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Basic Uses of the multimeter

The multimeter is an integral part of any electrician’s working tool.

Without the multimeter, no meaningful troubleshooting task can be carried out. To a professional, using a multimeter may not be a big ask. However, a home owner or an individual who is not technically savvy will need to understand the basic functions of the multimeter before making effective use of the gadget.

Basically, a multimeter is used to measure AC/DC voltage, current, resistance, continuity and for diode checking purposes. Apart from knowing the functionalities of this gadget, it’s wise to understand its safety measures in order to remain safe when working with the multimeter.

This article will provide a detailed explanation of the various uses of the multimeter and some safety measures to make sure you remain safe when troubleshooting electrical appliances with the multimeter.

 

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Uses of the multimeter

Measurement of AC/DC voltage

One of the primary things to do with a multimeter is to measure AC/DC voltage. When choosing a multimeter, it is necessary to select one with higher main voltage rating than traditional multimeters. It should be higher than most household voltage ratings, which is below 10 percent of 230 V. With the right kind of multimeter, you will able to accurately measure the AC/DC voltage of your electrical appliances to detect any issue with the appliance.

Measurement of AC/DC current

The same method of measuring voltage is also applied when measuring current. However, when measuring current it is important to adhere to safety rules. High current can result to electrical hazards which may be escalated by the use of cheap multimeters. This is the reason why you need to select the most ideal multimeter that will provide accurate and safety readings when troubleshooting your appliances.

Never make use of the multimeter above the range it was intended for.

This may lead to frequent cases of electrical hazards.

With the correct use of the multimeter and if the right safety measures are followed, the multimeter will definitely help you solve most of your electrical troubleshooting problems.

Measurement of resistance and continuity

This is another important feature of the multimeter. When measuring resistance between two points, it is done by moving current through the present component being measured. To do this effectively, you need to remove the component from the circuit. Closed circuits usually have a little resistance while open circuits have infinite resistance. All these will be familiar to you if you are an experienced electrician. However, if you are not so tech-savvy, you need to understand their differences to be able to do a better job when using the multimeter. Most multimeters are designed with a beeper which indicates the measurement of the small resistance through an emitted tone. Some are even designed with a visual alert, particularly a red light, to help users correctly detect the signals. When selecting a multimeter, choose a device with a good indicating light and tone that doesn’t delay when giving signals. This is why it is important to opt for a high quality multimeter because your work will be more effective if you are making use of the right piece of equipment.

Diode Checking

There are good multimeters with special features that can enable you perform diode checking on your appliance. This features show the forward voltage drop of the diode. When buying a multimeter, even when you only intend using it for household appliance, it is important to select a product which is diode checking enabled because you never know when you may need such features for your troubleshooting tasks.

Capacitance measurement

There are also some digital multimeters that can equally measure capacitance. But the digital multimeters measure capacitance in different ways than the handheld multimeter. The former makes use of AC signal which is more accurate than computing the voltage rate of change, used by the handheld multimeter. However, this measurement is not accurate when you want to measure capacitors with traits like equivalent series resistance, dissipation factor, leakage or dielectric absorption. In this case, a LCR meter should be pressed into action instead.

Frequency Measurement

Finally, a multimeter is also used for measuring frequency. This can be important if your appliance depends on a steady current and AC voltage for proper performance. You can monitor current or real time voltage with the frequency measurement within a specific pulse width, duty cycle or frequency. However, remember that not every multimeter is designed with this feature. It is always important to see what features the multimeter has before purchasing.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Multimeter

If you are looking to buy a multimeter for your electrical troubleshooting tasks, there are certain key things you need to consider.

You need the right information to ensure that you are getting the smartest deal and the best bargain.

Some crucial elements to bear in mind include the features, ease of use, how to use the multimeter, cost and overall design (whether it’s portable or too large). Some of these considerations are based on what you want to accomplish with the multimeter.

Read on for more information on the things you need to give think about before buying a multimeter.

