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What do the symbols mean on a multimeter

Unsure what a multimeter is or what you are able to do with one? Then you definately’re in the best place! Beneath is an outline of what multimeters are and what they’re helpful for. To learn to use a multimeter, to seek out multimeter utilization concepts, or to seek out labeled images of varied multimeter fashions, click on on the opposite tabs (above) on this multimeter tutorial.

This part contains solutions to the next questions:

See more: What do the symbols mean on a multimeter

  • What’s a multimeter?
  • What can multimeters measure?
  • What are voltage, present, and resistance?
  • What are direct present (DC) and alternating present (AC)?
  • What are sequence and parallel circuits?
  • What do all of the symbols on the entrance of the multimeter imply?
  • What are the pink and black wires (probes)? The place do I plug them in?

What’s a multimeter?

A multimeter is a helpful software that you simply use to measure electrical energy, similar to you’d use a ruler to measure distance, a stopwatch to measure time, or a scale to measure weight. The neat factor a couple of multimeter is that not like a ruler, watch, or scale, it could measure various things — type of like a multi-tool. Most multimeters have a knob on the entrance that lets you choose what you need to measure. Beneath is an image of a typical multimeter. There are a lot of totally different multimeter fashions; go to the multimeter gallery for labeled footage of further fashions.

What can multimeters measure?

Nearly all multimeters can measure voltage, present, and resistance. See the following part for a proof of what these phrases imply, and click on on the Utilizing a Multimeter tab, above, for directions on the right way to make these measurements.

Some multimeters have a continuity test, leading to a loud beep if two issues are electrically linked. That is useful if, as an example, you might be constructing a circuit and connecting wires or soldering; the beep signifies every little thing is linked and nothing has come free. You too can use it to verify two issues are not linked, to assist stop brief circuits.

Some multimeters even have a diode test perform. A diode is sort of a one-way valve that solely lets electrical energy movement in a single course. The precise perform of the diode test can range from multimeter to multimeter. Should you’re working with a diode and might’t inform which approach it goes within the circuit, or in the event you’re unsure the diode is working correctly, the test function will be fairly helpful. In case your multimeter has a diode test perform, learn the handbook to seek out out precisely the way it works.

Superior multimeters might need different capabilities, corresponding to the power to measure and determine different electrical elements, like transistors or capacitors. Since not all multimeters have these options, we won’t cowl them on this tutorial. You may learn your multimeter’s handbook if you must use these options.

What are voltage, present, and resistance?

If you have not heard of those phrases earlier than, we’ll give a quite simple introductory rationalization right here. You may learn extra about voltage, present, and resistance within the References tab, above. Do not forget that voltage, present, and resistance are measurable portions which are every measured in a unit that has a image, similar to distance is a amount that may be measured in meters, and the image for meters is m.

  • Voltage is how onerous electrical energy is being “pushed” by way of a circuit. A better voltage means the electrical energy is being pushed more durable. Voltage is measured in volts. The image for volts is V.
  • Present is how a lot electrical energy is flowing by way of the circuit. A better present means extra electrical energy is flowing. Present is measured in amperes. The image for amperes is A.
  • Resistance is how troublesome it’s for electrical energy to movement by way of one thing. A better resistance means it’s harder for electrical energy to movement. Resistance is measured in ohms. The image for ohms is Ω (the capital Greek letter omega).

A easy analogy to raised perceive voltage, present, and resistance: think about water flowing by way of a pipe. The quantity of water flowing by way of the pipe is like present. Extra water movement means extra present. The quantity of strain making the water movement is like voltage; a better strain will “push” the water more durable, rising the movement. Resistance is like an obstruction within the pipe. For example, a pipe that’s clogged with particles or objects shall be more durable for water to movement by way of, and can have a better resistance than a pipe that is freed from obstruction.

What are direct present (DC) and alternating present (AC)?

Direct present (abbreviated DC) is present that all the time flows in a single course. Direct present is provided by on a regular basis batteries—like AA and AAA batteries—or the one in your cellular phone. Many of the Science Buddies initiatives you do will in all probability contain measuring direct present. Completely different multimeters have totally different symbols for measuring direct present (and the corresponding voltage), often “DCA” and “DCV,” or “A” and “V” with a straight bar above or subsequent to them. See “What do all of the symbols on the entrance of the multimeter imply?” for extra details about the abbreviations and symbols on multimeters.

Alternating present (abbreviated AC) is present that modifications course, often many instances in a single second. The wall retailers in your home present alternating present that switches instructions 60 instances per second (within the U.S., however 50 instances per second in different nations). (Warning: Don’t use a multimeter to measure the wall retailers in your house. That is very harmful.) If you must measure alternating present in a circuit, totally different multimeters have totally different symbols to measure it (and the corresponding voltage), often “ACA” and “ACV,” or “A” and “V” with a squiggly line (~) subsequent to or above them.

