# Is Voltage a measurement of pressure?

• frankin garcia
In summary: Electricity is a force that is exerted on particles by an electrically charged object. Voltage is the potential energy of this force. When measuring an electrical currents voltage, are you actually measuring the pressure emitted in electricityVoltage between two points, A and B, in a circuit is a measure of the potential energy difference between a unit charge at A and a unit charge at B. Voltage has dimensions of energy/charge (units such as joules/coulomb).Pressure is force per unit area or energy per unit volume (a kind of potential energy density). A pressure difference between two points A and B in a fluid circuit signifies a difference in potential energy of a unit volume of fluid
frankin garcia
Summary: Volts

When measuring an electrical currents voltage, are you actually measuring the pressure emitted in electricity

No. Voltage and pressure are two different things.

cabraham and frankin garcia
No, you are measuring the voltage difference between two points in the circuit.

In some situations this is somewhat analogous to pressure in a water system, so you’ll see it described that way in some introductory explanations - but as with all analogies, there’s only so far that it can go. You can use it as long as it helps you form an intuitive mental picture of what’s going on, but any time that it’s not helping you understand you should give it up.

Umang Soni, russ_watters and frankin garcia
frankin garcia said:
Summary: Volts

When measuring an electrical currents voltage, are you actually measuring the pressure emitted in electricity
Voltage between two points, A and B, in a circuit is a measure of the potential energy difference between a unit charge at A and a unit charge at B. Voltage has dimensions of energy/charge (units such as joules/coulomb).

Pressure is force per unit area or energy per unit volume (a kind of potential energy density). A pressure difference between two points A and B in a fluid circuit signifies a difference in potential energy of a unit volume of fluid at A compared to a unit volume at B.

So voltage and pressure are dimensionally different but conceptually similar.

AM

Merlin3189, sysprog, russ_watters and 1 other person
Umm, measuring the potential difference is a bit tricky.
The quantity a voltmeter measures is actually a difference of chemical potential of electrons divided by the elementary charge. The chemical potential is affected by electric field but, if you look at it closely, it is not the same.

frankin garcia and davenn
frankin garcia said:
Summary: Volts

pressure emitted in electricity
Perhaps you are trying to use 'scientific words' to make your point but ask yourself what you mean by emitted pressure. If you try to make up a satisfactory simplified model for some physical process or situation then you have a serious problem when you don't start off with a rigorous, accepted model*.
Pressure in a fluid and volts around a circuit do have some degree of equivalence and there are a number of mathematical equations for each that have a common form. But you cannot go further than that. People just get things wrong when they try to take the pressure model into circuit theory. So why do people keep offering that approach? It does no one any favours.
*this is NOT the Spanish Inquisition approach, btw.

frankin garcia
Andrew Mason said:
Voltage between two points, A and B, in a circuit is a measure of the potential energy difference between a unit charge at A and a unit charge at B. Voltage has dimensions of energy/charge (units such as joules/coulomb).

Pressure is force per unit area or energy per unit volume (a kind of potential energy density). A pressure difference between two points A and B in a fluid circuit signifies a difference in potential energy of a unit volume of fluid at A compared to a unit volume at B.

So voltage and pressure are dimensionally different but conceptually similar.

AM
Maybe volts and pressure are conceptually different and dimensionally similar, because of the fact that volts is the force in the movement electrons(so it seems)and pressure is the force in movement, please correct where i am wrong, if.

frankin garcia said:
Maybe volts and pressure are conceptually different and dimensionally similar, because of the fact that volts is the force in the movement electrons(so it seems)and pressure is the force in movement, please correct where i am wrong, if.
By "dimensionally similar", all you can mean is the linear relationship between those two quantities and 'another two' quantities. The word "flow" is a sort of verbal link but the dimensions are totally unrelated.

You seem determined to hang on to an intuitive connection and some very familiar ideas (not always correct, in fact) associated with fluid flow, rather than to give Electricity the respect it deserves as a totally separate part of Science.

Water will always let you down when you use it in trying to extend any present knowledge you have of Electricity. One of the aims of PF is to improve understanding of Science and dodgy short cuts really don't help.

frankin garcia
frankin garcia said:
Maybe volts and pressure are conceptually different and dimensionally similar, because of the fact that volts is the force in the movement electrons(so it seems)and pressure is the force in movement, please correct where i am wrong, if.
The other term for voltage or potential difference is "emf" which is an acronym for "electro-motive force". The actual electro-motive "force" per unit charge is the electric field, which is the gradient or space derivative (spatial rate of change) of the potential. So thinking of voltage as a force leads to incorrect physics.

