How to Read an Analog Multimeter

What You'll Need
Analog multimeter
Test circuit

An analog multimeter can be a little more difficult to read than more modern digital meters in the way that the needle can be jumpy and take time and patience to get an accurate result. The concept of a multimeter is that it can read multiple types of electrical movements of input and output on an electrical circuit. Once you know where to connect the device to get the reading that your looking for, the next step is to know what those numbers mean so you can gauge the results properly. below is an explanation of how to read the voltage on a closed circuit using an analog multimeter.

Step 1 - Connect to the Circuit

Connect your analog multimeter to the first resister on your circuit coming from the negative pole, and to the positive pole on the same resister. The trick with voltage meters, is that as long as you have a completed circuit, you should get the same reading regardless of where you connect it. This is because resisters carry the same equal amount of voltage, however if the circuit is broken the voltage meter will read 0 ohm. Once you are connected to the circuit at any given point, preferably the first or last resister on the circuit, you are going to take a reading.

Step 2 - Adjust the Multimeter to Read the Voltage

Once you have the analog multimeter connected to the circuit, flip the reading dial on the meter to voltage or "V". You will see the display shows a reading potential of 0 to full scale, there are meters with any number of ranges for their maximum reading. If you placed an analog meter next to a digital one you will find that analog does not generally exceed 1M ohm maximum reading, unlike the 10M ohm readings that can be achieved with a digital multimeter.

Step 3 - Taking a True Reading of Voltage

Now you are connected to the circuit with the analog multimeter, and should be seeing the needle move into position. You may see the needle moving up and down slightly while monitoring the circuit, which is a true reading of the alternating voltage on your circuit, this is something a digital multimeter can not do. This is the voltage as it is being used by whatever device the circuit is designed to operate. It will fluctuate as the actual device is using the electricity and then pulling more to keep its running cycle clean and even allowing the device to work.

Nearly every analog multimeter has a dial to change the end voltage potential, from 30 volts for example to 0.01 Amps as well. This means the highest reading on the scale will be the maximum, as an example reading at a 30 V setting, your maximum reading will be 30 volts. On this same voltage setting, the half way mark on the display would be a true 15 volts, for a 300 volt setting, the half way mark would represent 150 volts comparatively. Lower voltage readings can be a little more difficult to read without doing the math, and having strong knowledge of voltage measurement.