How to Check Voltage With a Meter

Written by tammy moore
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How to Check Voltage With a Meter
Check the voltage of an electrical socket with a meter. (electrical socket image by Mat Hayward from

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.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Multimeter
  • Electrical socket
  • Battery

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    Measure Electrical Socket Voltage

  1. 1

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

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

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

  4. 4

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

    Measure Battery Voltage

  1. 1

    Follow Steps 1 and 2 from Section 1.

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

    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.

Tips and warnings

  • 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.

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