My question applies not only to multimeters, but all devices which require a low or a high impedance at the input or output.

Based on my understanding, a device would require a high input impedance, so that the input signal does not get affected by it. In other words, if the circuit was like shown below, then at point A, the effective input signal would be like an output at the voltage divider, hence Rinput / (Rinput + R_source), but since R_input is large, this value will likely become close to unity.


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Am I correct in understanding this? Also, is it the same reason multimeters have a high impedance? I.e., so the measurement is not affected and is correct?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Measurement devices that are supposed to be connected in parallel to circuit elements should have high input impedance. The opposite is true for the devices supposed to be connected in series (Amperemeter). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Voltmeters have high input impedance because Heisenberg tells us they can't have infinite impedance, which would be ideal in terms of not disturbing the system being measured. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 23:43

2 Answers 2


It's not that multimeters have a high impedance - just voltmeters do.

When measuring voltage, you connect the voltmeter (a multimeter in voltmeter mode) to the nodes between which you want to measure: it is a parallel connection. In order to measure correctly, you need the impedance of the voltmeter to be as high as possible so that very little current goes through it, so that it doesn't disturb the circuit (the current that was going through the, for example, resistance that you are measuring voltage on will continue to be almost exactly the same, thus the voltage drop will as well).

When measuring current, on the other hand, you connect the ammeter in series. This time, to prevent the device from disturbing the measuring, its impedance should be as low as possible, so that the circuit keeps behaving the same way (no voltage drops in the ammeter and the current flowing in that branch of the circuit stays the same).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I shouldn't have said multimeters. But was just trying to understand the concept of impedance in various devices like amplifiers and all. But is the reason mentioned in my question, why impedance becomes important ? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DennisTyler No problem, I just wanted to make sure that you got the point. Yes, what you stated in your question is correct if both the device and the voltage sign are referred to the same ground. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tendero
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the Hz range that's quite common on multimeters? \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, the normal term in English for a device which measures electrical current is ammeter, not amperemeter. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 21:02

Yes you are right, a voltmeter have a high impedance to not disturb the system you are monitoring. If the impedance is low, the voltmeter will draw too much current from the circuit and then give you a false voltage value.

It's the exact opposite for amp measurement, the internal impedance has to be as low as possible, otherwise, the global current of the branch you are monitoring will increase.

I made a post few weeks ago about the impact measurement device on circuit if you want to some more lecture : Schrödinger and electrical measurement issue


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