What is Voltage?

May 19, 2020 | Tips


Have you ever wondered where all of your electricity goes around the company? You look at the monthly electric bill and it seems high, really high. But, is it? Is this the normal price for the amount of electricity a company your size uses? Or do you have waste in some areas and you can reduce it? In order to answer these important questions, you must first have a good grasp of “voltage.”

What is voltage?

Voltage is the pressure from an electrical circuit’s power source that pushes charged electrons through a conducting loop, enabling them to do work such as illuminating a  light. These charged electrons are known as current. Even if you don’t know much about electricity, you’ve no doubt heard of “electrical current” before.

In brief, voltage = pressure, and it is measured in volts (V). The term is named for Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) who is the inventor of the voltaic pile, which is the forerunner of today’s household battery. Are you following along so far? Great! Let’s keep going!

Why is measuring voltage useful?

Technicians approach most troubleshooting situations knowing how a circuit should customarily perform. Circuits are used to deliver energy to a load, like from a small device to an appliance to an industrial motor. Have you ever said “The power is out! Go check the circuit breaker!” If so, you’re already partially aware of how this all works.

Loads often carry a nameplate that identifies their standard electrical reference values, including voltage and current. In place of a nameplate, some manufacturers provide a detailed schematic (technical diagram) of a load’s circuitry. Manuals may include standard values. These numbers tell a trained technician what readings to expect when a load is operating normally. Reading on a power analyzer can objectively identify deviations from the norm. No matter how good the power analyzer is, the technician must use knowledge and experience to determine the factors causing such variances.

What am I looking for?

This is where “potential difference” comes into the situation. It might be better defined as the potential energy difference between two points in a circuit. The amount of difference, in volts, determines how much potential energy exists to move electrons from one specific point to another. This quantity identifies how much potential work is able to be done through the circuit.

The greater the voltage in a circuit, the greater its ability to “push” more electrons and do work, which is pretty easy to remember. This Voltage/potential difference can be compared to water stored in a tank. The larger the tank, and the greater its height (and thus its potential velocity), the greater the water’s capacity to create an impact when a valve is opened and the water (like electrons) can flow. That’s not so hard to comprehend after all!

How can I measure voltage?

Don’t worry! While understanding voltage may be a little confusing, measuring it is not. This is because you can use a high-quality power analyzer made by Power Sight! Explore our power analyzers and other products on line, then get help picking the best solution for you. We make it easy to choose your power quality analyzer, energy analyzer, or power logger through our website. All of our analyzers include software and voltage leads. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the PowerSight experts at 1-925-944-1212.