Fluke has expanded their (kick-ass) Fluke Connect meter and test & measurement lineup with 2 new current clamp meters. I found the current ranges to be slightly amusing, as one of the new clamp meters is intended to measure very big currents, and the other very small.
Both of the new Fluke Connect clamp meters are similarly designed and configured. You get the main current meter module, and a removable current clamp with flexible connection cable.
For a primer on the Fluke Connect system, check out our overview here. Basically, it’s Fluke’s latest connected tool system that consists of wireless test & measurement equipment. Included are electrical meters and multimeters, a vibration tester, thermal imaging cameras, and a couple of other types of tools.
Fluke Connect tools report back to a master unit, or to your computer via the cloud via a mobile device loaded with their free app. You can put them in place for data collection and monitor, record, and share the readings from the comfort of being anywhere else.
Fluke Connect a3003 High Current DC Clamp Meter
The new Fluke a3003 current clamp has a current measurement range of 10 to 2000 amps DC, and you actually get two measurement ranges, 1 A to 1000 A, and 1000 A to 2000 A, with 0.1 A and 1 resolution, respectively.
The meter’s memory can store up to 65,000 readings, or you can send them out via Fluke Connect to another base tool, or to your mobile devices.
Obviously, this is a big clamp meter for big current-carrying cables, with jaws that open up to 64 mm wide.
Street Price: $443 at Amazon as of the time of this posting.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Fluke Connect a3004 Low Current DC Clamp Meter
The a3004 Fluke Connect current clamp meter is in some ways the complete opposite of the a3003. This one is used for when you want to measure very small DC currents in the 4 to 20 mA range. Yes, that’s milliamps.
There are two resolutions, 0.05 mA to 21 mA, and 21 mA to 100 mA, with 0.01 mA and 0.1 A resolution.
So why would you want a current meter that emphasizes its ability to measure 4-20 mA, specifically? There are a lot of control loops that only pass very low DC currents, such as drive systems, sensors, automation controls, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), energy management systems, and other applications.
Multimeters and general purpose current clamps can sometimes reach down to the 4 to 20 mA range, but not with as high resolution or accuracy, and so there is greater chance of error uncertainty with the readings.
Let me put it this way. You could use a hatchet to cut a blueberry in half, but wouldn’t a paring knife give you a better chance of a clean slice straight down the middle?
Street Price: $527 on Amazon at the time of this posting
Buy Now(via Amazon)
I’ve been impressed with the swift progress Fluke has been making with their Fluke Connect system of wireless meters and test tools. They can communicate wirelessly with a “master device,” such as their 3000 FC digital multimeter, several higher-end thermal imaging cameras, mobile phones and devices via a free app, or with PCs via a pc3000 FC adapter.
These new current clamp meters, one with a 2000 A DC range, and the other optimized for 4 to 20 mA DC currents, join several existing current-measuring products, including the 3000 FC multimeter, a3000 FC AC clamp meter, a3001 FC AC current meter with flex-loop current probe, and the a3002 FC current meter that’s compatible with several separately purchased Fluke current probes. There are other tools in the line, including voltage meters, a K-Type temperature meter, and other non-electrical testing tools.
To be frank, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with anything close to 2000 amps, nor have I had to do much in the way of troubleshooting low current circuits or control loops with enough precision to warrant a specialty meter.
My Fluke i30 hall effect current clamp, which was selected after a grueling research and back-and-forth process, is rated down to 30 mA DC but can be stretched towards 5 mA if needed, and it has worked fine enough for my purposes. But I also don’t work with automation equipment, control signals, or low current logic control circuits that warrant a specialty low current sensing range for troubleshooting.
What I’m trying to say is that I can tell you my thoughts on the Fluke Connect range – which I’m impressed with – but haven’t enough experience to form a strong opinion about these two specific current clamp meters.
The good news is that Fluke has an excellent custom service team. Contact their technical support (contact info), and they’ll provide excellent product selection advice. I have called them up maybe 2 times, but they were impressionable experiences. When you’re dropping $400 to $600 on a piece of test equipment, it’s good to confirm beforehand whether it’s suitable for your needs.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a standalone multimeter, check out my review of the Fluke 87V, which is still the best handheld digital multimeter I have ever used. And while we’re on the subject of multimeters, here’s my review of Keysight’s 34461A benchtop meter.