How to Read an Analog Multimeter (4-Step Guide)

You might be asking why you need to know how to use an analog-digital multimeter in this digital day. Well, there are numerous explanations for this.

In the electronics testing field, analog multimeters are a reliable tool. Experts still use analog meters for troubleshooting in some areas because of their precision and genuine RMS value conversion.

In general, here are the basic steps on how to read an analog multimeter:

  • Place the probes in the appropriate connections. Select whether to test for ohms, voltage, or current first.
  • Select an AC volt input. Make sure the maximum range is more than intended.
  • Contact the leads to the terminals of the object you are testing.
  • Check the results. The top scale is ohms. The right side indicates lesser resistance.

So, to under how to read an analog multimeter, I highly suggest that you continue reading further below.

How to Read an Analog Scale

analog scale

The analog scale seems comprised of a lot of lines and numbers. This could not be very clear for beginners, so here, you will learn the basic methods to read the scale correctly:

  1. You can use the ohmic scale (the top line – Ω) to calculate resistance from left to right. You must multiply the scale measurement with the range presently selected based on the range specified. If your range is 1k and your pointer is steady at 5, your reading will be 5k ohms.
  2. You should perform the range adjustment in the same way for all quantity measurements.
  3. You can measure voltage range and current scales below the ohmic scale. DC voltage and current are measured next to the ohmic scale on the black line. The red line always represents AC measurements. It’s important to remember that you should evaluate current and voltage data from right to left.

Practical Activity to Read an Analog Meter

Step 1: Attach your analog multimeter to the test leads. To measure varying quantities, use the following configurations:

PurposeTest Leads
To test DC voltage and currentUse an AA battery
To test AV voltage and currentUse an AC socket
To measure resistanceUse a resistor
To check for continuityUse a wire

Test leads = The materials you need to prepare aside from the analog multimeter for this activity.

multimeter pointer

Step 2: Attach the test probes to the item to be measured in each configuration and check the scale reading. We’ll use monitoring DC voltage as an example in this discussion.

Step 3: Put the probes to the AA battery’s two ends (approx. 9V). Depending on your chosen range, the pointer should fluctuate across the scale. If your battery is fully charged, the needle should be between 8 and 10 on the scale in the figure. 

Step 4: Use the same method to measure the quantities in different configurations.

As previously stated, range selection and multiplication are essential for accurate analog reading. (1)

For example, if you’re measuring the voltage of a car battery with an analog-digital multimeter, the range must be greater. You’ll need to do some simple multiplication to read the final output.

If your DC volt range is 250V and the needle is between 50 and 100, the voltage will be around 75 volts depending on the precise location.

Getting to Know the Panel

analog multimeter panel

Understanding the device’s panel is also crucial in reading an analog multimeter. Here is what you need to know:

First off is at the bottom left of the multimeter, you should see where you should attach your test leads.

Next is you can access the advanced options through the ports in the bottom right corner. When you need to invert the polarity of your measurement, the additional polarity switch comes in helpful. You can use the center switch to select the amount to be measured as well as the desired range.

For example, if you wish to measure voltage range (AC) using an analog multimeter, turn it to the left side of the dial.

Important Tips and Techniques

  • When using analog multimeters, make sure to select a suitable range for reliable results. You should perform this should both before and during the quantity measurement. (2)
  • Before doing a big test or troubleshooting operation, always calibrate your analog multimeter. I highly recommend a weekly calibration if you use your device on a daily basis.
  • If you detect significant changes in measurements, it’s time to replace the batteries.
  • If you are sure about the exact value of the volt quantity to be measured, always select the highest range.

We also have other multimeter learning guides. Please, check below;

(1) multiplication –
(2) quantity measurement –

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.