# An Explanation of What is Potential Difference and How to Calculate It

If you want to understand what electric potential difference is, this article will be an interesting read. It is one of the most fundamental concepts that you should know. Read to get a hang of this fundamental concept in electrical science.

Omkar Phatak

Last Updated: Jul 16, 2017

Electric Potential Energy

You must have learned in basic physics courses that charges come in two types: positive and negative. Like charges repel each other and unlike charges attract each other. They exert this force of attraction or repulsion through an electric field that surrounds the charge. Any charge that comes in vicinity of another charge experiences a force of repulsion or attraction.

Definition

The electric potential difference between two points, is simply the energy required to transport a unit charge between those two points. It is measured in volts. One volt is defined as one joule per coulomb. It could also be defined as the change in the potential energy that occurs due to transport of a unit charge from one point to the other. Electric current flows from a point of high electric potential, to a point which has a lower potential. It is just like the behavior of water that always seek its level. Current flows between two points that have a difference in electric potential, to balance this inequality.

How is it Calculated

Calculating it is made possible by the Ohm's law. It says that the voltage between two points of a conductor is directly proportional to the current flowing through it as long as its physical properties remain constant. This is expressed in the form of the equation:

V = IR

V = IR