The clamp meter is regarded as a safety device because it is designed in a way that you won’t have to get in direct contact with the electrical conductor.
Despite being a safety device, the safety compliance of the meters differs. Thus, ensure that the clamp meter has high safety ratings before you buy.
● How large are the conductors?
Clamp meters vary in size. Your choice of clamp meter should depend on the size of your conductor.
What is the Best Clamp Meter for HVAC?
Many brands always claim to be the best, but their products end up disappointing you. This is why we have done thorough research and carefully highlighted a list of worthy clamp meters.
Amprobe AMP-210 Clamp Meter, according to our research and the buyers’ reviews, is the best clamp meter for HVAC. The other clamp meters highlighted in this article are also highly recommended, and they are great alternatives to Amprobe.
Why Amprobe AMP-210 Clamp Meter is the Best Clamp Meter for HVAC?
Amprobe AMP-210 Clamp Meter is a multipurpose clamp meter that can handle various tasks. It comes with a lot of additional properties that make it stand out or unique from the other clamp meters.
The Amprobe meter has everything an HVAC technician needs. Unlike some other meters, it has features for recording both inrush current and microamps. Usually, many meters do not have both properties, as they either have one or the other.
Top 10 Best Clamp Meters for HVAC.
1. Etekcity Digital Clamp Meter Multimeter – Best Affordable Clamp Meter for HVAC:
Etekcity is a well-known brand for producing quality electrical equipment, and its clamp meter is not an exception. The Etekcity clamp meter is an all-purpose multimeter that can test for semiconductor diode, AC Voltage, DC voltage, resistance, and continuity.
“The only quantities it cannot test for are Temperature, DC Current, and capacitance, which is sadly its only drawback.”
It can measure up to 600 volts while measuring AC or DC voltage. Besides its multipurpose functions, it is also straightforward and convenient to use.
It has a result storage function and minimum/maximum button, which makes the measurements easy. The storage feature enables you to record your readings as you take them for a later reference.
There is also an auto-ranging feature that enables you to take quick and error-free readings.
Another unique feature that the Etekcity Clamp meter has is its automatic power-off feature. The meter automatically shuts down after 15 minutes of no activity to save its battery.
Like in other clamp meters, it also comes with a safe pouch where you can store the multimeter while it is not in use and safely carry it anywhere you want to.
● Easy to read large Liquid Crystal Display
● Easy to use
● Convenient carrying pouch for storage purposes
● Battery-conserving feature.
● Quick and Precise readings
● Multifunctional Multimeter
● Safe and convenient to use
● Very affordable
● Battery-prolonging feature.
● Easy to carry
● It can’t measure temperature and capacitance.
● It can’t measure DC current and load above 20A or below 200A.
2. Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter – Recommended Clamp Meter for HVAC:
The Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter is a suitable piece of troubleshooting equipment for household and commercial purposes. It can be used to measure temperature, frequency, AC Current up to 400 Amperes, and AC and DC Voltage up to a maximum value of 600 volts.
It is also helpful in measuring resistance up to 4000Ω and detecting a load current. Besides that, it is suitable for detecting the continuity of fuses, circuits, contacts, and switches.
Fluke is a great brand that is well-known for its excellent products. The Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter is also another quality device from the brand. It is often referred to as a Workhorse Clamp Meter because of its effective performance.
● Reliable and precise measurements
● Compact and user-friendly design
● measures accurate temperature readings.
● Doesn’t measure DC.
● Measures AC Current, AC, and DC Voltage.
● Detects continuity.
● Easy to use
● Large LCD screen for clear display
● Built to be rugged and long-lasting
● Comes with a carrying pouch.
● Can’t test DC current.
● Test leads can get broken easily at the corner
3. Klein Tools CL800 Electrical Tester – Best Clamp Meter for DC:
Klein Tools is an American company known for its manufacture of durable and high-performance hand tools. The Klein Tools CL800 Electrical Tester is an accurate auto-ranging meter and another high-performance hand tool manufactured by this excellent team of electricians for use by other electricians.
It is designed to measure AC and DC voltage, continuity, capacitance, frequency, and resistance. Besides these functions, it can also test for temperature and diodes with its thermocouple probe and test leads, respectively.
The Klein Tools Meter is equipped with a low impedance feature that helps detect and remove ghost voltages and a low battery indicator.
● High industry-safe rating.
● Thermocouple probe for easy temperature measurement.
● Built with rugged materials
● Easy to access battery compartment
● Low battery indicator
● Low Impedance Mode to detect stray voltages
● Durable, equipped with a rubberized grip
● Brightwork light.
● Comes with a thermocouple and a carrying pouch.
● Low-quality test leads
● The screen can be difficult to read
4. UEi Test Instruments DL369 Digital Clamp-On Meter – Recommended Clamp Meter for Electricians:
The UEi Test Instruments DL369 Digital Clamp-On Meter is another brand of clamp meter you should consider when purchasing one. It was manufactured by the award-winning and 50-years-experienced company – UEi Test Instruments.
The meter is suitable for general troubleshooting. It can be used to test for current, resistance, capacitance, frequencies, and AC or DC voltage up to a maximum value of 600 volts.
This meter is also equipped with a lot of features that make it unique and different from the other clamp meters. It has an automatic power-off feature that conserves its battery after a long period of inactivity. It comes with a low battery indicator that shows when the batteries need to be changed.
There is also a storage feature that allows users to record the readings for later assessments. Its dual display is another beneficial feature that makes it easy to read the measured values. Despite all its extra features, the UEi Test Instruments DL369 Digital Clamp-On Meter does not sacrifice its usability for its capabilities. It is high-performing and accurate.
● Dual design display
● Low battery display indicator
● Data storage feature.
● Test leads and a long cable.
● Automatic shutdown feature.
● Test lead holder.
● Easy to use
● Reliable and precise measurements
● Battery-saving feature.
● Data hold feature
● Non-contact voltage detection
● Can’t measure temperature.
● The screen has no backlight.
5. Fieldpiece SC260 Clamp Multimeter With True RMS – Recommended Clamp Meter for HVAC:
Fieldpiece SC260 Clamp Multimeter is a highly recommended clamp meter for HVAC or automotive purposes. This meter offers accurate RMS readings and allows you to perform various electrical testing.
It is suitable for testing AC and DC voltages, frequency, AC current, temperature (in F or C), resistance, and capacitance. The SC260 is built to take measurements in normal or extreme weather conditions, whether the temperature is too high or low.
It also comes with an autoselect feature which saves time while you are taking your readings. This feature allows the clamp meter to automatically select the proper measurement function whenever you link the test leads with a dial.
● High voltage warning indicator
● Low Battery indicator
● An archive function to record previous readings
● Screen backlight for easy reading.
● Auto-select feature.
● Built-in magnet at the back.
● Easy to use
● Suitable for HVAC
● Accurate and precise readings
● Can keep a record of previous assessments
● Bright screen backlight display.
● Probes can’t be stored on the meter.
6. Fluke 325 Clamp Multimeter True RMS Clamp Meter:
The Fluke 325 True-RMS Clamp Meter is unique for its ability to measure true RMS AC and DC current up to 400 Amperes. It can also measure AC and DC Voltage up to 600 volts, temperature, capacitance, frequency, resistance up to 4000 ohms, and detect continuity.
The Fluke 325 meter is a reliable and multipurpose tool that is useful for household and commercial purposes. It has a sleek design that makes it easy to use and transport and a large screen for easy reading.
It also comes with a bright backlight which makes it easy to use in a dimly lit room. Another additional unique feature that it has is its minimum-maximum button. This button provides the user with the min, max, and actual electrical current readings of a conductor.
● Sleek and user-friendly design
● Min-max button.
● Portable and comes with a handy pouch
● Bright screen backlight
● Can accurately measure AC and DC current
● Easy to use
● Accurate and precise readings
● Bright backlight
● Excellent for troubleshooting
● Measures AC and DC current
● Test leads can get damaged after a long time.
7. IDEAL INDUSTRIES INC. 61-744 Clamp Meter – Recommended Clamp Meter for HVAC Home Wiring:
With over 100 years of experience as a manufacturer of electrical devices, the Ideal brand is well-known for its innovative creations and reliable pieces of equipment. The Ideal Clamp Meter is another quality piece of equipment manufactured by this reliable brand.
The clamp meter has many advanced features usually present in more expensive meters, yet it is pretty affordable. It has a non-contact voltage detection feature, an indicator for low batteries, and an automatic shutdown feature.
The indicator allows the user to know when the batteries need to be replaced or when they are fully charged. The automatic power-off feature helps to extend its battery life by shutting down after 10 minutes of inactivity. It also comes with a data storage feature that allows you to record your readings for later use.
● A compact jaw design for assessing tight areas
● Low battery indicator
● Automatic power-off feature
● Data storage feature
● It comes with a carrying pouch and test leads.
● A non-contact voltage meter
● High safety ratings
● Accurate and reliable readings
● Safety compliant
● Easy to use
● It has an audible continuity sensor which is helpful for data reading.
● Large jaw diameter
8. Fieldpiece HS36 Expandable Auto-ranging True RMS Stick Multimeter w/Backlight:
The Fieldpiece HS36 Meter is an auto-ranging meter with a non-contact voltage detection feature. The non-contact voltage feature can detect a maximum voltage of 24VAC on thermostats.
It also comes with a high voltage beeper for circuits with voltage over 30 volts and a continuity indicator that indicates whether the circuit is an open or closed one.
The meter has a microamp to measure flame diode current in the control of a heater. The Fieldpiece HS36 Meter offers precise and accurate readings and is suitable for troubleshooting.
● Strong ABS case with a rubberized bumper.
● The inbuilt magnetic hanger enables testing with one or both hands.
● Inbuilt lead storage
● Ergonomic design which fits perfectly in your hand
● Automatic power-off feature to prolong battery life
● Non-contact voltage detection
● An auto-ranging feature that makes it easy to use
● Clear and bright screen for display
● Accurate and precise readings
● High-Voltage Beeper
● Ghost Voltages
9. Amprobe AMP-210 Clamp Meter – Best Clamp Meter for HVAC:
The Amprobe AMP-210 Clamp Meter is one of the best clamp meters you can find out there. It was built to give accurate and precise readings even at extreme ranges.
As an accurate RMS meter, it can test for voltage, frequency, AC and DC current, and temperature with any error. It has a sleek structure that enables it to fit into areas that might not be easy to reach.
The meter has an Amp Tip feature which enables you to read minimal current like 0.1A accurately. This Amp Tip feature is essential and helps while you are troubleshooting. The meter also comes with an inbuilt rotation voltage detection low pass filter.
This feature allows the users to take voltage and current readings on variable frequency drives. It also helps to take accurate readings and prevent errors.
The clamp meter is suitable for diode testing, and it allows you to record your readings so that you can compare the values later.
● Inbuilt rotation voltage detection low pass filter.
● Amp Tip feature
● Carrying pouch.
● High-resolution Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
● Removable clamp head
● Sleek and compact design
● Continuity beep
● Safety Compliant.
● Compact design allows it to reach restricted areas.
● Backlit screen
● True RMS clamp matter
● The limited range for resistance readings
● No magnetic back
10. Klein Tools CL900 Digital Clamp Meter:
The Klein Tools CL900 meter is a True RMS digital meter from the popular Klein Tools. This auto-ranging meter is a multipurpose tool with the ability to conduct several electrical test assessments.
It is used to take readings for AC and DC current, frequency, duty cycle, AC and DC voltage, continuity, resistance, and capacitance. The meter is also suitable for diode testing using test leads.
It has a low impedance feature that helps it detect and remove ghost voltages and a special mode for recording Inrush current. The meter is built with rugged materials and can withstand a heavy drop.
It also comes with a non-contact voltage sensor, and its screen has a bright backlight which enhances its display.
● Non-contact voltage sensor.
● Low impedance mode
● Can capture in-rush current
● True RMS Clamp Meter
● Safety Compliant
● Built to be rugged
● Accurate readings
● Low impedance mode to remove ghost voltages
● Bright backlight, which enhances its display
● Test leads are not so durable.
There are essential criteria you should consider before you decide on a suitable clamp meter to buy. So, if you are confused about the right meter for you, here are a few things you should look out for before you decide to buy.
True Root Mean Square (RMS):
A clamp meter with a true RMS will convert Alternating Current signals into Direct Current signals of the exact equivalence. So, such a meter can accurately measure pure and non-sinusoidal waves.
If you have a clamp meter without true RMS, it should be calibrated for readings involving sine waves. If there’s no proper calibration, the readings are more likely to be 50 percent lower and have errors. So, always choose a true RMS Clamp Meter over the one without RMS if you ever have to.
Auto-ranging clamp meters can automatically set the correct measurement range without any need for the users to change the switch and dial positions. This feature is time-saving and makes the meter easy to use.
Capacitors are present in various HVAC equipment. So, capacitance measurement is a requirement for any HVAC technician to know if the capacitors are suitable or not.
Not all clamp meters can measure capacitance, so look out for this feature as an HVAC technician before purchasing any meter.
Suppose you purchase a clamp meter that has an Inrush feature. In that case, it means your meter can give accurate measurements of electrical current urges that flow into the electric appliances and motors during startup.
This feature is essential during troubleshooting processes.
Ingress Protection (IP) Rating:
The IP rating indicates the extent of enclosure protection that the clamp meter unit has against temperature, water, moisture, and other external factors. If an instrument is well-protected, it can be used in anywhere and any condition.
So, this is another factor you should consider if you are going to be faced with unfavorable weather conditions while you are working.
Most clamp meters have this feature. The beeper makes a buzzing sound to show whether the circuit is a closed one or not.
Presence of Backlight:
Some clamp meters come with an illuminating backlight. The backlight enhances the display, especially in dimly-lit areas, making it easy to read from the screen.
Non-Contact Voltage (NCV):
A non-contact voltage detector is also a good feature for a meter to have. The sensor buzzes whenever it detects an AC Voltage nearby. This feature is useful in checking whether a circuit is live or not.
Some clamp meters come with a temperature sensor or thermocouple that you can plug in to measure temperature. This is an essential feature if you need to purchase a clamp meter for HVAC.
Working on any HVAC device requires you to measure the temperature, so it’s good to buy a meter with a temperature sensor.
Ensure that you only purchase from a trustworthy and well-known brand. This will help to prevent the likelihood of buying a terrible clamp meter.
Not all meters can be used to measure DC current. If that will be a required parameter for you as a technician, ensure that you put that into consideration.
Various clamp meters have different ranges of values they can measure for each parameter. This is another essential factor to consider before getting a clamp meter.
FAQs about Clamp meter
Q: What is a clamp meter?
A: A clamp meter is a test tool used to measure electrical current majorly. It also has an additional voltage measuring ability which makes it useful for measuring voltage as well.
The clamp meter measures current without having to be inserted into the circuit or disconnecting the circuit. It has a hinged jaw that is usually clamped around an electrical cable or conductor at any segment.
Then, it measures the current without disconnecting the circuit. Initially, clamp meters were designed for a single purpose – to test for electrical current.
Modern clamp meters are now equipped with several advanced features that allow them to perform more measurement functions. A modern clamp meter has most of the typical functions of a multimeter and other additional ones.
Q: Why should I get a clamp meter?
A: A clamp meter is a super helpful tool. Some of the reasons you should get a clamp meter are highlighted below:
1. Clamp meters provide quick and easy measurements.
2. They provide accurate and precise readings.
3. Safe to use: In previous times, to take an in-line current reading, the electrician has to cut the cable and insert test leads into the electrical circuit. Modern clamp meters do not have to touch a conductor to detect and measure current. This is much safer than the older way of measuring current.
4. Clamp meters can measure a higher range of current than digital multimeters. Digital multimeters usually cannot measure more than 10 Amperes.
5. Clamp meters can be used for both commercial and residential purposes.
6. They can be used for troubleshooting during installation processes.
7. They can be used during service or repairs of electrical devices.
8. Some clamp meters have a compact structure which makes them fit into restricted areas to take measurements.
9. Clamp meters can be used in a noisy electrical environment because of their ability to filter out noise.
10. They are useful for performing a wide range of electrical measurements.
Q: What are the differences between a clamp meter and a multimeter?
A: Some of the differences between a clamp meter and a multimeter are:
1. A multimeter is a device for measuring voltage and, with an additional ability to measure current. In contrast, the clamp meter is primarily designed to measure current. But, it is equipped with other features to measure voltage.
2. A multimeter measures in milli-units while a clamp meter displays its readings in the nearest tenth or hundredth unit.
3. A multimeter cannot measure an electrical current of more than 10 Amperes, while a clamp meter can measure higher current values.
4. Multimeters have higher accuracy and resolution.
5. A clamp meter can be safer to use than a multimeter because you don’t have to break an electrical circuit to measure the current.
Q: Can a clamp meter be used as a replacement for a digital multimeter?
A: Modern clamp meters can perform most of the essential functions of a digital multimeter. Like in a multimeter, a clamp meter can also measure voltage, current, resistance, and other electrical measurements.
Q: Can a clamp meter be considered better than a multimeter?
A: Although they are pretty similar in functions, both tools are designed to perform different purposes. There is no better tool as they both have their benefits and drawbacks.
Depending on what value you desire, you can pick from either device. For example, a multimeter can be handy for electronic work because it provides a higher resolution and accuracy. It gives its readings in milliunits, unlike a clamp meter.
A better approach for many technicians might be to purchase both tools since their functions are indispensable.
Q: Should I buy a digital multimeter or a clamp meter?
A: Choosing whether to buy a clamp meter or a multimeter depends on you and what you need the equipment to do. If you need a tool to measure current, then you can get a clamp meter.
But for other electrical measurements, you might want to consider a multimeter because of its higher degree of accuracy and resolution.
Similarly, if you are concerned about a safe device to use, choose a clamp meter because you can connect it to a conductor without disconnecting the circuit.
You can also choose to get both tools. This will allow for more efficient troubleshooting and measurement processes. So, choosing either a clamp meter or multimeter depends on the work you need it to do.
The highlighted clamp meters in this article are the top 10 best clamp meters for an HVAC technician. Each type of meter has its unique properties or features that make it different from another model.
The best way to know the suitable clamp meter is to check out the reviews and then decide on the meter you want based on your desired features.
You should always put into consideration the features that are required to do your job as an HVAC technician. Some clamp meters are equipped with several functions that might be unnecessary to you as a technician.
So, always choose a meter that makes your work easier and helps you get the job done in time.