 

Cost

Obviously, one of the first questions that pops up in your mind when buying a multimeter is, “How much should I pay?” Multimeters vary in terms of brand and price; some are very affordable while some others at the higher end of pricing. But to give you an idea, you can spend anywhere between $50 and $500. Usually, the calibrated multimeters are more expensive than ones that are not calibrated. However, you may need it to be calibrated on a yearly basis to keep it very accurate. This additional expense can quickly outflank the initial cost.

Usually, cheaper models are designed with only basic features and may not have the extended functionality that comes with the more expensive ones. Handheld multimeters are a good example of cheaper options. But it is advisable to buy a high quality product with all the right features if you are a professional. You don’t want your customers to be disappointed with your service due to the use of inaccurate reading material. So, a bench top multimeter is ideal for most professional troubleshooting jobs.

What features are you looking for?

The feature of the multimeter are paramount.

Before you invest, understand what you are looking for to select the multimeter that will best serve that need. If you want a simple functioning meter with just basic features to help you accomplish simple tasks, you can settle for a product with straightforward measuring features.

However, if you are a professional who require a wide range of choices with a multimeter, it is better to settle for a more feature-rich product.

Usually, digital multimeters tend to be more accurate with more measuring features such as current, resistance, DC and AC voltage, capacitance and continuity. Most high quality units come with features which include data acquisitions, removable data storage, adjustable sample rating, auto ranging and DB ratings.

There are varying ways you can use a multimeter just as the name implies. You can use a multimeter on switches, power sources, components, motors and batteries. An auto-ranging feature is another excellent feature that high quality multimeters have. With an auto-ranging feature, you will be able to select different range of voltages since you will be dealing with a very flexible device. It is great for wiring systems and detecting computer malfunctions.

Brands and Quality

The brand of multimeter you buy is also very important.

In most cases, you will find good models made by high quality brands. Good brands want to maintain their standards and they would not want to manufacture products with poor quality design. The best brands of multimeters always maintain high quality control.

So, when you are ready to buy a multimeter, do not neglect to look at the best brands and see what they offer before you make your purchase. Known brands provide superior products that are more efficient and highly accurate for all kinds of electronic troubleshooting. They boast the highest customer ratings and reviews on retail websites such as Amazon.

Before you buy a multimeter, make sure to search for the best brands and settle for the product with the best measuring ability.

Conclusion

There are different options available for you if you are looking for a high quality multimeter to buy.

Before you settle for one, always try to conduct your research and select the product with the highest ratings and reviews on retail websites. Select the meter with the best features based on your needs and the kind of task you want to accomplish.

If you conduct proper research before buying a multimeter, you will be able to select the ideal model that will help you accomplish your task more effectively.

How To Use A Multimeter Effectively

If you want to learn how to use a multimeter effectively, you are certainly in the right place.

A multimeter is a three-in-one electrical measuring device. It measures electric current (amperes), resistance (ohms) and voltage (volts).

Using a multimeter in making various measurements is a simple procedure provided you are conversant with electrical terms and multimeter features. However, using a multimeter to measure voltage is not the same as how you will use it to measure resistance or the current measurement. Each measurement has its specific settings.

Before proceeding with any measurements using your multimeter, ensure that you practice all necessary safety precautions to be on the safe side. Remember you are dealing with electricity which is something that can cost you your life if not properly handled. Look over the battery and ensure it has enough charge. Do not at any point measure resistance with the power on. Also do not conduct measurements above the meters rated voltage.

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Another important thing is to ensure that you know the parts of the meter involved in measurements and the denotations. Familiarize yourself with the leads, the position of the function dial, the connection ports and the different readings for the three functions.

It is better to be safe than sorry.

Voltage measurements

Voltage refers to the electrical potential of a device – that’s the electric pressure in a circuit. Voltage is measured in volts with measurements denoted in V. Also, there are AC voltage and DC voltage where AC refers to alternating current with DC referring to direct current.

Voltage is measured using the voltmeter function. The first step is to switch the multimeter function to the volt setting denoted as ‘V’. Next, locate the test leads and connect them to the multimeter. There are two leads (red and black). Connect the red lead to the terminal labeled VΩ (red input terminal) while the black lead you connect to the common terminal labeled COM. The common terminal connection remains for both the amp and ohm measurements.

