Potentiometers

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 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. 167-9487
Mfr. Part No.534B1103JL
BrandVishay
PHP1,948.568
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
PHP2,051.46
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 692-8639
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
PHP226.04
Each
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 167-4683
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
PHP134.285
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 172-6426
Mfr. Part No.RK27112A00AK
PHP702.807
Each (In a Box of 500)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK27 -
RS Stock No. 692-8632
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR02-254A2
BrandBourns
PHP204.30
Each
units
250 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6.35 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 161-6775
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR02-254A2
BrandBourns
PHP121.937
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
250 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.25W 6.35 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB241-GTR 19mm
RS Stock No. 172-6361
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TWA
PHP88.84
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. 249-9238
Mfr. Part No.RK1631110TWA
PHP280.68
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.1W 6 mm Linear - - Pin ±10% RK163 -
RS Stock No. 729-3681
Mfr. Part No.RK12L1210C0R
PHP50.04
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole - 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK12L 30mm
RS Stock No. 172-8039
Mfr. Part No.RK12L1210C0R
PHP38.825
Each (In a Tray of 80)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 - Through Hole - 6 mm Logarithmic - - Pin ±20% RK12L -
RS Stock No. 167-3602
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-502L
BrandBourns
PHP1,126.541
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 522-3028
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-502L
BrandBourns
PHP1,689.48
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 135-4432
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
PHP193.745
Each (In a Box of 200)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 460-2076
Mfr. Part No.357B0502MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP2,132.60
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 167-9751
Mfr. Part No.357B0502MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP1,895.418
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
5 kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 168-140
Mfr. Part No.1623760-2
PHP276.81
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 0.4W 6.35 mm Linear - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% 23 50mm
RS Stock No. 693-0702
Mfr. Part No.PTV112-4420A-B503
BrandBourns
PHP81.29
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTV 20mm
RS Stock No. 167-4426
Mfr. Part No.PTV112-4420A-B503
BrandBourns
PHP56.081
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
50 kΩ Rotary 1 2 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTV 20mm
RS Stock No. 107-0785
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-103L
BrandBourns
PHP869.75
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm