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. 125-4404
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R4K7
kr 606,28
Each
Units
4.7 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4399
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R100K
kr 656,92
Each
Units
100 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4400
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R10K
kr 644,86
Each
Units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4410
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R4K7
kr 617,64
Each
Units
4.7 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4406
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R10K
kr 606,28
Each
Units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4402
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R470K
kr 478,36
Each
Units
470 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.26W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4403
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R47K
kr 644,86
Each
Units
47 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4409
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R47K
kr 617,64
Each
Units
47 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4407
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R1K
kr 644,86
Each
Units
1 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4401
Mfr. Part No.XB4BD912R1K
kr 644,86
Each
Units
1 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB4 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4408
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R470K
kr 440,47
Each
Units
470 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.26W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm
RS Stock No. 125-4405
Mfr. Part No.XB5AD912R100K
kr 606,28
Each
Units
100 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Faston, Plug In Connector, Screw ±10% XB5 30.2mm