To save you some time researching yourself, I have put together a list of the BEST clamp meters available for 2020, ranging in price from about $150 to $1,100.
(If you're looking for a multimeter instead of an amp clamp meter, check out the BEST multimeters available for 2020 here.)
The clamp meters (sometimes called tong meters) below have made the 'best of' list due to versatility, functionality, reliability, and cost.
I have categorised the clamp meter functions to break up the monotony of listing each one. They are;
* Usual Functions. These will be AC and DC Voltage and Current, Resistance, Continuity, Frequency, Capacitance and Diode. Although a lot of clamp-on meters are AC current only, the ones I have listed here in the top clamp meters for 2020, will all have both AC and DC current sensing.
* Other Functions. Specialty functions pertaining to the individual clamp meter that are not necessarily found on most meters.
In order of price, the Best Clamp Meters for 2020 are...
Lutron CM-6146 $156.50
This meter is quite powerful for it’s low RRP! It has the ability to measure up to 1000A AC or DC and also includes all the usual functions.
It has a 6000 count, so resolution is more than adequate for most measuring situations and accuracy is also reasonable. It does use the averaging method for AC measurement, so accuracy on non-pure sinusoidal waves will be out.
CAT rating is a III, so it's safe to work on LV down stream from the meter. At this low price, and with all the functions it includes, this is a handy meter to keep in your kit.
Use this meter for... general around the house jobs, motor vehicle, caravanning, boating, and light industrial work.
For less than $300, the HT-9015 clamp meter is a great all rounder. It has all the usual functions, can measure up to 600A AC or DC, and has True RMS AC measurement.
On top of the usual functions, it also measures duty cycle, and temperature from -20 to 760°C.
It has a safety rating of CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V, meaning it is safe to work in almost all LV situations. With a 6000 count, modest accuracy, and with all its functionality, it is a truly versatile instrument for the price.
Use this meter for... most home handyman projects, industrial work in both domestic and commercial workplaces, and basic electronics.
Flir CM46 $405
This is one of my favourite clamp meters... I actually have it at home and use it regularly, and whether I'm using it to check wiring on the trailer, or check battery charge and appliance draw in the caravan, checking safe for house electrical work, or even if I'm working on some electronics or fixing kids toys, this meter always does what I need.
It has all the usual functions, plus a lot more. It measures voltage up to 600V and current up to 400A. It has Non-contact voltage detection, Temperature measurement -20 to 250 °C with provided thermocouple and -40 to 400°C with optional full range sensor.
It will measure DCµA using probes connected in series for measuring electronic circuits with a range from 1µA to 2000µA. And, there is a selectable low pass filter for measuring noisy voltages on devices such as variable speed drives.
The safety rating is CAT IV 300V and CAT III 600V, making it very usable in the majority of low voltage testing situations. With a count of 6000, resolution is adequate and accuracy is between 1 and 2 percent on measurements.
With this much versatility, this is the meter in your tool kit you'll want to grab when going to troubleshoot.
Use this meter for... home handyman, domestic and Industrial workplaces, variable speed drives, electronics.
Ideal 61-765 $430
This clamp meter sports the usual functions, plus a voltage warning when using probes to measure AC or DC voltage greater than 30V. The reason it has made it into the 'best of' list is twofold...
Firstly, this is a rugged meter. I have had one of these personally for about 10 years. It sits in my tool bag, unprotected. It has held up like this to an industrial environment without a problem, and has never let me down. I think I have only changed the batteries in it once in that time.
The second reason, is that this clamp meter has a nifty second screen on the end of the meter which Ideal call Tight Sight. This allows you to read off a measurement from the bottom of the meter, avoiding the awkward movement of trying to twist the meter on the cable, or put your head closer to the cable, to see the main screen when reading.
It has a 9999 screen count, so resolution is very reasonable. Safety rating is a CAT IV 300V CAT III 600V, accommodating for most industrial low voltage testing.
If you are working in a rugged workplace, and the usual functions are all you need on your clamp meter, then this one will certainly be up to the challenge.
Use this meter for... home handyman, heavy and rugged industrial workplaces, tight hard to see clamp measuring situations such as busy distributions boards and awkward termination enclosures.
Extech EX623 $495
Typical of EXTECH these days, this meter has had a multitude of functions all packed into one instrument, for a very reasonable price. It has been developed by EXTECH in collaboration with industrial tradies to ensure that it is as versatile as it can possibly get.
All the usual functions are just the start. It has DC µA series measurement with a range from 0.01µA to 4000µA. Non contact voltage detection. Duty cycle. It has an infrared temperature sensor that measures -50 to 270°C, but also has two K type probe inputs for ‘’delta T’’ (Change in temperature) measurements from -50 to 1000°C.
It has a low pass filter for measuring noisy variable speed motor drives. The screen has a 40,000 count, giving fantastic resolution. CAT III 600V CAT II 1000V limits the meter to low voltage circuits beyond the switchboard meter, but this is where the meter is in it’s prime anyway. A very handy meter!
Use this meter for... Factory installation maintenance and troubleshooting. Temperature measurements of various industrial equipment including delta T.
Prova A11 $495
This clamp meter has a maximum current range of 60A. This may sound a little limiting, however, if you are dealing with small DC currents, down to 1mA, this meter suddenly becomes very handy as most clamp meters will not measure down this low when detecting DC current. Usually for currents this low, you would have to break into the circuit and measure with a standard multimeter. With the Prova A11, as long as you can get the jaws around the conductor, you’ll be right to test with the clamp.
One example of a use for this is measuring the output on a 4-20mA transducer to check that the right scaled signal is being fed back to a processor.
This meter has all the usual functions plus -40 to 400°C temperature using a K type probe.
Safety rating is CAT IV 300V, CAT III 600V.
If smaller DC currents are what you are usually testing, then the Prova A11 is the tool for you.
Use this meter for... domestic and commercial industrial work places, control and process monitoring, basic electronics.
HIOKI 4374 $1,089
Hioki are renowned for being a quality industrial tool. The 4374 clamp meter is just that!
To start, it has two numerical displays to allow the monitoring of more than one measurement at a time. That is, it can give frequency whilst displaying current or voltage. It can also display maximum values of DC voltage and current at the same time. When using inrush mode it will give measured current and peak current at the same time.
This clamp meter has all the usual features, and also includes Inrush detection, low pass filter, AC + DC accurate measurement on signals which contain a DC offset, and temperature measurement. It has a non contact voltage detector. AC and DC current measurement ranges from 0.1A up to 2000A !
Voltage measurement range is from 0.1mV up to 1500VDC and 10mV up to 1000VAC. Did I mention it measures DC power up to 3400 kVA.
Coupled with all this is Bluetooth connectivity for use with the Connect Cross mobile device App, allowing for data storage and complete workflow of collected data.
Finally, I will mention the CAT IV 600V CAT III 1000V safety rating. In a high powered industrial setting, this meter is capable of checking and testing high powered industrial equipment, and the controllers and sensors that run them.
Use this meter for... power generation installation and monitoring, heavy industrial equipment maintenance and troubleshooting including variable speed drive, inrush detection and power usage for both AC and DC machines. Basic electronics.
And that wraps up our list of the BEST clamp meters for 2020!