What is an Ammeter?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Ammeters are a type of electronic measuring instrument that are used to evaluate the flow of electric current in a particular circuit. Essentially, one will measure the flow of current in terms of amperes. Various designs allow the device to be used in measuring the amount and rate of current in both small and large electrical devices.

An ammeter is used to detect the flow of a circuit's electric current.
An ammeter is used to detect the flow of a circuit's electric current.

Sometimes referred to as an ampmeter, the ammeter can be used in a number of different fields. The device is handy for measuring the flow of current through the wiring systems of new buildings, ensuring it is up to acceptable local safety codes. Companies that manufacture electrical equipment of just about any kind will make use of this device in testing the products before offering them for sale. Electricians will often make use of one to spot problems with wiring systems in older buildings. In general, the ammeter can be used in just about any situation where it is possible to tap into a circuit and execute a measurement.

Electricians will often make use of an ammeter to spot problems with wiring systems in older buildings.
Electricians will often make use of an ammeter to spot problems with wiring systems in older buildings.

One of the first working ammeters is understood to be the D’Arsonval galvanometer. This form employs the process of magnetic deflection in order to measure the flow of amperes through a given circuit. Constructed with a moving coil design, the device could be attached to a circuit, and as the flow of current into the device takes place, the coil begins to shift within the magnetic field. The degree of shift and movement that the coil undergoes helps to determine the flow of the current.

An ammeter can be configured to measure direct current or alternating current, and there are examples of ones that are capable of measuring both types. In all designs, however, it is important to remember that the device tends to have a relatively low point of resistance. That is, if it is connected to an incompatible source, there is the chance that the device will malfunction, and possible even short circuit. Along with the short circuit, the action could cause permanent damage to the ammeter, as well as present a health hazard for the individual operating the device. For these reasons, it is advised to only allow qualified personnel to operate this tool.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon335784

What are the functions of a voltmeter and ammeter?

jazz09

I remember we used to have digital ammeters at school, but I think you can get analog ammeters as well.

behaviourism

I think my dad knows how to use these, he used to do a lot of fixing things around the house. I know he always warned me when I was a kid about things like working with house wiring without turning off the electricity and things like that; knowing how to use an ammeter would probably also be on his list of useful skills.

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