# Voltage vs. Current — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 31, 2023
Voltage is the electric potential difference between two points, while current is the flow of electric charge through a conductor.

## Key Differences

Voltage, measured in volts, represents the potential for energy release as electric charges move from one point to another. Current, measured in amperes or amps, is the actual flow of electrons passing through a point in a circuit per second. While voltage can exist without current, current cannot flow without voltage.
Voltage is akin to the pressure that pushes water through a hose; it is the driving force in an electrical circuit. Current, on the other hand, is comparable to the water flowing through that hose. Voltage influences how much current will flow given a certain resistance, according to Ohm's law.
In a hydraulic analogy, voltage would be the difference in water level that propels water through pipes, whereas current would be the volume of water flowing. Voltage can be present without current, as in a charged capacitor even when the circuit is open, but current requires a closed circuit to flow.
High voltage does not necessarily mean high current; for example, a static shock can have thousands of volts but very little current. Conversely, a car battery might have a low voltage but can produce a high current, powerful enough to start an engine.
Safety precautions for voltage and current differ; insulation can prevent shock from high voltage, while fuses and circuit breakers protect against excessive current. Both voltage and current must be properly controlled to ensure safe and efficient operation of electrical systems.

## Comparison Chart

Volts (V)
Amperes (A)

V
I

### Nature

Electric potential difference
Flow of electric charge

### Circuit Requirement

Can exist without current
Requires a closed circuit to flow

### Analogy

Pressure pushing water
Water flowing through a pipe

## Compare with Definitions

#### Voltage

The measure of electric potential difference between two points.
The voltage across the terminals of the battery is 12 volts.

#### Current

The rate of flow of electric charge in a conductor.
The electric current flowing through the heater is 10 amperes.

#### Voltage

A representation of the capacity to do work in an electric field.
Voltage is required to overcome the resistance in the circuit and get current to flow.

#### Current

The actual transfer of electricity in a circuit.
Devices are rated based on the current they draw from the power source.

#### Voltage

The electric pressure that drives electrons through a circuit.
High voltage lines are dangerous due to the intense electric pressure they carry.

#### Current

Belonging to the present time; happening or being used or done now
Keep abreast of current events
I started my current job in 2001

#### Voltage

The force that pushes electric current through a conductor.
Without sufficient voltage, the device won't turn on.

#### Current

A body of water or air moving in a definite direction, especially through a surrounding body of water or air in which there is less movement
Ocean currents

#### Voltage

Voltage, electric potential difference, electromotive force (emf), electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points, which (in a static electric field) is defined as the work needed per unit of charge to move a test charge between the two points. In the International System of Units, the derived unit for voltage (potential difference) is named volt.

#### Current

A flow of electricity which results from the ordered directional movement of electrically charged particles
This completes the circuit so that a current flows to the lamp
Magnetic fields are produced by currents flowing in the cables

#### Voltage

A measure of the difference in electric potential between two points in space, a material, or an electric circuit, expressed in volts.

#### Current

The general tendency or course of events or opinion
The student movement formed a distinct current of protest

#### Voltage

(electricity) The difference in electrostatic potential between two points in space, especially between live and neutral conductors or the earth.
The voltage between the wires is too low to produce a spark.
Be careful when opening high-voltage equipment.

#### Current

Belonging to the present time; present-day
Current events.

#### Voltage

Electric potential or potential difference, expressed in volts.

#### Current

Being in progress now
Current negotiations.

#### Voltage

The rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts

#### Current

Commonly accepted or used; prevalent
Current fashions.
Current technology.

#### Voltage

The difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts

#### Current

Passing from one to another; circulating, as money or a rumor
Current bills and coins.

#### Voltage

The potential energy per unit charge in an electrical field.
The voltage at any two points can be measured using a voltmeter.

#### Current

Running; flowing.

#### Current

A steady, smooth onward flow or movement
A current of air from a fan.
A current of spoken words.

#### Current

The part of a body of liquid or gas that has a continuous onward movement
Rowed out into the river's swift current.

#### Current

A general tendency, movement, or course.

#### Current

A flow of electric charge.

#### Current

The amount of electric charge flowing past a specified circuit point per unit time, usually expressed in amperes.

