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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 410-479
Mfr. Part No.248BBHS0XB25102MA
BrandVishay
TWD406.00
Each
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. 504-2734
Mfr. Part No.P9A2R100FISX1103ML
BrandVishay
TWD597.00
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.025W 6 mm Logarithmic - Conductive Plastic Pin ±20% P9A 20mm
RS Stock No. 167-3248
Mfr. Part No.3310C-001-204L
BrandBourns
TWD67.20
Each (In a Tube of 50)
units
200 kΩ Rotary 1 1 - 0.25W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC Pin ±20% 3310 12.7mm
RS Stock No. 167-9639
Mfr. Part No.14910F0GJSX10504KA
BrandVishay
TWD423.40
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% 149 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 790-4473
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL223KLB
BrandVishay
TWD1,228.00
Each
units
22 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1.5W 6 mm Logarithmic - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 294-3729
Mfr. Part No.860B1501
BrandVishay
TWD3,607.00
Each
units
500 Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 8W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±1% 860 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-8736
Mfr. Part No.P16NM222MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD771.20
Each (In a Box of 20)
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 9.4mm
RS Stock No. 167-8703
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL223KLB
BrandVishay
TWD756.90
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
22 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1.5W 6 mm Logarithmic - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 167-3598
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-102L
BrandBourns
TWD630.80
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9344
Mfr. Part No.860B1501
BrandVishay
TWD4,454.60
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
500 Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 8W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±1% 860 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 475-6038
Mfr. Part No.M-22E10-050 1K
TWD565.00
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - - Solder Lug ±5% M-22E10 -
RS Stock No. 790-4173
Mfr. Part No.P16NM222MAB15
BrandVishay
TWD850.00
Each
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 9.4mm
RS Stock No. 522-3028
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-502L
BrandBourns
TWD812.00
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 172-8116
Mfr. Part No.RK1631210AY7
TWD60.40
Each (In a Box of 2400)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK163 -