Klein CL380 Review

Editor Rating: 4.6/5

Great Product

Klein CL380 Review

Reviewed by: Timothy Henderson

Last modified: Oct 19, 2022 @ 6:32 am

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Klein Tools CL380 Review Summary

Light on the bank balance, yet boasting features typically only seen in pro-grade machines, the DIY-focused Klein Tools CL380 is a worthy clamp meter for the amateur enthusiast.

While its CAT III safety rating makes it unsuitable for hardcore industrial applications, it’s more than sufficient for domestic scenarios. Furthermore, double-insulated and drop-proof from 6.6 feet — it promises reassuring safety combined with durability.

TRMS technology guarantees the most accurate of results — whether you’re investigating current, voltage, capacitance, resistance, or continuity. And, with a heat-test function, you can use this device to explore machine running temperatures, repair CPUs, and troubleshoot car engines.

Clamp meter newbies will welcome the auto-ranging system — allowing novices to use the unit with little-to-no knowledge of circuitry. And, with a low power indicator and auto-shutoff — you’re unlikely to be surprised by draining batteries.

This unit arrives complete with a carry pouch, probe leads, thermocouple, and 3 x AAA batteries. Furthermore, it’s backed by a full manufacturer’s one-year warranty.

The CL380 comes from the Klein Tools brand — a US company with a history dating back over 160 years. This model is the DIY version of the pro-grade CAT IV CL700.

Specifications:

  • Weight – 8.3 ounces
  • Voltage – 600 volts
  • Current – 400 amps
  • Safety Rating – CAT III

Features:

  • Tests temperature.
  • TRMS technology.
  • Reverse contrast display.

Pros:

N
Temperature testing.
N
Auto-ranging.
N
Affordably priced.
N
Memory hold.
N
CAT III rated.

Cons:

N
Display difficult to read in sunlight.
N
Unsuitable for pro-industrial electricians.

Features and Benefits of the Klein CL380 Clamp Meter


Compact and affordable, the Klein Clamp Meter CL380 targets the home DIYer and light contractor. But does this unit possess sufficient spark to separate it from the plethora of multimeters in the flooded market? Time to reveal the facts behind this machine.

Reverse Contrast Display


Wire and circuit testing can take you to some weird and awkwardly lit areas, such as dim illumination in basements and artificial neon lighting in offices. Both of these conditions can make accurate reading of your tester challenging — and mistaking 20 volts for 2.0 volts is a serious mistake.

Hence, it’s pleasing to see that the CL380 Klein incorporates a reverse contrast LCD display — making the 4000 count screen effortlessly readable in a range of environments.

Maximum, Minimum, and Hold Settings


Memory is important. Failing to recall your multimeter reading can be as dangerous as forgetting your wedding anniversary. Furthermore, the issue is exacerbated by circuit testing being a hands-on experience — holding one testing probe in your left hand, the other in your right, and gripping the multimeter in your mouth makes it difficult to write down the current or voltage.

Thankfully, the Klein Tools CL380 boasts a trio of incorporated retention features — minimum and maximum recall to indicate the peaks and troughs of the circuit, and a memory hold to store crucial readings.

Temperature Testing


While measuring heat with a multimeter is crucial for HVAC professionals — it’s still a beneficial feature for the home consumer user.

As an amateur, you probably won’t be investigating the problems with your AC’s condensing unit. However, the ability to check heat levels with a thermocouple probe allows you to troubleshoot your car engine, scrutinize kettle shut-offs, and analyze laptop heat sinks.

The CL380 allows you to check temperatures from -40 to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit — a feature that’s not typically included in DIY-grade machines.

CAT III Safety Rating


Although the CL 380 targets the amateur enthusiast, it possesses a reassuringly robust safety rating. As a CAT III 600-volt machine, not only can you test normal household appliances and wiring — but also three-phase systems typical of industrial environments.

While you may not be planning on offering your DIY electrical skill to local factories — home garages and workshops can often have a three-phase system. If nothing else, and all you’re doing with your clamp meter is fixing Little Jimmy’s remote control car — it provides reassuring protection.

Check out my idiot’s guide to CAT Safety Ratings for more information.

Auto Ranging


If you’re a complete electrical or clamp meter newbie — auto-ranging is crucial. Incorporated in the Klein CL 380 machine, it self-determines the correct testing range for capacitors, diodes, and resistors.

This means you don’t need a degree in electrical engineering just to use the unit. However, if you are circuit-savvy, and have a comprehensive understanding of resistor band coloring, auto-ranging is a useful time-saving element — preventing unnecessary downtime by removing the requirements to reset dials.

TRMS Technology


With TRMS (True Root Mean Square) technology, the CL380 guarantees more accurate circuit testing than standard-DIY grade RMS clamp meters.

By checking for wave frequency variations, instead of just the peaks, it means your projects benefit from the ultimate in precision — crucial if you’re dealing with circuit boards and memory chips. If you want to get down and dirty with the ins and outs of TRMS — check out my What is RMS and TRMS article.

Drop Proof


The design boffins at Klein Tools know that we DIYers can be somewhat rough-and-ready at times. With this in mind, they built the Klein Clamp CL380 Meter to withstand drops up to 6.6 feet — providing reassuring protection and increased durability.

Battery Saving


Your cells failing during circuit testing is the ultimate irony. You’re using your clamp meter to investigate why your wife’s hair straighteners aren’t working — and then your testing machine fails to function.

