What does negative voltage mean on a multimeter?

If you’re new to electronics, you may be wondering what does negative voltage mean on a multimeter

This can be confusing for beginners, but it’s essential to understand this fault. If you want to keep working with a multimeter.

Don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place to understand it all.

Ready to learn more? Then let’s jump right into it!

what does negative voltage mean on a multimeter

Why is my multimeter reading negative voltage?

A negative voltage is a type of voltage that is less than zero. In other words, it is a voltage that is pointing in the opposite direction of positive. A negative voltage is often used in electrical systems to control power flow.

For your multimeter readings, – indicates that there is currently flowing in the opposite direction of what you expect.

This can be confusing and may cause incorrect readings on your meter. If you see -V on your meter, be sure to troubleshoot the issue to determine what is causing it.

There are a few reasons why your multimeter could be reading negative voltage.

  1. The meter is set to reverse polarity.

This is the most common case for beginners when measuring DC voltage. To fix this, just switch the leads at measuring points. The red probe must be connected with a positive measurement point and the black probe with a negative dot.

  1. There is a break in the circuit, causing a short circuit.

In this case, you will need to find and repair the circuit breaker. You should first look at the transformer and diode.

  1. You’re measuring a voltage that’s negative relative to ground. 

For example, if you’re measuring the voltage difference between two points in a circuit with respect to ground, and one point is at ground potential and the other point is at -5 volts, then your multimeter will read -5 volts. To fix this, you can either move one of your points to a voltage that’s more positive, or you can use an external reference, like the power supply.

  1. There is a short somewhere in the voltmeter.

Shorts in the voltmeter can cause it to read negative value. The best you should do is contact the manufacturer and ask for a repair.

  1. Out of the range

The meter has an auto-range function. The voltage in your circuit is less than what the auto-ranging feature can measure accurately.

What does negative voltage mean?

A negative voltage is a measure of electron potential or energy. It is measured in volts and has the symbol “-V.” The higher the negative voltage, the more potential energy or electrons are available. This can be useful in electrical circuits to move electrons from one place to another.

For example, batteries produce negative voltage, so they can power devices like flashlights and calculators. Electrical generators also create negative voltage, which power homes and businesses.

The opposite of negative voltage is positive, with the symbol “+V.”

Negative (-V) occurs when a battery or generator runs in reverse. Batteries have positive and negative terminals, with the positive terminal higher than the negative one.

Electrons are pushed from the lower end of the battery to the higher end through a conducting wire called electron flow, or current. 

A generator reverses the process by turning wire coils in a magnetic field to create electron movement.

A negative voltage is also measured with the ground, which can be an arbitrary point along the circuit path or another source of zero volts, like the negative terminal of a battery, for example.

When a circuit path measures more negative than ground, it is said to have a negative voltage concerning ground.

What happens when voltage is negative?

When voltage is negative, the electric potential energy is lower on one side of a circuit than the other. This can cause current to flow in the opposite direction and damage electronic components.

What should you do if your voltage is negative as measured by the multimeter?

If your voltage is negative on the multimeter screen, you should check your connections and ensure that the probes are correctly attached to the circuit.

Incorrectly connected probes are a common cause of incorrect measurements. If this does not fix negative voltages, you might have a defective meter or need to use a different meter.

If your voltage is still negative after checking the connections and making sure that the probes are properly attached to the circuit, then you will need to change how you measure voltage.

The “positive” and “negative” symbols used to describe voltages are arbitrary and while we conventionally say that the positive terminal of a power source should be connected to the positive terminal of a circuit and the negative terminal of a power source to the negative terminal of a circuit, it is possible for voltage sources to have different positive and negative terminals.

How to correctly measure battery voltage (DC Voltage)

Batteries are an essential part of many electronic devices. To get the most out of your battery, it’s essential to know how to measure its voltage.

There are a few ways to measure the battery voltage. The most accurate way is to use a multimeter.

To test battery voltage with a multimeter, first, make sure that the meter is set to the correct voltage range. Next, connect the black lead to the battery’s negative terminal and the red lead to the positive terminal. Be sure not to short the leads together! Finally, find the voltage on the screen and write it down.

Correctly dc voltage measuring

How to correctly measure socket outlet (AC Voltage)

To test the voltage of a socket, you will need a voltmeter. 

First, find the socket that you want to measure. In most cases, it will be labeled with the voltage it provides. If it is not labeled, you can test it by plugging in a device that requires a specific voltage to operate. 

Once you have found the socket, set your multimeter to Volts AC (alternating current). Touch the multimeter’s probes to the two metal prongs on the socket. The voltage will be displayed on the screen. 

You can also find useful our video on this topic:


We hope that you now understand what does negative voltage mean on a multimeter and that you will easily solve this problem.