Also known as Volt-Ohm-Milliammeter (VOM), a multimeter is an electrical instrument that is used to measure circuit parameters, such as resistance, current and voltage. This measuring device comes in two types—the analog and the digital—where the former has a scale and needle indicator, while the latter has an LCD display. Focusing on the digital multimeter, it offers the combined functionality of an ohmmeter, a voltmeter and an ammeter. It is commonly used for its compact size and ease of operation, having both an analog and digital converter to provide a digital readout, offering precision value reading. While a digital multimeter seems to have all the perks for such a device, it also has some drawbacks. Here are its advantages and disadvantages:
List of Advantages of Digital Multimeter
1. It offers automatic output display.
With this device, it will be easy for you to gauge readings, since its output is displayed automatically in numbers through a seven-segment display, unlike the analog multimeter that requires you to take a closer look into the scales to read values. The analog type also takes time and risks human errors to occur, especially for those with poor eyesight.
2. It ensures accuracy.
Typically, a digital multimeter can show more accurate values than the analog and can provide output of up to 4 decimal places that the analog could never show. With regards to fluctuations, any value within the range of the fluctuations is mostly considered as valid.
3. It has auto polarity functions.
Multimeters can read negative values, especially in terms of voltage. When you place the probes into the opposite polarity, you will get a negative output. This is also where a digital type is more advantageous than the analog, as placing probes into the opposite polarity can cause the analog type to break.
List of Disadvantages of Digital Multimeter
1. It does not do well with measurement fluctuations.
Unlike analog meters, digital multimeters cannot read measurement fluctuations. When a fluctuation occurs, these meters are unable to represent it and rather record an error or calculate a single reading.
2. It is more expensive than the analog type.
As an older technology, the prices of analog multimeters are typically lower than the digital versions. Fortunately, as time goes by, the difference in prices between analog and digital is no longer that big.
3. It can be difficult to find one for your specific needs.
Within the current digital market, there is already a wide range of digital multimeters with various prices and capabilities. Typically, you should pick a meter that perfectly suits your needs, and this can be difficult with the plethora of options out there. If you are going to use it once or twice for a job, you can go for a low-cost option, but if you are a professional, it might be best for you to have a high-end unit.
A digital multimeter compares better than the analog type, but it is also important to remember that it comes with some drawbacks that you should look into. Weigh down its advantages and disadvantages to know if it is the best solution for your needs.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.