Digital Multimeter vs Analog Multimeter – What Should You Choose

Multimeter: The Types

Among the most commonly used electronic instruments today, a multimeter is essentially used for measurement of electrical values. The average multimeter measures current, voltage and resistance. The multimeter seeks to serve multiple purposes. It can at once be used for investigating basic faults in electrical circuits as well as a bench instrument for high accuracy results. An electrician’s best companion, the multimeter can be divided into the two variants they are available in – the analog multimeter and the digital multimeter.

An analog multimeter uses a moving pointer to display the concurrent readings. The analog multimeter has been one of the most trustworthy and reliable electric instruments ever built. They are even known sometimes as VOA owing to the fact that they measure in volts, amperes and ohms. While digital multimeters have a degree of accuracy, the analog multimeters are especially useful to monitor a value which is rapidly changing.

Digital multimeters or DMM and DVOM have steadily gained prominence and popularity because of their low cost and high precision. Digital multimeters are armed with numerical displays and may even sport a graphical representation of the values on a graph.  

Digital and Analog Multimeters Compared

As is very self-evident, with the rise of the digital age the digital variant of the multimeter has grown into greater prominence however each of the two types of multimeters have their own advantages and disadvantages and it is up to the user to make a final call before investing in a device based on user needs.

Accuracy – Analog multimeters are inferior to their digital counterparts when it comes to accuracy because as is obvious the digital multimeter is way more precise. However, where the analog multimeter scores is when you require a trend in values i.e. a range rather than a definite set of value the analog multimeter is more capable than the digital counterpart. A change in analog readings are easier to make out than a change in digital readings and it is precisely for this reason that newer models of digital multimeters are often armed with a bar graph that charts these reading graphically. Thus offering the equivalent in terms of simulation with respect to the analog variant.

Durability – Analog multimeters by the virtue of having more delicate parts are comparatively more fragile than their digital counterparts. These meters often have a switch position that allows the meter to be protected (by placing a low resistance across the multimeter) in lieu of transportation and other activities that might cause damage to the device. Digital multimeters on the other hand are made up of hard lined plastic and compact circuits that though not strong is way more durable than the traditional multimeter.

Power source – Analog multimeters while being able to measure current and voltage in a circuit by drawing power from the very circuit require an alternate source like batteries to measure resistance. Digital multimeter on the other hand always require power from an internal source to run its circuitry. It is better in this regard to use analog multimeter because sometimes the circuit under scrutiny can even draw power from the multimeter itself thereby leading to incorrect readings. While a digital multimeter cannot work without electricity, an analog multimeter is perfectly capable of the job and thus more efficient in this regard.

Convenience features – The analog multimeter is absolutely outdone by its digital counterpart when it comes to convenience features. The modern digital multimeters is armed with a host of such features that allow a careful instructive diagnosis of the circuit at hand which the analog variant is incapable of. Features like auto ranging, auto polarity, surface mount technology, graphic representation and low band oscilloscope all render the analog inferior in terms of features.

Conclusion

Both the analog and the digital multimeters have their own areas of pros and cons and both of them are capable measurement devices. It is up to you to decide which multimeter you may be more comfortable using on a circuit. While the digital beats the analog in terms of features, it is important to remember there is nothing as valuable as hands on experience, which is exactly what an analog multimeter provides.

  • December 25, 2016
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