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. 377-4811
Mfr. Part No.17PCSA474MC19P
€5.80
Each
units
470 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Linear - Carbon Pin ±20% 17P 19mm
RS Stock No. 167-3589
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-104L
BrandBourns
€12.754
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 729-3410
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A66
€1.65
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L 12.5mm
RS Stock No. 789-9475
Mfr. Part No.95A1A-B24-A20L
BrandBourns
€5.83
Each
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 95 19mm
RS Stock No. 107-0814
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-104L
BrandBourns
€15.03
Each
units
100 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 172-8116
Mfr. Part No.RK1631210AY7
€1.867
Each (In a Box of 2400)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 790-4390
Mfr. Part No.P11S1V0FLSY00501KA
BrandVishay
€8.92
Each
units
500 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% P11S 25mm
RS Stock No. 162-811
Mfr. Part No.404802692036
€20.17
Each
units
2.2 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% M 25.4mm
RS Stock No. 842-7071
BrandRS PRO
€4.54
Each
units
50 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 249-9222
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TV7
€1.78
Each
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 167-8874
Mfr. Part No.P11S1V0FLSY00501KA
BrandVishay
€6.917
Each (In a Box of 60)
units
500 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% P11S 25mm
RS Stock No. 729-3565
Mfr. Part No.RK09K1130AU2
€0.61
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09K 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-9486
Mfr. Part No.534B1102JL
BrandVishay
€15.076
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 172-7538
Mfr. Part No.RK09K1130AU2
€0.498
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09K -
RS Stock No. 172-8095
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TV7
€1.153
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 173-0721
BrandRS PRO
€1.353
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
50 Ω - 1 - Panel Mount 1W 6 mm - - Wirewound Solder ±10% P25 25mm
RS Stock No. 460-7510
Mfr. Part No.534B1102JL
BrandVishay
€17.64
Each
units
1 kΩ Linear 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% 534 -
RS Stock No. 468-8733
Mfr. Part No.05.061.5470
BrandRadiohm
€2.57
Each
units
47 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% POTM -
RS Stock No. 172-8043
Mfr. Part No.RK12L12C0A0E
€0.622
Each (In a Tray of 80)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole - 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK12L -
RS Stock No. 729-3653
Mfr. Part No.RK09D1130A1N
€0.62
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09D 30mm
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