What Does Negative Voltage Mean on a Multimeter?

A multimeter measures voltage, amperage, and resistance. Generally, multimeter readings are either positive or negative and you need to have a good knowledge of electronics to gauge the readings. Negative readings and positive readings on a multimeter, what do they mean?

A negative voltage reading on a multimeter means that at present, there is an excess of electrons. In such a situation an object gets negatively charged.

What is required to Check Voltage on a Multimeter?

red multimeter at 0.00v reading

Here’s all that you need to check the voltage on a multimeter:

  • A fully functioning multimeter device
  • A source of continuous supply of electricity
  • Sound knowledge of electronics and sciences to figure out the readings

How Can I Measure Voltage Using a Multimeter?

Voltage is one of the fields that can be measured using a multimeter. Nowadays, you can find both analog and digital multimeters in the market. In this guide, we will examine a more general method of measuring voltage using a multimeter that is relevant and applicable for both analog and digital multimeters.

Step 1 – Are you measuring voltage? If yes, is it DC or AC voltage? If you are measuring voltage in your home it’s most likely to be AC but if it is a vehicle or battery-driven device, then it’s most likely to be DC.

Step 2 – Turn the selection switch to the correct voltage you intend to measure. AC voltage is symbolized by a sine wave. For DC it is a straight line with a dashed line below it.

DC and AC symbols

Step 3 – Locate the COM outlet found on the multimeter and plug in the black probe.

Step 4 – Find the jack marked with a V and plug in the red probe.

ZOTEK multimeter

Step 5 – In the correct voltage type, please turn on the selector switch to the maximum setting.

Step 6 – Power up the device, vehicle, or electrical appliance that you intend to measure the voltage.

Step 7 – Ensure that the black probe and red probe are touching the two ends of the terminals of the item that you are measuring voltage for.

technician in blue suit using a voltmeter for testing

Step 8 – Now your voltage reading will appear on the screen of the multimeter.

technician in blue sweater using a yellow multimeter for testing switches

How to Read and Understand Voltage Readings?

There are only two types of voltage readings that will show up on the multimeter: positive readings and negative readings.

Before moving on to the readings bear in mind that in any multimeter, red indicates positive and black indicates negative. These apply to the probes and other symbols and wires as well.

A negative reading means that the circuit being used is not in a passive state. It has some voltage available. A negative voltage reading occurs due to a relative excess of electrons. A positive reading is the exact opposite of this. The multimeter will show a positive reading if you connect the positive lead with higher potential and the negative lead with lower potential. (1)

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References
(1) electrons – https://www.britannica.com/science/electron

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.