Potentiometers

What is a potentiometer?



A potentiometer is a variable resistor. Potentiometers enable you to regulate and change the current flowing through a circuit. Potentiometers can also be called pots or potmeters.



Potentiometers have two terminals that are fixed to a resistive element (the track). The resistive element is typically wirewound or made from carbon, cermet or conductive plastic. The third terminal is connected to the wiper, which is a sliding contact. As the wiper moves along the track, the resistance changes and the current flowing through the circuit changes.



Types of potentiometer



Rotary potentiometers are easily controlled by turning a spindle or a knob. Rotary potentiometers can be single turn or multiturn.



Slide potentiometers are also known as slider potentiometers or fader potentiometers. To use a slide potentiometer, it’s simply a case of sliding a fader along a straight track to change the resistance.



Trimmer potentiometers, sometimes called trimpots, are used to calibrate and fine-tune circuits and can be mounted straight onto a PCB (printed circuit board). Trimmer potentiometers are easy to adjust with a screwdriver.



String potentiometers (or string pots) take movement and transform it into an electrical signal.



Membrane potentiometers are completely flat. Membrane potentiometers change their resistance when pressure is applied to the membrane.



Do I need a potentiometer with a linear or logarithmic taper?



The taper you need for your potentiometer depends on the intended application.



For potentiometers with a linear taper, the resistance between one end of the track and the wiper varies at a constant rate. If you turn the potentiometer halfway or slide the fader halfway along the track, the resistance will be half of the total resistance. Linear taper potentiometers are typically used in applications such as light dimmer switches.



For logarithmic taper potentiometers, the resistance does not vary at a constant rate. The level of resistance moves exponentially up or down. A potentiometer that has been turned or moved halfway along its track, will not produce resistance that is half the total resistance. Logarithmic potentiometers are commonly used for audio applications.



What is the difference between a potentiometer and a rheostat?



The key difference is the number of terminals that each device has. Potentiometers have three terminals while rheostats only have two terminals.



Looking for peripherals for your potentiometer?



Potentiometer Knobs

Potentiometer Accessories

Potentiometer Mounting Nuts

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Description Price Maximum Resistance Potentiometer Type Number of Turns Number of Gangs Mounting Type Power Rating Shaft Diameter Electrical Taper Mounting Hole Diameter Element Material Termination Style Tolerance Series Shaft Length
RS Stock No. 167-9474
Mfr. Part No.157S202MX
BrandVishay
$59.901
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
2kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 172-6334
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A5E
$1.82
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
10kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK09L -
RS Stock No. 693-0733
Mfr. Part No.6630S0D-B28-A502
BrandBourns
$24.77
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±15% 6630 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-9574
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JC8872
BrandVishay
$23.88
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 172-6348
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1240A12
$2.09
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
10kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L -
RS Stock No. 770-3103
Mfr. Part No.PTA6044-2015CPB104
BrandBourns
$3.06
Each
units
100kΩ Slide - 1 Through Hole 0.125W - Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTA 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-9509
Mfr. Part No.157B202MX9001
BrandVishay
$50.517
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
2kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 850-9791
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-102
BrandVishay
$27.12
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 107-0763
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-202L
BrandBourns
$20.91
Each
units
2kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 769-2280
Mfr. Part No.P16SNP101MAB15
BrandVishay
$26.79
Each
units
100Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16S 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 468-8705
Mfr. Part No.05.061.5100
BrandRadiohm
$5.07
Each
units
10kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% POTM -
RS Stock No. 790-4362
Mfr. Part No.P11S1V0FLSY00102KA
BrandVishay
$18.38
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% P11S 25mm
RS Stock No. 167-9768
Mfr. Part No.357B0202MAB251S22
BrandVishay
$39.90
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
2kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 22 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22
RS Stock No. 484-8632
Mfr. Part No.14910F0GJSX10105KA
BrandVishay
$16.22
Each
units
1MΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% 149 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-3608
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-102L
BrandBourns
$38.83
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - Linear - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 831-8797
Mfr. Part No.53C32500
BrandHoneywell
$23.88
Each
units
2.5kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 460-2054
Mfr. Part No.357B0202MAB251S22
BrandVishay
$46.95
Each
units
2kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 22 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22
RS Stock No. 167-3610
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-502L
BrandBourns
$38.83
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
5kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 789-9447
Mfr. Part No.91A1A-B28-A13L
BrandBourns
$8.62
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet PC Pin ±10% 91 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 248-6737
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-102L
BrandBourns
$58.23
Each
units
1kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - Linear - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
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