A multimeter, also frequently called a voltmeter, is a test tool used to measure two or more electrical values (principally voltage (volts), current (amps) and resistance (ohms)). It is a standard diagnostic tool for technicians in the electrical/electronic industries such as appliance repair. Multimeters measure the difference in electrical potential between two points on an electric circuit. Different circuits in different appliances require varying amounts of potential difference to maintain the flow of current. Technicians require voltmeters to measure the electric potential in a given appliance. These devices measure electrical potential energy per unit of charge. In other words, the voltmeter will give you a reading of electric potential energy measured in volts. One volt is the energy consumption of one joule per electric charge of one coulomb (1 volt = 1 joule/coulomb).
There are analog and digital voltmeters. In analog voltmeters, a needle points to the number of volts, in proportion to the voltage of the circuit. Digital voltmeters, which our expert technicians recommend, give a more precise reading, displaying the number of volts on a numerical display.
Are Multimeters and Volmeters the Same Thing?
While they have some technical differences, voltmeters and multimeters serve most of the same functions and the words are frequently used interchangeably. Multimeters have a few more capabilities than voltmeters and can be used as a substitute for a voltmeter, while voltmeters cannot be used as a substitute for a multimeter. Multimeters can measure more than just the electrical difference between two points on a circuit like a voltmeter. Multimeters can measure potential difference, resistance, frequency, capacitance, current and more. While voltmeters can measure the resistance of a circuit, they require an ammeter as well. Multimeters can measure resistance without any other devices. Multimeters can also test diodes and transistors. Our expert technicians recommend spending a little more on a multimeter rather than a voltmeter for the convenience of using only one tool to extract all of these readings. Multimeters are pricier because they have more parts and more measuring capabilities.
Check For These Important Features Before You Buy
Digital vs. Analog
Digital multimeters provide clearer and more precise readings. Expert technicians recommend the use of digital multimeters over analog.
Your multimeter should have a check for amp reading functionality. There are two types of multimeters, some have amperage clamps and some do not. Make sure to get one with an amp clamp so that you do not need to purchase or carry around any other devices.
Here are our top three choices for the best multimeters to get in 2020. All of these recommendations are available on Amazon and will be linked in the description.
Fieldpiece SC640 Loaded Clamp Multimeter with Swivel Head and LED Flashlight
Available on Amazon for $221. Click this link to purchase on Amazon.
This test tool is pricier but it works the best and is definitely worth its price. The quality is great and it has all the features you need, including lead storage, a swivel head, test lead holder, heavy duty magnetic strap, jaw flashlight, and a backlight on the dial so you can easily choose the right measurement in poorly lit spaces.
Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter
Available on Amazon for $115. Click this link to purchase on Amazon.
This high-quality clamp meter is perfect for training new technicians. This meter includes True RMS measurements, optimized ergonomics, and large display for efficient troubleshooting. Use it to verify the presence of load current, AC voltage, and continuity of circuits, switches, fuses and contacts.
Klein Tools CL800 Digital Clamp Meter
Available on Amazon for $129. Click this link to purchase on Amazon.
This multimeter is built to withstand a 6.6′ (2m) drop and is touted as “designed from the ground up by electricians for electricians.” With auto-ranging True RMS, low impedance (LoZ) mode, 600 amp, volt and temp measurements, and more with auto-off capabilities, this device is definitely worth the price.
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