Definition - What does Potentiometer mean?

A Potentiometer is a type of a resistor which controls variable and adjustable resistance via a sliding or rotating contact. In order to regulate the resistance, the potentiometer acts as a voltage divider, lowering or increasing the voltage output by controlling the resistance value. It is usually used to control electronic devices such as the knob that controls volume and other functions in audio/video equipment. It is also used in downhole well applications to sense and measure the pressure in oil and gas wells.

Petropedia explains Potentiometer

Potentiometers are manually adjustable with three terminals. A potentiometer is also an electro-mechanical circuit since it has moving parts and electronic components. The slider determines the resistance of the device. As the slider moves up or down (or rotates around) the resistance element, the resistance increases and decreases proportionately with it, and considering the simple formula of voltage = current × resistance, it can be surmised that, with a constant current flow, changing the resistance in the potentiometer will also change the voltage output.

There are many kinds of potentiometers, the most common of which is the rotary type, which is also available in a variety of flavors, depending on the precision or accuracy of the required voltage or resistance for the application. Another one is the slide-type potentiometer, which is commonly used in audio equipment as a slide control.
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