IDEAL 61-744 Review

Editor Rating: 4.4/5

Great Product

IDEAL 61-744 Clamp Meter Review

Reviewed by: Timothy Henderson

Last modified: Oct 19, 2022 @ 6:36 am

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

IDEAL 61-744 Clamp Meter Review Summary

No-frills, yet with sufficient capabilities for the home user — the IDEAL 61-744 Clamp Meter may appeal to the casual DIYer and multimeter novice.

Featuring a non-contact voltage detector, the unit promises reassuring shielding against live wires — crucial for the inexperienced operator. And, with auto-ranging tech selecting the most suitable metrics for testing readouts — you need no prior knowledge of resistance or capacitor ratings.

A low-battery indicator on the relatively compact LCD screen warns against battery drainage — a welcome inclusion to prevent machine failure mid-electrical job. Furthermore, auto-shutoff deactivates the unit when it’s not used for 10 minutes or more — saving valuable cell life.

This machine offers all the expected functions of a consumer-grade clamp meter — able to test voltage, current, continuity, capacitance, and resistance. Data hold allows for effortless recall of your most recent results, while its large jaw width of 1.5 inches permits you to scrutinize large diameter connections.

This electrical tester arrives from IDEAL Industries Inc., a US brand based in Sycamore, Illinois. With a history dating back over a century, it manufactures and retails electric investigating tools for both DIYers and trade users. The 61-744 clamp meter is the entry-level model in its 600-volt multimeter category.

Specifications:

  • Weight – 7.1 ounces
  • Voltage – 600 volts
  • Current – 600 amps
  • Safety Rating – Cat III

Features:

  • Non-contact voltage indicator.
  • Auto-ranging.
  • Data hold.

Pros:

N
Straightforward operation.
N
CAT III safety rating.
N
Includes 3 x AAA batteries.
N
Compact and lightweight.
N
Arrives with a carry case.

Cons:

N
Not TRMS.
N
No MAX/MIN function.
N
Lacks an LCD backlight.
N
Doesn’t have a temperature testing function.
N
Comparatively small readout display.

Features and Benefits of the Ideal 61-744 Clamp-Pro Clamp


The 61-744 has an unpretentious appearance, budget price point, and back-to-basics functionality — but does it still have the versatility to satisfy demanding DIYers and perfectionist pros?

Let’s plunge into the specifics to discover its capabilities.

CAT III Safety Rating


Pleasingly, the IDEAL 61-744 is certified for CAT III applications, permitting the machine to be utilized in three-phase electrical systems — concomitant to factory and industrial environments.

Sure, if you’re a hardcore electrician dealing with utility transformers, it’s insufficient — as high energy situations such as this demand a CAT IV rating. But, for the journeyman contractor and home user, it’s more than adequate.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, and the only CATs you know are purring, four-legged felines — check out my Idiots Guide to CAT Electrical Ratings.

Wide Jaw Opening


Impressively, the IDEAL 61 744 boasts a surprisingly large jaw capacity, being able to tackle cables and conductors up to 1.5 inches wide — one of the most generous dimensions in the handheld multimeter category.

Hence, if the nature of your projects means you’re frequently dealing with diameter-heavy cables — such as steel-reinforced underground wiring — this characteristic may appeal.

Furthermore, their tapered design allows them to function at the opposite end of the size spectrum — permitting them to access confined spaces.

Data Hold


A simple press of the HOLD button locks your current measurement reading into the display for later scrutinizing and logging. Press again, and you’re back into live measurement mode.

While this is undoubtedly useful, it’s bizarre that the IDEAL 61/744 doesn’t also include a MIN/MAX memory function — typically provided as standard in budget machines along with the HOLD system.

LCD Screen


With a 4000 count, the in-built LCD display has sufficient capacity to deliver accurate readings for discerning amateurs and pros. However, that’s where the benefits of this readout end.

