Analog vs. Digital Multimeter Key Differences

analog vs digital multimeter key differences

Analog vs. Digital Multimeter Differences: Key Distinctions

You might have trouble deciding which multimeter is best for you if you're considering purchasing one.

There are many versions available from various manufacturers, but among the most crucial factors you must think about when purchasing a multimeter is one straightforward question: digital versus analog.

Both digital and analog multimeters are excellent devices for monitoring electrical current, voltage, and resistance, but which one is superior and better suited to repeated use?



Precise Analog Multimeter Readings


An instrument used to measure current, voltage, and resistance is a multimeter, either analog or digital. Any electronic enthusiast should own a multimeter since it allows you to diagnose issues with simple continuity tests. The main users of these extremely practical tools are electricians, yet you can use them in many industries. Both gadgets have advantages and disadvantages, and this article will discuss them.

The two main categories of multimeters are analog and digital, respectively. An analog multimeter utilises a needle to indicate the value, whereas a digital multimeter would display the results as numbers on a screen. It's the main distinction between the two.

Analog Multimeters

The reading of voltage, current, resistance, frequency, and the signal power is quite good with these devices. Although they can be inexpensive, switched-range analog multimeters might be a little challenging. Users who are unfamiliar with multimeters could find it challenging to read the resistance scale. An analog multimeter runs a needle along the scale to measure the calibration of the scale. It can be challenging to operate the analog multimeter because of its low resistance and high sensitivity at smaller scales.

When examining a diode, an analog multimeter has the advantage of typically being more accurate. Besides that, a digital multimeter is a common tool used by professionals.

What's Inside the Analog Type?

The D'Arsonval galvanometer is essential to the analog multimeter's operation. It comprises a rotating drum and a coil conveying a current. There are two permanent magnets, one on each side of the coil. A magnetic field evolves around the coil as current passes through it. The permanent magnet's magnetic field interacts with this magnetic field, causing the drum to rotate the current flowing anytime the coil changes. An analog multimeter primarily measures current. A needle that moves along the reading scale is fastened to the drum. The conversion of voltage and resistance measurements into corresponding currents is done first, and the resulting current is what the needle represents.

Digital Multimeters


Accurate Digital Meter Readings


The display is the primary distinction between a digital and an analog device, as was already established. Most of the time, an LED or LCD screen on the digital multimeter shows the reading in digits. It greatly improves the accuracy of measurements. The digital meter's increased resistance of 1 M or 10 M allows for more accurate voltage measurement. Furthermore, electrical amateurs particularly benefit from an auto-ranging capability because the measurement range can occasionally be unknown.


Digital meters typically offer more features at a faster rate. Additionally, digital meters do away with interpolation mistakes. It doesn't contain any moving components that could break. It offers "auto-ranging" to guard against errors and meter damage in case a user selects the incorrect range (this feature is possible on analog units but is more complicated). Additionally, they may record and extract data for different test and measurement tasks, test continuity, capacitors, diodes, transistors, and frequency.

The first disadvantage of digital meters is that they require an external power source for all measurements. Usually, the term refers to batteries, which deplete their charge over time and cause LCD panels to fade. Furthermore, they may report mistakes if the unit gets too warm from prolonged usage or transients or fluctuations.

While modern desk/benchtop analog units can give precision comparable to digital meters, analog may not provide apples-to-apples equality in terms of accuracy for tiny, portable units. Analog meters can detect current and voltage without a power source (but for measuring resistance). Additionally, compared to digital meters, analog meters are better suited for altering tuning circuits or peaking adjustable responses, have a wider voltage range, and are less vulnerable to electric noise.


The more conventional type of multimeter is still an analog multimeter. These analog meters work similarly to a car's speedometer by converting the amperage, voltage, or resistance into the movement of a dial.

They are less expensive and can detect voltage and current from the power source. Analog multimeters provide more accurate readings than their digital counterparts for various measurements.

A digital multimeter often uses a computer to perform measurements and has an LCD.


Top Digital Multimeter Performance


Batteries are needed, and the computer adds to the expense, but it can handle more intricate calculations like real RMS AC measurements.

Given that a digital multimeter runs on batteries, long battery life and an automatic power shutoff are both major pluses.

Analog multimeters were excluded from this review. We don't mean that contract labour for homes and businesses, including HVAC repair, doesn't have a position for analog meters.

