Analog Vs. Digital Multimeter

Updated April 17, 2017

Analogue and digital multimeters merge voltmeter, ammeter and ohmmeter operations into one electronic instrument. Both multimeters measure resistance as well as AC and DC voltage and current. Multimeters diagnose the sources of electrical problems, from household to industrial.


Both digital and analogue multimeters use a pair of leads, one red and one black. The red lead is considered positive and should be plugged into the Volt/Ohm/Temp terminal. The negative black lead connects to the common (COMM) terminal.

Rotary Switch

Both multimeters have a rotary switch for setting the AC/DC volt range or AC/DC amp range. Selecting the range establishes decimal placement on multimeters with a digital display and determines which range to use when reading the needle placement on an analogue display.

Analogue vs Digital Display and Function

Analogue multimeter displays have multi-tiered, range number lines and a pivoting needle to indicate voltage, resistance and current. Digital multimeter displays give decimal readouts, which are about 0.5 per cent plus 1 digit more accurate than analogue readings. Besides greater precision, digital multimeters include more features and can measure capacitance, temperature and frequency. Analogue multimeters still work well for most household purposes.


Prices for analogue and digital multimeters vary greatly, with analogue generally costing less than digital.

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About the Author

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.