Ammeters are instruments for measuring electrical currents and are very similar to other well known measuring instruments such as voltmeters, multimeters and polymeters. Each of these systems are similar in the fact that they utilise a galvanometer as the central element as part of their measuring process. Ammeters specifically incorporate a parallel resistance that allows them to calculate the amperage of the electrical current you would like to measure. In addition to offering this functionality, these instruments are watertight and safe.

Amperage is the size of the current flow, i.e. the amount of electrical particles passing through a conduit, and is measured in “amps” or “A”. In the market there are many types of ammeters with different characteristics and uses. In this guide we will explain everything you need to know to choose the best ammeter from the Australian market.

Key Facts

  • Ammeter models can feature a clamp for attaching to the electrical circuit. These systems are more sophisticated and perform a wide variety of measurements (voltage and current). This clamp allows to take readings directly on the cable, because it works by means of measuring the magnetic field of the electricity.
  • Digital ammeter models are much more accurate than analog models. The digital models are the most commonly used by professionals, as they are precise and easy to understand. You must keep in mind that it will be the quality of the internal components and processors that will determine the accuracy of the measurements you take.
  • We recommend that you always choose digital ammeter models with an LCD display. These devices show all the required information on the screen and avoid possible reading errors, something common in analog needle models.

Ranking: The best ammeter on the Australian market

In the market you will find a large variety of ammeters at different prices and with different features. Choosing the best model, with all the functions and features you need, can be an overwhelming task. That is why we have prepared the following guide that includes the best options on the Australian market, to help facilitate your purchase decision.

No. 1: BSIDE ZT98

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This is a combination multimeter/ammeter handheld device that can be used for AC/DC voltage and current, resistance, diode and continuity testing. The device is very easy to use with a large LCD display with backlight function for easy reading. From a safety perspective, the ammeter from BSIDE features its owns auto shut-down function.

This ammeter is designed for use in schools, laboratories, factories and any other machining industry but can easily be adapted for home use. Not only suitable for home users or maintenance enthusiasts, this ammeter is also used by professional electricians and technicians.

No. 2: uxcell 85C1-A Analog Current Panel Meter

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Would you prefer the older style analog ammeter with the needle pointer to take your electrical current measurements? This analog current ammeter is made from good quality plastic material and features the latest technology to ensure you can take accurate readings. This is a solid needle ammeter for electronic applications, auto circuit or other voltage measurement devices.

No. 3: MICTUNING DC 6.5-100V 0-100A LCD Digital Display Ammeter

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The MICTUNING DC “4 in 1” is a combination voltage, current, power and energy measurement instrument. This innovative device is able to measure voltage, current, power and energy of most electrical devices (100 amps max.). The main advantages of this device are its high accuracy, low power consumption and easy reading via the large LCD display.

This device features a voltage safety alarm function with a backlight and voltage value that will flash simultaneously if the testing voltage is beyond the alarm threshold (6-90V factory alarm value). The 51x30mm LCD screen clearly displays all testing figures at the same time, while the recessed button is used to control the backlight, reset energy value, set voltage alarm threshold and choose the measuring range.

No. 4: MakerHawk Type-C USB Power Tester USB Multimeter Voltmeter Ammeter Tester

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This is a unique and innovative instrument that uses a USB type-C to measure real time charging state information of any device such as: voltage, current, power, capacity, energy, equivalent impedance, temperature and other data. This device is widely used in the quality inspection of type-C ports of digital products and to protect the charging equipment of devices such as laptops, mobiles, power banks, chargers, car chargers and data cables.

This tiny device features a colour LCD display with a 160-degree wide view to ensure you can easily read the measurements in low-light conditions. Being one of the more innovative products on the market, if you need a USB type-C measuring device, then this is the product for you.

No. 5: AiLi Voltmeter Ammeter

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The AiLi measuring device combines multiple functions in one simple to use instrument. The information that you capture from this instrument will lead to more efficient use of the battery, which can enhance battery life and reduce the risk of failure.

With the AiLi ammeter you can read your battery bank like a fuel gauge, with a quick glance you can know all the information you require, such as state of charge (%) and the remaining battery capacity (AH). This device is suitable for mobile and portable devices, e-bikes, electric cars, cleaning machines and many more applications.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about ammeters

Ammeters allow us to safely measure the current and amperage of electrical circuits. If you are not a skilled electrician, it can be difficult to choose one that adequately suits your needs. That’s why in the following section of this guide we explain the most important aspects to consider when purchasing an ammeter. Continue reading to see the answers to the most frequently asked questions amongst Australian consumers.

Among electricians they are commonly known as “testers” and serve to measure the intensity of the current.
(Source: auremar: 13782943/ 123rf.com)

What is an ammeter?

Generally speaking, an ammeter is nothing more than a galvanometer, an instrument for detecting current to which a resistance is added in parallel. This resistance within the device is called “Shunt Resistance”. An ammeter measures the intensity of electrical currents and has a wide range of testing uses.

