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. 850-9779
Mfr. Part No.533-1-1-102
BrandVishay
TWD889.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 3 1 Bushing Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 533 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-3515
Mfr. Part No.3310Y-001-104L
BrandBourns
TWD69.90
Each (In a Tube of 50)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.25W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC Pin ±20% 3310 12.7mm
RS Stock No. 161-6890
Mfr. Part No.3541H-1-502L
BrandBourns
TWD1,378.00
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% 3541 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 486-7093
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JC8872
BrandVishay
TWD475.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9569
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JC8872
BrandVishay
TWD475.30
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 827-5016
Mfr. Part No.3590S-4-102L
BrandBourns
TWD612.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 173-574
Mfr. Part No.157S502MB9002
BrandVishay
TWD3,032.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-9482
Mfr. Part No.157S502MB9002
BrandVishay
TWD2,232.90
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 522-0631
Mfr. Part No.3310Y-001-104L
BrandBourns
TWD92.00
Each
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.25W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC Pin ±20% 3310 12.7mm
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. 692-8478
Mfr. Part No.3547S-1AA-103A
BrandBourns
TWD644.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 3 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±3% 3547 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 162-883
Mfr. Part No.404802692030
TWD625.00
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% M 25mm
RS Stock No. 135-4432
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
TWD115.30
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. 172-7549
Mfr. Part No.RK09K1130081
TWD18.50
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09K -
RS Stock No. 167-0102
Mfr. Part No.3590S-4-102L
BrandBourns
TWD505.00
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 168-140
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
TWD165.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 812-819
BrandRS PRO
TWD1,652.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 4 Panel Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 107-0791
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-203L
BrandBourns
TWD423.00
Each
units
20 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 831-0487
Mfr. Part No.380C310K
BrandHoneywell
TWD727.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 380 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 135-4477
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
TWD107.90
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