Why is voltage called potential difference?

• Jack
In summary, voltage is called potential difference because it is a measure of the difference in potential energy between two points in a circuit. This potential difference, or voltage, is present even when a circuit is not switched on, similar to how a brick held in the air has gravitational potential energy. Voltage can be thought of as pressure, and even when a circuit is open, the potential difference is still present.

Jack

Why is voltage called potential difference?

"Potential" refers to potential energy -- for example, a test charge at rest in an electric field has potential energy. In a similar way, a brick held in the air has gravitational potential energy.

Between two points at different heights above the ground, there is a difference in potential. Between two points in a circuit with different voltages, there is a difference in potential. A voltage is a difference in potential, or a potential difference.

- Warren

Originally posted by chroot
"Potential" refers to potential energy -- for example, a test charge at rest in an electric field has potential energy. In a similar way, a brick held in the air has gravitational potential energy.

Between two points at different heights above the ground, there is a difference in potential. Between two points in a circuit with different voltages, there is a difference in potential. A voltage is a difference in potential, or a potential difference.

- Warren

But it's not potential is it because there isn't a voltage before you switch the circuit on. If this statement is wrong then I still don't understand and then could someone else please try explaining it to me.

Originally posted by Jack
But it's not potential is it because there isn't a voltage before you switch the circuit on. If this statement is wrong then I still don't understand and then could someone else please try explaining it to me.
If there's no voltage, then there is no potential difference, that's correct. "Potential difference" is synonymous with "voltage."

The two ends of a AA battery have two different electric potentials; therefore, the battery presents a potential difference (or voltage). When you connect it to a circuit, the potential difference coaxes charges to move.

In a similar manner, when you let go of the brick you're holding in mid-air, the brick is coaxed to move by the difference in gravitational potential.

- Warren

But it's not potential is it because there isn't a voltage before you switch the circuit on.

The fact is circiut source voltage is present across an open switch. The way to find an open in a live circiut is to measure voltages, looking for a wire or connection that measure source voltage.

Try thinking of it as pressure. A good analogy is water in a pipe. Voltage is the pressure whether the switch or valve is open or not. Current or amperage is the amount of water or electrons that flow. Obvisously when the switch is open there is no current flow but the pressure i.e. voltage/potenial is still there.

1. What is voltage?

Voltage, also known as electrical potential difference, is the difference in electric potential energy between two points in an electric field. It is measured in volts (V) and represents the amount of work required to move a unit charge from one point to another.

2. Why is voltage called potential difference?

Voltage is called potential difference because it represents the difference in electric potential energy between two points. In other words, it is the difference in the amount of work required to move a charge from one point to another.

3. How is voltage measured?

Voltage is measured using a device called a voltmeter. The voltmeter is connected in parallel to the circuit and measures the potential difference between two points. It is calibrated in volts.

4. What is the relationship between voltage and current?

There is a direct relationship between voltage and current, known as Ohm's Law. Ohm's Law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points.

5. Why is understanding voltage important in science?

Understanding voltage is important in science because it is a fundamental concept in the study of electricity and how it behaves. It is used to describe the flow of electricity in circuits and is essential in the design and functioning of electronic devices.