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Potentiometer Sensors – A Modern Position Sensing Solution

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  • Potentiometer Sensors – A Modern Position Sensing Solution
  • February 12, 2019

Potentiometer Sensors – A Modern Position Sensing Solution

From making a toy wave hello to thriving in extreme conditions like guided missiles, potentiometers are an integral part of any system that demands infinite resolution.

This simple device has been used for measuring, controlling and positioning requirements for over 100 years. With the betterment in technology, they have proven to be all the more dynamic, useful and precise.

So what is a potentiometer exactly? A potentiometer sensor can measure the distance/displacement of any object in a rotary/linear motion to convert into an electric signal. Potentiometer sensors are useful in a variety of industries and applications.

Let’s look at the specifications that can be customised to suit the requirements of specific applications.

Mechanical Specifications

Potentiometers can be manufactured to suit an array of custom interfaces and packages. Design considerations can include package size, torque, shaft configuration, mechanical travel, termination requirements and mounting.


A conductive plastic potentiometer can last for more than 5 million cycles. The use of lubricants and precious metals can help increase the life of a potentiometer.


This is a critical specification of a majority of potentiometers. Linearity is the proportional difference between a calculated voltage and the actual output based on position. A potentiometer’s tolerance of linearity will depend on the function angle or length, the size of the tracks as well as the total resistance. The higher the track size and the angle, the lower is the resistance, and the higher is the accuracy.


Noise is the result of variation in the output. This variation can be due to transient resistance between the resistive element and the wiper.

Environmental Aspects

When choosing a potentiometer, it’s critical to consider the conditions it will operate in. The conditions include temperature levels, vibrations, moisture and even shock.

Element Designs

The resistive track of a potentiometer can be created from a wide range of substrates. The choice of substrate depends on your mounting requirements, the lifespan and requirements and the environmental conditions. You could choose from either a rotary or a linear potentiometer.


This refers to the changes in voltage for every shaft movement. Potentiometers offer pretty much infinite resolution, and that’s a huge advantage. Being a thorough position sensing device, a potentiometer knows its position and doesn’t have to start at zero every time it’s turned on.

Power Rating

This refers to the maximum power that a potentiometer is capable of dissipating in cases where it acts as a voltage divider instead of a rheostat. This rating is usually identified at ambient temperature and must be de-rated in case of a potentiometer that operates at higher temperatures.

Measurex manufacturers a wide range of potentiometers including rod end potentiometerslider potentiometer and spring-loaded potentiometer. Get in touch with us today for a quote.

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