How to Use a Volt-Ohm Meter to Test Potentiometers

Written by david sandoval
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How to Use a Volt-Ohm Meter to Test Potentiometers
Multimeters can measure voltage, electrical current and resistance. (analogue multimeter image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com)

A potentiometer is a variable electrical resistor. It contains two end terminals and one "wiper" terminal. As the potentiometer wiper moves across the potentiometer, the resistance between the wiper terminal and either of the end terminals either decreases or increases. You can test a potentiometer with either a digital or analogue multimeter.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Potentiometer
  • Digital or analogue multimeter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn on the multimeter, and set the measurement scale to "Resistance" or "Ohms." Attach one of the potentiometer probes to one of the end terminals. Attach the other potentiometer probe to the wiper terminal.

  2. 2

    Turn the potentiometer knob all the way to the left, and note the measurement. Turning the potentiometer knob completely to one side should yield a "zero resistance" measurement. Turn the potentiometer knob all the way to the right, and note the measurement. Turning the knob completely to the other side should yield a "maximum resistance" measurement equal to the "both end terminals" measurement.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the probe from the wiper terminal, and connect the probe to the unoccupied end terminal.

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