How to Use a Multimeter

How to use a Multimeter

So, you've got a multimeter but don't know how to use it. While you can surely learn about it, know that it may not be an easy task. Learning how to use a multimeter requires patience and enough knowledge about the device.

Now, how do you really operate this device? Is it solely for professional use or can a non-pro like you handle it well? To answer these questions, you should take time to learn the basics of a multimeter first.

What is a multimeter? What are its parts? How do you use it? Read on and feed your mind with useful information.

Multimeter Defined

A multimeter is an electronic device that tests and measures multiple things. It assumes the roles of various other devices in one unit. Among the things it tests are voltage, current, and resistance.

You can likewise use a multimeter in repairing and troubleshooting tasks. It can detect problems and tell where they come from. Among a multimeter's components are capacitors, diodes, and transistors.

Generally, a multimeter is not really pricey. But if you want the best model with far better features, you will need to spend a quite big amount. Doing so can give you your money's worth should you pick the most feature-filled item.

Elements of a Multimeter

The device comes in three parts: display, ports, selection knob


This is where a user sees the reading after performing some measurements. Some multimeters come with illuminated displays, which helps a lot in viewing especially in dark or low-light areas or situations.

Normally, the display has four digits. It also has the capacity to show a negative sign.

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Ports are where probes get plugged into. Basically, there are two probes: the black probe and the red probe. The former connects to the ground most of the time

Basically, probes are cables used for connection. They come in the following types:

Banana to Tweezers:  handy especially when you need to test SMD components

Banana to IC Hook: effectively works on legs of ICs and smaller ICs

Banana to Alligator Chipsets: great cables that are beneficial in doing long-term tests; does not require users to hold probes in place as they manipulate a circuit

Banana to Test Probes: cheap and can easily replace broken probes

Selection knob

A selection knob is important especially during the times when a user needs to read different things. Should you need to read voltage, resistance, and milliamps, you would need to move the selection knob to be able to do the desired reading.

How to use a Multimeter

Let us now discuss how a multimeter works. From there, you will gradually learn how to use the device.

First off, a multimeter comes with black and red leads. When doing some testing, you should attach the leads to the portion of the circuit you're trying to test. Afterwards, you will be able to see the results provided by a digital readout.

If you wish to test various things, you will need to move the knob to set the test and perform it. Meanwhile, some multimeters come with an auto-ranging feature. It apparently provides more convenience to users, for it saves them from the hassle of range setting.

Testing Resistance and Voltage

We will focus on these two because they are the common things that a multimeter tests.

For reading resistance:

  1.         Make sure to clip your test leads on your resistor leads.
  2.         Dial the device to a range where you think the resistor suits.
  3.         Make sure to read the given value.
  4.         For measuring voltage:
  5.         Connect the red lead to the battery's positive side.
  6.         Connect the black lead to the battery's negative side.
  7.         Set the dial to your expected voltage range.
  8.         Check the voltage by touching the red lead to one of the battery pack             outputs and the black lead to the other.
  9.         Meanwhile, you should check the voltage between +V bus and a                      ground bus when a circuit does not work. Here is how to do it:
  10.         Remove the ends of a three-inch piece of 22 gauge wire.
  11.         Clip each wire's ends to your test leads.
  12.         Put the end of the wire attached to your red lead to a contact on the              +V bus.
  13.         Put the end of the wire attached to your black lead to a contact on the            ground bus.

Please take note that getting a reading close to zero might be an effect of poorly connected wires from the battery pack. It pays to check it from time and again.

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Analogue Vs. Digital

Needless to say, both analogue and digital multimeters serve as great tools for testing and measuring. But these days, digital multimeters are becoming more popular. This is apparently due to the modern times ruled by advanced technology.

Generally speaking, a digital multimeter is more accurate compared to its analogue counterpart. This is the main reason why the demand for analogue multimeters gradually declined.

However, digital multimeters are more costly than analogue multimeters. For this, the former did not fully beat the latter. Not to mention the fact that analogue multimeters can still function well despite being less accurate compared to digital ones.

But as time went by, new features came out in the market. Digital multimeters have become more advanced and capable of offering more advantages to its users.

In the midst of so many advancements, analogue multimeters continued to do what they are supposed to do. They became the perfect choice for people who only need to do some measurements. But for those who want to perform tasks outside measuring, the digital units were the better choice.

In hindsight, it is the user who will define the better option. This is amidst the fact that digital multimeters are generally better in terms of function and features.


By now, it may be safe to assume that you already have an idea on how to use a multimeter. Indeed, everything starts with learning some basic facts and steps. Once you start to learn about the nature of a device, you become ready for further knowledge and real-life applications.

If you have any other questions or worries please contact us, or if you have any comments or improvements please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

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