An LCR meter is used to measure and calibrate passive components in an electrical circuit. These include inductors, capacitors and resistors.
LCR meters are easy to use, even for DIYers and hobbyists. Digital LCR meters are especially easy to operate, and they offer higher precision and accuracy compared to analog LCR meters.
In this quick guide, we explain how to measure inductance with an LCR meter.
Select the Right Settings
Make sure the LCR meter is in an inductance measuring mode. For an analog meter, that’s as simple as turning the dial to the section marked L. For a digital meter, you need to press a button to select inductance.
Note that some digital meters have an automatic measurement function, meaning you don’t need to select a particular mode. The meter will know what you are measuring and show the right measurement on the display.
Another important setting when using an LCR meter is frequency. Selecting a test frequency that’s close to the operating frequency of the inductor provides the most accurate measurement.
A general recommendation is to set a 1kHz frequency when measuring inductors that are below 2mH and 120Hz for inductors above 2H.
Connect the red and black leads to the LCR meter. Most LCR meters have leads with alligator clips at their end. This allows you to clip the leads onto the tiny terminals of an inductor.
Note that inductors do not have polarity, so it does not matter which lead goes on which terminal.
Some inductor leads have sockets instead of clips. You plug the terminals of an inductor into the sockets.
Once you connect the leads to the inductor, you should see a reading appear instantly on the display. Even analog LCR meters have a display.
Most LCR meters have a HOLD button that freezes the reading on the screen even after you disconnect the leads from the inductor.
Others have a save/record function that stores the reading for future reference or transfer to a computer.
And that’s it. That’s how you measure inductance using an LCR meter.
The process for measuring resistance and capacitance is pretty much the same. What will change is the number on the display and the units of measurement (uF for capacitance and Ω for resistance).