Multimeter vs Voltmeter: What’s the Difference?

If you like working with electronics, you would know that both multimeters and voltmeters are extremely useful tools and essential in many ways. However, it can often get confusing for some people as to which one would suit their needs best. While we are sure that you probably have some basic idea of what each of these tools is for, going into a little more detail can be quite helpful when working on a project.

To help you gain a good understanding of both these tools and the difference between them, well go through this easy-to-understand guide. We will be exploring the functions of each device and how they differ from each other in terms of functionality.

A voltmeter is a single-purpose device that only measures voltage. A multimeter, on the other hand, offers much more options to choose from, but it is also more expensive for that same reason. This also leads to a big difference in their prices as multimeters are much more expensive.

Multimeter vs Voltmeter: Which One Should You Get?

This is a decision you should make based entirely on how each device functions. In essence, it has to do with the type of measurement you want and how much money you can spend. By understanding your needs, you should be able to determine which of the two would serve you best.

Read through the following details of each device carefully to figure out what each of them does and how it could affect your decision.

Understanding the Function of a Voltmeter

The primary function of a voltmeter is to measure voltage passing between two nodes. In technical terms, a volt is a unit of potential difference between two nodes and this difference is measured in volts. Voltage itself comes in two forms as we also have two types of currents, i.e., direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). Some voltmeters only measure DC current, whereas others measure AC current only. Then you also have the option of voltmeters that measure both on the same device.

The internal construction of a voltage tester is quite basic and only contains a fine wire coil that carries current suspended around an external magnetic field. The device comes with two clamps, which, when connected to two nodes, carry the current through the live wire inside. This results in the wire reacting to the magnetic field and the coil it is on begins spinning. This moves the measurement needle on the display that tells the voltage value. Digital voltmeters are much safer than those with needles and are widely available these days. (1)

white voltmeter

Eversame Flat US Plug AC 80-300V LCD Digital Voltmeter

While the voltage tester defined above measures different points, you can also find pluggable devices like the Eversame Flat US Plug AC 80-300V LCD Digital Voltmeter which shows the voltage flowing through a specific wall socket. It is used for monitoring devices plugged into outlets and can help prevent potential electrical damage if a power surge happens.

What Does a Multimeter Do?

One thing that a multimeter can do is act as a voltmeter. Therefore, if you were to buy even an analog multimeter, you would automatically fulfill your need for a voltmeter. A multimeter can measure the voltage and electrical units like current and resistance. More advanced multimeters also provide measurements for things like capacitance, temperature, frequency, inductance, acidity, and relative humidity.

The internals of a multimeter is much more complex and come with other components like resistors, capacitors, temperature gauges, and more. From a purely technical perspective, it is pretty easy to see that a multimeter is a much more capable device when compared to a simple voltmeter.

UYIGAO Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000

UYIGAO Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000

An example of a highly capable voltmeter is the UYIGAO Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000, a device that offers multiple measurement options to choose from. With this device, you can measure plenty of units including temperature, capacitance, AC voltage, AC current, DC voltage, DC current, frequency, and resistance.

The device also offers other special features like a buzzer sound, auto, and manual ranging, NCV detection, and auto power off for battery preservation. The unit also comes with a large 3-inch display that is easy to read and has a backlight as well. It is suited for professional use and comes with a rugged body to avoid any potential damage from falls. You can also place it on a flat surface using the included kickstand. (2)

Wrapping Up

By now, you can probably understand the fact that these two devices are miles apart in terms of their functionality. The voltmeter is quite basic but can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes for fixed and convenient use. It is also a cheaper option of the two but that also has to do with its limited functionality. Multimeters, on the other hand, are highly versatile tools that can serve you in a wide range of applications, but you will need to shell out much more money if you want one. Think about your needs, and you can easily decide which would suit you the best.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) magnetic field –
(2) battery preservation –

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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