Car Batteries

What Does A Multimeter Measure?

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 26, 2021

So you have probably head of a tool called a multimeter and wondered what all in can measure. By the name you probably know that it can be used to measure multiple things, but aren't familiar with what.

Well, after reading this article you will have a better understanding of what all a multimeter can measure and also what a multimeter can be used for.

What Is A Multimeter?

An automotive multimeter is a small handheld device that is used to measure different things for different purposes. It is normally a device that most people have on their bench because it is really handy and can do a lot of things.

The come in both analog and digital versions. Are in a plastic shell and durable. Nicer ones may even have a rubber case around them to keep them from getting scratched up or protect them if they are dropped.

These are the basics of what a multimeter is physically, so keep reading to find out what a multimeter is on a deeper level.

How Does A Multimeter Work?

Before we get into what a multimeter can measure it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of how it works. A multimeter is pretty simple especially depending which one you have.

There are a variety on the market, but they all work in similar ways. Here we will look out how the most common work. The most common multimeters have two ports where you plug the leads into. The leads are wires with a metal prob tip.

Inside the multimeter is a coil which is suspended in a magnetic field. Their are also different resistors. When the probes are applied to an energy source it makes a current and this causes the coil to spin. The spinning coil then gives a reading on what ever you are measuring.

Some multimeters are digital. These work in a similar way, but the movement of the coil is able to be converted to a visible number output with computers.

The advantage to a digital multimeter is that they last longer and don't have interference issues. They also provide more accurate readings.

What Does A Multimeter Measure?

What do A Multimeter Read

What does a multimeter read?

So now that you know how a multimeter works we can get into what they read. All basic multimeters can read:

  • Current
  • Voltage
  • Resistance

More advance multimeters can measure others things as well which we will get to farther in this article.


Is the measure of the flow of electricity through a conductor. For a multimeter the conductor is the wire that connects the diodes and then the coil inside. This is easily calculated with the twisting of the coil or through computer processes.

2. Voltage

So first we will look at voltage and explain what it is that is actually being measured. Voltage is the difference in electric charge between two points. The way this is measured is you put the two probes on the diodes and this causes a circuit to be formed.

When the circuit is formed energy flows from one point two the other. It passes through the multimeter and that is able to tell you how much is flowing through. This is because electricity always flow from low to high and it is a never ending cycle.

Inside the multimeter it also uses a resistor so help with the calculation. This is because there is a direct relationship between voltage, resistance, and current. If you know two, then the third is easy to find and we already know that a multimeter can find current.


3. Resistance

Lastly all multimeters can measure resistance. Resistance is ability to not have electricity flow through it. To measure resistance the multimeter just has to provide a known amount of voltage and the already knows the current.

Then it calculates the resistance since it is a direct relationship with the other two. This is similar to how it finds voltage, but just changes what part of the equation it provides.

Multimeters do not measure all three things at the same time though. Most multimeters have knobs and you can turn that to tell it what you want it to measure.

Other Things A Multimeter Can Measure?

So what else can a multimeter measure besides current, voltage, and resistance? Well, the answer is all sorts of things. Some multimeters can be very costly, but these costly ones can measure temperature, humidity, frequency, capacitance, decibels, and even more things. The advanced multimeters are little handheld computers that really have no limit on what they can do.

What Are Multimeters Used For?

What Are Multimeters Used For?
What are multimeters used for?

This question also has pretty much no limit to it. Most normal people just use them around the house to test simple electronics like appliances or batteries, but the potential there is no limit.

Electrical engineers use them all the time for common things to advanced things. They don't have to just be used in the construction or engineering field though.

Multimeters are even used in science labs for testing all kinds of things. These advanced elaborateness can measure anything and are made to be very accurate.


Multimeters are basically a bunch of tools in one. They are a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and ampmeter all combined. The advanced ones are even more than this. Multimeters can also be used to measure direct current or ac current.

Some have switches that have to be flipped to change this and others just are able to do it on their own. Some multimeters can even give out readings in multiple units. You can choose the unit that you want the reading to be given out in.


So now you know how multimeters work and also what they are used for. More importantly though you know all the things that they can measure.

Most basic multimeters can measure current, voltage, and resistance. Advanced multimeters though can be used to measure all kind of things from frequency, to temperature, to humidity, and even more.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram