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. 107-0757
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-102L
BrandBourns
HK$142.04
Each
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3582
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-102L
BrandBourns
HK$100.454
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
1 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 692-8639
Mfr. Part No.PDB241-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
HK$36.78
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
HK$23.447
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. 107-0741
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-501L
BrandBourns
HK$141.07
Each
units
500 Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3581
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-501L
BrandBourns
HK$108.003
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
500 Ω Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3590 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-4692
Mfr. Part No.PTV09A-2015F-B103
BrandBourns
HK$5.502
Each (In a Tray of 100)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTV09 15mm
RS Stock No. 737-7818
Mfr. Part No.PTV09A-2015F-B103
BrandBourns
HK$6.65
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Through Hole 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±20% PTV09 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-3618
Mfr. Part No.53RBA-R25-A15/A15L
BrandBourns
HK$106.265
Each (In a Tray of 45)
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 53 25mm
RS Stock No. 522-5131
Mfr. Part No.53RBA-R25-A15/A15L
BrandBourns
HK$116.91
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 53 25mm
RS Stock No. 522-3034
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-503L
BrandBourns
HK$256.97
Each
units
50 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 167-3603
Mfr. Part No.3540S-1-503L
BrandBourns
HK$197.578
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
50 kΩ Rotary 10 1 Panel Mount 2W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3540 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 692-8608
Mfr. Part No.6539S-1-502
BrandBourns
HK$334.41
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic Solder Turret ±15% 6539 12.7mm
RS Stock No. 522-5068
Mfr. Part No.53RAA-R25-A13L
BrandBourns
HK$78.71
Each
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6 mm Linear - Cermet Solder Lug ±10% 53 25mm
RS Stock No. 166-9921
Mfr. Part No.PTD901-2015K-B103
BrandBourns
HK$10.605
Each (In a Bag of 162)
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 - 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±25% PTD90 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-5464
Mfr. Part No.3543S-1-502L
BrandBourns
HK$277.274
Each (In a Tray of 25)
units
5 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount 1W 6.35 mm Linear - Wirewound Solder Lug ±5% 3543 20.6mm
RS Stock No. 827-5035
Mfr. Part No.PTD901-2015K-B103
BrandBourns
HK$16.32
Each
units
10 kΩ Rotary - 1 - 0.05W 6 mm Linear - Carbon PC Pin ±25% PTD90 15mm
RS Stock No. 167-3515
Mfr. Part No.3310Y-001-104L
BrandBourns
HK$18.869
Each (In a Tube of 50)
units
100 kΩ Rotary 1 1 Panel Mount, Through Hole 0.25W 3.18 mm Linear - Conductive Plastic PC Pin ±20% 3310 12.7mm
RS Stock No. 626-8410
Mfr. Part No.3590S-2-104L
BrandBourns
HK$54.64
Each
units
- - - - - - - - - - - - 3590S -
RS Stock No. 167-5484
Mfr. Part No.PDB183-GTR01-504A2
BrandBourns
HK$31.734
Each (In a Bag of 100)
units
500 kΩ Rotary - 1 Panel Mount 0.1W 6 mm Audio - Carbon Solder Lug ±20% PDB183-GTR 19mm