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Electrode Potential vs. Cell Potential: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 31, 2024
Electrode potential measures the voltage at a single electrode, while cell potential is the voltage across an electrochemical cell.

Key Differences

Electrode potential refers to the measure of the ability of an electrode to drive an electrical current through a circuit, specifically relating to its capacity to either gain or lose electrons. Cell potential, on the other hand, is the overall voltage produced by an electrochemical cell, which is determined by the difference in electrode potentials of the two electrodes involved.
The electrode potential is a half-cell measurement, meaning it represents the potential of a single electrode in a cell, relative to a standard reference electrode. Conversely, cell potential is a full-cell measurement, encapsulating the combined potentials of both electrodes in an electrochemical reaction, representing the cell's total voltage output.
Electrode potential is intrinsic to each type of electrode, depending on its material and the chemical environment. It is a crucial factor in determining how a cell operates. In contrast, cell potential is an extrinsic property that emerges from the interaction of two electrodes and is indicative of the cell's overall efficiency and capability to do work.
When calculating electrode potentials, it's important to consider individual electrode reactions and their standard electrode potentials. However, the cell potential is calculated by subtracting the potential of the anode from that of the cathode, thus providing a net voltage for the electrochemical cell.
Electrode potential focuses on the properties and behaviors of individual electrodes, while cell potential provides a holistic view of an electrochemical cell's performance, encompassing the contributions of both electrodes.

Comparison Chart


Voltage of a single electrode against a reference.
Total voltage across an electrochemical cell.


Half-cell potential.
Full-cell potential.


Based on individual electrode properties.
Calculated from the difference in electrode potentials.


Indicates an electrode's tendency to gain or lose electrons.
Represents the cell's ability to produce electrical energy.


Material and environment of the electrode.
Combination and interaction of two different electrodes.

Electrode Potential and Cell Potential Definitions

Electrode Potential

Electrode potential determines the direction of electron flow in a cell.
A higher electrode potential means a greater likelihood of electron loss to the circuit.

Cell Potential

Cell potential determines the direction of electron flow in a circuit.
A positive cell potential indicates electrons flow from anode to cathode.

Electrode Potential

Electrode potential measures the ability of an electrode to oxidize or reduce.
The electrode potential of copper indicates its tendency to lose electrons.

Cell Potential

Cell potential is the overall voltage of an electrochemical cell.
The cell potential of a galvanic cell drives the electrical current.

Electrode Potential

It's the voltage difference between an electrode and a reference electrode.
In a hydrogen electrode, the electrode potential is measured relative to a standard hydrogen electrode.

Cell Potential

Cell potential indicates the efficiency of a cell in generating electricity.
The cell potential of a battery diminishes as it discharges.

Electrode Potential

Electrode potential is key in predicting redox reactions.
By comparing electrode potentials, we can predict if a reaction is spontaneous.

Cell Potential

It represents the energy difference between two electrodes.
A high cell potential means more energy is available for electrical work.

Electrode Potential

It reflects the electrochemical activity of an electrode.
Silver's electrode potential reveals its strong oxidizing power.

Cell Potential

It's the sum of the potentials of the cathode and anode.
In a lithium-ion battery, the cell potential reflects the combined potentials of lithium electrodes.


Can electrode potential be negative?

Yes, indicating the electrode is more likely to gain electrons.

Is higher electrode potential better?

Depends on the application; higher potential usually means stronger oxidizing or reducing power.

How is cell potential different from electrode potential?

Cell potential is the total voltage of a cell, while electrode potential is specific to one electrode.

What affects electrode potential?

Material of the electrode and its chemical environment.

What is the role of electrode potential in batteries?

It determines how efficiently a battery can produce electricity.

What is electrode potential?

It's the measure of an electrode's ability to drive or resist an electrical current.

Does temperature affect electrode potential?

Yes, as it can alter the electrode’s chemical environment.

What is a standard electrode potential?

It's the electrode potential measured under standard conditions.

Why is cell potential important in electrochemistry?

It indicates the overall efficiency and power of an electrochemical cell.

How is cell potential used in calculating energy output?

It helps determine the maximum work a cell can perform.

Can cell potential determine the direction of current flow?

Yes, it directs electron flow from the anode to the cathode in a circuit.

What does a high cell potential mean?

It indicates a greater ability of the cell to do electrical work.

How does concentration affect cell potential?

Changes in concentration can shift the balance of the redox reaction, affecting potential.

What happens to cell potential over time in a battery?

It typically decreases as the battery discharges.

How do you measure electrode potential?

By comparing it to a standard reference electrode.

Can cell potential be zero?

Yes, if the electrode potentials are equal or the cell is in equilibrium.

Can electrode potentials predict reaction spontaneity?

Yes, by comparing the potentials of participating electrodes.

What is the significance of a zero electrode potential?

It often serves as a reference point for measuring other potentials.

Why do different metals have different electrode potentials?

Due to their varying tendencies to lose or gain electrons.

Is cell potential always positive?

Not necessarily; it depends on the electrode reactions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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