How The Product Design Of A Multimeter Provides The Best User Experience
A multimeter, also known as a multitester or volt-ohm-milliammeter (VOM), is a device that allows you to measure different units in the electrical field using one instrument. They are able to measure the current, voltage and resistance and give you accurate readings.
You can use a multimeter to measure continuity, diodes, and transistors in everyday household items like electrical outlets, wires, fuses, and batteries. What’s more, they can also be used to construct and repair different types of circuits and are indispensable for laboratory work in the electrical field.
If you’re curious, here are a few things you need to know about multimeters.
The Different Types of Multimeters
You’ll need to have an idea of the different types of multimeters out there in order to choose one that’s suitable for what you need it for. Most multimeters can be grouped into either digital or analog and there are various versions of each type.
An Analog Multimeter
An analog multimeter was the first multimeter designed. It’s preferred by many over digital ones because of its low cost and because it’s easier to operate. However, the readings are indicated by a moving needle on the display screen so it may be difficult to read.
However, these types of multimeters don’t require batteries and the real-time readings shown by the moving needle are some of its plus points.
A Digital Multimeter
The most common model available these days is the digital multimeter, loved because of its accuracy.
Despite their accuracy, digital meters are not suitable when the reading is constantly changing because there’s a delay between the change in the reading and the conversion into digital measurements.
Features of a Multimeter
Some features of the multimeter that make it suitable as a measuring device are briefly discussed below:
This indicates how fine the meter’s measurement is. This way, you can measure fine changes in the measured signal.
Accuracy is the largest allowable error under operating conditions. This shows how close the meter value is to the actual value.
Digital and analog displays
For better accuracy, digital displays give readings with three or more digits for each measurement, whereas analog displays show a fluctuating needle which settles on the reading.
Saving and sharing results
Wireless digital meters are able to send results to each other and to smartphones. This way, you’re able to share data, images, and notes with colleagues for increased productivity.
How to Choose a Good Multimeter
In order to choose a multimeter that’s best suited to your needs, you must decide what you’re going to use it for and how often you’re going to use it.
Make sure that you’re well-informed and compare various types of multimeters before you select the one best suited to you.
Some of the features you should look for in any multimeter are:
- It’s sturdiness
- The quality of materials
- The safety features
- It’s ease of use
- The target experience level
- The level of accuracy
Some other helpful features for professionals include:
A feature of the fancier multimeters, this function allows the device to automatically change the internal range according to the resistance, voltage or current of the item you’re measuring.
A back-lit LCD
This feature is particularly useful for professionals who work in poorly lit places.
A good click
A good-click on the range selector is an indicator of a good meter.
This is a very helpful feature for beginners and advanced users as it’s easy to forget to turn off your meter after an exhausting day of work. However, this feature is usually not present on cheap meters.
Probes tend to break down at the flex point so it’s a good idea to buy a multimeter with sturdy probes. However, if you do end up breaking yours, especially at times when you need it most, they’re quite cheap to replace.
Go through product reviews to learn more about the multimeter you’re thinking of purchasing. If you’re in a hardware store, ask for advice from the store employees. Discuss the products available and which ones may be suitable for you.
For example, easy to use analog meters are a good choice for homeowners whereas for professionals, digital ones are more effective for the job.
Working with electronics comes with hazards so you should be careful while using the meter to avoid damaging the device and injuring yourself.
Leaving the test leads plugged in can cause a shortage. This can damage the device and circuit and injure the user as a high current flows through the device.
Therefore, ensure that your device has current-input fuse protection especially if you’re going to be working with high energy circuits (>240V).
Before using the device, always check the user manual and pay special attention to the warnings and cautions.
Ensure that your meter meets the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) category with an approved voltage rating. This means that the input circuitry of the meter should be able to withstand the voltages measured without harming the user. For instance, for measurements as high as 480 V, a rating of Category III 600 V or 1000 V should be used.
Look for symbols and listing numbers for an independent testing lab such as CS, CSA or RCM as this means that the device was tested to the agency’s standard, and therefore usually the national/international standard.
Below are some key safety points to keep in mind while using your meter:
- Inspect test leads for damage before use
- Only use test leads with shrouded connectors and finger guards
- Ensure the meter is in a good operating condition
- Do not work alone
- Always disconnect the red test lead first
- Use a meter with overload protection on ohms function
- Turn the power off before connecting into the circuit when working without a current clamp
- Use high voltage probes and high current clamps when working in high voltage or high current situations
How to Read a Multimeter
Now that you know everything there is to know about multimeters, it’s time to learn how to use one.
Multimeters are used to take readings for different electrical units so the settings need to be changed accordingly. Nevertheless, it was designed to be user-friendly so it’s not an impossible feat to learn how to use it.
Here is a helpful guide to get you started on how to read a multimeter.
The best multimeter should be able to fulfil your needs and expectations and this varies from person to person. Whether you’re an electrical engineer, electrician or a dad who loves tinkering with home appliances, you’ll need an efficient and safe device.
Therefore, do your research and find out which multimeter is suitable for you. You might want a multimeter with multiple functions but don’t forget to set a limit on your budget; there is no point in buying an expensive device if you won’t be using it on a regular basis.