Potential Energy Calculator

Created by Dominik Czernia, PhD
Last updated: Jun 30, 2022

Our potential energy calculator is a handy tool whenever you need to know how to find gravitational potential energy, which we can call the GPE calculator for short. Potential energy is a static physical quantity that doesn't consider an object's velocity. Instead, the speed appears in the formula for kinetic energy.

The following text explains the potential energy equation (PE equation) and how to solve potential energy in a specific physics problem. Give it a try!

Potential energy formula

Let's see how to find potential energy in the most common problem of an object at a certain height above the ground. The potential energy equation for this case is the following:

Ep=m×g×hE_p = m \times g \times h

where:

  • EpE_p - The potential energy of an object, usually expressed in joules;
  • mm - The mass of an object, usually in kilograms;
  • gg - The gravitational acceleration, which for Earth is approximately 9.81 m/s29.81 \text{ m/s}^2 and it's a default value in this potential energy calculator;
  • hh - The height above the ground, usually in meters.

You can immediately see from the potential energy formula that an object lying on the ground has zero energy since h=0h = 0, and non-zero energy if you move the thing above the ground level. We say that you're doing work on that object against the force, and in this case, the net force formula is simply the gravitational force m×gm\times g.

GPE calculator

The potential energy calculator, or more specifically, gravitational potential energy (GPE), is a tool that is ready to help you when you need to know how to solve potential energy. To use it:

  1. Enter the mass of an object in the first box.
  2. Change the gravitational acceleration if needed.
  3. Input the height.
  4. Read the potential energy.
  5. Our GPE calculator offers a built-in unit converter, which you can access by clicking the unit on the right-hand side of each box.

✅ You don't need to know what the formula for potential energy is as long as you use our handy tool. Being aware of it, be sure to check the other topic, about the excitation energy in molecules, in the fret efficiency calculator!

How to calculate gravitational potential energy

Let's assume you moved a 1-pound ball from the ground up to 3 feet above it and you wonder how to find potential energy in this case. We will do it with the assistance of the potential energy calculator:

  1. First of all, you need to select appropriate units. Select pounds (lb) in the mass and feet (ft) in the height fields.
  2. Enter 1 lb1 \text{ lb} and 3 ft3 \text{ ft} in the corresponding boxes.
  3. Read the result in joules Ep=4.067 JE_p = 4.067 \text{ J} or switch to any other unit of energy you want.

That's it! There is another widely used type of energy in physics and chemistry. If you don't know it, check our other tool and learn what the Gibbs free energy is!

Dominik Czernia, PhD
Mass
kg
Grav. acceleration
g
Height
m
Potential energy
J
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