What Is the Function of a Trimmer Potentiometer?

Potentiometers are a type of three-terminal resistor, featuring an adjustable tapping point that allows a device to act as an adjustable voltage divider with variable potential. Potentiometers can come in various types to accommodate different applications, each differing in its design and functionality. Trimpots, otherwise known as trimmer potentiometers, are specialized potentiometer devices that are used to adjust, tune, and calibrate electrical circuits. As components that are common to a number of electrical applications and systems, it can be useful to have a basic understanding of the trimmer potentiometer.

When a trimmer potentiometer is wired as a rheostat, meaning that two terminals are used to create a relation between a side and the slider, the device is referred to as a preset resistor. Generally, trimmer potentiometers are mounted onto printed circuit boards, and a screwdriver can be used to adjust them as necessary. Such devices may also vary in their material makeup, though the most common substances for their resistive track include carbon composition and cermet materials. With a variety of configurations and designs, trimmer potentiometers are diverse in their use.

Depending on one’s needs for a particular system or application, there are numerous types of trimmer potentiometers that may be chosen from. Generally, trimmer potentiometers are categorized based on attributes related to their mounting method, adjusting orientation, and turn variation. For mounting methods, through-hole and surface mounting devices (SMD) are the most common, while adjusting orientations include top and side presets. For turn variations, meanwhile, single and multi-turn types are common. The position of the adjustment component is important to consider as it needs to be accessible after the circuit has been fully assembled. As such, choosing between top and side adjustment trimmer potentiometers will depend on the design of an assembly.

Single turn trimmer potentiometers are often utilized in applications where the resolution of one turn is enough for typical processes to be carried out. With their simplicity, single turn trimmer potentiometers are the most cost effective options on the market. Nevertheless, there may be instances where a higher adjustment resolution is required, and in such cases, the multi-turn option is best. The amount of turns permissible by the trimmer potentiometer may vary based on the component that is procured and its design, but anywhere from five to twenty-five turns is common. To reach the high resolution of turning that is needed, many multi-turn trimmer potentiometers are made from worm-gears and lead screws.

When shopping for various trimmer potentiometer components, it can be useful to have a general understanding of the IEC symbols that are used to identify components. Generally, these symbols cover trimpots, potentiometers, preset resistors, and rheostats, and knowing the difference between each can help one avoid mistakes in part management or purchasing.

Alongside choosing a potentiometer, one should also make sure that they procure sealing wax and other items that are necessary for efficient installation and management. Additionally, potentiometers should be regularly inspected and tested to guarantee their functionality. When you are in the market for trimmer potentiometers for your particular applications, look no further than Plane Parts 360.

Plane Parts 360 belongs to the ASAP Semiconductor family of websites, and we are a leading distributor of trimmer potentiometers and other electronic circuit elements that are required for a multitude of applications and processes. Take the time to explore our massive set of offerings as you see fit, and all listed items are purchasable at any time. To initiate the procurement process, simply fill out and submit an RFQ form as provided on our website, and a dedicated account manager will reach out within 15 minutes or less to provide a customized quote for your comparisons. Experience the evolution of purchasing today when you connect with a Plane Parts 360 representative. 


November 3, 2022
October 17, 2019

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