What Is Float Data Type in PostgreSQL?


Scott Campbell

The float data type in PostgreSQL is used to store single-precision floating-point numbers. It is a numeric data type that can represent a wide range of values with decimal points. Floats are commonly used for computations involving large or small real numbers, such as scientific calculations or financial applications.


To define a column with the float data type in PostgreSQL, you can use the FLOAT keyword followed by an optional precision specifier in parentheses.

CREATE TABLE example_table (
    value FLOAT(8)

The precision specifier indicates the maximum number of significant digits that can be stored in the float column. It affects both the storage size and the range of values that can be represented.

Precision and Storage Size

The storage size of a float column depends on its precision. In PostgreSQL, a float with a precision of 4 or less occupies 4 bytes, while a float with a higher precision requires 8 bytes. The storage size directly impacts the memory consumed by your table and should be considered when designing your database schema.

Numeric Range

The range of values that can be stored in a float column depends on its precision as well. With lower precisions, you can represent larger ranges, but with reduced accuracy. Higher precisions allow for more precise representations but limit the range of values that can be stored.

Here’s an overview of the possible precisions and their corresponding ranges:

  • FLOAT(4): Range from -1.0E+27 to 1.0E+27 (7 significant digits)
  • FLOAT(8): Range from -1.0E+75 to 1.0E+75 (15 significant digits)

It’s important to note that float values are approximate and may not always be stored or compared exactly as entered due to internal binary representation and round-off errors.

Operations with Floats

Floats support the standard arithmetic operations, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. PostgreSQL also provides various mathematical functions that can be applied to float values for more complex calculations.


SELECT 3.14 + 2.71828 AS sum;

This query adds the values 3.14 and 2.71828 together and assigns the result to the alias “sum.”


The float data type in PostgreSQL is a versatile tool for working with single-precision floating-point numbers. By understanding its precision, storage size, and range limitations, you can effectively use floats in your database schema and perform accurate calculations for various applications.

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