With measuring 1500V DC solar panel installations, electricians have come across a new question: Most current AC/DC clamp meters carry a safety rating of CATIII 1000V. Can you use these tools to measure a 1500 V DC solar panel installation? The answer has some caveats. Fortunately, Fluke plans to bypass the problem with the Fluke 393 FC CAT III 1500V True-RMS Clamp Meter.
The Fluke 393 FC CAT III 1500 V True-RMS clamp meter does something very new and necessary. It’s the world’s first test tool with a CAT III 1500 V rating. That means it can safely test solar installations operating at 1500 volts DC under a variety of conditions. It goes way beyond something like the Fluke T6-1000 clamp meter.
Other Great Fluke 393 FC CAT 3 1500V Clamp Meter Features
The Fluke 393 offers a thin jaw for easy access to cables in crowded combiner boxes. You get the expected Fluke build quality and an IP54 rating to protect against the elements. The tool provides DC power measurement (kVA), audio polarity, and visual continuity features. It also records test results to your smartphone (and uploads them to the cloud) using Fluke Connect software.
Why It Matters
Admittedly, we don’t do a ton of solar panel installations personally, but we see them going up all around us. You may wonder why a product like the Fluke 393 FC makes any difference. These larger “solar farms” use higher voltage lines. Many electricians use AC/DC clamp meters that carry a safety category of CATIII 1000V. Since the solar panel installation isn’t categorized into any particular category due to its floating voltage, you can use these CAT III 1000V clamp meters to measure 1500V DC between the terminals without any issues.
The problem arises if and when the power conditioner is connected and grounded. Then, the solar panel installation falls under the CATIII and CATIV category. At that point, you need to take care to use the proper products (like the Fluke 393 FC) when taking measurements during the installation process.
Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on pricing and availability for the Fluke 393 FC clamp meter, but we’ll update this page when that info becomes available.