Advantages of a Wire-Wound Potentiometer
- A potentiometer is a variable resistor. Typically, you adjust the resistance by turning a knob (or, on occasion, sliding a lever). One specialized version is called a wire-wound potentiometer. Unlike other "pots," which use materials such as ceramics and plastic as part of their resistive elements, wire-wound pots use resistance wire; ceramics are used only as a form on which to wind the wire.
- Most pots are built for use in low-power situations and are used to regulate voltages. Because of their heavy-duty construction, wire-wound potentiometers can handle much larger amounts of power. When you need to regulate the current in a system, a wire-wound pot is a good choice. When used for this purpose, they sometimes are called rheostats.
- A wire-wound potentiometer can handle a lot of current, and it also can dissipate the heat generated by that current. This makes a wire-wound pot perfect for almost any circuit with high-power requirements.
Very Long Life
- The heavy-duty construction of a wire-wound potentiometer makes it an extremely durable component. Its parts basically are mechanical, rather than the relatively fragile materials used in other electronic components. Compared with almost any other component in a high-power system, wire-wound pots last almost forever.
- Most potentiometers have a continuous range of settings. You can "nudge" the pot just a little and cause a slight change in the measurement. Wire-wound potentiometers, on the other hand, use discrete or stepped settings; turning the dial on a rotary wire-wound potentiometer results in a series of "clicks" as the rotor settles on each individual setting. Because of this, it is easy to duplicate settings time after time when making adjustments.
- "Noise," in this context, is not about sound. It is the ability of a component to transmit a signal exactly as it is received. When the signal is altered unintentionally, the system is "noisy." Wire-wound potentiometers transmit signals very cleanly, altering the signal very little in the process. When this ability to transmit clean signals is combined with its ability to provide measurable and repeatable settings, a wire-wound potentiometer makes it possible to regulate currents with amazing accuracy.