How to Test for 220 Volts With a Digital Multimeter

Written by eri jen
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How to Test for 220 Volts With a Digital Multimeter
Knowing a system's voltage will keep you safe. (electrical danger image by JCVStock from

Throughout the world, many countries have opted to run their electrical systems at 220 volts. Almost all systems run somewhere in the range of 110 to 240 volts, but this is usually due to how each country's electrical industry developed rather than a set decision. While higher voltages are beneficial because they reduce power loss along power lines and wires, it also increases the chance of electrical shock. Understanding electricity and testing for the expected system measurements will ensure performance and minimise safety concerns.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Multimeter
  • Outlet tester

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  1. 1

    Set your multimeter to measure alternating current (AC) voltage. Ensure the wire probes are connected properly and the max voltage setting is greater than 220. Consult the manual if necessary.

    How to Test for 220 Volts With a Digital Multimeter
    digital multimeter (multimeter image by dinostock from
  2. 2

    Apply the ends of the probes to the positive and negative terminals of the power source. For a wall outlet, insert one probe in each hole or touch the probes to each side of the outlet where the electrical wires are attached by screws. For exposed wires, touch one probe to the positive or "hot" wire and one to the negative or ground.

    How to Test for 220 Volts With a Digital Multimeter
    power outlet without a faceplate (electric outlet image by Dawn Williams from
  3. 3

    Read the multimeter's display. If the system is operating properly and you have applied the probes correctly, the meter will read approximately 220.

  4. 4

    Place an outlet tester in the outlet as you would a standard plug. If an exact measurement is not necessary, an outlet tester designed to check for 220 volts can simply be plugged in. This piece of equipment simply lights up if 220 volts are present.

Tips and warnings

  • If the multimeter reads negative, swap the placement of your probes.
  • Live wiring is dangerous. Make sure your testing equipment isn't damaged and that you are insulated from ground to limit the danger of electrical shock.

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