Difference between Heat and Temperature in Physics


Difference between Heat and Temperature in Physics

We frequently refer to heat and temperature in everyday discussions. However, understanding the subtle difference between these two terms is crucial for accurately assessing the thermal state of objects. Heat and temperature are pivotal concepts in physics, commonly utilized in day-to-day vernacular, yet they posses specific, distinct definitions within a scientific framework.

What is Temperature?

Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a substance. It is a scale that indicates how hot or cold an object is and can be measured using thermometers, calibrated in various units like degrees Celsius (°C), Fahrenheit (°F), or Kelvin (K). Temperature is an intensive property, which means it does not depend on the amount of the substance.

What is Heat?

Heat is a form of energy that transfers between systems or objects with different temperatures (flowing from the higher temperature system to the lower temperature system). It is measured in units of energy such as joules (J), calories (cal), or British Thermal Units (BTU). Heat is an extensive property, which depends on the amount of substance and the energy being transferred.

Key Differences

  • Nature: Heat is energy in transit, and temperature is a measure of kinetic energy of particles.
  • Units: Temperature is measured in degrees (Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin), while heat is measured in energy units (joules, calories).
  • Dependency: Heat depends on the mass of the substance and changes in its state or energy, whereas temperature does not necessarily depend on the substance’s mass or size.
  • Function: Heat represents a transfer of energy caused by a temperature difference, and temperature defines that difference which induces the transfer of heat.

Difference between Heat and Temperature in Tabular Form

Quantity Used to CompareHeatTemperature
DefinitionThe heat of an object is the total energy of all the molecular motion inside that object.Temperature is the measure of the thermal energy or average heat of the molecules in a substance.
SI UnitJouleKelvin
UnitJoules, CaloriesFahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin
ParticlesIt’s a measure of the number of atoms multiplied by the energy possessed by each atom.It can do work
Ability to do WorkIt has the ability to do workIt can be used to measure the degree of heat.


Q1.What is heat?

Heat is the energy that is transferred from one body to another due to temperature differences.

Q2.What is temperature?

Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses the coldness and hotness of a body.

Q3.What is the SI unit of temperature?

The SI unit of temperature is Kelvin.

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