Understanding the different types of multimeters

Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter

The great thing about modern, digital multimeters is that they can be used in so many applications that they are often considered to be some of the most useful tools that one can have at home. However, multimeters are an electrician’s most basic tool, meaning that they are used in professional, industrial environments more often than not and that there are advanced such tools available on the market.

Multimeters can be used for measurements such as:

  • Temperature
  •  Voltage
  •  Current
  •  Resistance
  •  Time and frequency

These categories break down into many more, depending on the electronic device that you are planning to test or troubleshoot.
The two main categories of multimeters are analog and digital and refer to the technology that is used to obtain certain amperage, voltage and current results.

how to use a multimeter

Analog multimeters

Analog multimeters have been used long before digital multimeters even existed. As their name suggests, they do not include electronic parts and work using a moving coil meters and a pointer. There is a coil wound that is placed around a drum. The drum can be found between two permanent magnets. A magnetic field is formed and induced in the coil. A magnetic reaction follows, causing the pointer that is attached to the drum to indicate reading. One of the reasons why some electricians still prefer to use analog multimeters is the fact that they can measure fluctuations in the readings and don’t need electricity in order to work. Also, the required investment is much lower.

Digital multimeters

As opposed to analog multimeters, digital ones need some sort of electricity in order to work, be it provided by a plug or batteries. It has a much more compact shape and usually has an LCD display where the readings are shown. It has a knob and plugs and it usually comes with its own probes. In order for users to measure resistance, for instance, current must flow from a constant current source towards a resistor. Also, the voltage must flow across the resistor, which will be amplified. The result is being displayed on the device’s display. The main advantage of digital multimeters is that it has higher accuracy and speed for both positive and negative values, by comparison to analog ones.

Besides analog and digital multimeters, another category of such tools stands out: the Fluke multimeters. These are also digital tools, yet they differ from the basic ones through the protection that they offer against transient voltage. Such tools can be used to measure current, resistance, continuity, amperage and to test diodes. Another advantage of Fluke multimeters is that they are able to set ranges automatically, without any additional action of the user.

There are many things that one should know about the different categories of multimeters that are available on the market, yet it all starts from this basic information. If you are looking to buy a multimeter for home or professional use, then further research is required in order to find out whether the desired model is suitable for your purposes.