# Me and the volt meter

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi everyone,

I just bought a volt meter today to play around. To my understanding about electricity and all, I've always been taught that potentials have references. We always reference ground as zero potential. I put the volt pins between a small battery and it reads about 1.6 volts, so I thought if ground is zero potential, then it should read some voltages across the battery and ground. However, the meter reads zero. What is my misunderstanding about ground term? Is ground literally ground and have 0 potential? lol

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Redbelly98
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Yes, potentials have references. For the voltmeter, the reference is whatever is connected to the "com" terminal (usually through a black wire). The meter reading is then the voltage of whatever is connected to the other wire (usually colored red), with respect to this reference.

You need to connect one wire to the battery's PLUS terminal, and the other wire to the battery's MINUS terminal.

Make sure the meter is set to read DC Volts. If it is set to read AC Volts, it will read zero for a battery.

Yes, potentials have references. For the voltmeter, the reference is whatever is connected to the "com" terminal (usually through a black wire). The meter reading is then the voltage of whatever is connected to the other wire (usually colored red), with respect to this reference.

You need to connect one wire to the battery's PLUS terminal, and the other wire to the battery's MINUS terminal.

Make sure the meter is set to read DC Volts. If it is set to read AC Volts, it will read zero for a battery.
Thx for the tip. What puzzle me is that when you touch a wire and you standing on the ground, you'll get shock. However, when I check the wire and ground using the volt meter, it reads zero.

Redbelly98
Staff Emeritus