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. 167-4683
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR10.72
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500kΩ 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
MYR16.39
Each
units
500kΩ 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
MYR109.00
Each
units
10kΩ 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
MYR47.48
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 107-0779
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
MYR55.95
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 522-2974
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR108.67
Each
units
10kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3599
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR73.87
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
10kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3204
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-102L
BrandBourns
MYR296.009
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 165-5976
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-102L
BrandBourns
MYR222.29
Each
units
1kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-5485
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR03-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR10.92
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 27.5mm
RS Stock No. 770-3080
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR03-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR15.91
Each
units
500kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 27.5mm
RS Stock No. 770-3078
Mfr. Part No.PDB183-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR20.98
Each
units
500kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.1W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB183-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 167-5484
Mfr. Part No.PDB183-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
MYR14.72
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.1W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB183-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 248-6759
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR155.42
Each
units
10kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-3611
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-103L
BrandBourns
MYR103.89
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
10kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-5477
Mfr. Part No.95A1A-B24-A20L
BrandBourns
MYR20.78
Each (In a Tray of 45)
units
100kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 95 19mm
RS Stock No. 789-9475
Mfr. Part No.95A1A-B24-A20L
BrandBourns
MYR27.85
Each
units
100kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 95 19mm
RS Stock No. 522-5305
Mfr. Part No.93R1A-R22-A15L
BrandBourns
MYR24.05
Each
units
10kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 2W 6 mm Linear - Cermet PC Pin ±10% 93 22mm
RS Stock No. 107-0763
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-202L
BrandBourns
MYR55.95
Each
units
2kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3583
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-202L
BrandBourns
MYR47.48
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
2kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm