# Measuring current and potential difference

You can measure current and potential difference in circuits. They are different things and so are measured in different ways.

## Current

Current is a measure of how much electric charge flows through a circuit. The more charge that flows, the bigger the current.

Current is measured in . The symbol for ampere is A. For example, 20 A is a bigger current than 5 A. The word āampereā is often abbreviated to āampā, so people talk about how many amps flow.

## Measuring current

A device called an is used to measure current. Some types of ammeter have a pointer on a dial, but most have a digital display. To measure the current flowing through a component in a circuit, you must connect the ammeter with it.

A circuit with an ammeter connected in two different places, both in series with the cell and lamp

When two components are connected in series, you can follow the path through both components without lifting your finger or going back over the path you have already taken.

## Potential difference

is a measure of the difference in energy between two parts of a circuit. The bigger the difference in energy, the bigger the potential difference.

Potential difference is measured in . The symbol for volts is V. For example, 230 V is a bigger potential difference than 12 V. Instead of talking about potential difference, people often talk about voltage, so you may hear or see āvoltageā instead of āpotential differenceā.

## Measuring potential difference

Potential difference is measured using a device called a . Just like ammeters, some types have a pointer on a dial, but most have a digital display. However, unlike an ammeter, you must connect the voltmeter to measure the potential difference across a component in a circuit.

A circuit diagram showing a voltmeter in parallel with a lamp

When two components are connected in parallel, you cannot follow the circuit through both components from one side to the other without lifting your finger or going back over the path you have already taken.

## Cells

You can measure the potential difference across a cell or battery. If the two or more cells point in the same direction, the more cells, the bigger the potential difference.

Each cell has a potential difference of 1.5 V, so three cells give 4.5 V