Once you have connected the leads correctly, you can now measure voltage. Attach the leads in the following order: the red lead to the terminal with higher potential and the black lead to the terminal with lower potential.

Resistance

Resistance is measured in ohms and denoted as Ω. Resistance refers to the level to which an electric current is opposed through a conductor. To measure resistance, you will first need to disconnect the power and wiring of the circuit you intend to measure. This disconnection is to ensure that you are not exposed to electrical hazards or dangers.

Once this is done, turn the function dial to ohm (Ω) on the multimeter to provide ohms readings. Next connect the red lead to the terminal indicated VΩ and, once again, the black lead to the common terminal (COM). At this point, the screen should be displaying ‘OL’ (meaning overload). Now, to be able to measure the circuits resistance, connect both leads (red and black) to the specific circuit.

With this method, you will be able to get the ohms readings that indicate how much resistance is available in that circuit.

Measuring current

If you measure current, it means that you measure the flow of electricity charge in a circuit. Current measurement is given in amps. It can be very dangerous if attempted when an open circuit is above the rated voltage of the meter. The standard rating is 300mA.

To measure current, you should set the multimeter to the ammeter function labeled A. After this, you connect the test leads to the terminals in a slightly different manner from the ohms and volts measurements. For amp measurement, you connect the red lead to the terminal reading 300mA and the black lead to the common terminal (COM).

After correct connection of the leads to the multimeter, attach the meter to the circuit where you will have to break the circuit open and attach the multimeter in series between the open points to acquire amp readings.

With this simple guideline on how to use a multimeter, you should be able to achieve accurate readings and efficiency with your meter.

With a multimeter, you do not have to carry a separate ammeter, voltmeter and ohmmeter whenever you are going to work. You can perform all the above measurements with a single multimeter only with a difference in the settings.

Make work easier by adding a multimeter to your toolkit.

Where Can You Buy a Multimeter

Are you wondering where you can buy a good and reliable multimeter?

This article focuses on providing options on where to buy a multimeter.

There are two obvious ways of getting the best multimeters: through online stores or local stores. Buying on the Internet is increasingly common.

Online stores

Technology has taken over in most things, shopping included. It is clear that online shopping has become the most used mode of shopping today from clothing, accessories and foodstuffs through to automobiles, stationery, furniture and other tools.

Multimeters are just one of the many products that are found online. You stand a better chance of getting irresistible deals for multimeters online whether it is a digital or analog multimeter you’re looking for. Some of the online stores to check out for multimeters include eBay, Amazon and the manufacturers’ websites.

Navigating through online shopping websites is very easy as they are designed in a way that one command/action leads you to the other. First of all, you will look through the search engines like Google for available online stores or with a specific store in mind you just type in the name of the store – let’s say eBay. Google will give you results with links directing you to the eBay page.

From here, given that what you want to shop for is a multimeter, you will type in the keyword multimeter in the search bar usually at the top of the page. The site will provide you with a list of results consisting of all the available brands and models of multimeters in the store. Again, if you have a specific brand or model of the multimeter in mind that you are looking for, you can type that particular brand name like the keyword, and you will get results from which you can make a choice. With the list of results given, you can therefore make a comparison and choose the ideal one.

Advantages of buying online

  • Online shopping is all about convenience. Provided that you have Internet access, you can shop at any online store from any location. From home, the office, on the bus or anywhere you are. What’s more, you are free to shop any time of the day as they are open 24 hours of the day, seven days a week
  • Variety: this is one thing that is important when shopping for a multimeter because you will need to compare different brands, models and their prices. Online stores provide customers with information on their products. For example, on eBay or Amazon, when you click on a multimeter like Fluke 87V you will find a picture of the product. An outline of features, functions, pros and cons of the product and the price are easily scannable. This helps you in evaluating the product from different perspectives thus ending up choosing a device that suits your needs best
  • User reviews available on products is also something that makes online shopping a worthwhile approach. From the positive and negative product reviews, you can often judge if a device is worth going for or not

Local stores

You can also buy multimeters from the local or physical store. This can be from electrical workshops, tool stores or general stores stocking multimeters. Buying from a local store is advantageous as you can feel the device itself and scrutinize it physically.