Ammeters have a very small internal resistance, below 1 ohm. The purpose of their small size is to ensure their presence does not decrease the current being measured when connected to an electrical circuit. Currently, ammeters have digital converters to measure voltage drops and microprocessors with LCD displays.

How does an ammeter work?

Modern ammeters are compact, insulated and are so small that they fit in your pocket. Among electricians they are commonly known as “testers” and serve to measure the current intensity of an electrical circuit. Digital ammeters have a very simple operation whereby you simply turn the knob to select the parameter and connect the tips of the diodes to the electrical wire or cable.

When the tips or the clamp are connected to the current, the data present will appear on the screen. Analog models (barely used these days) show the information with a needle that moves through a numerical range. Modern digital models display measurements in numbers on a display, which is far more reliably, accurate and readable.

What are the uses of an ammeter?

Despite being a basic tool for any electrician, ammeters have many other uses. For example, in the home an ammeter can be used to measure the power of a battery in a vehicle. You can also use them to measure the capacitors in mobile phones that are used to generate energy and cooling functions.

In professional use, these devices are used to measure the current that passes through a cable. It is very important not to exceed the amount of energy transported by a particular conductor as this can be dangerous. By testing the current of circuit you can prevent short circuits or electrical failures that may cause accidents. Ammeters are also used to measure the current in electrical panels and plugs.

Can I use an ammeter to save electricity at home?

The answer is yes. An ammeter can easily be used to determine the energy consumption of a given electrical appliance. With this device you will also be able to find out which type of conduit is the most appropriate for a particular circuit and whether the energy loads connected to it are within the safety limits of the socket. By following these simple tips you will be able to reduce overall energy consumption.

In large circuits, such as a whole block power grid, knowing the amperage is vital from a safety perspective and for ensuring adequate and equal electricity supply to each suburb or sector. It is essential to closely control the amperage levels of electrical circuits if you do not want the current to be interrupted or, even worse, a short circuit to burn the cables.

What types of ammeters are there?

The most common ammeters today are the digital ammeters, commonly known as “testers”. However, there are other types of ammeters, each with different characteristics and uses. Below we explain the different types of ammeters with some information on each:

  • Analog Ammeters: these are the older ammeter models. They contain a coil connected to a needle that shows the measurement by means of a numerical scale.
  • Electromechanical ammeters: built with a fixed and mobile part, with the latter being attached to the needle. It is a large system and suffers wear of its components. It is prone to reading errors.
  • Magnetoelectric ammeters: built with a coil that rotates around an axis to receive current.
  • Electromagnetic ammeters: works in the same way as the previous ammeter, but instead of using a coil it contains a magnet that moves with the current.
  • Moving iron ammeters: instead of a coil or magnet, they contain a small piece of soft iron in the form of a vane or rod.
  • Electrodynamic ammeters: work with two magnets that separate when current is received. The distance between the magnet provides the measurement.
  • Thermal ammeters: operate by heating a conductor. The main advantage of this type is that magnetic fields do not affect them, although they are more expensive and consume a lot of energy.
  • Digital ammeters: the most accurate, with microprocessors and screens that eliminate reading errors. They hardly suffer wear and the quality of their circuits will provide accurate measurements.
  • Current clamps: this type of ammeter does not need to touch the current source to be able to take readings. It is driven by the magnetic field of the current and can measure both alternating and direct current.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital and analog ammeters?

The analog ammeters have become obsolete as the needle measuring system often caused reading errors. Digital systems, on the other hand, display all the ordered information on an easy-to-read, usually LCD, screen. In addition, these modern models are much more precise when it comes to carrying out various different measurements.

To provide you with all the information you need, we have prepared the following table with the advantages and disadvantages of digital and analog ammeters.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Digital ammeters High reading speed.

Higher accuracy and better reading resolution.

Eliminates scale errors.

More expensive than analog ammeters.

Requires a power source such as batteries.

Analog ammeters Cheaper than digital ammeters.

No power source required.

Lower accuracy than digital models.

Greater difficulty in reading measurement results.

Readings may be affected by scales.

What special functions do ammeters have?

Some ammeters have special functions that are useful for diagnosing problems in electrical systems. One of these functions is the frequency measurement. In order to properly analyse electrical currents, an ammeter must have an average, minimum and maximum function to be able to compare previous readings and results.

Capacity measurement is also very useful, which is a function that most clamp ammeters incorporate today. This option helps to facilitate the work of many professionals who are dedicated to the study of motors. Additional protection and safety functions, such as emitting a buzzing sound when placed near currents, are also useful extras in an ammeter.

The most sophisticated models have a clamp and perform different types of readings.
(Source: Philippe Renaud: 93952907/ 123rf.com)

What safety measures should I consider when using an ammeter?