The better term would be "electro-motive pressure". If you think of voltage as a kind of electro-motive pressure and charge as a flow volume, you can model electric circuits in your head as somewhat analogous to volume of water flow doing work between two points due to pressure difference between the two points - such as water turning a hydro-electric turbine:

AM

zoki85, dlgoff and frankin garcia
Andrew Mason said:
The better term would be "electro-motive pressure".
Something that people seem to forget in trying to hop freely between Potential and Force (water or electricity) is the fact that the Field (force on each charge) can be anything you want for a given PD. A long 1W resistor has entirely different Fields along its length from a short 1W resistor. The two resistors are electrically identical.
The relevant Potential Difference, in the case of the hydroelectric system above is all across the Turbine (we assume the pipes are all wide enough and no work is done in getting the water to the turbine input port). The Pressure on the turbine is more or less ρhg and the Force depends entirely on the design of the blades etc. etc. When you get down to it, the water model is at least as complicated as the electrical model because the Kinetic Energy of the moving water is also relevant. KE doesn't come into it when you are talking about Electrical Power.
I could go on further to demonstrate that the 'simplicity' of the Water Model is a snare and a delusion. The fact that there are so many Electrical Engineers who can operate at a reasonable level of competence yet very few Fluid Engineers who are as 'good' at the theoretical level, goes to prove my point.
It may be time, I think, for the Electrical Model to be used to 'explain' Water Flow problems. (But only the simple ones)

frankin garcia
sophiecentaur said:
The Pressure on the turbine is more or less ρhg and the Force depends entirely on the design of the blades etc. etc.
The pressure difference or potential difference is ##\rho g\Delta h## (potential energy / unit volume).
When you get down to it, the water model is at least as complicated as the electrical model because the Kinetic Energy of the moving water is also relevant. KE doesn't come into it when you are talking about Electrical Power.
Kinetic energy is not really a factor in the water model either, except that there has to be some movement of the water through the turbine. The work done in passing through the turbine (assuming no change in kinetic energy through the system ie. steady flow rate with no difference between the size of the inlet and outlet pipe to/from the turbine) is pressure (difference) x volume or potential difference x volume.

AM

Merlin3189 and frankin garcia
Andrew Mason said:
Kinetic energy is not really a factor in the water model either, except that there has to be some movement of the water through the turbine.
I think that statement only applies to well designed turbines but you always need to shift the exit water out of the way of the next lot coming out. I have seen water coming out from an old hydro generator and it was pretty fast and furious but mechanical energy is always 'impressive' subjectively so my intuition may have failed me there.

If you look at water wheels where the PD is low, the KE can be a significant contribution to the equation because they are not efficient. Wheels where the water flows over the top are more efficient (iirc) than when the water flows under. The KE makes a difference there and I don't think there's an electrical power transfer where KE actually counts in the same way.

I know I keep batting on with my objections to the water analogy but I feel very strongly that when you give someone an analogy without all the necessary caveats (and no one gets them in school) they will (human nature) run off with them and try to apply them way outside their valid range. I guess the ultimate analogy is Maths and we all know how careful we have to be in interpreting the results, even of mathematical models.
I see little point in trying to justify the water analogy except at a very superficial level but people seem to cling to it like a drowning man and a lifeboat. We all (I think) use a sort of intuitive water model in our heads at times but that's 'private' and internal.

From my experience the water model of electricity is only useful if you are explaining something to someone who has no intention of studying electricity for example it works well in high school but not so much in college if you are studying electricity for a degree of some kind, since you will see times where the analogy does not work well.

zoki85 and sophiecentaur
Stephenk53 said:
the water model of electricity is only useful if you are explaining something to someone who has no intention of studying electricity
I agree totally. Which is what surprises me about all the posts on this and other threads which try so hard to justify the model. Which of the members of PF that they are trying to help are not studying Electricity?

Um guys i never said anything about water..
I am a welder and when i put the voltage up in my tig welder the flame gets thicker like more pressure was applied or more air was in the same volume applying a stronger force in every direction, and when i put up or down the amps in my tig welder, it changes how fast the flaming air is coming out, so i would assume amps is measuring the rate of electricity, or electrons moving thru any given point. Assist me where I am wrong, if.

Also guys, don't forget uncertainty has been proven to be real, so All of our thoughts must be questioned to account for what is uncertain.

