How to read a multimeter for ohms ranges

Written by kurt schanaman
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How to read a multimeter for ohms ranges
Knowing the position of digits on a multimeter display allows for accurate reading of values. (multimeter image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

A multimeter is an electronics test device which permits measurement of Volts, Current, and Resistance. Resistance is measured in Ohms, Kilohms (thousands of Ohms), and Megohms (millions of Ohms). A multimeter contains a dial that can be set to measure any of these denominations of Ohms, and the device will display the number of Ohms accurately if the dial is set to the correct denomination on the device. Knowing how the digits are displayed on the screen will make it possible to read the exact number of Ohms a measured device contains.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Analyse the item for which resistance is to be measured. If possible, look at an electronic schematic diagram of the unit to determine the total value, in resistance, the component should display when being measured.

  2. 2

    Set the multimeter to measure "200 Ohms" on the dial if the Ohm value of the component is less than 200 ohms. Touch the probes to the component leads (wires), one probe on the wire lead on each side of the component, and look at the display. When set to "Ohms", the digit to the left of the decimal will be whole Ohms. The first digit to the right will be tenths of a whole. If measuring a component with 150 1/2 Ohms, the meter will read 150.5. This would be read as "One Hundred Fifty and one-half Ohms".

  3. 3

    Set the multimeter to the setting "2K" (1 Kilohms) on the dial if the component is between 1,000 Ohms and 2,000 Ohms. The digit to the left of the decimal represents whole thousands of Ohms, while the first digit to the right of the decimal represents hundreds of Ohms. The second digit to the right of the decimal represents tens of Ohms, and the third digit to the right represents single-digit Ohms. For example, if the multimeter reads 1.720 while set to measure thousands of Ohms, this would be read as 1,720 (one thousand, seven hundred and twenty) Ohms.

  4. 4

    Set the multimeter to "20K" (20 thousand Ohms) if the component falls between 2K (two thousand) and 20K (twenty thousand). This will ensure that the digits falling to the left of the decimal will be whole tens of Ohms being displayed. The first digit to the right of the decimal is hundreds of Ohms, and the second digit to the right of the decimal is single Ohms. If the multimeter were to display 12.75 while set to measure up to 20 Kilohms (up to 20 thousand Ohms) then this would be read as: 12,750 Ohms, or twelve-thousand, seven-hundred and fifty Ohms.

  5. 5

    Set the Multimeter to measure up to 200K (200 thousand Ohms) if the component falls between 20,000 Ohms and 200,000 Ohms. The first two digits to the left of the decimal will represent tens of thousands of Ohms, while the third digit to the left of the decimal will represent hundreds of thousands of Ohms. The first digit to the right of the decimal will represent hundreds of Ohms, the second digit to the right of the decimal will represent tens of Ohms, and the third digit to the right will represent single Ohms. Thus, if the meter reads 132.750 then this will mean the component has 132,750 Ohms.

  6. 6

    Set the multimeter to "2M" (2 Million Ohms) if the component falls between 200,000 and 2 Million Ohms. The digit to the left of the decimal will represent millions of Ohms. The first digit to the right of the decimal will represent hundreds of thousands of Ohms. The second digit to the right of the decimal will represent hundreds of Ohms, and the third digit to the right of the decimal will represent tens of Ohms. If the meter reads 1.750 while set to "2M", then this would be read as 1 Million, 750 thousand Ohms.

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