Multimeter Setting for Outlet (Guide)

Are you thinking of testing your outlet with a multimeter but unaware of how to proceed? It’s one thing to have a good brand of digital multimeter and another thing to put it into good use. Correct usage of a digital multimeter is critical to performing outlet testing correctly and safely.

The multimeter setting for outlet testing is ac. Adjust your meter to read voltage. You can utilize a digital multimeter to measure current, but we will be measuring voltage in this case for outlets. You will be using the AC (alternating current voltage) function, which is usually marked with a wavy line. DC (direct current) has two lines – one dashed and the other solid.

This article teaches basic elements about the multimeter setting for outlet testing.

man putting black probe of multimeter to the wall outlet

What Factors Necessitate Outlet Testing? 

Nobody ever wants to feel unsafe or insecure in their own homes or business premises. By inspecting your electrical outlets, you help ensure that your electrical system works optimally and is problem-free. However, outlet testing offers an array of other benefits, namely; (1)

  1. It helps in keeping your property and the occupants safe.
  2. It helps you to ensure compliance with electrical standards.
  3. It helps you avoid damage to irreplaceable items.
  4. It helps you save money.

How to Perform Outlet Testing Using a Multimeter

One of the most common applications of a digital multimeter is outlet testing.

When testing electrical outlets, a digital multimeter can tell you three things;

  1. If the outlet is receiving power.
  2. If the outlet is grounded properly.
  3. If the wiring within your outlet is reversed.

Setting Up the Multimeter – Step By Step Guide 

  1. Adjust your digital multimeter – adjust your meter to read voltage. You can utilize a digital multimeter to measure current, but we will be measuring voltage in this case. You will be using the AC (alternating current voltage) function, which is usually marked with a wavy line. DC (direct current) has two lines – one dashed and the other solid.
  2. Connect the leads – insert the short thick plug of the black lead into the COM port. The COM labeled connector may have a negative sign beside it. Next, connect the red lead with a positive sign.
  3. Measure voltage – you want to establish if your outlet has power. With one hand, put a probe into each vertical outlet slot. Ensure that the red probe goes into the small slot and the black probe into the large one. If your outlet is functioning properly, you should obtain a 110 and 120-volt reading. If you can’t obtain any voltage reading, something is amiss with the outlet’s wiring, or you are dealing with a tripped circuit breaker.

technician putting the black and red multimeter's probe to the wall outlet with reading 118.3v

  1. Inspect the outlet for proper grounding – with the red lead still inside the small slot of the outlet, move the black lead to the ground outlet slot. If it’s properly grounded, the reading shouldn’t change. Otherwise, your outlet is incorrectly grounded.
  2. Is the wiring reversed? – put the red lead into the large slot and the black into the small slot. The wiring is reversed if this gives you a voltage reading. While reversed wiring is inconsequential in simple equipment such as lamps, it can cause problems for sophisticated electronics and appliances. (2)

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References
(1) business – https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/small-business-ideas
(2) electronics – https://www.britannica.com/technology/electronics

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.