What Does OL Mean on a Multimeter? (EXPLAINED)

Have you ever been curious to know “what does OL mean on a multimeter”?

When working with a multimeter, you may have come across the perplexing display of “OL” on the screen. What exactly does this abbreviation stand for, and what does it signify in the context of your measurements?

If you’re new to using a multimeter, you might feel confused when you see “OL” readings. handling “OL” readings. Additionally, we will also help you to understand this message is how crucial for accurate readings.

In this post, we’ll explain to you what does ol mean on a multimeter and we also provide you some extra tips on what you are likely to encounter when working with a multimeter.

what does ol mean on a multimeter?

“OL” on a multimeter stands for “Overload.” When you see “OL” displayed on the multimeter’s screen, it indicates that the measured value exceeds the range or capability of the selected measurement function. If the multimeter is not connected to anything It means the circuit is incomplete and then the multimeter practically refers to OL (Open Loop).

If you see “OL” on a multimeter, you should adjust the range to a higher setting. This higher setting should be able to handle the value you want to measure. This ensures accurate readings and prevents potential damage to the multimeter or harm to yourself

Understanding “OL” Readings in Different Modes:

While using a multimeter, By using the following multimeter modes effectively you can unlock the full potential of unraveling the meaning behind “OL” readings.

1. OL reading before attaching probes

Have you ever encountered an “OL” reading displayed on the multimeter screen before attaching probes? It is because the probes are in the air and due to that there is a broken path in the circuit. That is why you encounter “OL” on a multimeter. In such a situation the multimeter will give OL reading every time.

It’s important to note that some multimeters showed on display one(1) in overload conditions instead of OL. So no need to confuse both are correct. But it is observed that “OL” is the most commonly used abbreviation across various brands and models.

2. OL reading in voltage test

While testing the voltage you have to dial different ranges on a multimeter depending on project requirements. By navigating the various voltage ranges sometimes you can encounter an “OL” reading on your multimeter.

While using a multimeter, recognize this overload indication because you’ve set your multimeter to test the voltage exceeding the multimeter’s capacity. Here the meaning is OL the current is overloaded.

In case of the circuit is broken or the multimeter can’t detect any voltage in testing terminals. The multimeter will show 1 or OL on display.

3. OL in continuity Test

Here I will explain what does ol mean on a multimeter during the continuity Test. In continuity testing, “OL” stands for “Open Loop” or “Open Line.” When you perform a continuity test using a multimeter. When the multimeter displays “OL” during a continuity test, it means that no continuity or electrical connection exists between the two test points.

Here are a few scenarios where you might encounter “OL” in a continuity test:

Open Circuit: If the circuit being tested is open or interrupted, meaning there is a physical break in the electrical path, the multimeter will display “OL” to indicate that continuity is not present.

Faulty Component: If you are testing a specific component such as a switch, fuse, or wire, and there is a break or fault within that component, the multimeter will register “OL” as there is no continuity across the faulty component.

Insufficient Contact: In some cases, “OL” may be displayed due to poor or insufficient contact between the test leads and the points being tested. Ensure that the test leads are securely and properly connected for accurate continuity measurements.

4) OL when measuring resistance

When measuring resistance using a multimeter, the abbreviation “OL” typically stands for “Overload.” When you see “OL” on the multimeter’s screen, it indicates that the resistance is too high for the selected range.

The multimeter has specific measurement ranges for resistance, and each range has a maximum value it can accurately measure. During resistance measurement, If the resistance is too high for the selected range, the multimeter will display “OL” instead of a precise reading. This is to indicate an overload.

FAQ: what does ol mean on a multimeter

#1) What is the difference between continuity and OL?

Continuity means there is a steady flow of electricity with little resistance, ensuring connection. OL means there is too much electricity, which the multimeter cannot accurately measure within the chosen range.

#2) What does overload mean on a multimeter?

In a multimeter, “overload” refers to a condition where the measured value exceeds the selected range. When the multimeter is in overload, the multimeter will display “OL” or a similar symbol to indicate overload. In this situation no harm to the device if it happens.

To avoid overloading, you should select a range that is higher than the expected value. For example, If you want to measure voltage around 10 volts, choose a higher voltage range like 20 volts or 50 volts.

Step by step Video Explanation of What Does OL Mean on a Multimeter


We hope this article helped you learn what does ol mean on a multimeter while taking measurement. Here we have discussed all possible scenarios in which you can find ol on multimeter display. If You may also want to buy a multimeter see our guide on Best Multimeter for Automotive.

Understanding “OL” on a multimeter is crucial for accurate measurements and avoiding potential damage. By recognizing this overload indication, you can make informed adjustments and troubleshoot effectively. With this newfound knowledge, you can confidently handle “OL” readings on your multimeter and delve into electrical measurements with greater proficiency.

Have any additional questions feel free to post your inquiries in the comments section.

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  • Manoj Kumar Raghav

    Hello, this is Manoj, A Soldering and DIY Tool expert. Writing is one of my hobbies. With more than 20 years of broad experience. I love researching, discovering, and sharing new products with others, I hope you’ll enjoy the greatest featured products to make life easier, more fun, and more productive.

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