This electric force calculator will enable you to determine the repulsive or attractive force between two static charged particles. Continue reading to get a better understanding of the Coulomb's law, the conditions of its validity and the physical interpretation of the obtained result.
How to use Coulomb's law
Coulomb's law, otherwise known as Coulomb's inverse-square law, describes the electrostatic force acting between two charges. The force acts along the shortest line that joins the charges. It is repulsive if both charges have the same sign, and attractive if they have opposite signs.
Coulomb's law is formulated as follows:
F = Ke * q₁ * q₂ /r²
Fis the electrostatic force between charges (in Newtons),
q₁is the magnitude of the first charge (in Coulombs),
q₂is the magnitude of the second charge (in Coulombs),
ris the shortest distance between the charges (in m),
Keis the Coulomb's constant. It is equal to
8.98755 * 10⁹ N * m² / C². This value is already embedded in the calculator - you don't have to remember it :)
Electric charge units
The unit of electric charge is a Coulomb (symbol: C). It is defined as the charge that is transported by a constant current of 1 ampere during 1 second. Hence,
1 C = 1 A * 1 s expressed in SI units.
If you don't remember what an ampere is, head to our Ohm's law calculator.
Conditions for validity
Three main conditions must be fulfilled for the electrostatic force calculator to return true values:
- Charges must be stationary - they cannot move with respect to each other.
- Point charges are assumed. This assumption holds also for any charges that are spherical and symmetric. For example, a charged metal sphere fulfills this condition, but a charged metal box doesn't.
- Charges cannot overlap - they must be distinct and have at least a minimal distance between them.
Interpretation of results
Force obtained with the help of our Coulomb's law calculator can be either positive or negative. Positive force implies a repulsive interaction between the charges. Negative force means that the interaction is attractive.
Interested in electricity? Check out our electricity cost calculator, too!