Variable Resistors

Objectives

  • Differentiate between potentiometers and rheostats
  • Examine the advantages and uses of potentiometers in real-world applications

What is it?

A variable resistor is a type of resistor that can have its resistance value changed by using a central control.

A variable resistor can have 2 or 3 leads. A 2 lead variable resistor is called a rheostat. A 3 lead variable resistor is called a potentiometer, or "pot" for short.

Potentiometer Cutaway
Rheostat Cutaway
The potentiometer is the most commonly used variable resistor!

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