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Multimeter symbols and what they mean? Guide Of 2024

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!

Before knowing about symbols of multimeter you must understand that there are two types of multimeters, analog and digital. Both meters have same kind of symbols. But as the name says digital multimeters have digital and analogue meters have analog display.

A multimeter is an electrical testing device that measures voltage, current, resistance and almost every electrical value. Even you can also test continuity and test diodes with multimeters. 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:

Voltage:

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)

multimeter symbol for dc voltage

AC Voltage

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. 

AC Voltage symbol

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.

DC Voltage symbol

Millivolt

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.

Voltage measurement example:

To measure voltage using a multimeter, follow these steps:

  • The multimeter dial should be set to the voltage symbol (V).
  • Your multimeter probes should be connected to the circuit or component you want to measure.
  • A red lead is connected to the positive or phase point, and a black lead is connected to the negative or neutral point.
  •  Check the voltage value displayed on the multimeter.
    For instance, let's say you want to measure the voltage across a 9-volt battery. Set the multimeter dial to the voltage symbol (V), connect the probes to the battery terminals, and the multimeter might display a voltage reading of approximately 9.2 volts.

How to use a multimeter to test a 220v outlet?

How to use a multimeter to test a 220v outlet

"If you're new to using a multimeter, you may want to check out our previous blog post on the basics of using a multimeter. In that post, we covered topics such as how to measure voltage, current, and resistance, as well as how to use the different modes and settings on your multimeter. Once you've familiarized yourself with the basics, you'll be ready to take on more advanced tasks like testing diodes, transistors, and other electronic components. 


Current:

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!

AC CURRENT SYMBOL
DC CURRENT SYMBOL

The symbol of DC amperes is  (A–), and that of AC amperes is A alphabet with a wavy line(A~).

Milliamp

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).

Milliamp Symbol on multimeter

Current measurement example:

Measuring current using a multimeter involves the following steps:

  • Set the multimeter dial to the current symbol (A) and select an appropriate range.
  • Make sure to connect the multimeter in series with the load.
  • Break the circuit at the desired point and connect the multimeter in series with the circuit.
  • Read the displayed current value on the multimeter screen.

As an example, consider measuring the current flowing through a resistor. Set the multimeter dial to the current symbol (A) and select a suitable range, such as 0-10 amps. Break the circuit, connect the multimeter in series with the resistor, and the multimeter might display a current reading of approximately 0.5 amps.


Resistance

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.

RESISTANCE SYMBOL ON MULTIMETER

Resistance measurement example:

Follow these steps to measure resistance with a multimeter:

  • Set the multimeter dial to the resistance symbol (Ω).
  • Connect the multimeter probe to the ends of the resistor or component.
  • Read the displayed resistance value on the multimeter screen.

For instance, let's say you want to measure 100-ohm resistor resistance. Set the multimeter dial to the resistance symbol (Ω), connect the probes to the resistor's terminals, and the multimeter might display a resistance reading of approximately 99.8 ohms.


Continuity Test

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.

Continuity Symbol on multimeter

Continuity testing example:

Conducting a continuity test with a multimeter involves the following steps:

  • Set the multimeter dial to the continuity symbol (usually represented by a sound wave or a series of sound waves).
  • Connect the multimeter probes to the two points or ends of the circuit or component you want to test for continuity.
  • Listen for a beep sound or check for a visual indication on the multimeter screen to confirm continuity.

Diode Test

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.

Diode Test Symbol on multimeter

Diode testing example:

Diode testing with a multimeter can be done by following these steps:

  • Set the multimeter dial to the diode symbol or the forward voltage drop symbol (usually represented by an arrow pointing towards a vertical line).
  • Connect the multimeter probes to the diode terminals, ensuring the positive (+) probe is connected to the anode and the negative (-) probe to the cathode.
  • Read the displayed voltage drop value on the multimeter screen.

For instance, let's say you want to test a diode. Set the multimeter dial to the diode symbol or forward voltage drop symbol, connect the probes to the diode terminals, and the multimeter might display a voltage drop reading of approximately 0.7 volts, indicating a forward-biased diode.


Capacitance

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

Read more about Best Multimeter For Capacitor Testing Review

Capacitance Symbol on multimeter

Capacitance measurement example: 

Measuring capacitance using a multimeter involves the following steps:

  • Set the multimeter dial to the capacitance symbol (F) and select an appropriate range.
  • Red probe is connected to positive terminal of capacitor, black probe is connected to negative terminal of capacitor. .
  • Read the displayed capacitance value on the multimeter screen.

Let's consider measuring the capacitance of a 10 microfarad (µF) capacitor. Set the multimeter dial to the capacitance symbol (F), connect the probes to the capacitor's terminals, and the multimeter might display a capacitance reading of approximately 9.8 µF.


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).

Temperature Symbol on multimeter

You can not measure temperature directly; however, an external k-type thermocouple can be used to measure temperature.

Temperature measurement example:

Measuring temperature using a multimeter requires a temperature probe or thermocouple, and the procedure may vary depending on the multimeter model. Consult the multimeter's user manual for specific instructions on temperature measurement.


Frequency

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 (%).

how to set mutlimeter on Frequency mode

LoZ Mode

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.

LoZ Symbol on multimeter

Buttons on a multimeter symbols and what they mean?

Data Hold

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.

Data hold mode on multimeter

Auto-ranging

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.

Relative

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.

MAX/MIN

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.

MixMin function on multimeter

Average

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.

Range button

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.

Range button on multimeter

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. 

Multimeter Body

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. 

Test Leads

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.

Test leads of multimeter

Display

The display is where all the readings are displayed. The display can be either an analog display or a digital display.

Analog 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.

analog display on multimeter

Digital 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. 

Display of multimeter

Selection knob

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.


Ending Up

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 to find 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.


FAQs for multimeter symbols and what they mean

What is AC and DC symbol in a multimeter?

In a multimeter, the AC (alternating current) symbol typically looks like a wavy line (~), while the DC (direct current) symbol is represented by a straight line (-) with dashes above it.

How do I read my multimeter?

To read a multimeter, you need to select the appropriate measurement function (e.g., voltage, current, resistance) using the dial or buttons on the multimeter. Then, connect the test leads to the circuit or component you want to measure. The display on the multimeter will show the value of the selected measurement.

What is M on a multimeter?

The "M" on a multimeter stands for "mega" or "million." It is used as a multiplier to indicate a value in millions. For example, if the multimeter displays "10M" when measuring resistance, it means 10 megaohms or 10 million ohms.

What is the symbol of V in a multimeter?

The symbol of "V" in a multimeter represents voltage. When measuring voltage, you select the voltage function on the multimeter, and the display will show the voltage value in volts.

How do you read voltage?

To read voltage using a multimeter, set the multimeter to the voltage measurement function (V). Ensure the range is appropriate for the voltage you expect to measure. Connect the positive (red) lead to the positive side of the circuit or component and the negative (black) lead to the negative side. The multimeter will display the voltage value.

How do you check continuity?

To check continuity, set the multimeter to the continuity or diode testing mode (represented by a sound wave symbol or diode symbol). Touch the test leads together, and if there is continuity (a complete path), the multimeter will emit a beep or display a value close to zero. When testing a circuit or component, touching the leads across the connection should produce the same result if continuity is present.