Clamp Meter vs Multimeter (2021 Guide)

Are you looking for a comprehensive clamp meter vs multimeter guide

Awesome stuff – you are in the right place!

In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide you will learn

  1. Key differences between the two
  2. Key technical similarities
  3. When to use which meter
  4. And So Much More!
clamp meter vs multimeter

Comparison Table: Clamp Meter vs Multimeter

In this table below, a comparison is provided between a high end clamp meter and multimeter. Please note that these are the very high end in the market.

The reason these two are specifically chosen is due to the fact that they provide each respective tool with a maximum of all the available features.

comparison table

The table above does not provide all the differences but focuses on the mains one.

What Is A Clamp Meter

It is a measurement tool that is capable of measuring various electrical circuit parameters. Namely: Current, voltages, temperature and capacitance. However it is primarily used to measure currents.

The measurement of current is generally performed via a clip on clamp forming the head of the tool, hence the name.

Read More:>>> Find High Quality Clamp Meters

clamp meter

What this makes this tool unique is you’re fundamentally able to measure currents through a live wire without needing to connect the wire through the meter itself. It uses the principle of induction to in effect perform a non-intrusive current measurement.

Furthermore, It’s primarily used for AC current measurement, however with certain models you will also be able to measure DC current via a hall effect sensor.

What Is A Multimeter

This is the worlds most well known measurement tool. It is the staple measurement tool for DIYers, weekend warriors and electricians alike.

What makes the multimeter unique is its ability to  perform a wide range of measurements from AC/DC voltage, frequency, AC/DC current, diode test and continuity to say the least.

There are many different kinds on multimeters from analog to digital. However they all practically perform the same purpose with varying levels of resolution and accuracy.

Read More:>>> Learn How A Multimeter Can Be Used To Test A Fuse

Measurement on a multimeter is conducted through the test leads. This gives a large array and range of flexibility. However this limits measurements to the multimeters internal fuse ratings.

For example, most multimeters have a 10 A maximum current fuse. This limits you from measuring anything over and above this range.  

Clamp Meter vs Multimeter: Key Differences

As you can see from the comparison table in the section above there are a couple of key technical and operational differences that we will describe below. 

Technical differences

The non-contact nature of a clamp meter allows for  measurement currents at a much higher amperage, in comparison to a multimeter. Providing current measurement capacity all the way up to 400A.  .

Most multimeters are limited by their fuse rating in the amount of current that they can measure. This typically goes up to only 10A.

multimeters

Furthermore – multimeters and clamp meters can typically provide very similar measurement parameters apart from currents. (i.e. frequency, continuity, voltage and capacitance). What differs are the accuracies and the resolutions.

Generally speaking multimeters have an accuracy of about 0.5% greater than clamp meters for voltages, currents and resistances.

When Should You Go With A Clamp Meter

As you have already seen, a clamp meter is generally not as accurate as it’s multimeter counterpart.

Therefore one of the first considerations should be ensuring that you buy a tool that gives accurate and repeatable results. Especially over the operating range and temperature you expect to operate the clamp meter.

My view is good accuracy are within a range of about 1 to 2% for current, between 1 to 1.5 % for Voltages and approximately 1.5% or lower for any other measurement.

Clamp meters measure extremely high currents and should be thoroughly equipped with the relevant CAT safety standards.

Please be sure to investigate this thoroughly. At the minimum your clamp meter should have a CAT III rating.

Overall clamp meters are great when you want to use them in measuring currents. These applications typically include variable speed drives, HVAC applications, transients and steady state motor applications.

When Should You Go With A Multimeter

The multimeter is extremely versatile and a lot more accurate than the clamp meter across a wider range of measurement parameters.

Use a multimeter when you are operating at anything lower than 10A. This includes household equipment, electronics, trouble shooting consumer products or power tools.

Use a multimeter as well for any measurements that require the use of test leads. This is very typical for trouble shooting or electronic circuits.

It is also fantastic to use when testing your vehicles batteries, engine control units or electrical circuitry. Safety is very important here as well – be sure that your multimeter is CAT rated.

Read More:>>> Find The Best Cheap Multimeters

Final Thoughts On Clamp Meter vs Multimeter

Throughout history there have always been stark differences between clamp meters and multimeters. Over the years however with improvements in digital and PCB technologies these have reduced over time.

More importantly to note – clamp meters are designed to measure currents. That is their primary advantage over multimeters. Multimeters are better at measuring low currents and a wider range of other parameters.

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

Leave a Comment

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

About ToolsGaloreHQ

Your premium online resource for all guides and how-to’s for all your tooling needs.

Recently Published Guides

0 Shares
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap