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puchasing a new ammeter, recommendations?

I've been a licensed plumber/gasfitter for quite a few years now, anyway I started back to school to tackle the ac/refrigeration end of the trade. I need to purchase an ammeter, I own a fluke multimeter model 81438 that i've had a few years. I've had no problems with it. Does anyone have a recommendation on a new ammeter?Please include a model # if possible.


  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484

    Amprobe  ACD-14  reads amps, volts, resistance and other features,  compact ,  the meter I would carry in my tool bag,  I would also add an Amprobe lead kit with rubber insulated leads and clips
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,905

    When it comes to digital meters I'm extremely picky. I can't stand how slow most of them are.

    I use a Fluke 179 DMM and a Simpson 260 7P for most things.

    I was just looking at a Fluke 381 which seems like it would be very handy in the refrigeration trade.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484

    The Ampobe acd 14 is made by amprobe you can get it online about $ 150.00
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Define the requirements first

    Do you need to measure DC amps as well as AC using the clamp?

    What is the highest current you need to measure, and in what size wire(s) would that be carried?

    What is the lowest current you need to measure?

    How important are voltage and resistance measurements for this meter, and as above, how high and how low?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,381

    Analog meters have one very handy trait, they give you a very accurate picture of how fast current is ramping up and that is good to know in many applications. I've used quite a few digital models but never found anything as useful as my 30 year old Sperry amp clamp (better copy of the amprobe).

    Analog does cost more and most analog clamp ammeters don't do DC. With the new inverter heatpumps I don't know how either works on the chopped waveform.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Smitdy
    Smitdy Member Posts: 19

    I think i'm gonna go with the fluke325 clamp-on ammeter.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    When it comes to testing. I found over time that I needed both digital and analog.

    With a digital amp clamp, it wasn't as accurate for what I sometimes needed it for and it wasn't fast enough to catch spikes. Which an analog would always do. I found that if I really wanted to know things, a decent RMS digital Multi-Meter was the way for me to go.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,905


    I'm curious what type of digital meters you have used? As I said earlier in the thread cheap ones annoy me because of how slow they are.

    A good quality digital meter is often faster than an analog meter movement and usually has a bar graph to indicate movement.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    What I was saying is that I found both types useful. Digitals use an averaging to give you a number, analogs are more instant acting.

    I get into situations. There was this POS asphalt plant that my son had something to do with trying to get it running and not blowing it up. The owner's name was Jerry Rigg. To light the oil burner to heat the sand, you took a LP Grill tank with one of those grass burners on a stick, stuck it in place where the oil came out, and flipped a switch to make the oil flow. The transformer had gone on vacation years ago. When you started the plant, and everything got going, something would happen in a sequence, and it would blow a one time cartridge fuse. It didn't seem to be a quick draw but a slow one, increasing until it blew the fuse. They were running out of fuses. There was some electrical engineer from the company trying to figure out what was wrong. In a big cardboard box were a huge selection of used controls that might or not be OK. Or on the system, were working controls that Mr. Rigg would swap. Mr. Engineer had the latest hot rod digital amp clamp. Somewhere as the amperage was going up over 20 amps and rising, a fuse would blow. The question was how many amps was it drawing and where was the offending problem. And they were running out of one time fuses. I watched the amusement for a while and finally mentioned an analog amp clamp. His opinion at that time of an Analog clamp was the same as bad stomach cramps with no toilet available and no toilet paper for a tree stand.  I also suggested they get a single breaker box and some different amp breakers, wired in series so that when the circuit blew, they could just reset the breaker. Which they did. It was getting late. I left because I didn't want to miss my plane flight home. They had a fire after I left. Life in the fast lane. That's where Analog Amp Clamps come in handy. It was hitting 50 amps when it blew.

    Then, there are Analog Multi meters. Handy for setting the timing on single cylinder waste spark engines with magnetos. The points control the timing. If you set the points so they break at the exact instant of the timing mark, you can be really close to where you want to be. The gap determines when the plug fires. You set it so that "it is", or "It Isn't". When the needle quivers, that's the spot. You can't do that with a digital.

    I had a nice Amprobe digital amp clamp/multimeter that they gave me a new one because they recalled it. They gave me the best of the best. As far as Ohms went, I think it only had 2 ranges. 600 Ohms and free ranging. I had a problem with an oil burner "seeing" flame. It was around that 600 Ohm range. My Sears Digital Multimeter covered everything I needed. And it wasn't all that much money. I don't think you need to take out a loan for one. If I was checking electric water heaters, I always used my Analog because it was smaller and easier to use. If the needle swung, the element was OK. I didn't care about anything else.

    The both have their uses. If you didn't have both, you might not ever miss the other one. If you have them both, you might wonder how you could get along without them both. .