There is an ongoing discussion about which instrument is the most efficient: the analog multimeter or the digital one. Straight answers are not so easy to find, as it is always a matter of personal or professional needs, situations and choices.
What Are Analog Multimeters?
As all types of multimeters, analog multimeters (or AMM’s abbreviated) are also electronic instruments, used to measure and test voltage, AC or DC, as well as current in circuits, resistance and, in some cases, even frequency or signal power. This is the reason why they are called multitesters, as the device is basically a single unit combining many measurement functions. It has a simple design, using a microammeter with a pointer or a needle moving along a scale, depending on what the user needs to measure. It is very common to use it also to identify electrical short-circuit issues or even to measure decibels.
There are many types of analog multimeters, from hand-held basic devices, to more complex bench instruments, from household devices, to industrial ones and from cheaper instruments, to more expensive ones. You will decide which one will work out for you.
There are some common features for analog multimeters and these include:
- Battery power provides autonomy, as there is no need to plug in the device.
- Meter protection, should the device overload.
- Temperature changes monitoring to prevent measurement errors.
- Mirrored scale that makes it easier to read, avoid errors and increase accuracy.
- Range switch to adapt to whatever measurements you want to perform.
- Diode and battery tests to make sure they are functional.
- Manual settings.
Digital or Analog multimeter?
Both types are highly functional. However, it is a matter of personal or professional choice depending on specific features that may be more helpful with one device or the other.
The main difference is given by the resolution and accuracy of reading the values of the measurement. In the case of analog multimeters, there may be some difficulties regarding this aspect, due to width of the scale pointer, calibration, pointer vibration, ranges, division markings directly related to eyesight or the position of the device that may seriously affect the accuracy of the results.
In order to improve accuracy, newer models have mirrored scales and perform larger meter movements. With digital multimeters, the results of the measurements come out on a display as numbers, so they may be more accurate. However, it may be easier to follow slow changes voltage on a mechanical display of an analog multimeter, rather than on the LED or LCD.
Another important feature is related to the sensitivity of the device. Analog instruments are far more sensitive, thus they have very low resistance, whereas with digital ones you can get better performance. On the other hand, analog multimeters are preferred for hands-free viewing.
In the end, there is no perfect answer related to which device is better. The main difference is given by the way information is presented to the user, so it very much depends on every user’s needs and abilities.