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. 135-4480
Mfr. Part No.1624202-2
TWD152.90
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 387-846
Mfr. Part No.1624202-2
TWD253.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 387-789
Mfr. Part No.1624146-2
TWD142.00
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 163-8379
Mfr. Part No.1624146-2
TWD113.90
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 162-883
Mfr. Part No.404802692030
TWD642.00
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% M 25mm
RS Stock No. 168-140
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
TWD170.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 135-4432
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
TWD123.10
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 135-4477
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
TWD108.00
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 387-739
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
TWD182.00
Each
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 135-4476
Mfr. Part No.1624127-2
TWD104.00
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 164-4093
Mfr. Part No.27ESA472MMF50NF
TWD126.00
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 27 50mm
RS Stock No. 745-6797
Mfr. Part No.27ESA472MMF50NF
TWD226.00
Each
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 27 50mm
RS Stock No. 387-723
Mfr. Part No.1624127-2
TWD186.00
Each
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 164-9342
Mfr. Part No.1624163-2
TWD118.30
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.2W 6.35 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 168-386
Mfr. Part No.27ESA104MMF50N
TWD183.00
Each
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 27 50mm
RS Stock No. 163-8383
Mfr. Part No.27ESA104MMF50N
TWD146.20
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 27 50mm
RS Stock No. 502-8609
Mfr. Part No.TW1102KA
TWD413.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 387-824
Mfr. Part No.1624163-2
TWD181.00
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.2W 6.35 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 387-830
Mfr. Part No.1624209-2
TWD226.00
Each
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 162-855
Mfr. Part No.404802692040
TWD642.00
Each
units
47 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% M 25.4mm