A variable resistor is a device that has the capacity to adjust electrical resistance. They are typically utilized when working with electrical circuitry as they are able to control different voltages and currents. Variable resistors are user friendly and come with a wiper contact that can be slid up or down the resistance track. The wiper contact position on the resistance track is what determines the true resistance value.
Most resistors are used as rheostats. The electrical current that flows through an electrical circuit is determined by two variables: the amount of voltage applied, and the total resistance of the electrical circuit. When we reduce the circuits resistance, the flow of the electrical current increases. When we increase circuit resistance, the flow of the electrical current will be decreased. If we place the rheostat in an electrical circuit, we are able to control the flow of electric current in the circuit. Rheostats help connect circuits while leaving the resistance track open. Rheostats are used in applications where high voltage is required.
When the edge of the resistor track connects with the inputs of the circuit, it is used as a Electronic potentiometer. All three of the device’s terminals must be used to act as a potentiometer. The potentiometer consists of three terminals in which two are fixed and the other is a variable. The two stationary terminals are connected to both ends of the resistive track while the third terminal adjusts the sliding wiper. The potentiometer is changed when the wiper is moved over the resistive path. Resistance is manually operated to control the flow of the electric current. Potentiometers are used to control the volume in audio equipment and frequency attenuation; they are also used in televisions and computer to control the picture contrast and brightness.
Another type of variable resistor is a thermistor - these devices are used to help gauge temperature. Thermistors allow the flow of electric current to adjust rapidly even with a slight change in temperature. Electronic Thermistors are low cost, small in size, and are easily transportable. They aren’t suitable to use over a wide operating range. The demand for thermistors has increased in recent years as they’ve proven to work accurately and effectively in a wide array of applications.
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