Even considering this is a low-price point and compact machine, the screen is surprisingly small — which may be an issue for those people challenged in the visual department. Furthermore, with no backlight feature, it’s tough to read in low and poor light conditions.

Non-Contact Voltage Detector


Around 54 BCE, the clever and ambitious Roman Army had a motto — praemonitus, praemunitus. If your knowledge of Latin is somewhat rusty, it means forewarned is forearmed.

I propose, therefore, that these Italianate Generals would appreciate the non-contact voltage (NCV) detector of the IDEAL 61 744.

An audible sound alerts you to the presence of live wires before making contact — ensuring that you know in advance what you’re dealing with. Just move the jaw tips close to the area of concern — and should a voltage be detected — a warning LED will illuminate while the machine bleeps.

Battery Saving


You seriously want to avoid your clamp meter’s batteries failing mid-project. If this happens, the once safety-protecting NCV feature is rendered useless — making you play Russian Roulette with wires that may or may not be live.

Hence, it’s reassuring to see that the IDEAL Clamp Meter 61 744 incorporates a low-battery indicator on the LCD screen — alerting you to draining power cells. Furthermore, a welcome auto-shutoff system disables the unit if it’s left idle for ten minutes — protecting the batteries against unnecessary energy wastage.

Auto-Ranging


If you’re a multimeter newbie, or have little to no experience of electrical measurement ratings, I suggest you’ll welcome the auto-ranging mode of the IDEAL Multimeter 61-744.

When activated, it automatically utilizes the most suitable range to display the results (tens, hundredths, thousandths, etc.) — making understanding the readout more accurate and useful.

Additionally, if you’re a trade pro who already has a thorough comprehension of resistor, capacitor, and voltage spectrums, the auto-range feature will save you valuable downtime by eliminating the need to fiddle with dials and settings.

Additional Accessories


If you opt to purchase the IDEAL Clamp 61-744 Meter — you don’t just receive the testing machine itself. Included with the unit are:

  • Instruction manual.
  • Testing leads.
  • Soft carrying case.
  • 3 x AAA batteries.

IDEAL 61744 Clamp Meter Specifications


 IDEAL 61-744
Weight7.1 ounces
Jaw Opening1.5 inches
True RMSNo
Display Count4000
Voltage600 Volts AC/DC
Auto Power OffYes - 10 minutes
Low Battery IndicatorYes
AC Current600 Amps
Highest Safety RatingCAT III
Size8.0 x 2.6 x 1.5 inches
Batteries3 x AAA
Maximum Altitude6561.7 feet
Measurement RateTwice per second
Temperature TestingNo
Battery Life400 hours

What Do Users Say About the IDEAL Clamp Multimeter 61-744?


In my view, the 61-744 from IDEAL is a standard budget machine that would suit the casual DIYer or as a backup machine for the trade contractor. Apart from its generous jaw opening, for me, it has nothing that makes this unit stand out.

However, am I being unkindly critical of this clamp meter?

To ensure a completely unbiased IDEAL 61-744 review — I sought the testimonials of owners of this tool to discover exactly how highly users rate this machine.

The feedback was generally positive, with guys praising its easy-on-the-wallet price point, welcoming the non-contact voltage system, and appreciating the auto-ranging system.

However, many owners also were surprised by the lack of MIN/MAX reading feature, disappointed by the non-inclusion of an LCD backlight, and discouraged by the omission of accuracy boosting TRMS (True Root Mean Square) technology.

That said, all owners concurred that the 61-744 was reliable, durable, and straightforward to use.

Alternatives to the IDEAL Clamp 600 V 61-744


If, like some of the owners above, you’re not overly impressed by the IDEAL Clamp NCV 61-744 — don’t go anywhere.

Below are three comparable, but in their own way dissimilar, clamp meters that may better suit your preferences or the demands of your projects.

Should your home projects necessitate temperature testing, the lack of a thermoprobe with the IDEAL 61 744 may be a serious downer. If that’s the case, check out this machine from Extech.

