If you are in the market to get the best clamp meter for our HVAC services and if you are doing the search rightly, you might have become familiar with Fluke 323 meter till now. Other than HVAC troubleshooting and maintenance, the meter is also the best choice for homeowners who know a thing or two about electrical installations and want to keep the maintenance work in their hands.
So, I assume that you have already heard about the meter. And if you are reading this review, it’s a fair chance that you have already read the raving reviews people have given about this device and you want to know the reason behind this popularity.
Note that there is no one but many reasons that keep the customers loyal. This review will detail these reasons and also the type of customers who should use it.
Why a Device from Fluke?
You are searching the market for a Fluke clamp meter and you don’t know why. You keep forgetting the reason behind your loyalty to the brand or that of your friend who recommended it to you after checking the price tag.
So Fluke is expensive!
Then you call that friend or you consult the advisor that lives within your head to again ask WHY! And they remind you of the additional benefits that come against these extra bucks.
Safe design is the first advantage. The manufacturer does the circuitry properly making the meter safe against shocks from a voltage surge or bad earth.
The second feature is prevention from the explosion. If after selecting resistance mode you use an ordinary (read: cheap) multimeter against a device with 400v 30A, the resulting explosion will not be forgiving. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Fluke’s meters.
These meters work for years or if you are easy on testing and equipment, decades. Even after years of use, you would find it lapsing measuring accuracy.
Because of the high quality of the input stage, the device causes little impact on the circuit you are measuring.
Who Should Use It?
There are three sets of customers who prefer this model of Fluke over other clamp meters. First are those beginners who lie in the learning phase of the electrical DIY niche and want to keep the ordeal safe and shock-proof.
The second sect comprises those professional HVAC workers who use it to speed up their process and not worry much about positioning to get the well-deserved accuracy.
The third are those professional workers who want a spare clamp meter that is travel-friendly. The lightness and compactness that complete this meter also seal the deal for them.
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What does It Offer?
So why should you consider or not consider – this meter for your jobs? There are numerous reasons that you should know.
I know I have detailed how Fluke makes an appropriate partner in electrical works but the influence it has on the overall product demands this second mention.
Fluke, a well-known brand among multimeter and clamp meter producers, ensures the quality of its products. It doesn’t compromise on its quality and reliability.
This brand presents a set of basic clamp meters including Fluke 323, Fluke 324, and Fluke 325 as the most portable solutions for troubleshooting and testing needs of the electrician and HVAC workers. Fluke 323, being a part of this series, upholds the same quality standards and guarantee from the manufacturer.
True RMS Feature
Most electrical works need to test both sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal waveforms. If your work includes both of these waveforms, TRMS (true RMS) meter is your only choice.
Almost every multimeter or clamp meter tests sinusoidal waves accurately. The issue arises when the circuit also gives non-sinusoidal waves on top of sinusoidal ones. For these waveforms, you need a true RMS meter if you want accurate measurements.
Because of this increased accuracy for non-sinusoidal waves, a true RMS meter is generally more accurate than an RMS meter in measuring AC.
The meter allows you to find both AC voltage and DC voltage. You have to select either type of voltage to read it from the conductor. Fluke 323 measures up to 600 volts of AC/DC voltage.
Best for General Testing
Take note that this clamp meter provides basic functions. It seamlessly balances compactness and value for money against functions and variety. Its range for current is just perfect because it goes up to 400A which is enough to test current for most residential electric devices.
Although the 0 to 400A range is good enough for most general purposes, it restricts this meter’s capacity to residential and light commercial settings only.
The device is rated CAT-III 600V and CAT-IV 300V. As we know the CAT-III rating shows that a device is suitable for residential settings especially installations and household devices and the CAT-IV rating targets commercial settings where 300V shows limitation on that to restrict it to light installations only.
In other words, the device is perfectly safe for use for HVAC troubleshooting as well as household work. You may not use it in heavy circuitry in commercial settings. But when you consider it for DIYers, there can be no better choice.
Simple Robust Design
If you haven’t gotten it yet, the selling point of this clamp meter is its compact design. Its exterior is rugged giving it a durable body. The plastic body is automatically resistant against shock and breakage which is not surprising given most Fluke devices use plastic or rubber bodies.
It is a lightweight meter weighing just over 7 ounces. Its weight is the biggest factor that makes it suitable for those professional HVAC workers who want a portable alternative for their heavy meters for quick jobs. The accompanying case makes it even more appealing.
It has the same size as the next clamp meter in this series of Fluke 324. So, it’s simple, slim, and easy to handle.
Its firm grip makes it a simple handy device that you can easily hold and take accurate measurements. It takes less space and can easily place in your bags and your toolbox.
Fluke 323 is a beginner-level standard clamp meter. Everyone can use it easily. It has very basic operations which are well described in the manual and you can easily understand it once you have a look at the clamp meter and its operations.
You can select the electrical element using the knob. It offers you to choose from four options of current, voltage, and resistance for measurement.
