How To Test a Thermistor with A Multimeter

Do you need to know how to use a multimeter to test a thermistor? Testing thermistors may appear to be a difficult challenge, but it does not have to be. Anyone with a bit of knowledge and the right tools can quickly complete this process in no time! In this blog post, we’ll look at what a thermistor is and how to test one using your multimeter as a guide. We’ll walk you through each step so that even beginners have all the information they need for successful troubleshooting or repairs by the end. So don’t be concerned – let’s get started!

How To Test A Thermistor With A Multimeter

What is a thermistor, and what does it do?

A thermistor is a temperature sensor used in industrial and commercial applications. It consists of a semiconductor material which changes its electrical resistance with temperature. As the temperature rises or falls, the thermistor’s resistance also changes, resulting in an output signal that can be measured to determine the environmental temperature. Thermistors are widely utilized in HVAC systems, medical equipment, consumer electronics, automotive control systems and other devices that require precise temperature sensing and accurate thermal measurement. They offer advantages over different types of sensors due to their small size, low cost, fast response time and wide range of operating temperatures.

Furthermore, thermistors provide excellent accuracy for measuring low-level temperatures compared to other types of sensors, such as RTDs and thermocouples. This makes them ideal for industrial process control, agricultural monitoring and medical equipment applications. In addition to providing temperature readings, thermistors can also be used as current-limiting devices or heat switches to protect vulnerable components from harm due to sudden temperature changes.

Thermistors are a reliable and durable type of sensor widely used across many industries. They provide accurate temperature readings in a small package, making them an excellent choice for any application requiring precise temperature measurement.

How To Test a Thermistor with A Multimeter

When testing a thermistor with a multimeter, the resistance setting on the metre must be used. This is accomplished by connecting a one-meter lead to each end of the thermistor and measuring its resistance. Before starting this process, remember that different readings may be obtained depending on the thermistor being tested.

1. Set the Multimeter:

Set your multimeter to the ohms setting (at least 100-200 KΩ). This will ensure that you are accurately measuring the resistance of the thermistor.

2. Connect Probes:

Connect both probes from the multimeter (red & black) to each end of the thermistor. Ensure a firm connection is made between them and the thermistor, so there is no chance of an inaccurate reading being taken.

3. Measure at Room Temperature:

Measure the resistance of the thermistor at room temperature. Please write down this reading so it can be compared against readings taken in different temperatures later in the testing process.

4. Take To Hot Place:

Take the thermistor to a hot place, such as a hair dryer or heat lamp. Measure the resistance again at this temperature.

5. Take To a Cold Place:

Take the thermistor to a cold place, such as an ice bath. Measure the resistance one last time in this environment.

6. Compare Results:

Compare the readings taken at each temperature and assess if they match what is expected from a suitable thermistor. Generally, resistance should decrease with increasing temperatures and increase with decreasing temperatures (minus). If the multimeter’s resistance reading does not change or gives off 0 (quite low) or OL (open loop) readings, then it is likely that your thermistor is faulty.

Once you have completed the testing process and compared the results, you should now better understand whether your thermistor is functioning correctly. If it is found faulty, consider replacing it with a new one. Taking the time to test a thermistor properly can save you from potentially costly repairs in the future.

Common problems that can occur with thermistors:

Improperly connected terminals

Terminals of a thermistor should always be connected appropriately to ensure that there is an adequate power supply for the device and that it receives appropriate electrical signals.

Poor connection between components

If a thermistor is installed with other components or in an environment where the temperature can fluctuate rapidly, the connection between them may become poor and affect accuracy.

Sensor drifts over time

As environmental conditions change, even with no changes to the thermistor setup, sensor drift can occur due to tolerances, aging, and other external influences like dirt buildup on sensing surfaces.

Temperature mismatch with application

Thermistors are designed to operate within a specific temperature range, and selecting the wrong thermistor for your application can lead to inaccurate readings or even damage.

Poor signal-to-noise ratio

If there is too much noise in the environment, it could interfere with the readings taken by the thermistor, leading to inaccurate results.

Presence of other electrical fields

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated by nearby devices can affect the accuracy of a thermistor’s measurements, leading to false results.

Inaccurate calibration

Thermistors must be calibrated regularly to ensure their accuracy, as small changes in environmental conditions can cause them to drift from their original settings over time.

Poor insulation

If the thermistor is not correctly insulated from other components, it may result in inaccurate readings.

Poor contact with the medium

Poor contact between the thermistor and the medium it is sensing (e.g. air or liquid) could lead to inaccurate results.

Overheating of the environment

Finally, when a thermistor is used in an environment that becomes too hot, its accuracy can be affected due to its temperature changes and fluctuations in the surrounding area. This can lead to either very high or very low readings compared to true values. It’s, therefore, essential to ensure that any thermistors used in such environments are resistant to such temperature changes. It’s also vital to monitor the environment for sudden changes that could lead to inaccurate readings.

These are some common problems that can occur with thermistors, and it’s important to be aware of them to ensure accurate results from your device. Taking steps like properly connecting terminals, calibrating regularly, and selecting the suitable thermistor for your application can help you avoid these issues. Additionally, monitoring the environment where a thermistor is used and its own temperature should always be done when applicable. This way, you can minimize or eliminate any potential problems associated with thermistors before they become an issue.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can you tell if a thermistor is faulty?

A faulty thermistor may fail to provide an accurate temperature reading, or its resistance may differ from the expected value. To confirm whether a thermistor is defective, you can test its resistance using a multimeter. Common signs of a defective thermistor include an abnormally high or low reading when testing resistance and an incorrect temperature measurement compared to other system thermistors.

What type of multimeter should be used to test a thermistor?

To accurately test a thermistor, it’s best to use a digital multimeter with ohm meters and available temperature measurement options. A digital multimeter will enable you to measure the thermistor’s resistance more precisely than with an analog model. It will also allow you to take temperature measurements with greater accuracy.

What steps are involved in testing a thermistor?

Testing a thermistor typically involves these steps: attaching the leads of the multimeter to the thermistor, monitoring the voltage and current readings, adjusting the temperature levels on the multimeter as needed, and taking note of any changes in resistance or temperature measurements. Once complete, compare your results against the expected values for that type of thermistor. If there is a significant difference between your readings and those found in the literature, your device may be defective.

Are there any safety considerations when testing a thermistor?

When working with an electrical device such as a multimeter, it’s essential to take safety precautions. Ensure the multimeter is appropriately insulated, as direct contact with any live electrical current in the device can be dangerous. Wear protective gloves and eye protection while setting up and using the multimeter, and avoid touching any exposed wires or terminals. Additionally, ensure that you follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer of your thermistor.


Finally, testing a thermistor with a multimeter is straightforward. All you need is the proper multimeter, knowledge of how resistance works, and an understanding of the testing procedures. Considering these considerations, completing this task should be simple and quick. All measurements taken during the test must be accurate to ensure reliable results. When performing this test, take care not to miss any steps or overlook any details, as errors can result in inaccurate readings or other problems with your system. By following these steps correctly, you can be confident that your results will be accurate and help you decide how to fix the issue.

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