How to use a multimeter – expert Guide
If you’re all about getting the biggest kick for your buck, then you should know exactly what to look for when choosing a digital multimeter.
Since there’s quite a lot of misleading info out there, here’s a detailed buying guide on how to go about when choosing a multimeter.
This is the most basic criteria upon which multimeters are categorized. When it comes to making your purchase, it is entirely a matter of personal opinion.
An auto-ranging digital multimeter is the best multimeter to have as it simply does most of the hard work for you. As long as you know what you want to measure, all you have to do is turn the dial to the measuring station then go ahead and take your measurements. It will determine the correct range for you and give you the correct readings.
An alternative to the auto-ranging multimeter is the manual ranging one. These are just as they are called, you'll need to select the range yourself. Whereas some people dislike this type of multimeter, others tend to be more comfortable using it. In either case, provided you get the correct readings, you can settle for whichever you’re comfortable with.
For a first-time user, however, it is best if you go for the auto-ranging multimeters or one that's got both auto and manual ranging. This way, you'll get to master how to use both
First and foremost, regardless of how you intend to be using your multimeter, it is important that it has utmost accuracy.
Starting with the most obvious fact- a multimeter with auto ranging functionality is much more preferable to use an auto-ranging multimeter to be more accurate in the correct range.
True-RMS vs the standard multimeter.
With a true-RMS multimeter, you’ll be getting more accurate results and more so, you can measure both the continuous and non-continuous wave forms for both voltage and current.
For a standard multimeter, you’re never sure about the accuracy hence you should have a look at the error allowance it’s got for the different units of measurements. While doing so, you should also pay close attention to the electrical unit you’ll be using most.
The safety rating is yet another thing to take into account. When it comes to this, there’s both the multimeter protection and your own protection.
For the multimeter, you should check whether or not it’s got a fuse or rather whether or not it’s got overload protection. This way, you should know which limit not to exceed when using your multimeter, the higher the rating of the fuse is, the better of the multimeter is.
The UL certification and the IEC ratings could also guide you on what which multimeter to purchase. The latter simply deems the multimeter ideal for household and automotive maintenance.
For the IEC rating, however, the multimeters are rated differently depending on their application. The scale is from 1 to 4 and the higher it is, the more you can use the multimeter in different applications. The CAT I to CAT III ratings, for instance, allows you to use a multimeter for household application and commercial use whereas a CAT IV multimeter can be used for industrial applications.
Yet another thing to pay close attention to is the build quality. The first thing you should look at is whether or not it is large enough. The larger it is, the easier it will be for you to make out the values displayed.
For the sake of reliability, you should go for one that’s got a high resolution as well as a backlit feature. Remember, the better the display is, the more you’ll be spending on it.
Some multimeters will come with a low battery indicator which lets you know when to have a new pair at hand. Some multimeters will also have the data hold function as well as the maximum/minimum storage function. Depending on how you would like to be using yours, you should go for one that’s got more or less of these features
Build Quality and Design
Finally, it’s important to pay close attention to the build quality and overall construction of your multimeter.
Your first step should be to go for one that has got a rugged design and/or a rubber guard all around it to protect it from damage just in case it is accidentally dropped. The rugged design will prevent wear and tear from daily usage.
A non-slip construction should also be on your list of priorities especially if you’ve got clumsy hands. Depending on where you’ll be using it, you could consider whether or not it is necessary to have a kickstand, a magnetic hanging strip and/or a wrist strap.
With everything you need to know about choosing a digital multimeter, it’s now up to you to go ahead and decide what you’d like to have.
Remember, you should first of all have your list of priorities- there's no need of spending too much on something that you won't be using often. At the same time, ensure that you do not sacrifice other important features such as durability and accuracy for the price.
Looking for the best multimeter? Go ahead and have a look at our reviews of the best in 2019. It will definitely be worthwhile.