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.

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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. 135-5049
Mfr. Part No.TW1103KA
€6.81
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 502-8637
Mfr. Part No.TW1103KA
€12.32
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 460-7526
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
€21.96
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
€14.639
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. 249-9238
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TWA
€1.69
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±10% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 172-6361
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TWA
€1.159
Each (In a Box of 2400)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±10% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 387-739
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
€4.15
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. 135-4477
Mfr. Part No.1624139-2
€2.381
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. 165-5976
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-102L
BrandBourns
€47.04
Each
units
1 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 135-5046
Mfr. Part No.TW1102KA
€5.453
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 502-8609
Mfr. Part No.TW1102KA
€8.64
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-3204
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-102L
BrandBourns
€30.861
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-8774
Mfr. Part No.P16NP103MAB15
BrandVishay
€12.084
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
€12.69
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS Stock No. 536-5065
Mfr. Part No.800FP-POT6
€53.43
Each
units
- Rotary - 1 - - 6.35 mm - - - - - - 22.4mm
RS Stock No. 502-8621
Mfr. Part No.TW1502KA
€8.97
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 135-5048
Mfr. Part No.TW1502KA
€6.034
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% TW 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-3206
Mfr. Part No.3683S-1-103L
BrandBourns
€30.861
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
10 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 248-6759
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-103L
BrandBourns
€32.31
Each
units
10 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
RS Stock No. 167-3611
Mfr. Part No.3682S-1-103L
BrandBourns
€21.546
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
10 kΩ Digital Display - 2 Panel Mount 2W - - - - Solder Lug ±3% 3680 -
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