Electricians have to measure things that can’t be seen, so having a reliable meter is essential to the job, especially since danger is hidden throughout electrical service. Like most electricians, I have a particular brand of meter that I favor but today I’m giving the Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter a shot. That’s not to say I don’t think Klein has excellent products – if you took a look in my tool bag, you’d see more Klein Tools than anything else. But for some reason, I’ve never used a Klein meter until now.
Will this ruggedized Tough Meter hold up the company’s reputation? Let’s see what happens.
The Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter is an automatically ranging true root mean squared (TRMS) meter for measuring AC/DC voltage, resistance, continuity, frequency, and capacitance as well as testing diodes. It has a CAT IV 600V, CAT III 1000V, Class 2, and double insulation safety ratings and features a low impedance (LoZ) mode and thermocouple.
I immediately liked the compact, ruggedized body and amp clamp. There’s even some rubberized overmold on the clamp trigger. It seems to have everything you need for maintenance and diagnosis in a tidy package. And what does the Tough Meter moniker mean?
Well, Klein claims you can drop the meter from just over 6 feet or so and it will be no worse for the wear. We’ll take the company’s word for it!
A Current Affair
I’ve worked for the county’s school board nearly all of my career. The service is old and really could use an upgrade – and it’s the same for nearly all of the facilities that I maintain. Ensuring that the aging systems remain operational and safe is a big part of my job. The majority of the time I find myself checking voltage, continuity, and amperage. I find that the Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter excels at each of those things.
The meter is similar in design to many meters on the market. It’s a tried and true design, so there’s no reason to get away from it at this point. The meter runs on AAA batteries and can all be operated with one hand – most conveniently the right hand, sorry to say for you lefties. You switch among the operations with your thumb to turn the dial, pull the clamp trigger with your index finger, and hit the buttons with your thumb as well.
There’s a nice, loud beep when you switch to ohms which even my favorite meter doesn’t offer. The amp clamp is solid – measuring up to 600 amps – and it’s a great size for working in a crowded panel to get around the wires.
With 18 functions, it seems to have everything you need. It certainly has everything I needed throughout the review. There’s even a helpful (and safety-friendly) non-contact voltage detector.
The whole package is light and compact. Speaking of light, it’s got a bright work light since you’ll sometimes need to cut the power to get the job done. And when you do, the large, easy-to-read display is has a backlight. The black tool body with white and orange symbols is exceptionally legible, too. The scheme really brings out the operations in a way that other meters do not.
Room for Improvement
So what is it lacking that other meters – like it’s Tough Meter cousin the MM700 or the popular but discontinued CL2000 – offer?
Well, there’s no easy way to store the leads and there’s no magnet to stick it to the panel door. You can get an optional magnet mount from Klein, though. Are these things deals breakers?
Not really. Although they are certainly convenient and, in the case of the lead storage, can extend the lead life and generally help those of us who like to keep things neat. I’d really like to see these features added, which could be done fairly easily. This is an excellent meter anyway, but those additions would be the icing on a great cake!
The Bottom Line
The Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter doesn’t leave you wanting much more for this class of tool. It’s 18 functions cover everything I need on a day to day basis for electrical work in the school systems. It does them well with a legibility on both the screen and dial that helps avoid mistakes in readings or settings.
There’s a minor improvement to make in lead storage and a magnet would be nice. It’s a durable design, though. Combined with its solid functionality, it’s positives heavily outweigh the room for improvement.
And guess what? Now I reach for this meter before my other favorite meter… and that’s shocking.
Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter Features
- Automatically ranging true mean squared (TRMS) technology for increased accuracy
- Test leads measure AC/DC voltage, resistance, continuity, frequency and capacitance and tests diodes
- Thermocouple probe measures temperature
- Low Impedance (LoZ) mode for identifying and eliminating ghost or stray voltages
- CAT IV 600V, CAT III 1000V, Class 2, Double insulation safety rating
- Built to withstand a 6.6′ (2m) drop
- Low battery indicator and easily accessible battery compartment
- Operating temp: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C).
- Operating altitude to 6,562 ft (2,000m).
- Includes carrying pouch, test leads, thermocouple with adapter and batteries
- Meets requirements for use in basic and controlled electromagnetic environments like residential, office and light-industrial locations
Klein Tools AC/DC Auto-Ranging Digital Clamp Meter Specifications
- Model Number: CL800
- Safety Rating: CAT IV 600V
- Batteries: 2 x AAA
- Jaw Size: 1-3/8 Inches (34.9 mm)
- Height: 9-3/32 Inches (231.0 mm)
- Width: 3-13/16 Inches (96.8 mm)
- Weight: 0.78 Pounds (0.35 kg)
- Included Accessories: Carrying Case, 41 Inches (1041.4 mm) Test Leads, Thermocouple with Adapter, and Batteries
- Application: Measures Current
- Dimensions: 9-3/32 X 3-13/16 X 1-17/32 Inches (231.0 x 96.8 x 38.9 mm)
- Drop Protection: 6.6 Feet (2 m)
- Ingress Protection: IP40
- Special Features: Features Low Battery Indicator
- Standard: CE Certified
- Price: $129.97