How much current does an ohmmeter use to test resistance?

Thread Starter


Joined Jul 11, 2014
How much current does an ohmmeter typically send through a component to test its resistance? If it varies how much current does it use to measure as high as 2M ohms, 200k ohms, 20k ohms, 1k ohm? Is it in the nanoamp, microamp, or milliamp range?


Joined Jul 18, 2013
Depends on the meter.
Most electronic VOM's do not supply enough current to forward bias a diode, this is why there is normally a diode test position that registers the volt drop across the diode.
A moving coil meter, it depends on the Ma/deflection.


Joined Mar 31, 2012
Most (not all) meters will have specs that will give you that information. You may have to search online for it.


Joined Mar 14, 2008
My low cost Centech digital multimeter has a full-scale voltage on the resistance setting of 200mV (the open circuit maximum voltage may be some higher than that), on all ranges.
That's why they don't forward bias a diode. I think most low cost meters do the same (those with a most sensitive DC scale of 200mV).
Thus you divide 200mV by the resistance scale setting to get the (constant) current used to measure the resistance.
For example, at the 20kΩ scale setting, the current would be 200mV / 20kΩ = 10μA
Note that the current changes with the resistance scale setting on the meter.


Joined Sep 30, 2009
I also have a Centech, but couldn't find the specs anywhere on the box and lost the user manual.

Go to the Harbor Freight website and pull up the model number. They will have a PDF for that items manual there. They do that for all things they sell.