Emitted means produce. The potential of my pure electric welder is real but only possible with some pressure moving thru, we measure that part, on the voltage knob aside from the on and off button. So i wonder if what is really happening here is a simple measurement of pressure under certain conditions.

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frankin garcia said:
Assist me where I am wrong, if.
Analogous relationships can be found all over the place. Something increases and that causes something else to increase. Your income and the number of goodies you can afford are related in the same way but would you draw a meaningful parallel between that and the way electricity behaves (except the obvious one)?
The point of Science is to find and describe the way quantities are related in as precise a way as possible. That makes it more and more possible to predict things and to improve Technology and lives in general. it can't really surprise you to find adverse reactions on PF to your attempt to muddy the waters by applying your own home brewed models. There's nothing wrong with holding all sorts of personal views but don't expect them to automatically have validity in the world of Physics. The 'rules of the game' are tried and tested; only occasionally can a very well informed person validly change them. The reason for the way Physics works as well as it does is not 'faith' but pragmatism.

frankin garcia
Sophiecentaur, i had thought the purpose was to summarize the universe? I feel like there are spiritual aspects strongly involved with that approach that science keeps pushing. if you follow the paths of analogous relationships, you will find them all over the place leading to one single subject. I might call this subject god but that's a preference, and the paths themselves are still distinguished except now more so. I've always felt as a child to now that maybe somethings Matter that the science community and I were neglecting or not acknowledging, and since the question was real and i learned of uncertainty i say 'there is uncertainly something uncertain about what we say deciding what actually Matters' or materalizes for a more vivid approach.

weirdoguy
I don’t know what “summarise” means in this context. I don’t know of any uses of the simile in Science.
The common language appears to be Maths.
I really can’t comment on the rest of your post. I don’t do mystical.

frankin garcia
frankin garcia said:
Sophiecentaur, i had thought the purpose was to summarize the universe? I feel like there are spiritual aspects strongly involved with that approach that science keeps pushing. if you follow the paths of analogous relationships, you will find them all over the place leading to one single subject. I might call this subject god but that's a preference, and the paths themselves are still distinguished except now more so. I've always felt as a child to now that maybe somethings Matter that the science community and I were neglecting or not acknowledging, and since the question was real and i learned of uncertainty i say 'there is uncertainly something uncertain about what we say deciding what actually Matters' or materalizes for a more vivid approach.
By the way PF does not allow for spiritual talk nor talk about what we "feel like" due to the subjectivity of that and lack of the ability to test such things. Also I think you meant describe the universe not summarize the universe. A lot of scientists say that science is meant to create a universal theory of everything but that is a bit off topic.

weirdoguy, frankin garcia and sophiecentaur
Well my question is answered i guess. I also never knew the spiritual as something untestable, i actually came to such useful thought by asking an unusual amount questions to any and everyone, carefully. Mark this day, i will come back to pf with my research done and completed on this 'meta-physical' with the standards you guys hold to be valued in science. Yall inspire mee!

frankin garcia said:
with the standards you guys hold to be valued in science. Yall inspire mee!
How embarrassing.

frankin garcia
I used the water analogy in reverse to understand the hydraulic ram. "Oh this is just like a boost converter but with water". Then the device made perfect sense.

Merlin3189
I think that Blaise Pascal was a bright guy.

frankin garcia
Lord Crc said:
I used the water analogy in reverse to understand the hydraulic ram. "Oh this is just like a boost converter but with water". Then the device made perfect sense.
I think that makes you a 'special person' and I agree that the electrical analogy fits most / many non-electrical things a lot easier for me too. But it only works for members of the 'club' who have been through the 'mill' already.
I very often reach for the terms 'transmission line, matching, Impedance etc., to explain something to someone and then I stop myself because I just know it will take them deeper into the mire.

weirdoguy
It would seem that although Maxwell, Faraday et al went to great lengths to quantify electricity and magnetism, no one, not even they, has a full grasp of what it actually is. So no work-around analogy as an aid to understanding should ever be ruled out. For the observer it is what it seems. Be that a welder or a man with a meter, or someone with a bunch of mathematical equations that are such a close approximation they are reliably predictive as to how it behaves; at least in the reality we inhabit.. However mathematics is only a language, it is not truth per se. Perhaps the only humans who can truly be said to understand electricity are those that have been hit by lightning, suffered an electric shock, died in the electric chair, or had some other kind of close encounter with it.. Electricity remains as ever, mysterious, and don't ever let some guy with a potentiometer take that away from you..

sophiecentaur and frankin garcia
WilliamKA said:
However mathematics is only a language, it is not truth per se.
I don't have a problem with that, though because "truth" doesn't come into my requirements for Science. I am only after a working model and Maths usually seems to be the most reliable.