Its rugged design is ergonomic. You can hold it without worrying about losing the grip as the plastic exterior offers a firm grip. Because of easy to adjust jaws, you can use it in narrow areas. In short, you can use the meter to measure electrical elements of cable ducts easily.
The jaws open up enough to allow you to test up to 30mm conductors without requiring you to interrupt the circuit.
Large LED Display
The display is large and lets you take the readings without a fuss. However, note that it doesn’t come with a backlight. In other words, if you are using it in dark settings, you will face difficulty in reading the display.
It is a 4000 count display and can display up to 399.9V. You will know the element being measured from the top of the display screen.
The limitation makes this device less portable, after all, you have to carry light as well or restricted in use only use in well-lit areas.
If we look at its efficiency, we might find that it is not the best clamp meter in the market. The refresh rate for the display is not quick enough, for example. But if we balance the efficiency against the price we would pay for this basic clamp meter, we may not have much concern about it.
Data Hold Function
Like most other Fluke clamp meters, this one also offers a data hold function. It allows you to hold the latest reading you took on the meter.
Audible Continuity Sensor
In electrical instruments, continuity testing shows that current flow is complete because of its complete path. This test is essential to detect damages in the connections, conductors, fuses, and other components of the circuit.
If a circuit is closed, the electrician can proceed towards detecting other electrical components. This closed-circuit can be checked with a continuity tester or the continuity testing feature within a clamp meter.
Fluke 323 comes with an audible continuity tester. When it detects no damage on the circuit, it beeps giving a green signal to the electrician to continue testing. If there is no beeping, then there is some issue with the circuit that needs checking.
This is a secondary service from the clamp meter but it’s worth mentioning. Fluke 323 works without much noise thus enhancing efficiency.
Fluke 323 Applications
As we can see from its safety ratings, the device works great for residential and commercial work. Here are a few areas of work that will benefit most from the Fluke 323 clamp meter:
For electrical devices at home, this meter works like charm. It’s safe and gives accurate readings which you can use to determine the problem. It is also not restricted to light devices at home. You can also apply the same meter for troubleshooting the installations done at your house.
Cable Compartment Troubleshooting
The manufacturer has specially designed this meter for cable compartment troubleshooting. With its thin jaws, the meter can get inserted into any tight space and take measurements.
Commercial and residential use
Fluke 323’s CAT-III 600V and CAT-IV 300V ratings show that the device can handle a surge of up to 6kV. Because of this rating, the meter can handle most shocks and faulty mechanisms of light commercial installations.
The meter is a good fit for commercial settings as well. The thin jaws can intrude in narrow areas and read accurate measures. You can rely on it for light commercial installations.
For heavier installations and devices, go for a meter that has a safety rating of CAT-IV 600V or 1000V.
The clamp meter can measure four different electrical elements. It offers measurement of AC amps. The range that this clamp meter offers for measuring alternate current is zero to 400A. It cannot measure direct current amps. For voltage, it can measure both AC and DC voltage. The upper limit of measuring both types of voltage is 600V.
The fourth measure we can get from this meter is that of resistance. Fluke 323 can measure up to 40 ohms.
Note that it’s a basic meter and doesn’t offer temperature measurement.
What is in the box?
If you are ordering this meter from Fluke or Amazon, you will get the following items within the package:
Fluke 323 Clamp meter,
2 AAA batteries,
Carrying case, and
Out of all the included components, a carrying case and test leads take the cake. The carrying case enhances the portability of this meter. You can keep it tucked in the case along with the accessories of batteries and leads so when you are in a hurry to reach a job, you don’t have to look for all the parts.
Test leads make another important component of this package. Not only because of its importance in taking accurate measurements but also because of its price.
The leads are commendable because of the TwistGuard protection they come with. This safety technology extends extra prevention against shocks and wrong measurements. Plus, their use is easy because of their perfect fit.
Note that these leads are compatible across Fluke clamp meters so you can use them on other meters or use their leads on Fluke 323 interchangeably.
The leads however come with a downside. Because of the difficult position of lead ports, these ports are located at the bottom of Fluke 323 giving extra pressure to leads and ports these leads are prone to damage. And once they are damaged, they are pricey to replace!
This meter comes with a two-year warranty, though you may never find yourself using this feature.
The only issue
The meter is good enough for those who know what they are buying and know that their need matches the offered meter.
It is a basic meter that offers voltage, current, and resistance measurements in a small size. It’s great for cable compartment troubleshooting.
The position of its lead ports is the only issue for the user. These ports are located at the bottom making it difficult to attach the leads by taking readings without putting undue pressure on the leads.
You have to be easy on the ports and leads to ensure the longevity of the latter.
If you are looking for a grab-and-go clamp meter that can also fit in tight places, there wouldn’t be better options than Fluke 323.
Apart from portability and size, the meter offers value for money for beginners and those professional electricians who are looking to get a portable meter to keep as a spare.
If you can spend more bucks and are confident in your troubleshooting capabilities, you can also look into other options offered by Fluke. The 320 series is especially fruitful and offers an extensive range not only in terms of features but also compatibility and size.
Also check, Fluke 324 review