How to Test an Outlet for Amps in Use

Written by steven french
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How to Test an Outlet for Amps in Use
Using a clamp meter is much safer than working with bare wires. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

If you are renovating a home or doing electrical upgrades, it can be helpful to know how much power an outlet in your home is using on a regular basis. Testing the amperage of a power outlet used to require exposing bare wires of either the appliance or the power outlet and using a multimeter. However, this is a very unsafe procedure, especially for inexperienced users. Using a clamp meter allows you to test the voltage of a running appliance safely and without risk of electric shock.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clamp meter
  • AC line separator (optional)

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  1. 1

    Plug in all of the appliances that typically run on the outlet you wish to test, then turn the appliances on.

  2. 2

    Turn on the clamp meter and set the meter for the proper voltage for your household.

  3. 3

    Squeeze the clamp meter to open the clamp and slide it over the power cord of the first appliance near the outlet and release the clamp.

  4. 4

    Write down the amp reading on a piece of paper.

  5. 5

    Repeat the reading for each appliance plugged into the outlet, then add the amp readings to get the total amps used for the outlet.

Tips and warnings

  • If an appliance reads as "0" amps turn it off and plug it into an AC line separator, plug the separator into the wall and turn the appliance back on. Use the clamp meter around the separator for an accurate reading.

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