Potential Energy Calculator

PE = mgh



Potential energy is a fundamental concept in the field of physics that plays a crucial role in understanding the behavior of objects in our everyday world. It is a form of energy that is associated with an object’s position or state and has the potential to do work when released or allowed to change. Potential energy can be found in various forms and is a key element in the conservation of energy principle, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only be transformed from one form to another. In this article, we will explore the concept of potential energy, its different forms, and its significance in our daily lives.

Forms of Potential Energy:

  1. Gravitational Potential Energy: Gravitational potential energy is perhaps the most familiar form of potential energy. It is associated with the position of an object in a gravitational field, such as the Earth’s gravitational field. The formula for calculating gravitational potential energy is:

    Potential Energy (PE) = mass (m) × gravitational acceleration (g) × height (h)


    • PE is the gravitational potential energy
    • m is the mass of the object
    • g is the acceleration due to gravity (approximately 9.81 m/s² on Earth)
    • h is the height above a reference point (usually the ground)

    As an object is lifted higher above the ground, its gravitational potential energy increases. Conversely, if an object falls from a height, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as it gains speed due to gravity.

  2. Elastic Potential Energy: Elastic potential energy is associated with objects that can be deformed or stretched, such as a spring or a rubber band. When such objects are stretched or compressed, they store potential energy. The amount of elastic potential energy stored in an object depends on the displacement from its equilibrium position and the stiffness of the object. The formula for elastic potential energy is:

    Potential Energy (PE) = 0.5 × spring constant (k) × displacement (x)²


    • PE is the elastic potential energy
    • k is the spring constant (a measure of stiffness)
    • x is the displacement from the equilibrium position

    When you release a stretched rubber band or compress a spring, the stored elastic potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as the object returns to its original shape.

  3. Chemical Potential Energy: Chemical potential energy is associated with the energy stored in chemical bonds between atoms and molecules. When chemical reactions occur, they can release or absorb energy. For example, the energy in food is a form of chemical potential energy that our bodies convert into kinetic energy for movement and other physiological processes.

  4. Electric Potential Energy: Electric potential energy is related to the position of charged particles in an electric field. It plays a crucial role in the behavior of electrons in electrical circuits. The formula for electric potential energy is:

    Potential Energy (PE) = electric charge (q) × electric potential (V)


    • PE is the electric potential energy
    • q is the electric charge
    • V is the electric potential (voltage)

    Electric potential energy is essential in understanding how electrical devices work and how energy is transferred in electrical systems.

Significance of Potential Energy:

Potential energy is a fundamental concept with numerous practical applications. It helps us understand and analyze various physical phenomena, from the operation of everyday devices to the motion of celestial bodies. Some key points to note about potential energy include:

  • Energy Conservation: The total mechanical energy of an object, which is the sum of its kinetic and potential energies, remains constant in the absence of external forces. This principle is known as the conservation of mechanical energy.

  • Energy Transformation: Potential energy can be converted into kinetic energy and vice versa. This conversion is crucial in various mechanical systems, such as roller coasters, pendulums, and vehicles.

  • Engineering and Design: Engineers and designers consider potential energy when designing structures and machines, ensuring safety and efficiency. For example, designing a dam to store water involves calculating the potential energy of the water at various heights.


Potential energy is a fundamental concept in physics that describes the energy associated with an object’s position or state. It exists in various forms, including gravitational, elastic, chemical, and electric potential energy, and plays a vital role in understanding the behavior of objects and systems in our everyday world. Recognizing potential energy and its transformations is essential for engineers, scientists, and anyone interested in understanding how energy operates in our universe.