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, its 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.

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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. 842-7096
BrandRS PRO
MYR67.36
Each
units
50kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P40 68mm
RS Stock No. 842-7046
BrandRS PRO
MYR79.25
Each
units
500Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P40 68mm
RS Stock No. 173-0755
BrandRS PRO
MYR41.269
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1kΩ - 1 - Bushing Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - Conductive Plastic Solder ±20% NP22 22mm
RS Stock No. 173-0780
BrandRS PRO
MYR1,000.022
Each (In a Box of 5)
units
10kΩ Linear - - Spring Return - - Linear - Conductive Plastic - ±20% WT22 -
RS Stock No. 173-0722
BrandRS PRO
MYR12.006
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
2.5kΩ - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 173-0729
BrandRS PRO
MYR12.006
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
25Ω - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 173-0779
BrandRS PRO
MYR944.852
Each (In a Box of 5)
units
5kΩ Linear - - Spring Return - - Linear - Conductive Plastic - ±20% WT22 -
RS Stock No. 842-7217
BrandRS PRO
MYR820.36
Each
units
10kΩ Linear - 1 Spring Return - - Linear - Conductive Plastic - ±20% WT22 -
RS Stock No. 173-0750
BrandRS PRO
MYR30.015
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
50kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount 3W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P40 68mm
RS Stock No. 812-831
BrandRS PRO
MYR211.05
Each
units
2.5kΩ Rotary 1 4 Panel Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 173-0754
BrandRS PRO
MYR37.518
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1kΩ - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - Conductive Plastic Solder ±20% NP23 20mm
RS Stock No. 842-7138
BrandRS PRO
MYR31.68
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder ±20% NP21 18mm
RS Stock No. 170-5314
BrandRS PRO
MYR236.428
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
1kΩ Linear 1 4 Panel Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - - Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 842-7056
BrandRS PRO
MYR17.84
Each
units
10Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 842-7052
BrandRS PRO
MYR23.48
Each
units
25kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 842-7122
BrandRS PRO
MYR56.61
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary 1 1 Bushing Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder ±20% NP22 25mm
RS Stock No. 173-0744
BrandRS PRO
MYR22.509
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
25kΩ - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 842-7157
BrandRS PRO
MYR383.85
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder ±20% 50CP 21.5mm
RS Stock No. 173-0732
BrandRS PRO
MYR12.006
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
25Ω - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6 mm - - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 173-0775
BrandRS PRO
MYR696.57
Each (In a Box of 5)
units
5kΩ Linear - - Spring Return - - Linear - Conductive Plastic - ±20% WT22 -
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