Tool Day, Amp Clamp
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
In keeping with the electrical issues that seem to always find us in the RV, I bring you another tester that I use. Again, there are MANY different companies out there that have great tools. Everyone has their own opinion with likes and dislikes. These just happen to be the tools that I have in my tool box that I bring up and the reason for said tool. I am not sponsored by any of the companies I bring up (though that would be nice!) and do not get anything for talking about them. Ok, now that the disclaimer is out there, onto the good stuff.
When I went through school at RV Service Academy, on the tool list was an "Amp Clamp". I have never heard of such tool and was extremely confused as to what it could possibly be. A little google search later and I was quickly educated. This tool measures the amperage going through a wire by measurement of the magnetic field. Science!
I was at Lowe's store picking up some tools for school and stumbled across this Southwire Amp Clamp. Reviews were good and I figured why not! I brought it into class and it truly didn't disappoint when we started doing electrical testing. I especially like the fact that it can do some of the same things my other Southwire meter can. If I'm measuring Amps and then I need to switch to voltage while I'm on a roof, I can do that with this. One less tool to carry up with me, but they both have something the other cannot do so I kept both. Plus, I like the fact that if one fails, I have a back-up on hand and can probably get by until I replace it.
One of the things that I need this tool for especially is testing RV Roof Air Conditioner Units. If a unit is acting up or not blowing cold, one of the checks I need to do is see what the amp draw is for the compressor and the blower fan. If they are out of limits, I know if I am moving onto my next troubleshooting step, changing a part, or replacing the entire unit.
Another use is for generators. If you have a 5000 watt generator, there is still a certain parameter for amps allowable into the rig. The main reason behind those circuit breakers coming from it to the RV. I might need to check to see how many amps are coming from the generator to the house on certain components.
A final nice touch for this is the NCV (Non-Contact Voltage) check function. I can touch the end of the clamp to something and see if there is power going to it without having to pull out the leads and check. When you're moving quickly, this can be a good add, and also a nice safety before you touch something you're just not sure is energized.
If you're in the market for a good tester, I do like this one and have not had an issue with it yet. It has "slipped" from my hand a couple times and it is still kicking just fine.