rheostat vs potentiometer



  • Newbie here. I know it's not exactly what the forum is all about, but it looks that folks here know their stuff ... So let me try. Here's the deal. I've been trying for a few days now to understand the difference between a rheostat and a potentiometer but to no avail. I've tried to read about it on Wikipedia and even this article with a video about rheostats https://www.derf.com/rheostat-overview-article-and-video-explanation/ but they don't really explain the difference in layman's terms.. Too many long words 🙂 Could somebody here please explain the difference like I'm 5? Any and all help will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance


  • JF Staff

    A rheostat has two terminals. A potentiometer has three.

    In a rheostat one terminal is connected to the track (usually wire wound) and the other to the slider.
    In a pot, there is a terminal for each end of the resistive track and a terminal for the slider.
    Rheostats are more common in high current circuits.