Definitions

ohmmeter

ohmmeter

[ohm-mee-ter]
ohmmeter, instrument used to measure the electrical resistance of a conductor. It is usually included in a single package with a voltmeter, and often an ammeter. In normal usage, the ohmmeter operates by using the voltmeter to measure a voltage drop, then converting this reading into a corresponding resistance reading through Ohm's law. If the current is known, the voltage drop across the unknown resistance may be read to give the resistance directly. If the current is not known, or if it is not possible to measure the voltage across the unknown directly, reading the voltage drop across a known resistance in the same circuit will give the current, and once this voltage is subtracted from the total drop for the circuit, the voltage drop across the unknown, and thus its resistance, may be found.
An ohmmeter is an electrical instrument that measures electrical resistance, the opposition to an electric current. Micro-ohmmeters (microhmmeter or microohmmeter) make low resistance measurements. Megohmmeters (aka megaohmmeter or megger) measure large values of resistance.

The original design of an ohmmeter provided a small battery to apply a voltage to a resistance. It used a galvanometer to measure the electric current through the resistance. The scale of the galvanometer was marked in ohms, because the fixed voltage from the battery assured that as resistance decreased, the current through the meter would increase.

A more accurate type of ohmmeter has an electronic circuit that passes a constant current (I) through the resistance, and another circuit that measures the voltage (V) across the resistance. According to the following equation, derived from Ohm's Law, the value of the resistance (R) is given by:

R = frac{V}{I}

For high-precision measurements the above types of meter are inadequate. This is because the meter's reading is the sum of the resistance of the measuring leads, the contact resistances and the resistance being measured. To reduce this effect, a precision ohmmeter has four terminals, called Kelvin contacts. Two terminals carry the current from the meter, while the other two allow the meter to measure the voltage across the resistor. With this type of meter, any current drop due to the resistance of the first pair of leads and their contact resistances is ignored by the meter. This four terminal measurement technique is called Kelvin sensing, after William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, who invented the Kelvin bridge in 1861 to measure very low resistances. Four-point-probe can also be ultilized to conduct accurate measurements of low resistances.

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