The MA445 clamp meter has a temperature scrutinizing facility that measures heat levels up to a maximum of 1832 degrees Fahrenheit — useful for automotive enthusiasts and HVAC equipment scrutinizers.

  • Lighter on the pocket than the IDEAL model.
  • In-built flashlight, not a feature of the backlight-omitting 61-744.
  • Smaller jaw width — 1.2 inches, compared to the 1.5 inches of the IDEAL.
If you’re concerned that the Klein isn’t designed for use in confined spaces, such as inside car engine bays or between cooling pipes — check out this clamp meter instead.

The Fluke 381 boasts a removable and magnetic display. This permits you to position the LCD screen in the most suitable place for viewing, while you access the narrow and confined areas with the clamp or probes. Transmitting the info wirelessly up to a distance of 30 feet — you can even give the display to a friend or colleague to check the results.

  • Like the CL700, the 381 is rated for CAT IV 600 volts.
  • In contrast to the Klein, the Fluke has no temperature testing feature.
  • Significantly harder on your bank balance than the budget CL 700.
If your work often requires you to operate in poorly illuminated conditions, the lack of an LCD backlight in the IDEAL model could be an issue. That being the case, check out this Klein machine as an alternative.

The CL700 incorporates screen illumination, allowing you to effortlessly operate the tool in dark or dimly lit environments. Furthermore, rated for CAT IV use, it’s more suited to the hardcore pro electrician than the 61-744.

  • More accurate TRMS system, as opposed to the IDEAL’s standard RMS.
  • Rated to 1000 volts, in contrast with the 600 volts of the 61-744.
  • Heat testing — not a feature of the IDEAL clamp meter.

Conclusion


Stripped-back, budget, and functional — but lacking any real spark — the Ideal 61/744 is a solid, DIY-grade clamp meter.

An NCV detector shields against electrocution hazards, while a data hold feature allows you to store your most recent reading. Auto-ranging makes the unit usable by electrical newbies, and its generous jaw width of 1.5 inches permits the examination of thicker cables.

The issue is, it omits many key characteristics that are included as standard on similar budget machines — such as an LCD backlight, TRMS tech, and MIN/MAX function.

So, while unattractive to trade pros or experienced DIYers — if you’re looking for a reasonably priced home-use tester that delivers no more than it promises — check out the IDEAL 61-744 Clamp Meter.

IDEAL Clamp Multimeter 600 Volts 61-744 FAQs

Q: Where Can I Buy the IDEAL Clamp Meter RMS 61-744?

The IDEAL Multimeter 61-744 is a back-to-basics machine with auto-ranging, data hold, and a CAT III certification. If you wish to purchase this machine, you can get hold of the unit here.

Q: Is the IDEAL Clamp Meter 600A 61-744 Made In the USA?

IDEAL Industries is a USA company based in Sycamore, Illinois. Although it has headquarters in both America and the UK — the 61-744 Clamp Meter is manufactured in Taiwan.

Q: Where Can I Find the IDEAL 61-744 Manual?

The official IDEAL Industries website is host to a plethora of user guides and instructions for its electronic tools. For rapid access to the IDEAL 61-744 manual.

Q: What Batteries Does the Clamp Meter 61-744 IDEAL Use?

The 61/744 from IDEAL utilizes three AAA power cells. Pleasingly, these are included with the unit purchase.

Q: Can I Use the IDEAL Clampmeter 61-744 for HVAC Projects?

Not really. As the IDEAL 61 744 lacks a temperature testing feature, it isn’t recommended for HVAC applications.

Q: Is the IDEAL Clamp Multimeter 61-744 a TRMS Machine?

No. The 61-744 from IDEAL is a standard RMS clamp meter.

Q: Can the IDEAL 61—744 Test Voltage?

Yes. The IDEAL Clamp Meter 600 A 61/744 can test voltage, capacitance, resistance, current, and continuity. It cannot, however, test micro amps nor does it possess a temperature scrutinizing system.

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