What is the Difference Between Multimeter and LCR Meter

What is the Difference Between Multimeter and LCR Meter?

For field service work and troubleshooting faults, two common pieces of instruments used are a multimeter and LCR meter. Some beginning workers might confuse the two, and this can cause problems during work.

So what is the difference between multimeter and LCR meter? Although both are measuring instruments, they have several key differences. This article will look at each of them in turn and compare them for easier understanding.

Multimeter

Let’s look at the multimeter first. A multimeter combines the functions of a voltmeter, ohmmeter, and ammeter all into one package. So a multimeter can measure voltage, resistance, and current across a circuit. 

While analog multimeters exist, digital multimeters are more commonly used due to how easy to use and cheap they are.

The main advantage of a multimeter is that having it means you won’t have to carry around three measuring devices. Voltage, current, and resistance readings are the most important readings an electrician needs to measure for the primary diagnosis of electrical circuits.

A multimeter contains four parts:

1. Display

An analog multimeter uses a needle pointer on a rotating scale to show the reading. Digital multimeters have a numeric display.

2. Button Panel 

Multimeters have several buttons for different use and configuring options. These include turning it on or off and adjusting the display.

3. Dial

The instrument has a dial that can rotate between voltage, current, and resistance settings for measuring. You can also select the resolution for finer measurements.

This resolution is important as higher resolutions will allow you to pick up a smaller voltage or current values. 

4. Input Jacks 

The probes are connected to the multimeter via these jacks or holes. They come in two colors- black and red. Red generally denotes positive while black denotes negative.

Multimeter Uses

Multimeter Uses

Since a multimeter is three devices rolled into one, it is quite a versatile tool for diagnosing electrical circuits. Some of its uses are:

Checking The Voltage Of Batteries

Whether or not a battery is providing the required or stated voltage can easily be checked by using a multimeter and connecting the probes to the ends of the battery. 

Examining Power Outlets

The power outlets in your homes can often malfunction and not deliver the correct voltage. You can use a multimeter to check if the outlet is correctly functioning or not.

Testing A Fuse

Fuses are important failsafe devices in electrical components. A multimeter can be used to check if a fuse is still operating or whether it has stopped working. It does this by making use of continuity mode and checking to see if there is a current flowing or not.

Locating A Bad Switch

Sometimes the fault might be in the switch, which prevents your fan or lights from working properly. You can measure the resistance using a multimeter to locate the faulty switch.

LCR Meter

Best LCR meters are also measuring instruments, and they measure three things. You can use them to measure the resistance, inductance, and capacitance of an electrical circuit.

This is denoted in the name, which consists of the symbols for inductance (L), capacitance (C), and Resistance (R), respectively.

The control panel of an LCR meter usually consists of the following:

1. On/Off Switch

As the name states, this switch is used to turn the meter on and off. For proper use, after turning on the LCR meter, you should let it stay on for 10 to 15 minutes before using it.

2. Function Selector

In some models, this resembles a dial. It is used to select what mode you are using the LCR meter in which determines what you are measuring. The modes are denoted by the symbols L, C, and R.

3. Display 

A screen with a numeric display is present in LCR meters.

4. Range Selector

This is a control dial that allows you to configure the measuring range of your meter. The measuring range must properly set, or the meter won’t show you the resistance value of the component. 

5. Input Terminals

The probes used for measuring are connected to the meter via these terminals. 

LCR Meter Uses

A best LCR meter is an essential tool for more complex circuits. Some uses include:

Checking For Faulty Capacitors

Faulty capacitors can be a problem in many circuits. An LCR meter allows you to locate and test the faulty ones for replacement.

Checking If A Power Supply Is In Phase Or Not

Out of phase or sync power supplies is problematic and can heavily affect the efficiency of a system. LCR meters can calculate phase angles and check if a power supply is in phase or not.

Examining An Oscillator

An oscillator is a key component in many electric circuits, and its operation is heavily dependent on whether the oscillator is working properly or not.

An LCR meter can be used to examine the properties of an oscillator (commonly the Q factor) and see whether it is meeting the requirements or not. 

What is the Difference Between Multimeter and LCR Meter

We’ve examined the two instruments separately. Now let us compare them:

Measuring Units

A multimeter is used to measure the voltage, current, and resistance of a circuit. LCR meters are used to measure resistance, inductance, and capacitance.

Working Component

The main working circuits in an LCR meter are the Wheatstone bridge and RC ratio arm circuits. A multimeter makes use of a balanced bridge DC amplifier

General Use

A multimeter is generally used for primary diagnosis, checking if a fuse is blown or not and if a power supply is supplying the right voltage. LCR meters are generally used for testing the capacitance and induction of various components in a device or circuit.

Are LCR Meters Better than Multimeters?

Some LCR meters do have an option for voltage and current display. An important function that many modern LCR meters have is measuring the equivalent series resistance of capacitors or inductors in a circuit without having to remove the components.

For proper testing, this is an important feature. Overall, in more cases, LCRs can prove to be more useful than multimeters.

Conclusion

We hope that you found this article informative and that it has answered your question on what is the difference between multimeter and LCR meter.

Both are helpful tools, with multimeters seeing more use in homes. Good electricians will do well to keep both of them in hand.

Reference:

  1. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-multimeter-and-an-LCR-meter

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