Here in this article, we will discuss how to use a multimeter. This article is mostly about learners who are just new to this technology and have little awareness of using a multimeter. Today, we’ll discuss multimeter’s most common features and calculate current, voltage, resistance, and ways to test its durability.
Suppose you have just bought a multimeter and aren’t too sure what you’re going to do about it yet. So, here we have assembled a helpful guide for you to make sure you get the best out of its different functions. We will also cover some precautions. To keep you safe from getting injured or blowing up your meter. So, you’ll soon know how to use a multimeter like a pro with a little practice on a multimeter.
What is a Multimeter?
A multimeter is a convenient instrument. This tool is used in measuring electrical current. It quantifies energy much like you might use a ruler to calculate the size, a time-measuring stopwatch, or a weight-measuring device. The cool thing is that it can weigh multiple objects like a multi-tool, unlike a ruler, watch, or scale. Many multimeters have a front knob too.
You can find varieties of multimeters consisting of different functionalities and accuracy. A basic multimeter can cost you about $5. This tool measures the three critical values in your circuit: voltage, current, and resistance.
However, the best multimeter for you will depend upon your budget and your intention of using it as a beginner or a professional electrician.
What Does the Multimeters Measure?
Approximately every multimeter is capable of calculating voltage, current, and resistance. Some of them have a continuity check too. That results in a loud beep if two things are electrically connected. It can be helpful if, for instance, you are building a circuit and connecting wires or soldering. However, the beep indicates the connection and that nothing has come loose.
You can also use it to make sure two things are correctly linked or not. To help you from preventing short circuits. Some multimeters do have a feature to test the diode. A diode is like a one-way valve that helps the electricity to flow in one direction. The exact function of the diode check can vary from the multimeter to multimeter.
If you work with a diode and can’t say whether it functions in the circuit, or whether you’re not confident if the diode works correctly, the test function can be really useful. Advanced multimeters can have certain features, such as calculating and defining certain electrical elements, such as transistors or condensers. Since not all multimeters have such functions.
If you choose to use such functions, then you should read the respective manual for your multimeter for further details.
What Is Direct Current(DC) and Alternating Current(AC)?
Direct current (DC) always flows in one direction. Direct current is used by everyday batteries and on your cell phone as well. Different multimeters have different respective symbols for the current. Alternating current (AC) is a current that changes direction, usually many times in one second. The wall outlets in your house provide an alternating current that switches directions 60 times per second (it varies from country to country).
If you want to measure AC in different multimeters, then you have to look for different symbols to measure it. Usually, they are “ACA” and “ACV,” or “A” and “V” with a line (~) next to or above them.
How To Attach The Multimeter In Series Or Parallel Circuits?
When you take measurements, you have to decide how to attach it to your circuit in series or parallel. It varies on what the measures you require. Every part of the circuit has the same current over a sequence. So you must attach the multimeter in series to measure current in a circuit.
Each circuit measurement, in a parallel circuit, has the same voltage. So you must attach your multimeter in parallel to measure the voltage in a circuit. See the multimeter to check the measurements.
What Are The Symbols Used On The Multimeter?
It may confuse you by its symbols on the front of your multimeter. Suppose you don’t see “voltage,” “current,” and “resistance” there. Then, don’t worry. Just remember that the voltage, current, and resistance have units of volts, amps, and ohms, which are represented by V, A, and Ω, respectively. Many multimeters use the abbreviations rather than writing their terms. Maybe your multimeter has any other symbols.
Also, most multimeters use metric prefixes. Metric prefixes function in the same way with electric units as with other units you might be more familiar with, such as distance and mass. Below here are some of the common metric prefixes discussed.
- µ (micro): one-millionth
- m (milli): one-thousandth
- k (kilo): one thousand
- M: (mega): one million
These metric prefixes are also used in volts, amps, and ohms, comparably. Some multimeters are “auto-ranging” while others require that you select the range for your measurement manually. If you need to select the range by yourself, then you should always pick a value that is slightly higher than the value you expect to measure.
Once you’re comfortable with using your multimeter, housing, you must test the value that your multimeter is working correctly before you use it each time. To test it, you have to follow the instructions simply. Test the voltage of a standard power socket that is in good working order.
If your meter is working correctly, then it will read around 120v -230v. The voltage varies from country to country. If you don’t know about the standard voltage for your country. Then you can find it out easily by searching “your standard country voltage.”
This guide will help you know how to use a multimeter efficiently, safely, and make the measurements you need. Remember to take all the precautions necessary when proceeding.