# Potential difference

**Potential difference** is a quantity in physics related to the amount of energy that would be required to move an object from one place to another against various types of force. The term is most frequently used as an abbreviation of 'electrical potential difference' (see below), which is almost synonymous with 'voltage', but it also occurs in many other branches of physics.

In more technical terms, *potential difference* is the difference in some quantity between two points in a conservative vector field of that quantity. Some examples are listed below.

- In mechanics, the
*gravitational potential difference*between two points on Earth is related to the energy that would be required to move a unit mass from one point to the other against the Earth's gravitational field. Unit: joules per kilogram. - In electrical engineering, the
*electrical potential difference*('voltage') between two points is the energy that would be required to move a unit of electrical charge from one point to the other against the electrostatic field that is present. Unit: joules per coulomb = volts. - In fluid systems the
*potential difference*is the difference in pressure. Unit: pascals. - In thermal systems the
*potential difference*is the difference in temperature. Unit: kelvins.

In engineering, potential is sometimes described as the across variable, whereas flux is the through variable. The product of the flux and the potential difference is the power, which is the time rate of change of energy. In simpler language, this is to say that power is energy emitted in a fixed length of time divided by the length of the time interval.

## See also

- Extra high tension (EHT)
- Mains electricity (an article about domestic power supply voltages)
- List of countries with mains power plugs, voltages and frequencies
- High-voltage hazards
- SI electromagnetism units
- Volt

## External links

bg:Електрическо напрежение ca:Diferència de potencial cs:Elektrické napětí da:Elektrisk spænding de:Elektrische Spannung es:Diferencia de potencial it:Differenza di potenziale he:מתח חשמלי nl:Elektrische spanning ja:電圧 pl:Napięcie elektryczne pt:Tensão elétrica ru:Напряжение (электрическое) sl:Električna napetost fi:Jännite sv:Elektrisk spänning zh:電壓