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. 167-4683
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
TWD84.40
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 790-4429
Mfr. Part No.P16NP474MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD497.00
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.26W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 167-9560
Mfr. Part No.248BBHS0XB25102MA
BrandVishay
TWD345.20
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.5W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Pin ±20% 248 19.1mm
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. 167-3587
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-203L
BrandBourns
TWD366.30
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
20 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 770-3080
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR03-504A2
BrandBourns
TWD125.00
Each
units
500 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 27.5mm
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
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. 475-6050
Mfr. Part No.M-22E10-050 5K
TWD565.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - - Solder Lug ±5% - -
RS Stock No. 789-9434
Mfr. Part No.91A1D-C24-A15L
BrandBourns
TWD208.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet PC Pin ±10% 91 19mm
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. 317-780
BrandRS PRO
TWD1,172.00
Each
units
5 kΩ - 1 - Panel Mount - 3 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Wire Lead ±20% LM10 -
RS Stock No. 167-5483
Mfr. Part No.PDB181-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
TWD48.90
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.1W 6 mm Logarithmic - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB181-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 850-9609
Mfr. Part No.157-11103
BrandVishay
TWD791.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Bushing Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 831-8810
Mfr. Part No.53C3500K
BrandHoneywell
TWD540.00
Each
units
500 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Lug ±10% 53C 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 172-6335
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A5P
TWD39.60
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. 790-4426
Mfr. Part No.P16NP222MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD523.00
Each
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 387-739
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
TWD153.00
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. 167-8747
Mfr. Part No.P16NP222MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD466.90
Each (In a Box of 20)
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 167-8748
Mfr. Part No.P16NP474MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD466.50
Each (In a Box of 20)
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.26W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm