Multimeter Vs Clamp Meter: The Difference In Accuracy
When it comes to a project of any scale where electricity is involved, you will need to use testing and measuring devices to ensure everything is in order. The dilemma is that many meters and measuring devices are available on the market. Some of these perform similar functions and measurements while having particular features and mechanisms that vary with each type of device.
Multimeters and clamp meters are used extensively for these types of projects. In this article, we will look at the significant differences between them so that you can select the one that is a better fit. We will mainly focus on their accuracy as this is something that engineers cannot compromise. Without further delay, let’s address the multimeter vs clamp meter debate.
What is a multimeter?
A multimeter is a handheld electronic measuring instrument that you can use to test and measure various variables. In essence, it combines multiple measurement functions into one device. Basic multimeters can measure specific parameters and variables, including current, voltage, and resistance. You can even use the more advanced multimeters to measure frequency, transistor tests, capacitance, etc. Multimeters tend to be used frequently by technicians and electricians due to their versatility, as they can use them to test electric motors, power supplies, and wiring.
They are connected in series for current measurements and parallel for voltage-based measurements to the circuit to make measurements. Some types of multimeters include:
It is a device that displays measurement values on a digital numeric display. It can read both positive and negative values and show them to a high degree of accuracy compared to its analogue counterpart. This is why its popularity keeps on growing compared to its counterpart.
It works on the principle of a permanent magnet moving coil (PMMC) meter-type measuring instrument and displays the values using a pointer on a deflection scale. As a result, it is not as accurate as digital multimeters since they may not display the exact decimal values. However, analogue multimeters can show fluctuations in your measured parameter, which can help you determine if there is a fault. As a result, they are still used today.
What is a clamp meter?
This is another handheld testing device you can use to measure current and voltage. It gets its name from the jaws at the front that you can clamp around any current carrying conductor to make measurements and do not need to shut it off. You do not need to touch the conductor, as clamp meters measure based on induction. This way, you do not need to open the circuit, making clamp meters safer and more convenient. In addition, these meters come with probes that you can use to measure the voltage. Clamp meters are ideal for measuring high currents as their range is between 0-100A. Since they do not require contact with the circuit, you can use them for quick measurements that are useful for troubleshooting. As a result, they are used extensively for industrial equipment. Clamp meters can be of different types but perform the same primary function. Some of them are:
● Logging Clamp Meter
● Basic Clamp Meter
● Detachable Display Clamp Meter
● Advanced Clamp Meter.
Multimeter Vs Clamp Meter – The Differences
Clamp meters do not require you to open or break the circuit, which can save time and effort, depending on your expertise. You do not need to switch the power system off for measurements. With multimeters, you will have to connect them in series or parallel, depending on the variable you want to measure. In addition, clamp meters have a relatively straightforward and intuitive design which you can get the hang of fairly quickly. On the other hand, multimeters and clamp meters have knobs and dials that need product knowledge to operate. Clamp meters are a more convenient tool for live system measurements.
Until a few years ago, you could use only multimeters to measure a whole range of parameters and variables, which included AC voltage and current, DC voltage and current, resistance, capacitance, and so on. On the other hand, clamp meters had limited measurement capabilities, and their primary purpose was to measure only high currents. Some clamp meters could also be used to measure voltage, but that was pretty much it. As a result, the multimeter was a superior device for the number of measured variables.
But with the advent of technology, the current clamp meters in the market can measure multiple variables. The RISH Clamp Power 1000A has a myriad of advanced and unique features. It can measure all the possible parameters along with a few advanced parameters such as measurements of harmonics up to 49th degree and distortion factor.
It has a unique clamp design with a rear clamp switch, which is patented by Rishabh instruments. This enables both right-handed and left-handed operators to use the device without compromising on safety conveniently.
Clamp meters are renowned for their safety as you do not need to make contact with the circuit at all. In addition, you do not need to open or iterate the circuit, meaning there is no immediate risk of electrocution. On the other hand, multimeters need to be directly connected to the circuit, which introduces a factor of risk.
Multimeter Vs Clamp Meter – Which One is More Accurate?
Now that we have looked at some differences, it is time to address the main one, accuracy. Both of these meters have a good amount of accuracy, with standard ones having an accuracy between 2-3%. Better versions of these meters will even have accuracy that’s as high as 0.5%. However, clamp meters only give high accuracy if the current is high and are not ideal for small currents in the range of mA. Multimeters can measure these pretty easily. Multimeters also provide a more precise reading as they are directly in contact with the circuit while clamp meters do not. As a result, multimeters are the more accurate measuring instrument.
The bottom line
Measuring tools are essential for an electrical project of any scale. They ensure that all the parameters are in order and everything works as intended. Many meters are available on the market, with some serving the same functionalities. Multimeters and clamp meters are devices that can measure current and voltage but differ in their mechanisms and other factors. We have examined how each device works and the significant differences. In particular, we have looked at their accuracy differences and determined that multimeters are the most accurate. On the other hand, both are reasonably accurate and can be used for measurement purposes.
We hope this article proves informative and helps you select a suitable measurement device. Thank you for reading!