How To Use A Multimeter (5 Step Guide)

Want to know how to use a multimeter? Awesome stuff you are in the right place!

In this ToolGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:

  1. Key multimeter modes
  2. Importance of calibrating meter
  3. Step by Step guide; and 
  4. So Much More
How To Use A Multimeter

Before we carry on and show you how best to use a multimeter. Read the table of contents below. 

What You Need To Know About How To Use A Multimeter

Imagine you are a homeowner who is trying to diagnose a problem with your home's electrical system. You might want to use a multimeter to test for continuity, voltage, resistance, and current.

A multimeter can help troubleshoot a variety of such electrical issues, but you need to know how to use it correctly to get the most accurate and consistent results.

Furthermore, it is important to understand how to interpret the results that you get from your multimeter. If you don't understand what the readings mean, you won't be able to diagnose the problem correctly either way.

Hence why I created this guide to provide you with an in-depth overview on how best to use a multimeter. The tools itself is a bit nuanced and to really appreciate it's full features one must go through the user manual. 

Read More:>>> Top Quality Pocket Multimeters

Understanding and Interpreting Different Multimeter modes

To use a multimeter effectively, it is important to understand the symbols on the meter. Each symbol represents a different function or mode that can be tested with the multimeter.

If you don't understand what each symbol means, you won't be able to use the meter correctly and will likely not get accurate results. Let's take a deeper dive into each of the key respective modes and How to interpret their readings.

Key operating modes of a multimeter


Setting the Multimeter to Volts Mode

To test for voltage with a multimeter, you need to set the multimeter to volts mode.

To do this, press the function button until you see "VOLTS" on the screen, or turn the knob until you have selected the “V” option.

The red lead should be plugged into the port labeled "VΩmA". The black lead should be plugged into the port labeled "COM".

Interpreting Voltage Readings

If you see a voltage reading on your multimeter, it means that there is current flowing through that circuit.

The higher the voltage reading, the more current is flowing through it. You can use this information to help troubleshoot problems with your electrical equipment.

For example, if you have a piece of equipment that is not functioning properly, you can use a multimeter to test its voltage and determine whether or not it is receiving power.

Setting the Multimeter to Current Mode

To test for current with a multimeter, you need to set the multimeter to current mode. To do this, press the function button until you see "CUR" on the screen or turn the dial to the “A” reading.

The black lead should be plugged into the port labeled "COM". The red lead should be plugged into the port labeled "mA".

Read More:>>> Learn how to test an IAC with a multimeter

Interpreting Current Readings

If you see a current reading on your multimeter, it means that there is electricity passing through that circuit. The higher the current reading, the more electricity is passing through it.

You can use this information to help troubleshoot problems with your electrical equipment.

For example, if you have a piece of equipment that is not functioning properly, you can use a multimeter to test its current and determine whether or not it is receiving adequate power.

How to use a multimeter


Setting the Multimeter to Resistance Mode

To test for resistance with a multimeter, you need to set the multimeter to resistance mode.

To do this, press the function button until you see "RES" on the screen or depending on your specific multimeter turn the knob to the “R” or “RES”. The black lead should be plugged into the port labeled "COM".

The red lead should be plugged into the port labeled "Ω".

Interpreting Resistance Readings

If you see a resistance reading on your multimeter, it means that there is resistance present in that circuit. The higher the resistance reading, the more resistance is present in it.

You can use this information to help troubleshoot problems with your electrical equipment.

For example, if you have a piece of equipment that is not functioning properly, you can use a multimeter to test its resistance and determine whether or not it is receiving power.

When you are testing for resistance, you should see a reading on the screen of the multimeter.

The reading should be between 0 and 999999 ohms. If the reading is above 999999 ohms, it means that there is too much resistance present and this could be a problem.

If the reading is below 0 ohms, it means that there is not enough resistance present and this could be dangerous.

Setting the Multimeter to Capacitor Mode

To set the multimeter to capacitor mode, press the function button until you see "CAP" on the screen. The black lead should be plugged into the port labeled "COM". The red lead should be plugged into the port labeled "μF".

Setting the Multimeter to Continuity Mode

To test for continuity with a multimeter, you need to set the multimeter to continuity mode.

To do this, press the function button until you see "CONT" on the screen. The black lead should be plugged into the port labeled "COM". The red lead should be plugged into the port labeled "Ω".

Continuity readings with the beeping sound

If you see a continuity reading on your multimeter and it is within the safe range, you will hear a beeping sound.

This means that the circuit is closed and there is no interruption in the flow of electricity. This can be helpful when you are trying to troubleshoot electrical problems.

How to Use A Multimeter Considering Type and Calibration

When you are using a multimeter, it is important to make sure that it is accurate. The best way to do this is to calibrate it regularly depending on the type of multimeter you have.

You can find instructions on how to calibrate your multimeter in the user manual.

Read More:>>> Find out more about good automotive multimeters

Tips to calibrating multimeter

Make sure your multimeter is set to the correct mode for the parameter you are testing. Unlike other tools, multimeters have a variety of functionalities and it is pivotal to calibrate each one.

If you are not sure what each symbol on the meter means, look it up in the user manual.

Lastly, make sure the meter is calibrated regularly to ensure accuracy.

Understanding the difference between Analog and Digital

When you are learning how to use a multimeter, it is important to be aware of the different types of multimeters that are available.

There are analog multimeters and digital multimeters. Analog multimeters are older and not as accurate as digital multimeters. Digital multimeters are more expensive, but they are more accurate and easier to use.

In all honesty, you would really have to look long and hard to find people still using analog multimeters today. At most almost all multimeters would be digital type.

Step by Step Guide on How to Use A Multimeter

1. Turn on the multimeter by flipping the switch to the "ON" position

To turn on the multimeter, flip the switch to the "ON" position. This will power up the device and you will be able to start taking readings.

2. Select the mode you want to use

There are many different modes that you can use with a multimeter. To select the mode you want to use, press the button on the multimeter that corresponds to the mode you want to use.

For example, to test for continuity, press the button that says "continuity."

3. Connect the multimeter to the circuit you want to test

To take a reading, you will need to connect the multimeter to the circuit you want to test.

To do this, remove the protective cap from the end of the meter lead and insert it into the socket on the multimeter that corresponds to the mode you are using. For example, if you are using the continuity mode, insert the lead into the "continuity" socket.

4. Touch the other end of the lead to the point you want to test

Once the multimeter is connected to the circuit, touch the other end of the lead to the point you want to test. This will complete the circuit and allow the multimeter to take a reading.

5. Read the display on the multimeter

Once the reading is taken, it will be displayed on the screen of the multimeter. Make sure to note what the reading is so you can interpret it later.

6. Turn off the multimeter

When you are finished taking readings, be sure to turn off the multimeter by flipping the switch to the "OFF" position. This will conserve battery life and prevent accidental readings.

Conclusion on How To Use A Multimeter

So there you have it! Those are the basic steps on how to use a multimeter. It may seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, you will be able to take readings like a pro.

Be sure to calibrate your meter regularly and keep an eye out for any warning signs that your equipment might not be working properly. And most importantly, always remember to shut off the meter when you're finished taking readings. Happy troubleshooting!

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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