Oscilloscope vs Multimeter: What Is The Difference?

Electricians dealing with electricity require the right tools for them to get the appropriate testing information. The oscilloscopes and Multimeters are among the major devices used in the electronics areas for proper management of power supply. Reading through this article to the end will help you understand the differences and similarities between oscilloscope vs multimeter as well as the final thought for the best decision.



An oscilloscope is one of the best electronic device used for converting electrical power to mechanical. Its power is useful for running various industrial activities, including compressors, pumps, robots, conveyors, and motors, among other applications. Accordingly, the device is essential for displaying and analyzing waveforms of electronic signals. Generally, this tool can display both direct and alternating current waveforms with low and high frequencies.

There are various properties of the displayed and analyzed waveform, including frequencies, amplitudes, time interval, rise time, and distortion. The calculations for these values requires measuring the waveform manually against the scale displayed into the screen of the tool. Accordingly, users can adjust the oscilloscope to observe repetitive signals as continuous waveforms on the screen.

Giving an analysis of real-time reading is one of the best advantages of using oscilloscopes. Seemingly, electricians can obtain the correct reading once they connect the device to a source of power. Users can also enjoy accurate controls while using this machine due to their ability to notice numerous controls and knobs when first laying eyes on the device.

The accurate controls help in regulating the shape and size of a waveform for easy locating and isolating signals that may interfere with the waveform. Easy workability is another crucial benefit of using oscilloscopes. Users take a short period to figure out the performance of this device and obtain accurate outcomes.

Type Of Oscilloscopes

Analog Oscilloscopes

Analog is a type of oscilloscope used for displaying signals picked up by a probe and displayed it on the screen. Its storage capabilities enable the waveform to extend the display period than decaying immediately. The analog oscilloscope is useful for the analysis of signals produced continuously with the changing values.

The cathode ray tube on the machine is essential for plotting race signals onto a phosphors screen. Phosphors component help to monitor glow for an extended period before switching dark, thus facilitating building up of intense glow by high-speed signals. Besides, this model gives a better dynamic range preventing aliasing problems that may lead to false readings.

Digital oscilloscopes

The digital oscilloscopes are electronic devices that operate by binary numbers representing voltages. Similarly, the machine interprets the analog waveform and converts them into a digital system using an analog-digital converter. The microcontroller and analog-digital converter circuit help to improve frequency analysis, image memory, and automatic measurements. Accordingly, the digital oscilloscope is capable of transferring full-screen videos, images, and waveform data from the device to the PC.

The oscilloscope bandwidth is necessary for limiting displays of repetitive signals frequently. It can capture transient activities and preserve them for printing, analysis, archival and other procedures. The digital tool has permanent storage used for recording signals and offloaded to other media for analysis and storage.



A multimeter is the next electronic measuring tool combining numerous measurement functions in a single unit. The device is highly versatile for measuring resistances, currents, voltages, and in checking the workability of transistors and diodes. Multimeters also come with two versions, including analog and digital, that are useful for detecting faults, measuring battery voltage, and complex diagnostics. Most electricians prefer these tools for troubleshooting electrical challenges on appliances, motors, power supplies, circuits, and wiring systems.

Type Of Multimeter

Analog Multimeters

An analog multimeter is the first tool manufactured cheaply than their digital counterparts. They make use of needle-like pointed scales for making for current readings. The construction of this model constitutes a pointer and a moving coil meter displaying readings on the scale. Accordingly, the permanent magnetic drum of a moving coil meter contains a wound to allow current to pass through the induced magnetic field.

Springs attached to the drum is essential for the provision of an opposing force to the drum mobility and deflection control of the pointer. Additionally, the meter uses different shunt resistors values for measurements of the multi-range current. Notably, analog Multimeters experience challenges of getting damaged if dropped hence requires electricians to handle them carefully. Moreover, the tools are perfect for detecting changes of slow voltage since users can observe the movement of the needle over the scale.

Digital Multimeters

These are the most commonly used Multimeters in measuring discrete increments of the current. They come with more advanced and straightforward versions for electronic engineers. While the analog device uses the scale and moving needle, digital models display reading on its LCD screen. Accordingly, the right side of the device contains a jack that users can apply in measuring resistance, voltages, and testing diodes.

Differences Between Oscilloscopes And Multimeters

Oscilloscope Multimeters
Used for measuring voltages only with detailed information. Used for measuring resistances, voltages, currents, and the functionality check-up of diodes and transistors.
It is capable of plotting two voltages together and provide the comparative ability It only indicates the level of average voltage, which makes detailed inspection very difficult.
May not be easily affordable due to its high price on the market. It is low costly hence afforded easily.
Incredibly advanced, making it necessary for more experienced electricians. It is more common with less advancement and used in many areas like checking for voltages, shorts, and measuring currents.


Can we use an oscilloscope as a voltmeter?

Yes. The oscilloscope can be useful for measuring potential differences to determine their variances.

What are the advantages of using the oscilloscope compared to the digital meter?

The oscilloscope is capable of monitoring the amount of alternative current voltage running the voltage of direct current. It also delivers accurate and reasonable performance for several laboratory exercises.

Can an oscilloscope measure resistance?

No. Most oscilloscopes are only useful for measuring voltage directly, and they are not ideal for measuring resistance.

Wrapping Up

Both Multimeters and oscilloscopes come with their features that electricians consider when choosing the appropriate instrument according to their specific requirements. Our research on oscilloscope vs. multimeter indicates that oscilloscope is the best instrument available on the market. It provides a piece of wealth information not only in displaying numeric values instantly but also in the shape of the wave and its voltage, frequency, and amplitude.

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Last update on 2020-10-27 at 09:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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