How to Check Voltage With a Meter

Updated July 20, 2017

Reading the voltage of an electrical socket or battery is an essential skill for any weekend warrior. This important task is quick and easy with a multimeter (a meter that checks voltage, current and resistance). Follow all safety warnings, as your voltage meter is connected to a live current that can cause a shock or spark.

Plug the black test cord into the black socket (labelled "COM") on your meter.

Plug the red test cord into the red socket for voltage (designated by "V" and the Omega symbol) on your meter.

Turn the selector switch to the "V" with a wavy line next to it. This tells your meter that you are testing AC voltage.

Place the red probe tip inside one wall socket opening and the black tip in the other. Read the voltage output.

Follow Steps 1 and 2 from Section 1.

Turn the selector switch to "V" with a straight line beside it. This tells your meter that you are testing DC voltage.

Place the red probe tip against the battery's positive voltage source. Place the black probe tip against the negative source and read the voltage output.


It does not matter which coloured probe goes in each electrical socket opening when checking AC voltage in an outlet.


Use caution when testing voltage and keep the meter away from children. Do not touch one probe tip to the other while connected to a circuit. Doing so may cause a spark, fireball or shock. Check all leads for cracks or wear. A shock may occur if the protective sheath is damaged. Do not use homemade accessories with your meter. Always check with the manufacturer for appropriate replacement parts or accessories.

Things You'll Need

  • Multimeter
  • Electrical socket
  • Battery
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About the Author

Tammy Moore is a writer, crafter, and artist in Austin, Texas. She has worked within the craft and hobby industry for over seven years. Her articles and projects have been published online at and in "Creative TECHniques Magazine." Moore attended the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.