Analog Vs. Digital Multimeter

Written by joan whetzel
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Analog Vs. Digital Multimeter
Digital and analogue multimeters perform many of the same functions but operate differently. (multimeter image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

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.

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Leads

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.

Cost

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

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