How to Measure Voltage with a Multimeter in 5 Steps

If you're getting to grips with electronics for the first time, you'll need to know how to measure voltage with a multimeter.

You may obtain a lot of information about your electrical equipment by using a multimeter. Do you want to check a power outlet to make sure it has the right voltage? The tool you need is a multimeter.

What Is Voltage?

In a circuit, voltage is the potential difference between two points. Voltage is measured in volts and is named after the Italian scientist Alessandro Volta. The potential difference between the two terminals of a 1.5 V battery is 1.5 volts.

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Voltage is usually measured at two points since, by definition, it is the difference in potential. In essence, it is impossible to measure the potential of a single point on a circuit, but it is simple to measure the difference between the potentials of two points.

circuit voltage multimeter

Types of Voltage

Voltage may be either AC voltage or DC voltage. DC stands for direct current, whereas AC stands for alternating current. Direct currents travel in a straight line and a single direction, while alternate currents flow in sine waves. To better understand the difference between AC and DC, read our guide on the subject.

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What Is a Multimeter?

A multimeter is a tool that can measure a wide range of electrical properties, including current, voltage, and resistance. Multimeters vary in appearance and may have several auxiliary uses, but their primary function remains the same.

All multimeters measure resistance, voltage, and current. Some more sophisticated ones can also measure temperature, frequency, and other properties.

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A multimeter has a body and two probes, whether it is digital or analog. The other end of each probe connects to the circuit you wish to measure, and one end fits into a slot on the multimeter.

How to Check 220V Voltage With a Multimeter

Measuring the potential difference or voltage of an electrical circuit is one of the multimeter's many uses. In this post, we're going to use a digital multimeter to measure the voltage of a standard 220V power outlet.

1. Plug In the Probes

Two probes, one red, and one black are included with multimeters. There are at least three slots on every multimeter. The black probe is inserted into one of the slots, designated as COM, or the common slot. This slot is often in the center.

Resistance, voltage, and typically modest currents are all represented by the following slots: This means that you must insert the red probe into this slot if you wish to measure any of these properties. This is the slot we're going to use to measure AC voltage.

For situations when you wish to measure high currents, use the third slot. This often means currents less than 10A and more than 400mA. While the meaning of high current differs on your multimeter, pay attention to its markings.

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For very low currents and temperatures, the multimeter pictured features a fourth slot.

black red multimeter

You should plug the probes into the COM slot and the voltage probe because you're going to measure voltage here.

  1. Plug the black probe into the COM slot.
  2. Plug the red probe into the voltage/resistance slot.

The color difference is meant as a convention; the red and black leads are not structurally different. Red means multimeter, and black means negative, according to a universal coding system used by all multimeter manufacturers.

2. Turn On Your Multimeter

Turning on the multimeter is the next step. Simply find the power button on your multimeter and turn it on to complete the process.

3. Switch the Knob and Set It to Voltage

The knob on your multimeter allows you to select what you wish to measure. This allows the multimeter to show the relevant data while also giving it a heads-up on what to anticipate. To measure the voltage of a power outlet:

  • Put the knob in the V position after switching it. The V with a symbol on top means AC voltage, while the V with a symbol on top means DC voltage. You should put the knob in AC voltage, as the voltage in your power outlets is an alternating current.
  • Put the knob in the voltage range you anticipate on your multimeter if it has several voltage ranges. For the power outlet, we're expecting something close to 220V.
  • Put the knob in the highest range so you may work your way down for an accurate result if you don't have an estimate of the voltage you could obtain.

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Certain multimeters, like the one in the picture below, can measure both AC and DC voltage with the same setting. The voltage switch on these multimeters allows you to switch between AC and DC voltage.

voltage knob multimeter

4. Connect Probe Leads to the Power Outlet

You are ready to measure voltage now that everything on the multimeter is set. Let's investigate to determine whether the power outlet is really 220V. It doesn't really matter which aperture you stick the probe leads in since AC voltage, unlike DC voltage, doesn't have polarity.

  1. Insert the black probe lead into one of the power outlet openings.
  2. Insert the red probe lead into the other opening on the power outlet. As a safety measure, keep in mind that the sequence is crucial. Please attach the black probe lead first.
  3. From the multimeter, read and record the voltage.

Always handle the probe leads while they are covered in plastic! The leads will have 220 volts of live electricity going through them once they are connected to the outlet, and touching them may be deadly.

voltage outlet multimeter

The value you're going to get is unaffected by connecting the red and black leads to the opposite openings. Swapping the nodes would result in a negative number, even though the voltage would remain the same if you were measuring DC voltage.

5. Disconnect the Probe Leads From the Power Outlet

It's time to disconnect the probes from the power outlet once you've recorded the voltage. This should be done in reverse order.

  1. Disconnect the red probe lead from the outlet.
  2. Disconnect the black probe lead from the outlet.
  3. Turn off your multimeter.
  4. Disconnect both probes from the multimeter.

Now You Can Measure Voltage

A multimeter is a fantastic tool set capable of giving you a wealth of information on your electric and electronic assets. You may use it to measure voltage for a variety of additional purposes now that you know how to use it to check 220V voltage. Don't throw a battery away if you measured its voltage and it was dead! There are still many things you can do with it.

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