Difference Between Potentiometer and Rheostat

The construction of both the rheostat and potentiometer is almost the same but the main difference is the way we used it for operation. It potentiometers, we use all the three terminals for performing the operation whereas in rheostats we use only two terminals for performing the operation. Let us have a deep insight into a comparison and difference between them to know more about it. 

Definition of Rheostat:

A rheostat is a basically resistor, which is used to control the flow of electric current by manually increasing or decreasing the resistance. Rheostat can be defined as a "Rheos" and "-Statis" which means a stream controlling device or current controlling device. Rheostat having two terminals.

Definition of Potentiometer:

Potentiometer which is also known as a "Pot", which has a resistor with three terminals and sliding contact with an adjustable voltage divider.

Difference between potentiometer and Rheostat :

  • The potentiometer is a component having three terminals, Rheostat has two terminals.
  • The potentiometer is a sliding contact with an adjustable voltage while the rheostat is a variable resistor.
  • A potentiometer can be used as a rheostat, but as a potentiometer, a rheostat can not be used.
  • The potentiometer is often used to vary voltage and rheostats are used to vary current.
  • The potentiometer is used as a measuring instrument or component as in electronics whereas rheostats are used to vary the resistance of a circuit.
  • A potentiometer is made of resistive elements such as graphite, resistance wire, cermet, and carbon particles while a rheostat is made of various materials such as fluids, metal ribbons, and carbon disks.
  • A potentiometer has low power and used for audio devices, television control, and as a transducer while a rheostat is used for high power and appliances like fans, mixers, and the motors and the motors of large industrial machines.

Rheostats and potentiometer are still used today but nowadays they are being replaced by the TRIAC also known as a silicon control rectifier because of that mechanical parts corrode and break after some time which can cause them to malfunction.

Explore more information:
  1. Difference between resistor and capacitor
  2. Difference between resistor and resistance 
  3. Difference between resistor and reactance
  4. Difference between resistor and inductor
  5. Difference Between Cell and Battery

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