Maybe a little above level "B"...
but from an energy point of view (in the context of conjugate variables , as in work-done, Hamiltonian mechanics, and Thermodynamics),
$dU= F\ dx + p\ dv + \tau\ d\theta + V\ dq +\Phi_B\ di ...+ T\ dS + \mu\ dN + E\ dP + H\ dM$

Force, pressure, torque, electric potential, magnetic flux, ... are generalized-forces
corresponding to
displaced- [-position] , -volume , -angle , -charge , -current, ... generalized-displacements (changes in configuration).

(By "displaced-charge", the charging of a capacitor can be thought of as starting with initially neutral plates, then displacing some charge $q$ from one plate to the other plate, leaving the plates with $-q$ and $q$.)

Force has units of energy/displacement = $\rm N=J/m$.
Pressure has units of $\rm Pascal=N/m^2=Nm/m^3=J/m^3$.
Torque has units of $\rm m\cdot N=J/radian$.
Voltage [and EMF] has units of $\rm Volt=(Coulomb/Farad)=\frac{(Coulomb/Farad)Coulomb}{Coulomb}=J/Coulomb$. (So, electromotive force is a generalized force.)
MagneticFlux has units of $\rm Weber=(Henry\cdot Ampere)=\frac{(Henry\cdot Ampere)Ampere}{Ampere}=J/Ampere$.

Of course, this isn't to say that these are completely analogous...
but from this limited energy [work-done] point of view, they [in particular, voltage and pressure] are analogous.

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frankin garcia
robphy said:
from this limited energy [work-done] point of view, they [in particular, voltage and pressure] are analogous.

That is exactly the answer i was looking for, thanks, now i just got to do more research to validate all this and more.

robphy said:
Of course, this isn't to say that these are completely analogous...
but from this limited energy [work-done] point of view, they [in particular, voltage and pressure] are analogous.
frankin garcia said:
That is exactly the answer i was looking for, thanks, now i just got to do more research to validate all this and more.
But do note that as robphy says, they are not completely analogous. As with all analogies, there’s only so far that this one can go. You can use it as long as it helps you form an intuitive mental picture of what’s going on, but any time that it’s not helping you understand you should give it up.

frankin garcia
Nugatory said:
as long as it helps you form an intuitive mental picture of what’s going on
I think there's an enormous problem with initial teaching using the water model. That is the pipes and the wires can erroneously be taken as equivalent components but, at the same time, the pressure drop along pipes of different bores is taken as a dominant image. That is a seriously confusing issue for students who will never have experience of water flow. I can't think of a single experimental experience that kids get of water flow (after nursery school, that is).

There are two strands to the contributions to this thread - from informed people who can find positive correlation at a technical level and from people who try to envisage teaching very uninformed students. The 'intellectual' links across Science are valid but the 'intuitive' links are much more tenuous. For teaching, one has to think concrete.

frankin garcia
On that note, how would you explain when i change the amount of voltage in my welder, let's say for sake of scenario, the voltage goes up and the plasma flame, i'll notice, has more force, power, Newtons per area it seems. Which from what i know, that action is also called pressure. If i bring the volts down, clearly the opposite occurs with the flame completely ran on electricity and argon/helium. Maybe I am not interpreting force, Newtons and power correctly.

frankin garcia said:
the voltage goes up and the plasma flame, i'll notice, has more force,
More current will produce more heat which causes more volume of evolved gases. The actual pressure increase will be infinitesimal as the gases expand in all directions against only atmospheric pressure to restrict it. That's what you notice; more flame.

frankin garcia

## 1. What is voltage?

Voltage is a measure of the electric potential difference between two points in an electric field. It is also known as electromotive force and is measured in volts.

## 2. How is voltage different from pressure?

Voltage is a measure of electric potential difference, while pressure is a measure of force per unit area. They are two different physical quantities and are not directly related to each other.

## 3. Can voltage be measured directly?

Yes, voltage can be measured directly using a voltmeter. This device measures the potential difference between two points in an electric circuit.

## 4. Is voltage the same as current?

No, voltage and current are two different quantities in electricity. Voltage is the potential difference, while current is the flow of electric charge. They are related by Ohm's law, which states that voltage is equal to current multiplied by resistance.

## 5. What is the unit of measurement for voltage?

The unit of measurement for voltage is the volt (V), which is equivalent to one joule of energy per coulomb of charge. It is named after Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, who invented the electric battery.

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