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. 263-3264
Mfr. Part No.RSA0N11S9004
€3.46
Each
units
10 kΩ Slide - - Through Hole 0.25W - Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RSA0N -
RS Stock No. 737-7782
Mfr. Part No.PTA4544-2015DPA103
BrandBourns
€1.20
Each
units
10 kΩ Slide - 1 Through Hole 0.125W - Audio - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTA 15mm
RS Stock No. 172-8073
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A2U
€1.107
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L -
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. 162-2517
Mfr. Part No.95A1D-C24-H18L
BrandBourns
€5.927
Each (In a Tray of 45)
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±5% 95 19mm
RS Stock No. 170-5319
BrandRS PRO
€26.054
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
10 kΩ Linear 1 4 Surface Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - - Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 729-3423
Mfr. Part No.RK09L1140A2U
€1.31
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09L 20mm
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
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. 812-853
BrandRS PRO
€43.22
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 4 Surface Mount 1.5W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±10% CLR4000 -
RS Stock No. 172-7689
Mfr. Part No.RSA0N11S9004
€2.711
Each (In a Tray of 40)
units
10 kΩ Slide - - Through Hole 0.25W 18.5 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RSA0N -
RS Stock No. 172-7566
Mfr. Part No.RK09D1130A1N
€0.515
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±20% RK09D -
RS Stock No. 789-9462
Mfr. Part No.95A1D-C24-H18L
BrandBourns
€6.52
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±5% 95 19mm
RS Stock No. 790-4457
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL102KAB
BrandVishay
€28.86
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 850-9794
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-103
BrandVishay
€12.52
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 168-207
Mfr. Part No.1623767-2
€3.99
Each
units
1 MΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 164-1568
Mfr. Part No.17PCSA103MC19P
€4.711
Each (In a Box of 100)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Linear - Carbon Pin ±20% 17P 19mm
RS Stock No. 460-1893
Mfr. Part No.533B1103JL
BrandVishay
€11.61
Each
units
10 kΩ Linear 3 - Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% 533 -
RS Stock No. 167-9579
Mfr. Part No.249FGJS0XB25102KA
BrandVishay
€6.819
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% 249 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 172-8023
Mfr. Part No.RK09D1130C3C
€0.563
Each (In a Box of 1000)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole 0.05W 25 mm Linear - - Snap In ±20% RK09D 25
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