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
PHP1,689.30
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10kΩ 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
PHP1,848.30
Each
units
10kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9751
Mfr. Part No.357B0502MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP1,611.75
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
5kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 460-2076
Mfr. Part No.357B0502MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP2,014.95
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22.2mm
RS Stock No. 850-9794
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-103
BrandVishay
PHP1,186.60
Each
units
10kΩ Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 460-7605
Mfr. Part No.534B1104JL
BrandVishay
PHP1,635.70
Each
units
100kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9504
Mfr. Part No.534B1104JL
BrandVishay
PHP1,711.30
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
100kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9572
Mfr. Part No.534B1203JC8872
BrandVishay
PHP1,532.60
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
20kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 850-9814
Mfr. Part No.534-1-1-501
BrandVishay
PHP917.40
Each
units
500Ω Rotary 10 1 Bushing Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Turret ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 486-7122
Mfr. Part No.534B1203JC8872
BrandVishay
PHP1,586.20
Each
units
20kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9486
Mfr. Part No.534B1102JL
BrandVishay
PHP1,143.00
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
1kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 460-7504
Mfr. Part No.534B1101JL
BrandVishay
PHP948.50
Each
units
100Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9485
Mfr. Part No.534B1101JL
BrandVishay
PHP992.30
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
100Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 460-7510
Mfr. Part No.534B1102JL
BrandVishay
PHP1,274.30
Each
units
1kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9574
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JC8872
BrandVishay
PHP1,054.40
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-9768
Mfr. Part No.357B0202MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP1,370.25
Each (In a Box of 50)
units
2kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 22 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22
RS Stock No. 486-7150
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JC8872
BrandVishay
PHP1,091.80
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 460-2054
Mfr. Part No.357B0202MAB251S22
BrandVishay
PHP1,491.00
Each
units
2kΩ Rotary Continuous 1 Panel Mount 1W 22 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Turret ±20% 357 22
RS Stock No. 167-8896
Mfr. Part No.PE30L0FL103KAB
BrandVishay
PHP1,566.873
Each (In a Box of 10)
units
10kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 3W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% PE30 25mm
RS Stock No. 460-7582
Mfr. Part No.534B1502JLB
BrandVishay
PHP1,367.00
Each
units
5kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 534 20.6mm