You are on page 1of 2

# What is Negative Voltage?

Negative voltage in a circuit is voltage that is more negative in polarity when compared to the ground of the circuit. A voltage source has positive or negative polarity depending on its orientation in a circuit. In the case when a voltage source has negative voltage, it just means the voltage source is more negative than the ground of the circuit. If you have a battery inserted the correct way in a circuit, it normally is in its positive orientation and it supplies positive voltage to the circuit. It will produce a current through the positive part of the circuit and then go down to ground and back to the negative part of the battery, and the cycle goes on over and over again. However, if you now flip the battery around to its other end, it will now have the opposite orientation, negative orientation, in the circuit. If a battery is inserted in a circuit with its positive orientation in which it produces current to the positive part of a circuit and it's now flipped around to the other side, it will now produce current to the ground of the circuit instead of the positive part of the circuit. This is all negative voltage means, a polarity switch of the battery from its positive orientation to its opposite side, its negative orientation. Think of when you put in batteries in a nintendo gameboy. If you put in alive batteries the correct way, the gameboy will have power and it can be turned on. But when you put in the batteries the wrong way, it will not start and power on. When batteries are put in the correct way, the voltage source delivers current to the positive part of the circuit, which the circuit needs to turn on. However, when batteries are put in on the wrong side, with negative polarity, the voltage source delivers current the other way, to the ground of the circuit rather the positive part. Current is not useful this way, and if the circuit isn't equipped with protective diodes, in fact, it could destroy parts of the circuit. Being that the voltage source delivers power to the ground rather than the positive part of the circuit which needs power, the circuit will not turn on. A way to measure the voltage orientation in a circuit is by using a multimeter placed on the voltmeter settings. Place the ground test lead of the multimeter on the side of the battery that touches ground or any part of ground in the circuit, since they're all common, and place the positive test lead of the multimeter on the lead of the battery that makes contact with the positive side of the circuit. By doing this, you can tell whether the battery has positive or negative orientation in a circuit. If a battery has positive orientation, its voltage with respect to ground is more positive than ground, and it delivers current to the positive part of a circuit. If a battery has negative orientation, its voltage with respect to ground is more negative than ground, and it delivers positive current to the ground part of a circuit.