Feature Differences Between Clamp Meter VS Multimeter

Technicians and electricians have a variety of tools at their disposal. The main question is which tools are the best to use? One of the most debated tools to choose between is clamp meters and multimeters. Some are for clamp meters, while others prefer multimeters. Both of these measurement meters are used to measures voltage, current, and resistance in electronic circuits.

Choosing between the best multimeter and the Clamp meter is very challenging. This is because both serve almost the same purpose with a few variations. However, they vary in ease of use and accuracy. If you’re wondering which electrical instrument to pick, continue reading to discover.

Summary of Contents

Comparison: Clamp meter VS Multimeter

Clamp meter Multimeter 
A clamp meter enables you to measure current without breaking the circuit. A multimeter measures electrical systems to a higher resolution.
It usually has lower accuracy and resolution. It’s more suited for electronic works.
A clamp meter is suitable for troubleshooting current in-situ. It measures a variety of parameters, such as voltage, frequency, and even capacitance.  
Opening clamp meter jaws in tightly-packed spaces are quite challenging. It blows fuses on higher amps.
It’s ideal for dual-purpose measurings, such as machine, and also current drawn. A multimeter provides high accuracy of measurements.


Related article: Easy ways to measure HFE on a multimeter

What are the main differences between a clamp meter and a multimeter?

  • A clamp meter is best suited for measuring AC/DC current, while a multimeter is ideal for measuring resistance, voltage, and frequency with better accuracy and resolution.
  • Most people prefer using a multimeter over a clamp meter because of its accurate measurements, as it also comes in direct contact with the circuit.
  • When it comes to safety, a clamp meter is better than a multimeter. This is because the clamp meter is not connected to an electric circuit.

Different types of Clamp meters and their applications

  1. Basic clamp meter – this device is best suited for basic current measurement.  
  2. Logging clamp meter – this unit is ideal for resolving intermittent breaker trips.
  3. Clamp meter (which can be separated 30 feet from the clamp body) – this instrument is usually utilized when a user requires to record remote measurement by ensuring safety without another person’s assistance.

Different types of multimeter and their applications

  1. Basic multimeter – this unit is more suitable for conducting continuity, voltage, and other essential measurements. Fluke 101 digital meter or Fluke 115 multimeter would be ideal for basic use.
  2. High-end multimeter – this device is usually ideal for tasks that require power quality work, advanced features, and high resolution.

Pros of Clamp meters

  • A clamp meter doesn’t feature many functions, but the level of quality of functions they deliver is outstanding.
  • Another advantage of using a clamp meter is that they are compact. Hence, you can store or transport them with a lot of ease. On top of that, they can easily fit in tight spaces.
  • The most significant advantage of clamp meters is that they are safe to use. Instead of breaking up the circuit, which could be under high current, the user can take the clamp meter and put the clamps around the high-powered wires without any contact.

Cons of Clamp meters

  • The most significant disadvantage of clamp meters is the number of functions that they can execute. This is because they can perform all the basic tasks that a multimeter can test, but they don’t have the ability to test frequency and temperature.
  • Clamp meters are not durable as they break easily. Most of the clamp meter’s outer body lacks a rubber shell that most multimeters come with. Therefore, if you drop your clamp meter accidentally, it may break instantly.

Related article: Which one should you choose between Voltmeter and Multimeter?

Pros of multimeters

  • A multimeter offers a wide variety of functions. Besides, the user can measure voltage, frequency, temperature, and even capacitance. That’s not the same case with a clamp meter.
  • Multimeters are super easy to use. They also usually feature a large screen that is easy to interpret by even newbies.
  • Multimeters offer more accurate results with high resolution. So, if you want to get more accurate outcomes, choose a multimeter over a clamp meter.

Cons of multimeters

  • Most multimeters are not compact, making them quite challenging to store or transport. Compact multimeters don’t come with lots of features, which is a disadvantage.
  • One of the common issues that multimeter users face is depleting the battery first. Therefore, this means that you cannot use a multimeter for long before having to recharge it.

Which tool should I use to test specific parameters?

Multipurpose measurement

If you’re looking for a multipurpose tool, a multimeter is the best option. This is because you can use it to measure voltage, temperature, resistance, and current. And if it’s more advanced, it can even measure things like diode and capacitance.

On the other hand, a clamp meter can only measure current, with a few models having the ability to measure voltage and resistance.  

To measure current

First, you need to know how to use a multimeter or Clamp meter. In terms of measuring current, a clamp meter is the better choice. This is because the user doesn’t have to break the circuit to measure current like with a multimeter. And so, a clamp meter is safer to use than a multimeter. Thanks to the clamp that it comes with to hold the conductor.

Resolution and accuracy

When it comes to resolution and accuracy, you will prefer a multimeter. You will get a better view of parameters such as frequency, voltage, and resistance when using a multimeter. Besides, it’s more accurate, meaning you will get precise results.

Which is better? Clamp meter or Multimeter?

Selecting between clamp meter vs multimeter shouldn’t be that difficult. This is because they have their primary purposes, making it even easier for users to pick the ideal electrical instrument for their work. If you want to measure current, a clamp meter is the best option. Fluke 324 AC-DC TRMS or Fluke 325 Clamp meter would be ideal for that. But if you’re going to conduct other measurements such as voltage, capacitance, frequency, or resistance, a Fluke 289 Logging multimeter should be the best choice.

Overall, a multimeter has better resolution and accuracy, while a clamp meter is safer. However, if you’re a professional technician or electrician, having both tools is even an added advantage. When choosing one of these tools, you should consider the kind of tasks you handle to get the best device possible.


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