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What's the Difference Between Balanced and Unbalanced Forces?

Published November 22, 2021

An object will continue to move if it is acted on by a net force. Forces can be balanced or unbalanced. A balanced force is one that is equal in magnitude to the opposite force. An unbalanced force is one that is unequal in magnitude to the opposite force.

What is a Balanced Force?

Balanced Forces illustrated in the Tug of War game

Balanced forces are different from unbalanced because they do not produce an acceleration in an object. They can also be called static and equilibrium forces. This is often demonstrated by a tug of war where teams pull on each end of a rope that does not move, since all forces are balanced and there's no net force acting upon it.

Balanced forces result in no net acceleration, unlike unbalanced forces where they do cause a net acceleration upon the object with which they act upon causing them to divert off course as well as move at different speeds and in different directions.

What is an Unbalanced Force?

Unbalanced Forces illustrated in the Tug of War game

Unbalanced forces are different from balanced forces because they do produce an acceleration in an object. They can also be called non-static and unbalanced forces. For example, the force applied to a box accelerating it across a floor is not static (unbalanced).

When two objects come into contact with each other that have unequal masses then unbalanced forces occur which causes one to accelerate faster than the other resulting in them diverging away from each other at an angle instead of just moving straight along their shared line of action.

Key Differences Between Balanced & Unbalanced Force

The difference in net acceleration

Balanced forces are different from unbalanced because they do not result in a net acceleration, but rather zero acceleration. Unbalanced forces can also be called non-static and dynamic forces since the opposing force is able to cause a net acceleration upon the object with which it acts upon. The difference between balanced and unbalanced forces is that balanced forces do not produce a net acceleration, but rather zero acceleration whereas unbalanced force does produce a net acceleration upon the object with which it acts upon.

Thus, Balanced forces don't result in a change i.e. zero acceleration, while unbalanced forces do produce a change in motion due to the amount of force an object experiences depending on how much resistance there exists between it and another object.

Difference in magnitude

Balanced Forces are different from unbalanced forces because they are of equal magnitude, but opposite direction. Unbalanced forces can also be called dynamic and non-static forces since the force is not static (equal in magnitude), it may either be greater than or less than that of its counterpart depending on how much resistance exists between them.

Thus, Balanced Forces have an equal magnitude, but opposite direction. On the other hand, unbalanced forces do not have an equal magnitude and they may be greater than or less than that of their counterpart depending on how much resistance exists between them.

The difference in object motion

Balanced Forces are different from unbalanced because their net force does not cause a change in motion, rather it causes no change in motion. Unbalanced Forces can also be called static and equilibrium forces since the object will remain at rest if there is an equal force acting upon an opposite direction (no acceleration).

Thus, Balanced Forces cause no change in an object's motion; however unbalanced forces do because they produce a net force causing their objects to change direction and move at different speeds or at a different acceleration due to the unbalance of forces acting upon them.

The main difference between balanced and unbalanced forces is the amount of force needed when they are not moving. When an object has a balanced force, it doesn’t need much energy to keep standing still (such as pushing up against Earth’s gravitational pull). However, if there is no balance when you push on something like your desk chair, then it will require more effort than just using one hand because that would produce an unbalanced force which results in movement and momentum.

The difference in speed & direction

Unbalanced forces are different from balanced ones since they can produce a change in velocity or direction. This is because the amount of force an object experiences will depend on how much resistance there exists between it and another object. Balanced forces don't result in a change in speed or direction as both acting forces cancel each other.

Comparison Chart: Balanced Vs Unbalanced Forces

ParametersBalanced ForceUnbalanced Force
MovementNoYes
Net ForceZeroNot zero
ForcesEqualUnequal
AccelerationNoYes
Object at restYesNo

FAQs

Explain the difference between balanced and unbalanced forces by Newton's second law?

Unbalanced force occurs when a system is experiencing motion with an unequal amount of counteracting forces. Balanced forces are when there is no net torque on a body in equilibrium, therefore it does not experience any acceleration since all its external forces cancel out to zero. This can be demonstrated by using Newton’s Second Law:

F = ma

Where “F” stands for “Force”, "m" represents mass, and “a” denotes acceleration which will result in zero if the direction of the object's velocity equals that of gravity (i.e., falling or rising). If instead we had two equal but opposite reactions such as pushing upwards on one end of a seesaw, in this case, there would be no equilibrium since the force is unbalanced. This scenario can also be demonstrated by using Newton’s Second Law. Also, consider if we had two unequal counteracting forces such as a car that skids when it breaks or accelerates. Then these reactions won't cancel out so there is an unbalance of forces on the system hence resulting in acceleration.

Conclusion

The unbalanced force is the one that results in motion. This blog post has given you an overview of what forces are and how they can be either balanced or unbalanced, as well as which typically leads to movement. The examples provided in this article should help you better understand the concept of balanced and unbalanced forces.

References

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
All Posts Written By Nicolas Seignette

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