Analog Multimeter vs Digital???

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Old 12-29-08, 11:52 AM
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Analog Multimeter vs Digital???

I have read online that a Digital Multimeter is far more superior in accuracy than it's counterpart Analog. What advantages does analog have over Digital if any?


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Old 12-29-08, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Chas60 View Post
I have read online that a Digital Multimeter is far more superior in accuracy than it's counterpart Analog. What advantages does analog have over Digital if any?


The problem with digitals most often cited in this forum is phantom voltage. Digital meters are not good at discriminating between inductance or other minute currents, and what many people would consider to be relevant power. On analog this would not even register.

The obvious advantage is that an analog meter can be viewed with peripheral vision. For example a digital meter is most likely going to be bouncing a bit up and down and you can really disregard that, but your brain still has to interpret and round off. On the other hand, with analog, if you know the meter scale, you will know approximate readings peripherally or with just a glance to see that the needle is in the right neighborhood.

There are digital meters that are more accurate than analog, and vice versa. I think the measure of sensitivity was ohms per volt, but in terms of accuracy and precision, you would want to check individual specs. One might think that a digital meter is more accurate, but that would be confusing accuracy and precision.

In other words you can have four digits of precision but if the meter is not accurate to begin with, you would be better off with a more round number. For average household use that precision is meaningless. It might be useful when troubleshooting equipment where you have a service manual and you know the precise expected readings.

I think it's probably gotten to the point now where the good analog meters are less widely available, and since they are a niche, they are more expensive. Cheap digitals are everywhere.
Old 12-29-08, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Chas60 View Post
I have read online that a Digital Multimeter is far more superior in accuracy than it's counterpart Analog.
True, which is great for use in electronics; however as with most things in life there is a trade-off. The trade-off for greater accuracy is that you need to be much more careful in interpreting its results. Improper use of the digital meter can lead to confusing phantom readings when working on home wiring.

What advantages does analog have over Digital if any?
Analog meters place a greater load on the circuit when measuring it which reduces the chance of you seeing a misleading "phantom voltage" reading.

Digital or analog, any multimeter is really more than you need for home wiring. A rather complete testing toolkit needs only a $3 neon bulb tester and a $8 outlet tester (with GFCI).

Old 12-29-08, 03:04 PM
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An analog meter approaching the accuracy of an "average" digital meter would be quite a bit more expensive....because, besides the internal components, you have the meter movement itself to deal with. Also, they are more delicate ( anaolog).

Just become familiar with theconcept of circuit loading and how they differ in that arena;
Old 12-29-08, 04:25 PM
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I like that analog meters quickly show you a reading. Digital meters take a moment to finalize and display a number (maybe only on cheap ones?) If you are measuring a circuit where the voltage is varying, an analog meter is much more responsive.

The displays on a digital meter can be very polarized (viewable only from a narrow angle) and may not have a backlight (difficult to read in low light).

Digital meters require batteries for all functions while analog ones only require them for testing continuity and ohms.

One good thing about digital meters is that they automatically set the voltage range.
Old 04-25-13, 05:35 PM
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Uses of Analogue Multimeters

When I first started my trade the only meters were analogue. If you required great accuracy then you used a differential voltmeter. The cheap digital meters that are available now are not very reliable and can display misleading values. In electronics the only time you really need a digital multimeter is for very accurate readings and this seldom occurs. Being able to glance at an analogue meter for indication is very useful. It makes the servicing of equipment go much faster when you can analise quickly in your head what is going on in the circuit under test. You can check semiconductors quickly with an analogue meter on low & high resistance range you can't check them reliably at all with a digital meter. I know some have diode test test range but it's not reliable. With an analogue meter you can apply low and high voltages to a PN junction to test it thoroughly. Of course you must make sure your multimeter contains 1.5V cells and a 9V battery for the resistance ranges.
Finally our brain is analogue and it makes more sense of seeing analogue readings than digital ones. IE: Its quicker to read analogue readings on a car or aircraft instrument panel than digital ones, also for most people an analogue watch is read quicker than a digital one.
Old 04-25-13, 06:15 PM
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Welcome to the forums, Robbie.

Since the discussion in this thread ended five years ago, I'm guessing the OP has probably resolved his question by now.
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