TOOL: FLIR CM174 Imaging 600A AC/DC Clamp Meter With IGM (Infrared Guided Measurement)
Mechanical Hub asked me to test out the FLIR CM174 Clamp Meter with the integrated IR Camera. I was excited yet skeptical to try out a new meter. In my line of electrical work I have my ‘go to’ meters and current clamps that I know every in and out of. These have shared the same long days, weekends, overnights, and holiday emergency calls, so why look at product other than what I’ve carried for years? Well after I familiarized myself with the FLIR CM174, I was impressed by the added functionality that this meter provided.
Let’s be honest, in the electrical world there is voltage and current and you don’t need much of a complex device to tell you what these readings are; however, I didn’t realize what all I was missing without FLIR’s IGM technology (Infrared Guided Measurement). The IR function of this compact meter gave me an advantage and more importantly a safety aspect to my job that was not their previously. Not only can I easily troubleshoot hot spots and imminent failures with this meter, but when going through my procedures to test for ‘zero’ voltage or absence of voltage, I am also able to take a look at the thermal properties of the equipment. The old mentality is that I need to get to work and get this job done as quick as possible, so I only care about voltage – am I going to get shocked or not. Getting hit by a stiff 480V in the morning is not how I like to start my day, but the reality is I’m stuck in a time crunch and the customer is standing behind me tapping his feet because his plant is shut down and costing him big dollars every second it is down. So I hurry up and grab my ‘new’ meter, and as expected, the voltage is zero, but what about the temperature? Do I really have time to check this, and why would I care to even look at this, I have never done this in the past. So I have the meter in my hand and it is only 1 quick click away from telling me the temperature. To my surprise there is a section of the equipment that was extremely hot due to a loose connection. My heart takes off and I get a little clammy thinking about how bad I could have been burnt when I would have grabbed onto the equipment to get this repair completed while trying to get the customer back online.
The silent killer, known as electricity, is not the only silent danger that I should be worried about. I thank the FLIR CM174 for identifying other safety aspects of my job and preventing me from being injured. The safety aspect alone is worth having the meter, but the ability to troubleshoot using the IR functionality of this meter is a huge step above what the industry is used to. At the end of day, the customer has the lights back on and was thoroughly impressed by the equipment not only to solve their problems, but to identify and resolve other pending issues that were not identified before. This customer is now loyal to us and continues to use us for their service needs.