Ammeters are used to measure voltage and electrical current. Whenever you work with electricity there are inherent dangers and risks that you should be aware of. In this case, it is advisable to take extreme precautions and always follow the correct safety measures. If you are ever in doubt, it is highly recommended not to proceed and to consult a trained electrician. Below you will find the necessary safety measures for using an ammeter:

  1. The current must flow through the meter to complete the circuit.
  2. Make sure all ammeter components are connected securely to the electrical circuit to get a good reading.
  3. Use tools with rubber handles to avoid electrical shocks.
  4. Never connect the ammeter to the main power source of a circuit box.
  5. Make sure you work in a dry environment where there are no water sources present.
  6. Before taking any readings, ensure that the ammeter has the maximum resistance level set.
  7. Do not touch the current source with your hands.
  8. Never manipulate the installations with bare hands when they have current.

Shopping Criteria

Ammeters are highly complex devices, especially digital models. They are complicated instruments as they make exact measurements on the current and the electrical voltage. If you want to buy the best model on the market, with the best functions and features, follow our recommendations below and you will be sure to succeed in your purchase:

  • Comfort
  • Usefulness
  • Resolution
  • Accuracy
  • True RMS
  • Operating system
  • Special Functions

Comfort

The physical design of ammeter has significantly evolved in recent years. The designs and materials used in their construction have varied enormously to create drastically improved devices. The most modern models have tools that allow you to take readings in places that are difficult to access, by containing features such as removable screens so that you can observe the measurements from afar.

Most electricians recommend ammeters with specially designed “tweezers”. This type of design makes taking measurements far easier as it reads the magnetic field generated by electricity. With this type of ammeter you won’t need to cut or strip the cable to connect to the electrical circuit. We also recommend choosing digital display models, as they are far easier to read.

Usefulness

Ammeters are capable of taking many different types of measurements. The most common measurements are voltage and current, both alternating and direct. Depending on the complexity of the ammeter model, the reading functions will vary. Some devices include options for voltage, resistance, continuity, or even capacitance reading.

Our recommendation is that you look for a model that has all the features you will need in your work environment. Buying an ammeter that does not have the required functions is a useless investment that you will regret. Although digital ammeters are very versatile, their usefulness will depend on the intended use.

Resolution

Resolution plays an important role in the purchase of an ammeter. The accuracy of the measurements and the values shown in the system readings will depend on it. When you know the value of the resolution of the ammeter, it is possible to determine any change, no matter how small, in the reading made.

To represent the importance of resolution with an example, it would be useless to buy a ruler that measures centimetres if what you need is to measure in millimetres. We recommend that you take into account the smallest resolution you need in your work before buying an ammeter, because it is an essential factor to determine the usefulness of the device.

Precision

When talking about precision, we are referring to the indication of the real value of what is being measured. We recommend that you choose a device that is as accurate as possible, because the quality of the work you do will depend on the accuracy of the device. The more accurate the measurements, the better you will be able to perform your tasks.

In general terms, reading accuracy of most ammeters is 3%. This means that, when measuring a quantity of 100 amps, the reading could be seen 3 values above or below the measurement. Normally, the accuracy range is indicated by each different manufacturer. This factor should be taken into acoount when purchasing an ammeter.

True RMS

Ammeters equipped with the True RMS guide determine the actual effective value of the current being measured. These systems are more accurate, as they obtain this measurement by levelling the signal. During the measuring process, they adjust the final reading to an effective value according to an average.

These ammeters can measure sinusoidal alternating voltage signals much more accurately than other systems. Models without True RMS function are only useful for measuring non-sinusoidal voltages. Note that currents are not always sinusoidal.

The analog ammeters have become obsolete and have been replaced by the digital ammeter.
(Source: Norasit Kaewsai: 70202695/ 123rf.com)

Operating system

The operation of an ammeter is very simple, just select the parameter you want to measure, place the diodes on the corresponding electrical circuit and take the measurement data directly from the screen. The selector on the handheld device usually has a very simple rotary system, with different selections for the same parameter.

The advantage of these selection systems is that you can use them without taking off your safety gloves. The selector allows the ammeter to be switched off when not in use and some systems have an automatic safety switch. The models that measure with clamps directly from the cable are very practical.

Special features

When buying an ammeter you should take into account certain special functions. If you perform a recurring job, then a data retention function will be very useful. We always recommend that you choose a system with overload protection to prevent short circuits and damage to the systems you are testing.

Models with backlit screens will allow you to work in low light or even in the dark, such as  underneath a house. The tweezer models are ideal for making work easier as they allow you to take readings without having to cut or strip the cables. Switches and buttons for selecting scales and manual or automatic ranges are also very useful.

Summary

Ammeters are the best way to accurately measure the current of an electrical circuit. They offer very precise measurements and readings in a comfortable and safe manner. Thanks to these devices you can easily determine the energy consumption of an electrical appliance or a power outlet. They are frequently used and highly appreciated by professionals such as electricians. There are also many practical uses for these devices in the home.

As you have seen, there are many types of ammeters available on the market. The most sophisticated models have a clamp and perform multiple types of readings, offering orderly information and the possibility of storing the data. By following our recommendations we are confident that you will find a suitable ammeter that will help you with any electrical job you have.

If you liked the article, please leave a comment or share with your friends and family so that they can also buy the best ammeter on the Australian market.

(Source of featured image: akz: 93485124/ 123rf.com)

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