Difference between Oscilloscope and Multimeter voltages

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by mendiola_loyola, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. mendiola_loyola

    mendiola_loyola Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 18, 2010
    Dear All:

    One question, I have a multimeter that shows 24.0 volts DC but when I measure the voltage on the DSO-2090 Oscilloscope the Vrms voltage is higher.

    The oscilloscope Vrms is 25Volts

    What is the true measure the oscilloscope or the multimeter (Brand Nitsuko, Model UR-3203).

    What Kind of Voltage is showing the multimeter, the v Base?

    I'm attaching a picture with the oscilloscope voltage measures.

    The vertical Division is 10V

    I'm using a 10x probe.


    Alfredo Mendiola Loyola
    Lima, Perú
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  2. Adjuster

    Adjuster Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
    London UK (GMT)
    You mention attaching a picture, but I cannot see it.

    In general a multimeter is likely to be more accurate than an oscilloscope when measuring DC voltage. Errors of a few per cent plus an LSB or two may be acceptable when using a scope (check the specs of your instrument). Further error may result from using a probe.

    Another issue when using a Vrms measurement from a scope is that it may respond to higher frequency signals or noise which may be ignored by the multimeter. If you really want to measure the DC component of the signal, you would be better to use an average voltage function (Vavg?) assuming that the scope has one.

    Of course, either instrument could be suffering from calibration drift or damage, but that's another story.
  3. someonesdad

    someonesdad Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    Northwest USA

    You're learning about the old saw "The man with one watch knows what time it is. The man with two watches is never quite sure."

    Without calibrated standards to compare to, you simply don't know which instrument is giving you a correct reading (and maybe both of them are lying).

    The short answer is you'll need to either make some calibrated sources and send them to a cal lab or send one or both of your meters to be calibrated. Don't be surprised if the services cost more than the instrument.

    A number of years ago I made a simple voltage reference from some AAA batteries, a resistor, and an LM285Z integrated circuit. I measured its voltage output over 24 days and found that it was a nice, inexpensive voltage reference (see attached graph). You could easily build yourself one for a few dollars -- follow the instructions in the data sheet. But you'll need to get it calibrated if you don't have a lab-standard voltmeter.

    A standard source for an AC voltage is more work, but you can find things on the web if you look. As Adjuster said, you also need these standards to determine whether your scope's RMS measurement is calibrated to DC levels. One of my scopes, for example, reads RMS down to DC, but is off by 10% for a DC voltage.

    Attached Files:

  4. kubeek

    kubeek AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 20, 2005
    Prague, Czech Rep
    I suggest building a true RMS meter if you really need RMS figures. Your oscilloscope is calculating the RMS from its 8bit samples, which will never be very accurate. I couldn´t find anything on the DMM, so the oscillo may be the better one. Check the accuracy rating of both and see which one should give you more accurate readings.
  5. nomurphy

    nomurphy Distinguished Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Most scope manufacturers do not guarantee vertical accuracy, I think LeCroy may on some of their higher-end scopes.
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