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, its 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. 167-8735
Mfr. Part No.P16NM103MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 204,40
Each (In a Box of 20)
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 9.4mm
RS Stock No. 790-4170
Mfr. Part No.P16NM103MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 218,03
Each
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 9.4mm
RS Stock No. 790-4482
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL472KAB
BrandVishay
kr 290,23
Each
Units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 167-8707
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL472KAB
BrandVishay
kr 272,111
Each (In a Box of 10)
Units
4.7 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 790-4426
Mfr. Part No.P16NP222MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 134,10
Each
Units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 167-8747
Mfr. Part No.P16NP222MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 123,698
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. 460-7526
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
kr 220,84
Each
Units
10 kΩ Linear 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% 534 -
RS Stock No. 167-9487
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
kr 147,247
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. 168-0008
Mfr. Part No.PE60L0FGW471MA
BrandVishay
kr 341,294
Each (In a Box of 5)
Units
470 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 6W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Wire Lead ±20% PE60 16mm
RS Stock No. 684-2670
Mfr. Part No.PE60L0FGW471MA
BrandVishay
kr 369,29
Each
Units
470 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 6W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Wire Lead ±20% PE60 16mm
RS Stock No. 167-8774
Mfr. Part No.P16NP103MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 121,545
Each (In a Box of 20)
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 790-4401
Mfr. Part No.P16NP103MAB15
BrandVishay
kr 127,62
Each
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 167-8681
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FR102KAB
BrandVishay
kr 184,764
Each (In a Box of 10)
Units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 50mm
RS Stock No. 790-4287
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FR102KAB
BrandVishay
kr 205,17
Each
Units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 50mm
RS Stock No. 167-8896
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL103KAB
BrandVishay
kr 271,623
Each (In a Box of 10)
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 790-4445
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL103KAB
BrandVishay
kr 289,83
Each
Units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 790-4495
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL473KLB
BrandVishay
kr 206,88
Each
Units
47 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1.5W 6 mm Logarithmic - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 790-4463
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL222KAB
BrandVishay
kr 289,83
Each
Units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 167-8701
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL222KAB
BrandVishay
kr 271,623
Each (In a Box of 10)
Units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 167-8712
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL473KLB
BrandVishay
kr 147,825
Each (In a Box of 10)
Units
47 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1.5W 6 mm Logarithmic - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm