Difference between volts and amps | Volts vs amps

Volts and amps or ampere are two measures of electricity. Specifically, voltage is the measure of electric potential difference between two points whereas ampere is the measure of electric current. They are closely related terms and can be a bit difficult to understand. In this article, let’s learn the difference between volts and amps.

Volts vs amps

What is a volt?

Volt is the unit for electric potential difference or electromotive force. The electric potential difference can be considered as a force that drives electrons to pass through a conductor. If you connect the leads of a voltmeter, one to the positive and the other two to the negative of a battery, what the voltmeter reads is called electric potential difference or Voltage. The unit of voltage is Volts.

What is Amps or Amperes?

Ampere or shortly known as Amps is the unit of electric current. In the above paragraph, you might have read that the voltage drives electrons through a conductor. This flow of electrons caused by the potential difference is known as an electric current. It is measured in amperes.

Difference between volts and amps explained using water-pipe analogy

In the above picture you can see there smaller pipes connected to a larger pipe. As you know there should be sufficient pressure in the large pipe to lift water up the smaller pipe. Higher the pressure in the large pipe more water flows out through the smaller pipe. In addition to, the diameter of smaller pipes also determines the water flow. Here,

Large pipe – Can be compared to a battery in a circuit.

Smaller pipe – wires connected to a battery.

Pressure – Can be compared to voltage.

Water – Charges or electrons that constitutes the current flow.

Water flow in each smaller pipes – Can be compared to current.

Rate of current flow Amperes

Hope this analogy has made volts vs amps more clear to you. Now, let’s compare them side by side and understand the difference between volts and amps better.

Volts vs amps

PropertiesVoltsAmps
DefinitionUnit of measure of electric potential difference or voltage.Unit of measure of electric current through a conductor.
AnalogyVoltage can be compared to the pressure of water stored in large pipe (refer above analogy).Ampere can be compared to the rate or speed at which water flows through each of the smaller pipes.
FormulaJoule / coulombCoulomb / second
Point of measurementVoltage is measure between any two point in a circuit.Current can measure at any point in a circuit. It is basically the number of electrons passing a point per second.
Measurement deviceVoltmeterAmmeter
NotationVolts is denoted by ‘V’.Ampere is denoted by ‘A’.

Volts vs amps: Key points to remember.

  • Volts refers to the difference in electric potential buildup by an accumulation of charges at a point with reference to another point.
  • Ampere or amps refers to the number of charges passing any point in a circuit.
  • One volt is defined as the electric potential between two points when one joule of work is done in moving one coulomb of charges from one of the points to the other.
  • One ampere is equal to one coulomb of charge passing a point in a second.

Summary

Volts represent the measure of potential difference between any two points in an electric field whereas ampere is the rate of current flow in a conductor or a circuit. Hope that the above explanations and analogy has helped you understand the difference between volts and amps or ampere.

Read more:

  1. Electric Current and Current Flow
  2. Voltage and Electric potential difference

References:

  1. The Difference Between Volts vs Amps vs. Watts
  2. What is an ampere?
  3. What are amps, watts, volts and ohms?

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