1451 Electrical Measurements

Electrical measurements can be used to assess the condition of individual items of equipment and to analyze the energy consumption patterns of the entire facility. Troubleshooting and monitoring of individual units can be accomplished with portable wattmeters, multimeters, and power-factor meters. Many of these instruments are available in recording models also for permanent installations for monitoring changes in overall consumption. Safety precautions must be known and carefully observed in the installation and use of all equipment, particularly that involving electricity.


A multimeter is capable of measuring voltage, current, and resistance. These meters come in many ranges. One of the more common types is the clip-on meter capable of measuring 0 to 300 A, 0 to 600 V, and 0 to 1000 Q. This meter typically sells for approximately $50 and is easily carried in a belt holster. It can be used to check many parts of the electrical system and to make electrical checks on motors.

Power-Factor Meter

This meter is used to determine the ratio between the resistive component and the total (resistive and inductive) electric power supplied. It can be used to check the power factor on equipment and to determine whether a power-factor-improvement program is working.

Recording Ammeter

This records the electrical consumption over a prescribed period. Its most important function is to enable someone to determine the magnitude and timing of peak load demand and the magnitude of the underlying base load (the equipment that is on all the time). A recording ammeter can also help determine the effectiveness of an ongoing energy management program. It can be used to assist operating personnel in shifting peak loads and in determining the magnitude and timing of any secondary peaks. Such a meter, installed, costs $200 to $1000 and can provide a payback period of one to two months. Similar meters are available to record watts, volts, and power factor.


A wattmeter is used to determine directly the amount of power used by a piece of equipment or by a facility. It can be used to analyze electrical consumption by enabling maintenance personnel to first determine the total power being used in an area, then find what

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