Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Basics: Voltage and Current

For those people not familiar with electronics and electricity, the concept of voltage and current can be a very difficult thing to comprehend.

Fact 1: Voltage and Current are not the same thing!

I have heard people use the two terms interchangeably and when confronted with his/her error the response is simply "Ah, same thing." Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Analogy is one of the easiest forms of explaining difficult concepts, so I will try that here. Electricity is like water. Think of a waterfall. there is a certain amount of height to the waterfall and the higher it is, the more violently the water hits the pool at the bottom. Also, there is a flow rate associated with the waterfall. A small waterfall may flow at only 10 gallons per minute and a large one at 10million gallons per minute. The larger the flow also contributes to a more violent or powerful impact at the bottom.

Now here is the key: Voltage is like waterfall height and Current is like waterfall flow rate.

They are most certainly not the same thing, but are part of the same idea. The combination of Voltage and Current indicate the Power of an electrical component in the same way that height of a waterfall and its flow rate determine the power or intensity of water impact.

FYI: Voltage is often represented by the letter "V" and current is represented by the letter "I" in equations.

No comments:

Post a Comment