How Does an Inclined Plane Reduce the Amount of Input Force Needed?


Relying on the principle that work done is equal to force multiplied by distance, an inclined plane reduces the force needed and compensates for the deficit by increasing the distance moved, making the work easier. The steeper the angle of inclination, the shorter the distance moved and the more the force needed to move an object. Work done remains constant, whatever the distance or force applied.

An inclined plane splits the pull of gravity acting on an object in two, according to Canada Science and Technology Museum. One of the forces runs parallel to the plane, while the other is perpendicular to the plane. When moving an object up an inclined plane, only the force acting parallel to the slope needs to be overcome. Although friction has to be counteracted too, the inclined plane introduces a mechanical advantage similar to a simple machine. Examples of inclined planes include the screw and the wedge.

According to Ohio University, going up a hill via the less steep slope is a typical application of an inclined plane that makes work easier. Running up a hill via the gentlest slope needs less input force, although the distance covered is greatest. The opposite also holds true.