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LCR METER

WHAT IS AN LCR METER? An LCR meter (Inductance (l), Capacitance (C), and Resistance (R)) is an instrument used to measure the inductance, capacitance, and resistance of a component, sensor or other device that’s operation depends upon capacitance, inductance or resistance. IET Labs manufactures a wide variety of LCR Meters , Capacitance Meters , and Resistance meters for high resistance and low resistance measurement.

Usually the device under test (DUT) is subjected to an AC voltage source. The meter measures the voltage across and the current through the DUT. From the ratio of these the meter can determine the magnitude of the impedance. The phase angle between the voltage and current is also measured in more advanced instruments; in combination with the impedance, the equivalent capacitance or inductance, and resistance, of the DUT can be calculated and displayed. The meter must assume either a parallel or a

series model for these two elements. An ideal capacitor has no characteristics other than capacitance, but there are no physical ideal capacitors. All real capacitors have a little inductance, a little resistance, and some defects causing inefficiency. These can be seen as inductance or resistance in series with the ideal capacitor or in parallel with it. And so likewise with inductors. Even resistors can have inductance (especially if they are wire wound types) and capacitance as a consequence of the way they are constructed. The most useful assumption, and the one usually adopted, is that LR measurements have the elements in series (as is necessarily the case in an inductor's coil) and that CR measurements have the elements in parallel (as is necessarily the case between a capacitor's 'plates'). Leakage is a special case in capacitors, as the leakage is necessarily across the capacitor plates, that is, in series.

An LCR meter can also be used to measure the inductance variation with respect to the rotor position in permanent magnet machines. (However, care must be taken, as some LCR meters will be damaged by the generated EMF produced by turning the rotor of a permanent- magnet motor; in particular those intended for electronic component measurements.)

Types of LCR Meters

There are a variety of LCR meters from handheld to benchtop. Handheld DMM with capacitance measurement are designed primarily as a DMM but use a DC technique to measure capacitance. The measurement of capacitance is based upon measuring the RC time constant of the DUT and calculating capacitance. Generally meters in this class have an accuracy of +/-

1%.

Handheld LCR meters have the advantage of being lightweight, portable and battery operated.

Benchtop LCR meters generally offer more features than handheld such as programmable frequencies, better measurement accuracy to 0.01%,

computer control and data collect for automated applications. Advanced feature such as DC bias voltage, and DC bias current and sweep capability are common. LCR meters in this category are used for AC calibration of inductance, capacitance and resistance standards, dielectric constant measurements with a variety of dielectric cells , and production testing of components and sensors.

Test Frequency

Electrical components need to be tested at the frequency for which the final product/application will be utilized. An instrument with a wide frequency range and multiple programmable frequencies provides this platform. Common measurement frequencies are 50/60Hz, 120Hz, 1kHz, 100kHz and 1MHz. LCR meters with programmable frequencies provide the most flexibility, in matching frequency of measurement to the frequency the DUT will actually be used at or use in R&D applications where frequency characterization is useful to determine useful frequency range or resonance. Most LCR meters today use an AC test signal over a frequency range of 10 Hz to 2MHz.

Test Voltage

The AC output voltage of most LCR meters can be programmed to select the signal level applied to the DUT. Generally, the programmed level is obtained under an open circuit condition. A source resistance (Rs, internal to the meter) is effectively connected in series with the ac output and there is a voltage drop across this resistor. When a test device is connected, the voltage applied to the device depends on the value of the source resistor (Rs) and the impedance value of the device.

Accuracy/Speed

Classic trade-off. The more accurate your measurement the more time it takes and conversely, the faster your measurement speed the less accurate your measurement. That is why most LCR meters have three measurement speeds: slow, medium and fast. Depending on the device under test, the choice is yours to select accuracy or speed. Averaging and median mode can also help to improve measurement accuracy but increase measurement time. It is also important to look into the accuracy formulas in the manuals as the actual accuracy fo the measurement varies depending upon, frequency, voltage and impedance of the DUT.

Measurement Parameters

Primary parameters L, C and R are not the only electrical criteria in characterizing a passive component and there is more information in the Secondary parameters than simply D and Q. Measurements of conductance (G), susceptance (B), phase angle (q) and ESR can more fully define an electrical component, sensor or material.

=>LCR meter is quite accurate and gives the readings with high precision.

=>The angle between voltage and current can also be calculated if needed.