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To calculate the tension on a rope holding 1 object, multiply the mass and gravitational acceleration of the object. If the object is experiencing any other acceleration, multiply that acceleration by the mass and add it to your first total.
Tension Formula. The tension on an object is equal to the mass of the object x gravitational force plus/minus the mass x acceleration. T = mg + ma. T = tension, N, kg-m/s2. m = mass, kg.
A rope lifting or pulling a load undergoes tension, a force determined by the mass of the load and other factors. You calculate it by determining the force of gravity from the load, plus the effect of any accelerations and other forces acting on the rope. Although gravity always acts in the “down” direction, other forces may not; depending on the direction, you either add them to or subtract them from gravity to arrive at the total tension on the rope. Physicists use a metric unit called the newton to measure force; the tension on a rope suspending a 100-gram weight is roughly 1 newton.
Multiply the weight’s mass in kilograms by 9.8, the acceleration in meters per second squared due to gravity. The result is a downward force in newtons, which accounts for most of the tension on the rope. For example, if you use a rope to suspend a piano that weighs 200 kg, multiply 200 kg by 9.8, giving 18,600 newtons, the tension on the rope.
Subtract the force of the remaining weight on the ground if you’re lifting the object with the rope but it has not yet risen from the ground; the rope is not under the full tension needed to lift the object. For example, you pull hard on a rope to lift a 200-kg piano, but it hasn’t moved. If the piano still exerts a force of 500 newtons on the ground, subtract it from the full force, 18,600 newtons. The tension on the rope becomes 18,600 - 500 = 18,100 newtons.
Multiply the upward acceleration of the weight by its mass and add it to the tension due to gravity. For example, you use an electric winch to lift a 200-kg piano to the fifth floor of a building; the piano accelerates upward at a rate of 1 meter per second squared. One meter per second squared times 200 kg is 200 newtons. If the piano were hanging but not moving, the tension would be simply the force from gravity, 18,600 newtons. If the piano accelerates up, the piano’s mass resists being moved, creating a downward force similar to gravity. Add 200 newtons to the original 18,600 to get 18,800 newtons, which is the total tension.