When you purchase products through our links, we may get a commission. Learn more.

Voltmeter vs. Multimeter: 4 Things You Might Not Know

Whether you are a curious beginner mechanic or just a brand new dad, there are two essential things you must keep in your garage kit: a voltmeter and a multimeter. 

If you know anything about these gadgets, you’d see that they’re both meant to get volt readings. And you might think you can have one or the other, but you need both. Why? Because even though there are some prominent similarities between a voltmeter and a multimeter, there are some critical differences. 

To make sure that you use both these gadgets to their full potential, you must understand what is each of them for, how they work, and their differences. 

Overview 

Before diving into the details of these devices, let’s get a quick overview of the general similarities and differences between them. A voltmeter and multimeter indeed serve the same purpose: reading voltages. And certainly have a similar system that works around the electromagnetic current exchange. But these similarities do not make these two gadgets the same. 

A voltmeter measures the differences between two separate parts of a single electrical current. On the other hand, a multimeter measures the current and the capacity, resistance, and frequency. In simple words, a voltmeter serves one purpose while a multimeter serves many. Hence, multimeters can do a voltmeter’s job, but it doesn’t work the other way around. 

You must decide whether you should get a voltmeter or a multimeter for this exact reason. And how do you fix that? This decision is based on your requirements and personal preferences, and budgets. 

4 Things You Need To Know About Voltmeter And Multimeter 

The following four aspects separate these devices and help you decide which one fits your criterion. Once you understand these differences, you determine which gadget you want to invest in:

Voltmeters Are Cheap

As mentioned earlier, voltmeters serve a particular purpose, which also means they have only one goal. Because it has a limited number of features, voltmeters are considerably cheaper than multimeters. For example, an average digital or analog voltmeter could cost around $10. In contrast, multimeters can go from 10 to 12 dollars, sometimes even more. Their high prices are justified because they come with more features, have better capabilities, and serve more purposes. Hence, it is essential to keep your budget in mind when deciding which one to buy. 

Voltmeters Are Simple To Use 

Again, since voltmeters come with fewer functions and features, they’re also more user-friendly. They’re easier to maneuver and more straightforward to understand. Most users become comfortable with this gadget very quickly because there’s not much to learn in the first place. On the other hand, multimeters have more functions, which means there’s more to learn and more options and features to understand. 

When using a voltmeter, you must select whether you are testing a DC or AC voltage, and that’s pretty much it! These devices are ideal for more straightforward applications like checking breaker boxes before swapping the circuit blade and testing a socket’s voltage. The results are direct, and there is minimal chance of miscommunication. A zero reading indicates that you’re unpowered. And if it shows any other reading, it means you have a current. Overall, it’s very safe and straightforward to use. 

Voltmeters Are Good For Learning 

Since they are simple and easy to use, most mechanics recommend non-specialists use a voltmeter as a starting point of their home mechanic journey. Since testing voltages is a crucial part of any mechanic’s job, beginner mechanics are told to have one in their toolboxes at all times. Hence, they start from the basics, something easy, but still do their job well. 

However, it’s only for beginners, and after a certain amount of time, they will eventually need to use a multimeter. Why? Because a multimeter may be more complex, expensive, and tricky to use. But its importance is still undeniable. 

Multimeters Are Your Endgame Tool 

Voltmeters are great for non-specialists, home mechanics, and aspiring professionals in the field. However, it would be best to have a multimeter once you pass the beginner’s phase. With this gadget, you can still do a voltmeter’s job. But the additional features and benefits become an essential part of your job as a mechanic as you become more professional. 

Here’s how to use a multimeter:

  • Determine what kind of current you want to test; is it DC or AC? 
  • Set the voltage and keep it higher than your expectations because you might not get the most accurate reading if you set it lower. Keep in mind that this range is sometimes pre-set in digital multimeters. 
  • Plug the leads into the V and COM terminals of the meter. The black lead is for the common terminal, and the red one is for the voltage terminal. 
  • Now, connect the probe to a circuit (the one you want to measure)
  • Place the black probe’s tip on the negative terminal of your car battery and the right red probe’s tip onto the positive. 
  • Now, read the results on the meter screen. 

Recommendations 

At this point, you have probably decided whether you want to get a voltmeter or a multimeter. The next problem for you is which product to get. Here’s the solution to that:

Voltmeter 

Fluke T5600 is a frequent recommendation for beginner and intermediate mechanics, and it is famous for all the right reasons. It automatically measures DC and AC voltages and shows precise results on a high-resolution screen. It comes with a holster, so you have the option to attach it to a belt. Plus, it stays connected for a more extended period compared to solenoid testers. Lastly, it’s rugged and can withstand a drop of around 3 meters. 

Multimeter 

If you’re a beginner in the multimeter field, Innova 3300 is a great option. It’s hands-free, UL-certified, and comes with multiple features. It also features a stand, lead holders, and a wrist-mounted band for a hands-free experience. It’s excellent for automatic purposes like electrical components, charging systems, vehicle batteries, wiring, breakers, and automotive circuits. Plus, it is ideal for household uses like electronic hobbies, general-purpose batteries, fuses, outlets, and much more. Also, the 10 MegOhm circuitry ensures that your sensitive automotive electronics are not damaged. Overall, it’s safe to use and troubleshoot quickly. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.