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# Potential Difference – misconception

What actually it means when we say “potential difference across..” ? Does it indicate that the somehow the energy level of electrons across it is less than on the other side or is it just the amount of energy consumption across it. If latter is true then in AC we’ve voltages which dont algebraically add up together to give the applied voltage . reason stated is the phase difference. How can there be phases in something scalar like energy consumption ? (Posted by Thushar)

Answer: As per definition, “Potential difference is defined as the work done per unit charge in carrying a positive test charge between two points against the electric field.”

Just like water flows from a high altitude to low altitude, “current” flows from high positive potential to low positive potential. (And electrons flow in the reverse direction. Though electrons are the actually movable materials contained in a conductor, the direction of current was conventionally defined as the direction of motion of positive charges)

So, when there is a difference in potential the electrons will flow from lower “positive potential” (where the negative potential is high) to higher positive potential.

Phase refers to the angle of rotation corresponding to the present value of emf or current. One complete circle (or rotation) corresponds to 2(pi) phase. There is a difference between current and voltage refers to this.

In describing AC, we can imagine that the current and voltage in wave form is obtained by the projection of  rotating vectors, I0 and E0. The difference in angle between these which represents the waveform obtained for E and I correctly is known as the phase difference.

(I feel that this won’t suffice. Please as more questions to clarify your point; preferable as comments to the same post)

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