A voltmeter is a very delicate tool to handle. A little carelessness and you will damage your precious tool. Usually, when you buy a voltmeter, you will find a manual that comes along with the device. The manual is written by the manufacturer and has all the basics you need to know how to use the voltmeter you just bought.
But there’s one little problem. The instructions are usually tight and might seem tough to understand to the dummies. To be able to use a tool completely, there is a lot to learn. We can’t cover them all, but we can certainly quench your thirst.
You may like to read about the best voltmeter.
Before Using a Voltmeter
Voltmeters deal with electricity. Human bodies can survive electricity only to a limited magnitude. So, before beginning your work on the practical circuit, make sure to ensure your safety. But first, start with the manuals.
After you finish reading the manual, you will get enough knowledge about the features, functions of all nobs and buttons, the display and how to read the display. Remember, knowing your tool is the first and essential task.
How to Use a Voltmeter
The guide to using a voltmeter is pretty basic. We can divide it into some parts. First, we will learn about the setting up of the tool. Later we will discuss the reading procedure.
1. Setting Up the Device
Usually, when you bring a voltmeter out of the box, you will see a device that has a display, some knobs, some buttons and a pair of probes. To measure a voltage with this device, we need to set the device up first.
- Turn on the device with the on/off button on the top.
- Connect the red probe in the red marked port and the black one in the black marked port. As simple as that.
- Usually, almost every voltmeter in the market can measure both ac and dc voltage. You will find a knob by which you can select the type, ac or dc.
- The next step is setting up the range. You won’t know the exact value you are going to get, but you can guess. The tip is, always select the range higher so that you can reduce the range while measuring.
This part will be interesting. There are two types of voltmeters available in the market in terms of display. Analog and Digital. The analog ones have needle-like pointer to show voltage level whereas the digital ones show the voltage level in digital format.
How to Use Digital Voltmeters
Measuring voltage with digital voltmeters is easy. The readings are shown in plain decimal digits, so there’s no extra havoc of reading it. Still, there are steps in measuring with digital voltmeters.
- Hold the plastic coating of the probe, not the metal lead. Hold two of the probes in your two hands, not one.
- Touch the black lead to one point of your working circuit. Wait a while. Then touch the red lead to the other point of the circuit. This is for the beginners. When you will have enough experience, you can touch both the leads at the same time. You may find some sparkling, but that’s harmless.
- There you go. If the circuit is active, you will get the readings on the display. In case you don’t get any, rotate the range changing knob.
How to Use Analog Voltmeters
Reading with analog voltmeters is tricky. There are several linear scales on the display like rulers. And they are more than one just to help you read more precisely. The steps of reading an analog voltmeter are in the following:
- The first two steps are identical to the digital voltmeters. The differences are in the process of reading.
- Select a suitable scale for reading. The tip is, if you are measuring low voltages, select 10 and for high voltages select 50.
- Let’s assume you chose scale 10. Then you got a reading of 70. So, the actual voltage is 70/10=7. If the reading is 85, the actual voltage is 8.5. The same calculation is valid for other scales.
Safety and Precautions
All electronic instruments are fragile. There are certain precautions you have to take while using them. They are brief but important. Here are a few:
- Always connect the voltmeter in parallel.
- Hold the probes safely. Make sure you hold the plastic coating, not the metal lead.
- Always start with a higher range. You can always reduce the range to get a better reading.
- Never measure AC voltage keeping the device in dc mode, or vice versa.
- While measuring dc voltage, be careful about the polarity.
- Make sure to change the battery in a regular interval if your device has any.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is there any difference in using analog and digital voltmeter?
Ans: There are no differences between using analog and digital voltmeter. The only difference between them is in the display. That has nothing to do with the way you use.
Q. How can I measure resistance with a voltmeter?
Ans: You can’t. You need a multimeter for that.
Q. What is calibration?
Ans: Devices get old. After ages, the output of the device deviates from the actual. Calibration is the process of changing the device internally to make the output right.
Q. How often do I need to calibrate a voltmeter?
Ans: It depends on the manufacturing. Normally it is a couple of years at least.
Using a new tool has always been fun for many people. There are excitements, there are enthusiasms, a curiosity to explore and learn about something new. And behind all that, often they forget about the most important thing, their own safety. Everyone has to put the highest priority here.
Using a tool for the first may not go that well as you thought. A new tool is like a new friend. You won’t know how the friendship would be. But there will surely be a friendship for a certain duration that you don’t know yet.