Potentiometers

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 KnobsPotentiometer 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. 831-6791
Mfr. Part No.JA1N056S252UA
BrandHoneywell
TWD3,201.00
Each
units
2.5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder ±10% J 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-6772
Mfr. Part No.JA1N056S102UA
BrandHoneywell
TWD2,965.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder ±10% J 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-8778
Mfr. Part No.53C315K
BrandHoneywell
TWD572.00
Each
units
15 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-0605
Mfr. Part No.392JA10K
BrandHoneywell
TWD448.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.5W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC ±10% 392 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-0431
Mfr. Part No.380C110K
BrandHoneywell
TWD839.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug - 380 50.8mm
RS Stock No. 831-8801
Mfr. Part No.53C3500
BrandHoneywell
TWD700.00
Each
units
500 Ω Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-8703
Mfr. Part No.53C12K
BrandHoneywell
TWD618.00
Each
units
2 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 19.1mm
RS Stock No. 831-8829
Mfr. Part No.574SX1M48F103SD
BrandHoneywell
TWD437.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 - 0.5W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC with Bracket ±20% 574 19.1mm
RS Stock No. 831-6681
Mfr. Part No.53C1250K
BrandHoneywell
TWD596.00
Each
units
250 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 19.1mm
RS Stock No. 831-8775
Mfr. Part No.53C31500
BrandHoneywell
TWD591.00
Each
units
1.5 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-6669
Mfr. Part No.53C110K
BrandHoneywell
TWD621.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 19.1mm
RS Stock No. 831-6678
Mfr. Part No.53C11K
BrandHoneywell
TWD573.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 50.8 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 50.08mm
RS Stock No. 831-8750
Mfr. Part No.53C3100
BrandHoneywell
TWD546.00
Each
units
100 Ω Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-8807
Mfr. Part No.53C350
BrandHoneywell
TWD514.00
Each
units
50 Ω Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-8712
Mfr. Part No.53C15K
BrandHoneywell
TWD599.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 19.1mm
RS Stock No. 831-8731
Mfr. Part No.53C21K
BrandHoneywell
TWD743.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 15.9mm
RS Stock No. 831-8781
Mfr. Part No.53C31MEG
BrandHoneywell
TWD583.00
Each
units
1 MΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-0447
Mfr. Part No.380C12500
BrandHoneywell
TWD810.00
Each
units
2.5 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 380 50.8mm
RS Stock No. 831-6785
Mfr. Part No.JA1N056S202UA
BrandHoneywell
TWD2,782.00
Each
units
2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder ±10% J 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-6675
Mfr. Part No.53C120K
BrandHoneywell
TWD590.00
Each
units
20 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 19.1mm