#### Current

The generally unidirectional movement of a gas or fluid.

#### Current

The part of a fluid that moves continuously in a certain direction, especially (oceanography) nocap=a.

#### Current

(electricity) the amount of electric charge flowing in each unit of time.

#### Current

A tendency or a course of events

#### Current

Existing or occurring at the moment.
Current events
Current negotiations

#### Current

Generally accepted, used, practiced, or prevalent at the moment.
Current affairs
Current bills and coins
Current fashions

#### Current

(India) Electric; of or relating to electricity.
Current bill
Current shock

#### Current

(obsolete) Running or moving rapidly.

#### Current

Running or moving rapidly.
Like the current fire, that rennethUpon a cord.
To chase a creature that was current thenIn these wild woods, the hart with golden horns.

#### Current

Now passing, as time; as, the current month.

#### Current

Passing from person to person, or from hand to hand; circulating through the community; generally received; common; as, a current coin; a current report; current history.
That there was current money in Abraham's time is past doubt.
Your fire-new stamp of honor is scarce current.
His current value, which is less or more as men have occasion for him.

#### Current

Commonly estimated or acknowledged.

#### Current

Fitted for general acceptance or circulation; authentic; passable.
O Buckingham, now do I play the touchTo try if thou be current gold indeed.

#### Current

A flowing or passing; onward motion. Hence: A body of fluid moving continuously in a certain direction; a stream; esp., the swiftest part of it; as, a current of water or of air; that which resembles a stream in motion; as, a current of electricity.
Two such silver currents, when they join,Do glorify the banks that bound them in.
The surface of the ocean is furrowed by currents, whose direction . . . the navigator should know.

#### Current

General course; ordinary procedure; progressive and connected movement; as, the current of time, of events, of opinion, etc.

#### Current

A flow of electricity through a conductor;
The current was measured in amperes

#### Current

A steady flow (usually from natural causes);
The raft floated downstream on the current
He felt a stream of air

#### Current

Dominant course (suggestive of running water) of successive events or ideas;
Two streams of development run through American history
Stream of consciousness
The flow of thought
The current of history

#### Current

Occurring in or belonging to the present time;
Current events
The current topic
Current negotiations
Current psychoanalytic theories
The ship's current position

#### Current

The movement of electrons through a wire or circuit.
Current is directly proportional to the voltage and inversely proportional to the resistance.

#### Current

The steady flow of charged particles.
A current of 1 ampere means that 1 coulomb of charge is moving through the circuit each second.

#### Current

The quantity of electrons passing a point per unit of time.
The circuit breaker tripped because the current exceeded safe levels.

## Common Curiosities

#### Are voltage and current directly proportional?

Yes, according to Ohm's law, voltage and current are directly proportional given a constant resistance.

#### What are common sources of voltage?

Batteries, generators, and power supplies are common sources of voltage.

#### Is current the same in series and parallel circuits?

In series circuits, current is the same throughout, but in parallel circuits, it can vary in each branch.

#### What is voltage in simple terms?

Voltage is the electrical force that drives electrons through a circuit.

#### What does current refer to?

Current is the flow rate of electric charge through a conductor.

#### How are voltage and current measured?

Voltage is measured in volts (V) using a voltmeter, and current is measured in amperes (A) using an ammeter.

#### What does AC and DC mean in terms of current?

AC means alternating current, and DC means direct current, which refers to the direction of the flow of electrons.

#### What affects current flow in a circuit?

Current flow is affected by voltage and resistance within the circuit.

#### What safety devices control current?

Fuses and circuit breakers control current to protect against overloads.

#### Can you have high voltage and low current?

Yes, you can have high voltage with low current if the circuit has high resistance.

#### Can voltage hurt you?

Yes, high voltage can cause electric shock and injury, even if the current is low.

#### Can voltage exist without a power source?

No, voltage requires a power source, like a battery or generator.

#### Do voltage and current affect power consumption?

Yes, power consumption in watts is the product of voltage and current.

#### Why is current important in electronics?

Current is essential for powering electronic devices and enabling them to function.

#### Does voltage drop across a circuit?

Yes, voltage can drop across components in a circuit, which is known as voltage drop.

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