An ammeter is an instrument that measures the electric current within a circuit. Ammeters measure direct electrical current and alternating electrical current. Electrical current is measured in amperes (abbreviated as "amp" or "A").
Ammeters connect in series with the circuit or branch. They contain parallel shunts that transmit most of the electrical current, allowing ammeters to measure strong electrical currents without damage, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Most ammeters offer digital screens.
If an ammeter detects a high current flow, the electric circuit may have an unintentional ground, a short circuit or defective equipment, according to Global Spec. A low current flow may signal high resistance within the circuit.
Never connect an ammeter in parallel to a current. Other instruments, such as voltmeters, connect in parallel, but connecting an ammeter this way will lead to a surge in the electrical current.
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