LCR Meter Vs Multimeter

At first, you may confuse the LCR meter and multimeter because they are all used for measuring. If you don’t use the right instrument, it can cause a problem during work. This article will let you know the difference between Multimeter and LCR meters.

What is Multimeter?

The multimeter combines a variety of measurements in a single device. It is used for measuring current, resistance, and voltage across a circuit.  The good thing is that you will not need to carry a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and ammeter with you. It is ideal for electricians to make a diagnosis of electrical circuits.

Multimeter consists of:

  1. Display: For an analog multimeter, it uses a pointer on the scale to display the reading, while a digital multimeter uses a numeric display.
  2. Dial: It has a dial to adjust between current, voltage, and resistance settings for measuring.
  3. Button Panel: The device comes with several buttons for different uses and adjusting options. These buttons include an on/off switch and adjusting the display.
  4. Input jacks: The probes are connected to the unit using the holes or jacks. There is a red jack that denotes positive and black which denotes negative.

Types of Multimeter

A multimeter is categorized into two basic types, i.e., digital and analog multimeter.

  1. Analog multimeter

It was manufactured before the digital era. Although it is cheaper compared to digital, it is not easy to read.  It uses a pointed scale for its reading.

  1. Digital multimeter

It is the modern multimeter used in most places today. It uses digital circuits to measure current. It is classified into three types: the auto-ranging, fluke digital, and the clamp digital multimeter.

  • Autoranging: this digital multimeter is used for more manageable tasks. It is recommended for DIY enthusiasts and at-home electricians. It measures one component at a time.
  • Clamp multimeter: it uses in-built tools to measure electric flow. It differs from fluke because it uses a clamp to measure the flow. It is recommended for professionals.
  • Fluke multimeter: It is used commonly for combination tasks. It can be used to measure volts, current, and other electrical units.

How does a multimeter work?

Here is how to handle different measurements with a multimeter

How does a Multimeter measure resistance?

First, ensure you switch off the main power supply because a sudden voltage drop damages the multimeter if you don’t. The Ohmmeter function measures the resistance of a component. Now connect the resistor to the input probes, then turn the dial to position -1. From a constant current source, the current will flow through the resistor. An electric circuit will have zero ohms in case of a short circuit.

How does a multimeter measure voltage?

You need to connect random AC or DC voltage to the input jacks, put the dial to position -2 for AC voltage and Position -5 for DC. The voltage will be damaged if it is above the pre-scaled range. Make sure the DMM is connected in parallel to measure voltage.

How do a multimeter measure AC and DC Current?

The digital multimeter needs to be connected in series. First, determine the type of current and the range. Both currents are measured indirectly. You need to connect unknown AC or DC current to the input jacks. Place the dial at Position -3 for Ac and 4 for Dc. The multimeter will proportionally convert the current into voltage.

Uses of Multimeter

A multimeter contains a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and ammeter hence being a versatile tool for measuring circuits. You can use the unit when:

  1. Checking the voltage of batteries: You can use this multimeter if your battery is not providing the stated voltage. You should connect the probes to the end of the battery.
  2. Testing a fuse: With the help of a multimeter, you can determine if a fuse is still working or has stopped working. It checks by using the continuity mode to see if there is current flowing.
  3. Examining power outlets:  a multimeter can help you determine if the power outlets are delivering the correct voltage or not.
  4. Determining a damaged switch: A damaged switch can prevent your fan or lights from working correctly. You can locate a faulty switch by measuring the resistance using a multimeter.

What is LCR Meter?

LCR meter, as the name suggests, is a device used to measure the resistance, inductance, and capacitance of a component. It also measures the AC resistance of a resistor, D factor (Dissipation), and Q (Quality) factors of capacitors and inductors.  The three symbols stand for L- inductance, C- capacitance, and R- Resistance.

LCR meter consists of:

  1. On/Off Switch: The switch is used for turning the device on and off. It is advisable to use the LCR meter after 10-15 minutes after turning it on.
  2. Function Selector: The dial is used to set the meter to measure a particular type of component. For instance, if you measure resistance, the function selector should be set at R mode; if it is for inductance, adjust to L mode, and in case of capacitance, it should be set at C mode.
  3. Display: The meter is equipped with a scale that shows the final values of measurements.
  4. Range Selector: The control dial allows you to set the measuring range so that components of high magnitude or low magnitude values can be measured easily. For accurate measurements, ensure the range selector is appropriately adjusted.
  5. Test Terminals: The components being measured are connected to the meter via the terminals.

Types of LCR Meters

1.Handheld LCR meter:

The handheld LCR meter is small in size and lightweight. It has various test frequencies, and the data is captured and transferred to a PC via a USB port. It is primarily used in field operations and gives an accuracy of o.2% to 0.1%. Its test frequency varies from 100Hz, 120Hz, 1 kHz, and 100 kHz.

2. Benchtop LCR meter:

It is large in size and heavy. It is operated on programmable frequencies and offers an accuracy of 0.01%. A computer controls it. Its test frequency is above 100 kHz.

How Does an LCR Meter Work?

The LCR measures the voltage of the current that is being passed through the unit.  It determines the ratio between the voltages at the two ends of the device; from the voltages’ ratio, the meter measures impedance. Also, the phase angle between the current and the voltage is recorded. When the two factors are merged, they provide accurate readings of the inductance, capacitance, and device resistance under test.

Uses of LCR Meter

You can use an LCR meter for more complex circuits. Its uses include:

  1. Checking if a power supply is in phase or not: since out of phase can affect the efficiency of the system efficiency, use an LCR meter to calculate phase angles and check if the power supply is in phase.
  2. Examining an Oscillator: The device analyzes the oscillator properties, i.e., Q factor, and sees whether it meets the requirements or not.
  3. Checking for faulty capacitors: The LCR meter locates and tests the faulty capacitors for replacements.

Differences Between Multimeter and LCR Meter

MultimeterLCR Meter
It is used for measuring the voltage, resistance, and current of a circuit.Used for measuring resistance, inductance, and capacitance
Bridge Dc amplifier is the main component in the multimeter.The RC ratio arm circuits and Wheatstone bridge are the main components in LCR meter.
Commonly used for diagnosing voltage, current, and resistance.Commonly used for testing the inductions and capacitance of various parts in a circuit.
Multimeter is a multifunctional measuring instrument. It can test separate components, electrical signal characteristics, and has some other measurement functions.LCR meter measures the characteristic parameters of separate components, such as resistance value, capacitance value, etc.
Multimeter can also measure AC/DC voltage, current, power frequency, etc. with different gears.The LCR meter cannot be used to measure other parameters. Moreover, the inductance, resistance or capacitance must be measured when the circuit is powered off.
Although Multimeter has more functions, its accuracy is not higher than that of LCR meter.Because LCR Meter is a dedicated instrument, the measurement accuracy is high.
The term “multi” indicated that it is a general purpose electrical parameter measuring device. It may measure all sorts of additional parametersWhereas the LCR meter just measures the parameters directly associated with inductors, capacitors and resistors.

Final Thought

The article will help you understand the LCR meter and multimeter, how they work, their uses and differences. It has also covered different types of multimeter and LCR meters. You will now use the suitable meter for the right task.

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