Besides, you can test the functionally of a device before making a purchase unlike in online stores where you only rely on information provided on the page. Furthermore, buying from a local store is necessary when time constraints are involved, that is when the immediacy of the multimeter is needed. Online stores usually give a period of delivery which can be days, weeks or even months.

In summary, the question of where to buy a multimeter should be based on how fast or soon you need it, budget and knowledge about multimeters and convenience.

Remember that buying a multimeter online requires that you have a valid payment method. The most commonly used payments methods are PayPal and credit cards. Some stores also provide alternative payments methods for customers.

So, where can you buy a multimeter? I believe the above explanations have given you a good idea where to start…

How To Choose a Multimeter

From the term multi (meaning more than one) we deduce that multimeters are meters/electronic tools with abilities to perform more than one function.

Multimeters are used to test, troubleshoot and fix electrical devices and equipment.

Choosing the ideal, appropriate multimeter requires you to consider various factors and elements. What are some of these factors? What is it that you should look out for when choosing a multimeter?

Continue reading this article to get tips and ideas on how to choose a multimeter.

 

Needs and application

First of all, as a buyer you have to identify why you need a multimeter and the areas you intend to apply its use. Keeping in mind that different multimeters have different abilities, features and functionalities, be clear about why you want a multimeter.

If you intend to use your multimeter in complex applications like commercial buildings or industries then it is advisable to go for an advanced multimeter with highly developed features and functions like the Fluke 87 V. On the other hand, simpler applications like household applications do not require too much in terms of features. In this case, a basic model can work perfectly effectively.

Price and value for money

Price varies with the brand, model and its features. If you want an advanced multimeter then you will pay nothing less than $100. But again, there are the calibrated multimeters that you can calibrate to restore accuracy and efficiency (factory’s settings) after some time. There are also the non-calibrated models that you will have to replace once it loses accuracy. Calibrated models are relatively expensive as you will incur the purchasing cost and also maintenance costs. The non-calibrated models are cheaper.

The choice of either a calibrated one or one that is not calibrated is yours to make. Which model do you want? Are you ready to keep up with the calibrated costs? Once you can answer these questions, then you are ready to choose a multimeter.

Device features

Before choosing a multimeter or any electronic device, it is important to know and understand some of the features it contains. It is also important that you decide whether you want a digital multimeter or an analogue multimeter. Both are functional but a little different. Depending on what you want, understand the features that mean most to you and seek them out.

A good multimeter should be able to measure volts, frequency, resistance, continuity and have a diode checker. A multimeter with auto-ranging provides you with flexibility in terms of voltage settings.

Other features include a screen display (LCD or LED). Advanced models come with a backlit screen feature that allows you to use it even in poorly-lit areas. Some other models have advanced features like low pass filters that prevent unwanted voltages during measurements or data logger which allows for later use of readings by graphical display.

Safety standards

Bearing in mind that meters are used in tandem with electricity, safety should always be uppermost in your mind when choosing a multimeter. However, not all multimeters have safety guarantees. Each one depending on brand and quality comes with its own particular safety protection.

Depending on your area of application, choose a multimeter that is adequately protected so that you don’t fall victim to electric blasts or shocks. Consider things like the energy capacity of circuits and voltage ratings.

Most multimeters span the CAT safety ratings ranging from CAT I to CAT IV. This enables you to evaluate the maximum voltage a multimeter can withstand. Moreover, it is necessary to consider multimeters with third party safety testing; this assures you of how far the manufacturer has gone to ensure that the device is safe for use. To find out if a device has third party safety certification, look at the back of the meter for symbols/logos for certification such as CAT or CE.

Market Brands

Multimeters come in various brands (FLUKE, AMPROBE, ALIGENT, EXTECH, INNOVA). All these are good brands. Fluke is arguably the most trusted in terms of quality.

In conclusion, how to choose a multimeter is quite simple: it all depends on how much time, finance and energy you are willing to dedicate to finding the perfect multimeter for you.