Difference Between Multimeter And Clamp Meter


Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by mdmtool

Multimeters, or Volt-Ohm-Meters, measure voltage, current, and resistance. A Clamp Meter is a type of specialized multimeter with a jaw-like structure that allows for the measurement of electrical current without cutting off the circuit.

The main difference between a multimeter and a clamp meter is how the instrument measures current. A multimeter requires disconnecting the circuit to measure current, while a clamp meter can measure current without breaking the circuit. Clamp meters are more convenient as they don’t require the opening up of circuits, reducing safety concerns and labor time.

Multimeter Vs Clamp Meter

What Are Multimeters?

Multimeters are instruments used to measure voltage, current, and resistance. It is also known as a Volt-Ohm-Meter (VOM). Multimeters come in many different styles and sizes with various features such as frequency measurement, continuity testing, data logging, and more.

What Are Clamp Meters?

Clamp meters are specialized multimeters that have a jaw like structure built in, allowing them to measure electrical current without cutting off the circuit. This is done by clamping the jaws of the meter around an AC cable line or other conductive material, and measuring the current through it. Clamp meters can also measure voltage and resistance, making them a versatile tool for testing electrical circuits.

Pros And Cons:

pros of multimeter: Pros of clamp meter: Cons of multimeter: Cons of clamp meter:
– more versatile and can test a variety of circuits. – able to measure large currents without the need for direct contact with live wires. – more expensive than a clamp meter. – less versatile than a multimeter and can only measure current.
– some models have built in temperature sensors which allow them to measure temperature as well. – faster in taking measurements as it does not require any wiring or connection points. – not ideal for testing large currents because it requires direct contact with live wires. – not all clamp meters are able to measure temperature.
– some models may have limited accuracy compared to a multimeter.
– usually have a smaller display than a multimeter.


of clamp meter: Applications of multimeter:
1. Measuring large currents in electrical circuits. 1. Troubleshooting electrical circuits.
2. Troubleshooting of motors and other devices with high current draw. 2. Testing of circuit boards.
3. Testing for harmonic distortion in an AC power source. 3. Measuring voltage, current, resistance, and continuity in a variety of applications.
4. Troubleshooting of limited access wiring runs where direct contact is not possible or desired. 4. Taking temperature measurements in some models equipped with temperature sensors.
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Which One Is Better Choice

Clamp Meter Vs. Multimeter: Which Is Better For Your Electrical Needs?

Your choice of tool will depend on the measurements you need to take.

  • If you’re only looking for current measurements, then a clamp meter is your best option.
  • if you need versatility and accuracy in a range of electrical parameters, then a multimeter is the way to go.

Clamp Meter Vs. Multimeter: Which Is More Accurate?

When it comes to accuracy, both devices can be extremely precise. However, clamp meters tend to be more accurate than multimeters when measuring current due to their induction-based technology. This makes them ideal for situations where high-precision measurements are required. Multimeters, on the other hand, can offer a range of value readings in AC and DC circuits, providing a more comprehensive range of measurements.

Multimeter Vs. Clamp Meter: Comparison Chart

Current Measurement: Can measure the current only when it is in the form of DC. Can measure both AC and DC current.
Voltage Measurement: Can measure both AC and DC voltage. Can measure AC voltage only.
Frequency Measurement: Can measure frequency in AC voltage and current. Cannot measure frequency.
Size and Weight: multimeter is larger compared to a clamp meter, and it also has a higher weight than the clamp meter. smaller in size and lighter than a multimeter
Display: LCD display which displays the readings clearly. Digital LED display to indicate the measurements.
Color Coding Identification: Cannot identify color coding. Has the capability to identify color coding.
Resistance Measurement: Can measure both AC and DC resistance. Can measure only DC resistance.
Capacitance Measurement: Can measure both AC and DC capacitance. Cannot measure capacitance.
Connectivity: Uses test leads to connect the device to be tested. Has a clamp mechanism that enables it to make contact with the conductor being tested.
Multipurpose Measurement: Can be used to measure temperature, frequency and current. Cannot measure temperature, frequency, or current.
Resolution & Accuracy: Has greater resolution and accuracy than a clamp meter. Has lesser resolution and accuracy than a multimeter.
Cost & Portability: more expensive, but is smaller and more portable. Cheaper and larger but is less portable.
Functionality: Can measure multiple electrical parameters, such as voltage, current, resistance, and capacitance. Can measure only AC current. However, it can identify color coding and detect the magnitude of electrical signals in live wires or circuits.
Working Principle: Uses a galvanometer, which is a type of ammeter, to measure current. It also has a voltmeter and an ohmmeter built into it.  Uses magnets in its clamp mechanism to detect the magnitude of electric signals or currents by measuring the magnetic field around the conductor.
Safety features: Has safety features such as overload protection. Generally lacks safety features.
Best for: Best for measuring multiple electrical parameters and determining exact values. Best for detecting the presence of electric currents and identifying color coding in circuits.


