A voltage meter is a device intended for measuring the voltage, or electrical potential difference, between two points in an electrical circuit. They’re a popular tool in the electrical industry since circuit voltage can affect the safety and functioning of electrical devices.
Voltage meters can be either analogue or digital, measuring either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) voltage. In this article, we’ll give an overview of the different types of electrical meters available, helping you decide which type is best for your business.
1. Analogue Voltage Meters
Analogue voltage meters use a needle and calibrated scale to display the measurement, moving the needle across the scale proportionate to the voltage measurement. They’re typically either moving coil or moving iron meters.
Moving coil meters feature a permanent magnet that creates a magnetic field in which the coil moves. These instruments can only measure DC voltage, not AC.
Moving iron meters use a soft iron core as a moving part. Electromagnets produce an operating magnetic field that attracts the iron, with force strength depending on magnetic field strength. These instruments can measure both DC and AC voltage.
2. Digital Voltage Meters
Digital voltage meters use an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) to give a digital, numerical display of the voltage measurement. They are either panel-mounted or handheld. Often, these devices can measure other electrical quantities in addition to voltage, such as resistance, frequency, and current.
The device that converts analogue measurements to digital is an integrating converter. These converters can achieve a high resolution at the expense of slower speeds.
Compared with analogue voltage meters, digital testers offer benefits such as:
- Increased accuracy,
- Higher resolution,
- Ease of use (i.e., user-friendly controls and displays),
- Data transfer and storage capabilities.
Despite these benefits, digital meters are often more expensive than analogue varieties, so consider whether these advantages are worth the extra investment for your business.
3. Non-Contact Testers
Non-contact voltage testers allow users to take voltage measurements without touching any electrical parts. They can be a safer option than traditional voltage testers.
These devices resemble markers or pens and feature a small tip that senses voltage in outlets, circuit breakers, switches, light sockets, and electrical wiring. They work by sensing a small amount of current and lighting up to indicate its presence. You can even use these testers to detect voltage through drywall.
4. Neon Testers
Neon voltage testers or test lamps can tell you whether voltage is present, but they don’t provide exact voltage measurements. They feature a small, screwdriver-like body with an inner neon light and two wire leads with metal probes on either end.
By touching the device’s flying lead to a ground reference and the other tip to certain points in the circuit, you can accurately determine the absence or presence of voltage at any point.
These lightweight tools are inexpensive compared to more complex instruments such as multimeters, making them a smart choice for simple voltage detection.
Voltage meters allow electrical professionals to measure and detect voltage in a range of situations and to varying degrees of accuracy. We hope this article has helped you determine which type of voltage meters will suit your business’s needs.