A multimeter is a fantastically versatile tool that can be used for a wide range of jobs around the home. We would say they are one of the tools that most homeowners should have, as they are relatively cheap to purchase but can be used in many different situations depending on the job that you are completing.
But many homeowners are still to purchase a multimeter – possibly because they are unsure of what exactly they can be used for. This is why we are here to help! We have used this article to explain exactly what a multimeter is, and what it can be used for around your home!
What is a Multimeter?
A multimeter (sometimes known as a volt-ohm meter) is a tester used to measure electrical current (or voltage), resistance and many other values. Multimeters are often handheld tools which means that can be easily moved around to different jobs that you are hoping to complete. They are also incredibly easy to use and will be able to make simple tests as well as providing you with more complex electrical information depending on the job that you are hoping to complete.
Keep reading for the many reasons why you should have a multimeter in your home!
Top Uses For A Multimeter
There are multiple reasons why you may need a multimeter. It goes without saying that they are an obvious choice of tool for an electrician, due to the easy way that they can measure the amperage coming from different items, but there is so much more than this that they can do…
- Measuring AC/DC voltage and current – This may not seem necessary for homeowners, but if you can test this voltage and current then you will be able to find out if your appliances are working correctly. Not only could this save you time and money if there appears to be a fault but also will help you provide accurate and detailed information to anyone repairing the appliance, which could avoid costs being added to an invoice!
- Measuring resistance and continuity – A multimeter will be able to check the resistance on a circuit, which could help you to get to the bottom of a fault that you may be having with the electrics in your home.
- See if a battery pack is fully charged – This one is rather self explanatory, but this quick check will save you from a lot of frustration if you find that you’re ready to complete a job but without a charged battery to get the job done! This is the same for smaller batteries such as AA or AAA (finally time to clean out that drawer with and endless mix of working and dead batteries!).
- Frequency Measurement – There are many electrical circuits around many households that will drop and increase voltage without you even realising! This can sometimes be by such a small amount that you would be totally oblivious to it happening. However, your appliances and tools that rely on this steady current will know! Using the multimeter for a frequency measurement will help you to make sure that a steady flow of voltage is being provided to whatever appliance/tool you are using.
- Checking (some) light bulbs – Unsure as to whether you need a new bulb or whether it is the fitting that is playing up? A multimeter can solve this for you. That way you don’t have to waste time going to purchase new bulbs to find that it is actually an electrician that you need!
- Testing for faulty fuses, light switches, plug sockets, etc. – Your multimeter will be able to check whether there is any voltage coming to these parts in the electrical circuit and you will then be able to check if they are blocking or continuing the circuit (i.e not working or working!). This will help you to narrow down the problem to something as simple as a new switch, or if the problem is more complex than that.
- Diode Checking – This isn’t the case for all multimeters but some will complete diode checking. This basically checks the forward voltage/amperage drop of the diode.
Some Additional Uses for Multimeter
Their uses are almost endless…..
- Temperature and environmental tasks
- Internal temperature
- DC average measuremets
- Fast frequency
- Time measurements
- RMS AC current measurements
- Testing your car battery
- Testing for corrosion on car batteries or other appliances
As you can see there are many uses for a multimeter! Considering the small expense of these tools, and how handy and easy they are to use, they really can save you a massive amount of time and money. So before you rush to get an electrician out – check that you need one first by using a multimeter!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are multimeters safe to use?
Yes – providing they are used correctly. Multimeters are very safe tools, but if you are using them to test a faulty electrical current then make sure to choose one that is much more powerful than the actual voltage rating to make sure that if there is a fault and the current-voltage is higher than it should be, no accidents or damage occurs.
What is a DMM?
A DMM is just a Digital Multimeter. This is essentially the same as a traditional multimeter however it comes with a digital display. This means that you will be able to take more accurate readings and have the information in front of you within milliseconds, getting the job done even faster!
Are Mutlimeters easy to use?
As a general rule, multimeters will be easy to use! They will always come with a manual to help you determine exactly what setting you need to be able to get the job done. However usually it is as simple as connecting both of the codes to either ends of the conductive material that you are working with (e.g. the alternate ends of a port) and set your multimeter to the setting that you are hoping to read. Once you have done this the value will just appear on the screen. The important things to remember are the correct setting and putting the red probe and the black probe on the right parts of the appliance or electrical circuit.