Does A Clamp Meter Do Everything A Multimeter Does?

No, a Clamp Meter is specifically designed to measure current. Multimeters can measure a range of other electrical parameters such as voltage, resistance and continuity.

Can I Use A Clamp Meter To Measure Voltage?

No. Clamp Meters are designed specifically for measuring current and cannot measure voltage. For this, you would need to use a multimeter.

Is It Easy To Use A Clamp Meter In Comparison To A Multimeter?

Yes, Clamp Meters are relatively simple to use and require very little setup or calibration. Multimeters are slightly more complex due to the range of readings they can provide.

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Can A Clamp Meter Measure Dc Amps?

Yes, many clamp meters can measure both AC and DC amps. However, some models are limited to measuring only AC currents. Before purchasing a clamp meter, it is important to check its specifications for the type of current it can measure.

What Factors To Consider When Buying A Meter?

  • Measurements you need to take
  • Level of accuracy required
  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • Functionality
  • Portability and Storage Requirements

What Is The Difference Between Meter And Multimeter?

The key difference between a meter and a multimeter is that the meter measures only one electrical parameter, while a multimeter can measure multiple parameters. A meter may measure voltage, current, or resistance, while a multimeter can measure all three of these as well as continuity and other more advanced functions.

What Is The Difference Between An Electrical Tester And A Clamp Meter?

An electrical tester is a device used to test for the presence of electricity in an appliance or circuit. It typically has two wires that are inserted into the suspected area and it will indicate if there is an electric current present. A clamp meter, on the other hand, uses a probe that clamps around a wire or cable to measure the current going through the wire or cable. It is used to measure AC and DC currents in a circuit, as well as other electrical parameters such as resistance and voltage.

What Is The Main Purpose Of A Clamp Meter?

The main purpose of a clamp meter is to measure AC and DC currents in circuits.

Can I Use A Clamp Meter To Measure Voltage?

No, clamp meters are not designed to measure voltage. For this purpose, you would need to use a multimeter.

Does A Clamp Meter Measure Ac Or Dc?

Yes, many clamp meters can measure both AC and DC currents. It is important to check the specifications of the meter before purchasing in order to determine which type of current it can measure.

How Does The Dc/Ac Clamp Meter Measure Current?

  1. Place the jaws of the clamp meter onto the conductor you wish to measure.
  2. Turn on the clamp meter and select DC current mode.
  3. The display will show you a numerical value representing the amount of current flowing through the conductor.
  4. After taking your readings, turn off the clamp meter and disconnect it from the conductor.
  5. Repeat these steps for each circuit you wish to measure.

Are There Any Safety Precautions When Using A Clamp Meter?

Yes, always make sure that the readings are taken on an unpowered circuit before connecting a clamp meter, as it can cause damage to the meter if connected to a powered circuit. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the probes are securely clamped onto the conductor in order for accurate readings to be taken.

What Should Safety Precautions Be Taken When Using A Clamp Meter/Multimeter?

  1. Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions before use.
  2. Wear safety goggles and insulated gloves to protect your eyes and hands.
  3. Do not touch the metal parts of the clamp meter/multimeter when in use.
  4. Do not attempt to measure a current greater than the maximum rating of the meter.
  5. Always unplug or turn off the power before connecting the meter to a circuit.
  6. Do not drop the meter and handle it with care to avoid damage.
  7. Make sure that the jaws of the clamp meter are fully closed when in use.
  8. Be aware of any exposed wires or other potential hazards.
  9. Store in a safe and dry place when not in use.

Does My Multimeter Need Calibration?

Generally, multimeters do not require regular calibration as they are already calibrated at the factory. However, if a multimeter is used in an environment with too much vibration or shock, then it may need to be re-calibrated due to inaccurate readings.


Multimeters and clamp meters are both essential tools for electricians, hobbyists, technicians, and engineers. Both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the task at hand. Multimeters require cutting off the circuit to measure current, while clamp meters can measure current without interrupting the circuit. Ultimately, both tools are necessary and depend on the job requirements.

Clamp meters are more expensive than multimeters, but the convenience of not having to disconnect a circuit may outweigh the cost for some professionals. It is important to evaluate your needs before committing to one type of instrument or another. No matter which you choose, both multimeters and clamp meters are important tools for electrical testing.

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