What are sequence and parallel circuits?

Once you take measurements with a multimeter, you’ll need to determine whether or not to connect it to your circuit in sequence or in parallel, relying on what you need to measure. In a sequence circuit, every circuit component has the identical present. So, to measure present in a circuit, you have to connect the multimeter in sequence. In a parallel circuit, every circuit measurement has the identical voltage. So, to measure voltage in a circuit, you have to connect your multimeter in parallel. To learn to take these measurements, see the Utilizing a Multimeter tab.

Determine 2 exhibits primary sequence and parallel circuits, and not using a multimeter linked. To be taught extra about voltage, present, and resistance in sequence and parallel circuits, try the References tab.

What do all of the symbols on the entrance of the multimeter imply?

You may be confused by all of the symbols on the entrance of your multimeter, particularly in the event you do not truly see phrases like “voltage,” “present,” and “resistance” spelled out anyplace. Don’t be concerned! Keep in mind from the “What are voltage, present, and resistance?” part that voltage, present, and resistance have models of volts, amps, and ohms, that are represented by V, A, and Ω respectively. Most multimeters use these abbreviations as a substitute of spelling out phrases. Your multimeter might need another symbols, which we’ll talk about under.

Most multimeters additionally use metric prefixes. Metric prefixes work the identical approach with models of electrical energy as they do with different models you may be extra conversant in, like distance and mass. For instance, you in all probability know {that a} meter is a unit of distance, a kilometer is one thousand meters, and a millimeter is one thousandth of a meter. The identical applies to milligrams, grams, and kilograms for mass. Listed here are the widespread metric prefixes you can see on most multimeters (for a whole record, see the References tab):

  • µ (micro): one millionth
  • m (milli): one thousandth
  • okay (kilo): one thousand
  • M: (mega): a million

These metric prefixes are utilized in the identical approach for volts, amps, and ohms. For instance, 200kΩ is pronounced “200 kilo-ohms,” and means 200 thousand (200,000) ohms.

Some multimeters are “auto-ranging,” whereas others require you to manually choose the vary to your measurement. If you must manually choose the vary, it’s best to all the time decide a worth that’s barely greater than the worth you anticipate to measure. Give it some thought like utilizing a ruler and a yardstick. If you must measure one thing that’s 18 inches lengthy, a 12-inch ruler shall be too brief; you must use the yardstick. The identical applies to utilizing a multimeter. Say you’ll measure the voltage of a AA battery, which you anticipate to be 1.5V. The multimeter on the left in Determine 3 has choices for 200mV, 2V, 20V, 200V, and 600V (for direct present). 200mV is simply too small, so you’d decide the following highest worth that works: 2V. The entire different choices are unnecessarily giant, and would lead to a loss in accuracy (it could be like utilizing a 50-foot tape measure that solely has markings each foot, and no inch markings; it is not as correct as utilizing a yardstick with 1-inch markings).

What do the opposite symbols on the multimeter imply?

You might need seen another symbols in addition to V, A, Ω, and metric prefixes on the entrance of your multimeter. We’ll clarify a few of these symbols right here, however keep in mind, all multimeters are totally different, so we can’t cowl each attainable possibility on this tutorial. Verify your multimeter’s handbook in the event you nonetheless cannot work out what one of many symbols means. You too can browse our multimeter gallery to see labeled footage of various multimeters.

What are the pink and black wires (probes)? The place do I plug them in?

Your multimeter in all probability got here with pink and black wires that look one thing like those in Determine 4. These wires are known as probes or leads (pronounced “leeds”). One finish of the lead known as a banana jack; this finish plugs into your multimeter (Notice: some multimeters have pin jacks, that are smaller than banana jacks; if you must purchase alternative probes, make sure to test your multimeter’s handbook to seek out out which sort you want). The opposite finish known as the probe tip; that is the top you employ to check your circuit. Following commonplace electronics conference, the pink probe is used for optimistic, and the black probe is used for unfavourable.

Though they arrive with two probes, many multimeters have extra than two locations during which to plug the probes, which might trigger some confusion. Precisely the place you plug the probes in will rely upon what you need to measure (voltage, present, resistance, continuity check, or diode check) and the kind of multimeter you’ve got. We’ve supplied one instance within the pictures under—and you’ll test our gallery for a multimeter much like yours—however since all multimeters are barely totally different, you may have to seek the advice of the handbook to your multimeter.

Most multimeters (apart from very cheap ones) have fuses to guard them from an excessive amount of present. Fuses “burn out” if an excessive amount of present flows by way of them; this stops electrical energy from flowing, and prevents harm to the remainder of the multimeter. Some multimeters have totally different fuses, relying on whether or not you can be measuring excessive or low present, which determines the place you plug the probes in. For instance, the multimeter proven in Determine 5 has one fuse for 10 amps (10A) and one fuse for 200 milliamps (200mA).

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