Multimeter symbols can be confusing, especially if you are new to multimeters. In this guide, I will explain the different multimeter symbols and what they mean. I will also provide examples of how to use each symbol. By the end of this guide, you will be able to read multimeter diagrams like a pro!
A multimeter is an electrical testing device that measures voltage, current, and resistance. Multimeters can also test continuity and test diodes. To use a multimeter, you will need to set the multimeter to the correct mode. You can do this by turning the multimeter knob to the desired mode.
Most Common multimeter symbols and what they mean?
Each multimeter symbol represents a different multimeter function. Some multimeters have more symbols than others. Here are the most common multimeter symbols and their meaning:
Voltages are basically the potential difference between two points. To measure voltage, you will need to connect the multimeter leads to the two points. Basically, there are two types of Voltages AC Voltage (VAC) and DC Voltages (VDC)
AC voltages have a symbol like this wavy line (V~), Almost all of home appliances works on an AC voltage source. For measuring ac voltage, all you have to do is to select the ac voltage setting on your multimeter to check them. If you don't know how to measure Voltage with multimeter then click here!
DC Voltages have a straight line (V–) with three hyphens. All store electrical energy is in the form of DC voltage, in the form of batteries.
The flow of electrons in any circuit is known as current. The SI unit of current is ampere with a symbol of (A). There are two types of current Alternating current (AC) and Direct current (DC). To measure direct current, be conscious or you will end up ruining your circuit as well as the fuse of your multimeter. If you don't know how to measure current with multimeter then click here!
The symbol of DC amperes is (A–), and that of AC amperes is A alphabet with a wavy line(A~).
Resistance is basically used to measure the opposition to the flow of electrons in a circuit. The SI unit of resistance is ohm with a symbol (Ω). If you're using an auto-ranging multimeter then all you have to do is "just rotate the dial to Ω, and you can measure the resistance of any coil or resistor.
Continuity is used to check the presence of a complete path for the flow of electrons. The multimeter beeps if there is continuity between the two points. You can use continuity to test fuses, diodes, and other electronic components. In some multimeters, the option of continuity lies in the same button, but you have to press the select button for this unit shift. The sign will be as shown in the beeper symbol.
Diodes are basically used to allow electrons to flow in one direction only. You can use a multimeter to check if a diode is working or not. The multimeter will show some voltages in one direction only. If the direction is two-way, then it means that the diode is not working (Diodes in circuits can not show proper results, so always check them separately). The sign for diode testing is mentioned below.
Capacitance is used to tell a capacitor's health. You can say it is the capacity of a capacitor to store charge. The SI unit of capacitance is the farad (F). But in multimeters, the unit used to tell capacitance is microfarad. The symbol of capacitance in multimeters is (µF). You also my guide on capacitance measurement with multimeter.
Not all multimeters can measure temperature, but if yours does, then the symbol looks like this (°C) with a degree sign and Celsius written in between. This is the only multimeter symbol that is not written in the SI unit. Some multimeters also has an option of Farenheit (°F).
You can not measure temperature directly; however, an external k-type thermocouple can be used to measure temperature.
The smallest unit used to measure current is milliampere. The unit and symbol of milliampere is (mA). You can use a multimeter to measure small currents. Some multimeters also have an option or sign of microampere (µA).
Just like milliamps, we have millivolts too. But millivolts will always be DC millivolts, not AC. The unit and symbol of millivolts is (mV). You can use a multimeter to measure small voltages with mV options because in smaller electronics, we use millivolts.
Hertz is the frequency unit with a (Hz) symbol. You can use a multimeter to measure the frequency of alternating current (AC). The frequency can be measured in both kilohertz and megahertz. The symbols of both units are (kHz) and (MHz), respectively.
Some multimeters also have a feature to measure the duty cycle, but that is not common. The symbol of the duty cycle is (%).
LoZ mode is a short form of low impedance mode. This mode is used to eliminate ghost voltages. You can use this mode to check if there is any voltage present in a circuit or not. The symbol of low impedance function symbol is LoZ.
Buttons on a multimeter symbols and what they mean?
This is not actually a multimeter symbol, but most digital multimeters have this feature. Data hold is used to hold a reading on the display after you have removed the test leads from the circuit. This is really helpful when you're trying to take a reading in a difficult position.
This is another feature that is mostly found in digital multimeters. This feature is used to automatically set the range of the multimeter. For example, if you're trying to measure 20V, then the multimeter will automatically set the range to 20V.
This feature is used to measure changes in values. For example, if you're trying to measure the change in resistance, then you can use this feature.
This feature is used to measure the maximum and minimum value of reading. This is really helpful when you're trying to find the peak value of reading.
This feature is used to take the average of a reading. This is helpful when you're trying to find the average value of reading.
This button is available at the top of the dial point. you can set the range of measurements you take just by pressing it a few times. Each press will give you a periodic change in the range of relevant selected variables.
Different Parts of Multimeter and their Symbols
Now that you know the different symbols used in a multimeter let's take a look at the different parts of a multimeter and all the symbols. Some multimeters are also equipped with indicator lights to give alerts about wrong lead insertions or NCV modes.
The body of a multimeter is where all the different parts are housed. The body of a multimeter is usually made of plastic or metal. A silicon rubber case is also used to protect the multimeter from damage.
The test leads are used to connect the multimeter to the circuit. The test leads are usually made of copper or aluminum. There are multiple cat ratings starting from CAT I to CAT IV.
You can also buy separate test leads as per your job specifications. For your convenience, we have selected a few test leads for you.
The display is where all the readings are displayed. The display can be either an analog display or a digital display.
The analog display is the most common type of display. The analog display is used to display the readings in a needle format. You can adjust the needle position for calibration with a Knob just at the center bottom of the display.
The digital display is used to display the readings in a numerical format. The digital multimeter screen is usually made of LCD or LED. It may have a seven-segment display or 20,000 counts display depending on the multimeter.
The selection knob is used to select the different functions of the multimeter. The selection knob is usually made of plastic or metal. The most common symbols are also mentioned above.
Multimeter brands may differ but the symbols are almost similar. So, if you don't know about digital multimeter symbols and what they mean then this guide is for you. A multimeter is a very versatile and essential tool for any electrical and electronics enthusiast. It can be used to measure voltage, current, resistance, and frequency. Plus, there are other things also that you can check with multimeters like duty cycle, capacitance, and LoZ mode. Clamp attachment is also available in some multimeters like fluke 87V so that you can measure higher current also.
Most multimeters also have a data hold feature to hold a reading on the display after you have removed the test leads from the circuit. If you're looking for a multimeter, then make sure to check all the features before buying one. If you're struggling in getting the best multimeter as per your needs, then Click here.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.