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Electrical Theory


The ammeter measures electric current. It may be calibrated in amperes, milliamperes, or microamperes. In order to measure current, the ammeter must be placed in series with the circuit to be tested (as shown in below Figure 1).


Figure 1 : Ammeter

When an ammeter is placed in series with a circuit, it will increase the resistance of that circuit by an amount equal to the internal resistance of the meter Rm.

The below Equation is the mathematical representation of the current without the meter installed.

Ammeter Current Formula

The below Equation is the mathematical representation of the current with the meter installed in the circuit.

Ammeter Current Formula - 1

The accuracy of the ammeter KA is the ratio of the current when the meter is in the circuit, Iw , to the current with the meter out of the circuit, Io .

The below Equation is the mathematical representation for solving for the accuracy of the ammeter (KA).

accuracy of the ammeter

By substitution laws, The below Equation is a mathematical representation of the accuracy using circuit resistance.

Ammeter Accuracy Formula

The percent loading error is that percent of error due to loading effects that result from the added resistance of the meter.

The below Equation is a mathematical representation of the percent loading error.

% loading error = (1 – KA )(100 %)

A second error which occurs in an ammeter is calibration error. Calibration error is an error that occurs due to inaccurately marked meter faces. Typical values of calibration error in terms of full scale current are about 3 percent.


An ammeter, with a 10 mA full scale deflection and an internal resistance of 400 Ω, is placed in a circuit with a 20 V power source and a 2KΩ resistor.

Ammeter Accuracy Calculation

Figure 2 : Ammeter Accuracy


  1. accuracy
  2. %loading error
  3. true current
  4. measured current

Calculate Accuracy

K= R / (Ro + Rm)

K= 2000/(2000 + 2000)

K= 0.833 or 83.3%

Calculate %loading error

% loading error = (1 – KA )(100 %)

% loading error = (1 – 0.833) (100%)

% loading error = 16.7 %

Calculate true current

Ammeter Current Formula

Io = 20 / 2000

Io = 0.01 A or 10mA

Calculate measured current

Ammeter Current Formula - 1

Iw = 20 / (2000 + 400)

Iw = 8.33 mA

An ammeter with a full scale Im can be shunted with a resistor RSH in order to measure currents in excess of Im (as shown in Figure). The reason for shunting an ammeter is to extend the range of the ammeter and, thereby, measure currents higher than the original full scale value.

Ammeter with Shunt

Figure 3 : Ammeter with Shunt

By Kirchhoff’s current law,

ISH = IT – Im

Since the voltage across the shunt must be equal to the voltage across the ammeter, shunt resistance is calculated as follows:

Ammeter Shunt Resistance

Therefore, the input resistance of a shunted ammeter is related to the meter and shunt resistance. The below Equation is a mathematical representation of this relationship.

NOTE: When computing accuracy for a shunted ammeter, use Rm‘ in place of Rm

Ammeter Current Formula - 2

The below Equation is a mathematical representation of the relationship between input voltage and current to the ammeter and the value of input resistance.

Ammeter Current Formula - 3


An ammeter, with a 100 Ω meter resistance and a full scale deflection current of 4 mA, is to be shunted to measure currents from 1 to 20 mA.


  1. RSH
  2. Rm

Solution :

RSH = (Im Rm ) / ( Im – R)

RSH = 4 x 100 / (20-4)

RSH = 25Ω

Rm‘ = (Im Rm ) /  IT

Rm‘ = 4×100 / 20

Rm‘ = 20Ω

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