How to Measure Resistance Using a Digital Multimeter

Written by kim lewis
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How to Measure Resistance Using a Digital Multimeter
Three Resistors (widerstand, resistor image by Sascha Zlatkov from

Resistors are electronic devices whose primary function is to limit the current in circuits. Ordinary ones have two leads and are made from carbon encased in lacquer. Their ability to limit current flow is called resistance, and it is measured in ohms.

Resistors usually have three to four coloured bands across their body. The first three bands indicate their value while the fourth, if present, indicates their accuracy. A digital multimeter may be used to measure the actual value of the resistor.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 100 Ohm Resistor
  • 10k Resistor
  • 1M Resistor
  • Digital Multimeter

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  1. 1

    Switch the multimeter on, and place it on an ohmmeter setting of at least 120 ohms. An ohmmeter setting is normally labelled using the Greek letter omega.

  2. 2

    Take the 100 ohm resistor, which is identified by brown-black-brown stripes on its casing. Place the red probe of the multimeter on one end of the resistor, and the black probe on the other. The direction does not matter.

  3. 3

    Record the reading on the meter. It will read between 80-120 ohms, depending the accuracy of the resistor. It may read 97.1 ohms, for example.

  4. 4

    Place the multimeter on a setting of at least 1k ohm, and measure the 100-ohm resistor again. Notice that the display changes to a decimal setting. For the resistor above, the reading will be 0.0971 kilo-ohms.

  5. 5

    Place the ohmmeter back on the 100 ohm setting. Take the 1k ohm resistor, which is brown-black-red, and measure its resistance by placing a multimeter probe across each lead. Notice the display shows a reading of infinity or OL, which means open loop. This indicates the multimeter is on the wrong resistance setting.

  6. 6

    Place the multimeter on a setting of at least 2k ohm. The display will now present a value between 800 to 1200 ohms.

  7. 7

    Practice measuring the 10k ohm and 1 megaohm resistor by placing the multimeter on different resistor settings. The resistors are identified by the colours brown-black-orange and brown-black-green, respectively.

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