Monitoring AC Current Draws Over Time with the FLUKE A3001 FC Current Module
In the construction business, having accurate and relevant information can be an important key to success. In the electrical field, knowing accurate information can literally be a life saver.
- Is the voltage in this circuit correct?
- Do I have the right sized capacity in this circuit to support the installed equipment?
- Do I have any excess current flowing in a neutral?
That’s where the Fluke a3001 FC Wireless iFlex AC Current Clamp Kit comes into play. In some cases, an electrician can pull out a multimeter and take a reading. Voltage readings are a great example of this type of measurement. Continuity through a circuit is another easy test.
The introduction of clamp-on current transformers combined with multimeters made it easy to measure instant real-time current readings. What happens if you want to measure current draws over an extended period of time? How do you capture that data?
What I Wanted to Measure
I recently installed a King Electrical ECO KB2407-ECO electric space heater in my workshop. It is a great piece of equipment. ECO rates my heater for 30 amps and I wanted to see how the actual readings compared with 30 amps of current draw. I also wanted to see what the current draw was over a range of time that I set to raise the temperature of my shop from 52 degrees F to 65 degrees F.
In particular, the ECO KB2407-ECO heater has an interesting feature that automatically switches the heating element load from a low range to a high range. I have seen and heard it switch rapidly between these two settings when it is sustaining a steady temperature reading. However, I wanted to see whether, and how, this load switching worked while the heater was working hard to heat up the space.
From experience, I know that the ECO heater can heat my shop at a rate of 1 degree F per minute. To get this data, I had to figure out a way to log amperage readings for approximately 15-minutes, so I used the Fluke a3001 FC Wireless iFlex AC Current Clamp Kit.
FLUKE Provides the Solution
Fortunately, I have access to a set of FLUKE instrumentation that assisted with the data collection. The Fluke a3001 FC Wireless iFlex AC Current Module. This instrument has a loop type current transformer that connects around the hot lead. The instrument reads and logs the data. The following is a picture of the a3001 FC connected to my ECO heater power feed.
You may notice in the picture at the beginning of this review that the meter reads a 28.6 amp current draw.
Fluke a3001 FC Wireless iFlex AC Current Clamp Kit Features
The a3001 FC is a fully functional instrument. Some key features are:
- Range of .5 Amp to 2500 Amp AC voltage
- Resolution of .1 Amp for 0 Amp to 1000 Amp
- 3% accuracy
- LCD Display with backlight
- Log rate/ Interval of 1 sec. minimum / Adjustable by Wireless Connection
- Battery Type – Two AA Alkaline batteries
- Battery Life – 400 hours
- Memory records up to 65,000 readings
- Size – 6.5 in x 2.5 in x 1.4 in
- Weight – 9 0z
Yes, There’s an App For That!
Fluke Connect™ is a mobile app that connects the a3001 FC with other Fluke connected instruments. Fluke Connect™ is available on Android 4.3 and above, Apple 4s iPhones with iOS 8.0 and above. With over 30 connected tools, the Fluke Connect™ mobile app easily stores and shares measurements with your electronic devices or your team. You can log on and see the complete connected suite on the Fluke website, www.fluteconnect.com.
When I did my workshop heater test, I logged the data in the a3001 FC and then downloaded it to an excel spreadsheet for further review and analysis.
Easy to See What’s Going On
The results I wanted were:
- To see how closely the rated 30 amperes and actual amperes corresponded.
- To see how the Low/High automatic switching worked when I set the heater to increase the temperature from 52 degrees to 65 degrees.
I was not disappointed. First, set up the FLUKE a3001 FC with a minimum of effort. The software and apps performed as advertised with no issues. Second, I set the logging interval to 5 second samplings. Finally, I was able to log data and retrieve data to an excel spreadsheet with no issues.
You can see the profile of the performance in the following chart:
- The average current draw the heating cycle was 28.1 amps
- The maximum current draw was 29.2 amps
- The Low/High switching with the electrical contactors did not kick on until the heater had reached 64 degrees. Then I saw the rapid cycling between the two ranges as the heater maintained the desired 65 degrees.
FLUKE has a real winner in their a3001 FC current module. I found no issues with set up and the results were easy to capture and report out with Excel. I can see many applications in the construction industry for this equipment. Remote monitoring with the a3001 FC is about as set-and-forget as it can be.
I am looking forward to using this equipment to monitor and analyze the current draws in many future Toolboxbuzz.com Head-To-Head tool tests. This makes what used to be a complex undertaking much simpler, more accurate and safer.