Thankfully, the Klein Multimeter CL 380 boasts a couple of welcome features to prevent this embarrassing situation. Firstly, a low-battery indicator alerts you to failing power cells — allowing you to replace them before getting deep into your project. Secondly, it incorporates an auto-off function — deactivating the unit when idle for more than five minutes.

And, even more impressive, the CL3 80 arrives complete with three AAA batteries, allowing you to crack on with circuit testing immediately after unboxing your new unit. This is in addition to an included carry pouch, probe test leads, thermocouple, and instruction manual.

Klein Tools Clamp CL380 Specifications


 Klein CL380
Weight8.3 ounces
Jaw Size1.8 inches
Drop Protection6.6 feet
Voltage600 Volts AC/DC
Current400 Amps
Highest Safety RatingCAT III
Size8.66 x 1.61 x 3.03 inches
Batteries3 x AAA
Auto-Power OffYes
Diode TestingYes
Capacitance4000 µF
Resistance40 MΩ
Temperature Range-40 to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit

What Do Users Say About the Klein CL 380 Clamp Meter?


For me, the Klein Tools Multimeter CL 380 is a credible and durable machine that would suit the home DIYer and light contractor, or function as a backup secondary unit for trade pros.

However, as my wife likes to point out, I’m not always right. Hence, to ensure the most accurate review, I sought the opinion of owners of the machine — to reveal exactly how this machine performs in real-life situations.

Pleasingly, the feedback was positive, with users of the CL 380 agreeing with my views. Most commonly praised were the unit’s auto-ranging feature, temperature testing facility, and reassuring CAT III rating.

Sure, there were a couple of DIYers who weren’t completely won over. One guy explained that while the reverse contrast LCD screen was ideal for artificial lighting and permitted viewing from side angles — it was almost unreadable in full sunlight. Another home-improver declared that the tips of the testing probes were too short — making accessing tight spaces challenging.

That said, all owners agree that the CL 380 was a reliable, robust, and precise clamp meter available at a pleasing price point.

Alternatives to the Klein Tools Clamp Meter CL 380


If after reading this Klein CL380 review you’re not convinced it’s the correct clamp meter for you — stick with me. As project and user demands differ, I’ve put together three alternatives below that may better suit your requirements.

If you’re a fan of the Klein Tools brand, but you need a more industrial-grade clamp meter than the CL380 — consider this machine.

Like the CL380, the CL700 incorporates TRMS tech, auto-ranging, and drop protection. However, rated for CAT IV instead of CAT III, it’s suitable for testing high energy connections such as electricity utility meters.

  • Slightly harder on the wallet than the CL380.
  • Higher voltage — 1000 volts as opposed to the 600 volts of the CL380.
  • At 11.8 ounces, it’s three ounces heavier than the CL380.
Should you be looking for an easy-operation machine like the Klein, but consider that the issue with the reverse contrast display in sunlight is a serious problem — take a look at this clamp meter.

As with the CL380, the Fluke has a temperature checking facility and TRMS technology. However, with a standard LCD screen, combined with an adjustable backlight, the unit should be more readable in bright outdoor conditions.

  • Significantly tougher on your bank balance than the Klein.
  • CAT IV rating as opposed to the CAT III of the CL380.
  • Like the Klein, it’s rated to 600 volts.
If you like the min/max and memory hold features of the Klein — but demand even more storage and info feedback — I may have the solution.

The SC680 incorporates wireless tech, communicating via the Job Link app with your cell or tablet. This allows you to review data at a later date, compare multiple readings, and send metrics to colleagues, friends, or customers.

  • Heavier on the credit card than the Klein.
  • Backlight feature, not included on the CL380.
  • Rated to 1000 volts, in contrast with the 600 volts of the Klein.

Conclusion


Precise, robust, and with a safety rating exceeding domestic requirements — the Klein Tools CL 380 is an impressive clamp meter for the discerning DIYer, automotive enthusiast, and hobbyist electrician.

Memory functions provide reliable storage of testing results, while TRMS tech guarantees accuracy. Auto-ranging saves you time messing with dials and negates the requirement for detailed circuitry knowledge — while temperature testing adds an extra dimension to standard electrical work.

Admittedly, it’s not going to connect with everyone. While excellent for DIYers, at CAT III, it’s underrated for the majority of trade pros who will demand an industrial-grade CAT IV unit.

However, for a more than capable machine that delivers a surprising level of versatility, durability, and reliability at a pleasing price point — the Klein Tools CL380 is tough to beat.

Klein Tools Multimeter Clamp CL380 FAQs

Q: What Is the CL380 Price?

The Klein Clamp Meter CL 380 is an affordable DIY machine that features temperature testing, auto-ranging, and TRMS technology. To check out the current cost of the Klein CL380.

Q: Where Can I Find the Klein Tool CL380 Manual?

The official Klein website offers a plethora of manuals for its electrical tool range. For rapid access to the Klein CL380 manual.

Q: What Batteries Does the Klein MultiMeter CL380 Use?

The CL380 from Klein runs off 3 x AAA batteries. Happily, the machine arrives with these power cells, allowing you to operate the machine straight after unboxing.

Q: Does the Klein Clamp Meter CL380 Arrive With A Case?

Yes. The CL 380 includes a soft carry pouch to increase portability and permit safe storage. Additionally, it arrives with testing leads, a thermocouple, and 3 x AAA batteries.

Q: Can the CL380 Measure Temperature?

Yes. Surprisingly for a DIY clamp meter, the CL 380 boasts a temperature testing facility — allowing you to check heat levels from -40 to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit.

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