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voltmeter, instrument used to measure differences of electric potential, commonly called voltage, in volts or units that are multiples or fractions of volts. A voltmeter is usually combined with an ammeter and an ohmmeter in a multipurpose instrument. Most voltmeters are based on the d'Arsonval galvanometer and are of the analog type, i.e., they give voltage readings that can vary over a continuous range as indicated by a scale and pointer. However, digital voltmeters, which provide voltage readings that are composed of a group of digits, are becoming increasingly common. Since an oscilloscope is capable of giving a calibrated visual indication of voltage, it can be called a voltmeter. See also potentiometer.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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