Complete Guide to Buying Potentiometers

Your Guide to buying the best Potentiometers


A potentiometer is an electrical component that is used to measure and adjust the amount of resistance in an electrical circuit. In a buying guide for Potentiometers, you will learn about the different types, what to look for when selecting one, and how to properly install them. This guide will provide the information you need to make an informed decision when choosing the best Potentiometer for your application.

Key features

  1. Type - There are different types of potentiometers including rotary, linear, slide, and trimmer potentiometers. Choose the type that best fits the application.
  2. Resistance - Determine the resistance needed for the application. Resistance can range from 0-100 ohms to 0-1M ohms.
  3. Power Rating - Power ratings vary and can range from 0.1 watts to 20 watts. The power rating should be chosen based on the application needs.
  4. Tolerance - Tolerance determines the accuracy of the resistance. Tolerance ratings range from +/- 10% to +/- 20%.
  5. Actuator - Different types of actuators are available including knobs, sliders, or levers.
  6. Mounting - Potentiometers are available in thru-hole, surface-mount, or panel-mount configurations.
  7. Environmental Protection - Potentiometers are available with different levels of environmental protection such as IP67 or IP68 ratings, depending on the application environment.

See the most popular Potentiometers on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Accuracy - Potentiometers are highly accurate which ensures that readings can be taken with greater precision.
  • Durability - Potentiometers are robust and constructed from durable materials. This allows them to withstand long periods of use and extreme temperatures.
  • Low Cost - Potentiometers are inexpensive and offer great value for money.
  • Versatility - Potentiometers are simple and versatile components that can be used for a wide range of applications.
  • Compatibility - Potentiometers are compatible with a variety of electronic components and can be used with other devices.


  • Cost: Potentiometers can be expensive, depending on the quality, type, and size.
  • Durability: Potentiometers are mechanical parts and can wear out over time.
  • Environmental Resistance: Potentiometers can be sensitive to certain environmental conditions, such as moisture or vibration.
  • Power Requirements: Potentiometers require power to operate, so they must be connected to an external power source.
  • Installation: Potentiometers must be installed properly in order to function correctly.
  • Accuracy: Potentiometers are not typically as accurate as other types of sensors.

Best alternatives

  1. Rheostats - Variable resistors that are used to control current.
  2. Potentiometric Transducers - An electromechanical device used to measure and control physical characteristics such as pressure, temperature, and flow.
  3. Rotary Switches - Switches that are operated by rotating a control knob.
  4. Digital Potentiometers - Electronic devices that allow users to adjust the resistance value of a circuit digitally.
  5. Closed-Loop Control Systems - Automated systems that use sensors to measure conditions and adjust the operation of the system.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Voltmeter/Ammeter - Used for measuring the voltage or current of the potentiometer.
  • Multimeter - Used for measuring resistance, voltage, and current.
  • Soldering Iron - Used for soldering wires to the potentiometer.
  • Solder - Used to create a strong electrical connection between wires and the potentiometer.
  • Heat Shrink Tubing - Used to insulate wiring and connections.
  • Crimping Tool - Used to make a secure connection between wires and terminals.
  • Wire Strippers - Used for removing insulation from wires.
  • Wire Cutters - Used for cutting wires to length.
  • Shrink Wrap - Used to cover and protect the potentiometer.
  • Labels - Used to label potentiometers and connections.
  • Enclosures - Used to house and protect the potentiometer.

Common questions

  1. What is a potentiometer? A potentiometer is an electronic component used to adjust the voltage or current in a circuit. It typically consists of a three-terminal device, including a resistance element, a wiper, and a terminal for adjusting the resistance.
  2. What are the different types of potentiometers? The different types of potentiometers include: rotary potentiometers, linear potentiometers, slide potentiometers, and digital potentiometers.
  3. What are potentiometers typically used for? Potentiometers are typically used to adjust the voltage or current in a circuit, such as for adjusting the volume on a stereo, controlling the speed of a motor, and adjusting the brightness of a light.
  4. What is the difference between a potentiometer and a resistor? The primary difference between a potentiometer and a resistor is that a potentiometer has an adjustable resistance, whereas a resistor has a fixed resistance.
  5. What are the different types of potentiometer contacts? Potentiometers typically use sliding contacts (wipers) or rotating contacts (shafts) to adjust the resistance. The type of contact used will depend on the type of potentiometer.
  6. What is the difference between a linear and a logarithmic potentiometer? A linear potentiometer has a constant change in resistance as the control knob is turned, while a logarithmic potentiometer has an increasing change in resistance as the control knob is turned.
  7. What is the power rating of a potentiometer? The power rating of a potentiometer is determined by the wattage it is rated for and the voltage applied to it. Generally, the higher the wattage rating, the higher the power capacity.
  8. What is the best way to mount a potentiometer? The best way to mount a potentiometer will depend on its type and the application it will be used in. Generally, potentiometers should be mounted securely with the proper hardware and in a way that minimizes stress on the component.


During World War II, the British military had to make do with limited resources, and so they often used potentiometers to make detection devices such as the Radar. These devices were essential in detecting German planes and helping the British forces to stay ahead of their enemies. Although this is certainly no laughing matter, it is a testament to the versatility of this device and its importance in safeguarding the lives of many during the war. Source: History and Development of Potentiometers

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.