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.


Need ’Digital Potentiometers’?


Digital Potentiometers

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. 460-7526
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
MYR142.73
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9487
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
MYR84.603
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9502
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JLB
BrandVishay
MYR92.396
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 460-7582
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JLB
BrandVishay
MYR98.86
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-4683
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR15.564
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 692-8639
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR18.41
Each
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 107-0785
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-103L
BrandBourns
MYR106.61
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 172-6430
Mfr. Part No.RK27112MC01P
MYR128.721
Each (In a Tray of 15)
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Pin ±20% RK27 20mm
RS Stock No. 234-6617
Mfr. Part No.RK27112MC01P
MYR134.12
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Pin ±20% RK27 20mm
RS Stock No. 107-0779
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
MYR105.16
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3584
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
MYR60.807
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 729-3476
Mfr. Part No.RK0971110D88
MYR10.86
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm - - - Pin ±20% RK097 20mm
RS Stock No. 172-8096
Mfr. Part No.RK0971110D88
MYR9.211
Each (In a Tray of 120)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK097 -
RS Stock No. 729-3521
Mfr. Part No.RK0971221Z05
MYR19.01
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm - - - Pin ±20% RK097 15mm
RS Stock No. 172-8128
Mfr. Part No.RK0971221Z05
MYR20.241
Each (In a Tray of 70)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK097 -
RS Stock No. 167-3599
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR113.886
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 522-2974
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR246.17
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 135-5048
Mfr. Part No.TW1502KA
MYR36.218
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 502-8621
Mfr. Part No.TW1502KA
MYR50.42
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 602-3699
Mfr. Part No.JC10-000-502N
MYR87.26
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 1/8W 3 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% - -
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