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. 410-356
Mfr. Part No.248FGJS0XB25102MA
BrandVishay
TWD390.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.5W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Pin ±20% 248 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-8751
Mfr. Part No.P16NP472MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD497.40
Each (In a Box of 20)
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 460-7526
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
TWD889.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 790-4435
Mfr. Part No.P16NP472MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD481.00
Each
units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
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. 172-6430
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. 167-9487
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
TWD844.40
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 161-6775
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR02-254A2
BrandBourns
TWD76.60
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
250 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6.35 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 107-0779
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
TWD428.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 692-8632
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR02-254A2
BrandBourns
TWD111.00
Each
units
250 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6.35 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 165-5982
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-502L
BrandBourns
TWD1,845.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-3584
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
TWD372.60
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 850-9794
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-103
BrandVishay
TWD507.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3205
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-502L
BrandBourns
TWD1,171.50
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
5 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 626-8375
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-502L
BrandBourns
TWD209.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Linear 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6.34 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% - -
RS Stock No. 167-4523
Mfr. Part No.3547S-1AA-103A
BrandBourns
TWD623.00
Each (In a Tray of 5)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 3 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±3% 3547 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 170-5314
BrandRS PRO
TWD1,548.10
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
1 kΩ Linear 1 4 Panel Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - - Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 789-9374
Mfr. Part No.3541H-1-502L
BrandBourns
TWD1,747.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% 3541 20.6mm
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. 173-760
Mfr. Part No.157B103MX9001
BrandVishay
TWD1,033.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm