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. 167-9487
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
R 276.314
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. 460-7526
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
R 412.09
Each
units
10 kΩ Linear 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% 534 -
RS stock no. 167-8896
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL103KAB
BrandVishay
R 505.948
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
R 539.56
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS stock no. 167-9473
Mfr. Part No.157S103MX
BrandVishay
R 663.697
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 11.1mm
RS stock no. 294-3690
Mfr. Part No.157S103MX
BrandVishay
R 836.53
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Servo Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 11.1mm
RS stock no. 850-9817
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-502
BrandVishay
R 293.23
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS stock no. 790-4401
Mfr. Part No.P16NP103MAB15
BrandVishay
R 246.29
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS stock no. 173-732
Mfr. Part No.157B102MX9001
BrandVishay
R 446.27
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS stock no. 167-8774
Mfr. Part No.P16NP103MAB15
BrandVishay
R 223.547
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. 167-9508
Mfr. Part No.157B102MX9001
BrandVishay
R 358.406
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 157 22.2mm
RS stock no. 850-9441
Mfr. Part No.860-1-1-503
BrandVishay
R 2,394.17
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 8W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±3% 860 20.6mm
RS stock no. 167-9738
Mfr. Part No.14920F0GJSX13502KA
BrandVishay
R 161.617
Each (In a Box of 60)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount, Through Hole 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% 149 22.2mm
RS stock no. 486-7093
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JC8872
BrandVishay
R 410.15
Each
units
10 kΩ Linear 10 - Panel Mount 2W 6 mm - - - Solder Lug ±5% 534 -
RS stock no. 484-9247
Mfr. Part No.14920F0GJSX13502KA
BrandVishay
R 299.48
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Panel Mount, Through Hole 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Cermet Pin ±10% 149 22.2mm
RS stock no. 167-9569
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JC8872
BrandVishay
R 274.80
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS stock no. 850-9794
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-103
BrandVishay
R 229.97
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS stock no. 790-4457
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL102KAB
BrandVishay
R 551.11
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS stock no. 167-8732
Mfr. Part No.P16NP221MAB15
BrandVishay
R 139.359
Each (In a Box of 20)
units
220 Ω Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 16 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±20% P16 8.8mm
RS stock no. 167-8699
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL102KAB
BrandVishay
R 507.027
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm