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I work in disaster mitigation and when we enter a commercial building making sure we don't overload a circuit is very important to efficient equipment placement. I need a way to check finished outlets and their current amp load. If the outlet cannot be disassembled and I need a quick answer to how much my equipment is drawing from a circuit and if a outlet is on the same circuit what can I use?

I have heard that a circuit analyzer would work but seems like it would have a lot of features I don't really need. I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction in terms of a tool that's sub $100 that could just tell me the current load on an outlet. I know this isn't a complex question, but could think of no one better to ask.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You mean like an inline power meter that plugs into an outlet? Or a clamp on current meter? \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 25 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would want one that plugs into an outlet. I could be wrong but from what id seen from the clamp meters they need to clamp onto the wire itself. Can inline power meters be set and get readings quickly? Most big issue is i need to be able to tests which outlets share and how much load they have quickly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sunspear25
    Mar 25 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clamp meters do need to clamp around the wire itself. The (cheap) inline power meters I have seen just have a display that is always on. I would think your real problem is that cheap inline meters don't account for things like power factor. You never did say what type of equipment or size of outlets. On the other hand, I guess you you really care about current so I guess that isn't a problem after all as long as it can directly output a current reading for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 25 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You need a kill-a-watt. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Mar 25 at 0:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The equipment is stuff like 10 amp draw dehumidifiers or 1.8-4 amp draw fans. Usually we use 20 amp or 15 circuits in most commercial offices or residential homes \$\endgroup\$
    – Sunspear25
    Mar 25 at 1:37

2 Answers 2

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An inline meter (like a kill-a-watt) can tell you what your equipment is drawing but if you want to see what the other equipment on the circuit is drawing, you'll probably need a clamp-on meter at the breaker panel to account for all the other outlets and any hardwired stuff.

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You can use a clamp-on meter without needing to get to the wires. You need something called a line splitter. It plugs into an outlet, then you plug your load into it. It separates the conductors so you can clamp the meter on.

There are different types with different features so do a bit of research if you plan to buy one.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Will a clamp meter and a splitter work with 20 amp circuits? It mentioned 15 amp max on those so i wasnt sure if it would work for commercial circuits which usually seem to be about 20 amp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sunspear25
    Mar 25 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sunspear25 Honestly, you could make your own with some wire and a male plug and a female plug. It's just AC power cords tend to bundle the hot and neutral in a single sheath but for the clamp meter to work you need to clamp it around only the hot, or only the neutral. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 25 at 4:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sunspear25 Like I said, do a bit of research, there should be ones that handle different currents, the one I linked is just an example. \$\endgroup\$
    – GodJihyo
    Mar 25 at 10:43

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