The greatest multimeters on the market right now, nevertheless, have digital screens.


Despite hybrids, conventional analog meters have useful applications, particularly when used outdoors instead of in a lab. Applications include industrial and commercial ones, especially when used outside in remote locations. Examples include maintaining geographically distant assets in various applications, from submersible well pumps to agriculture to the marine/ship industry and monitoring minute value changes in the automobile industry.

Such electrical investigations frequently involve real-time, hands-on observations in the field. "Old-school" analog technology may be the most useful and effective solution in these circumstances. It's because analog units don't require power for many tasks. For instance, a technician in the area can be more productive with analog devices by merely measuring the current through a wire rather than having to "break open" the component being measured as with a digital meter.

Rate-of-change observations are another application that could "move the needle" in the direction of an analog meter. For instance, it's simpler to read a needle than the blur of quickly changing data on a digital display when measurement cycles from 0 to 9 amps.

In a related application, several analog devices have a zero-center feature that centers the scale's needle. As opposed to needing to watch distinct, simultaneously positive and negative values presented in separate digital readouts, it is simple to view as it moves left or right.


Meters have been available with analog and digital functionality since the early 1980s. When combined, analog and digital characteristics can be useful, even in the same device with hybrid analog-digital meters. With traditionally digital functions like auto-ranging, data export, and other features that might provide the best of both worlds, today's hybrid analog/digital machines further close the feature gap.

The actual decision is based on the application. Prices can range from being inexpensive to costing thousands of dollars for laboratory models, just like functions. Meters for field use are located somewhere in the middle.

There are options for all needs, ranging from low-cost handheld devices to versions used in authorized, calibrated test and measurement laboratories that cost thousands of dollars.

KEY DIFFERENCES: Analog vs. Digital Multimeter


Expert Digital Meter Tools


  1. An analog to digital converter is unnecessary because analog multimeters display the result in analog form. On the other hand, a digital converter must have an analog to digital converter inside of it.
  2. Compared to a digital multimeter, the accuracy of analog multimeters is rather low. Since digital multimeters produce readings that are more accurate than analog ones,
  3. Voltage, current, and resistance measurements are all done with analog multimeters. At the same time, a digital multimeter is also sometimes used for testing together with these three to measure impedance, capacitance, etc.
  4. The advantage of a digital multimeter is automatic calibration as opposed to the laborious calibration of analog multimeters.
  5. The use of an analog multimeter can be rather challenging. Digital multimeters, however, make measurement simple.
  6. A digital multimeter's circuit is more complicated than an analog multimeter's because it contains components that the other type does not, such as an encoder, logic circuits, ADC, LCD, etc.
  7. A digital multimeter is physically smaller than an analog multimeter.
  8. When measuring, an analog multimeter is less susceptible to electrical noise. Digital multimeters, however, are more sensitive to electrical noise.
  9. Analog meters' variable input resistance changes with range. In contrast, it is constant across all ranges of a digital multimeter.
  10. For analog multimeters, the permitted maximum measuring frequency is limited. However, for digital meters, it is relatively high.
  11. The pointer veers to the left to show the reverse polarity of an analog multimeter. It’s dentoed by a negative sign in a digital multimeter.


Several businesses sell digital and analog multimeters for HVAC maintenance. HVAC multimeters contain functions designed with HVAC technicians in mind.

These tools frequently include temperature probes with 1000-degree temperature ranges, are shock-resistant, and have attachments made especially to deal with electrical parts of the heating and cooling systems.

Some devices incorporate a stand to enable hands-free use. Some are capable of measuring millivolt-sized voltages, which are utilised by thermostats and other parts of heating systems that use natural gas as their main energy source.

For testing the fundamental operation of electronic devices such as thermostats, electric heaters, air conditioner motors, and compressors, a multimeter might be helpful.

You may check to see if the circuit board is drawing the proper amount of power, for instance, if you think a faulty circuit board is to blame for a malfunctioning furnace.

Readings from the multimeter may check electronic circuits for potentially harmful shorts and breaks and look for indications of a loose, cut, or burned-out wire.

More minute changes in power level could signify an unforeseen power drain.


The ability to diagnose and fix an HVAC system without making an expensive service call is made possible by owning an HVAC multimeter. Fuse, switch, and other components can all be tested by users to see if they're working properly. If they're not, an HVAC multimeter aids in identifying the problem.