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. 172-7722
Mfr. Part No.RK27112A00A5
TWD362.30
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK27 -
RS Stock No. 219-9130
Mfr. Part No.RK27112A00A5
TWD731.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK27 -
RS Stock No. 172-6430
Mfr. Part No.RK27112MC01P
TWD590.70
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
TWD751.00
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Pin ±20% RK27 20mm
RS Stock No. 172-7549
Mfr. Part No.RK09K1130081
TWD17.90
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09K -
RS Stock No. 729-3603
Mfr. Part No.RK09K1130081
TWD35.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09K 20mm
RS Stock No. 729-3414
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A5P
TWD53.00
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L 15mm
RS Stock No. 729-3688
Mfr. Part No.RK12L12C0A0E
TWD36.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole - 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK12L 25mm
RS Stock No. 172-6335
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A5P
TWD41.60
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L -
RS Stock No. 729-3552
Mfr. Part No.RK0971224Z01
TWD123.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm - - - Pin ±20% RK097 20mm
RS Stock No. 172-6272
Mfr. Part No.RK09D1130C2P
TWD17.20
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09D -
RS Stock No. 729-3521
Mfr. Part No.RK0971221Z05
TWD132.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm - - - Pin ±20% RK097 15mm
RS Stock No. 172-8072
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A66
TWD38.30
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L -
RS Stock No. 172-8116
Mfr. Part No.RK1631210AY7
TWD60.40
Each (In a Box of 2400)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 729-3505
Mfr. Part No.RK09712200HA
TWD88.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm - - - Pin ±20% RK097 20mm
RS Stock No. 172-8128
Mfr. Part No.RK0971221Z05
TWD119.70
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. 729-3640
Mfr. Part No.RK09D1130C2P
TWD22.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09D 25mm
RS Stock No. 249-9294
Mfr. Part No.RK1631210AY7
TWD144.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 172-7666
Mfr. Part No.RK09712200HA
TWD74.10
Each (In a Tray of 80)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK097 -
RS Stock No. 729-3410
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A66
TWD48.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L 12.5mm