How to Test a Potentiometer

With this video, you will learn how to test a potentiometer. A potentiometer is an electronic device capable of delivering varied resistance depending on its adjustment.

Tools Required

  • Ohm Meter


Most potentiometers have three connectors.

  • Two are the total and non-varying resistance of the potentiometer referred to as ends
  • The third is the variable resistance, referred to as the wiper

To determine which are the ends and which is the wiper perform the following tests:

  • Ensure that the meter used for testing has a range capable of testing the potentiometer
  • Remember to always set your meter to one range higher than the component you are testing. The item used in our video is a 1000 ohms or 1k Ohm potentiometer, so we will be using the 2k Ohm setting on our meter

If any of these tests results in an open or no reading the potentiometer is bad.

  • A reading from either of the two ends and the wiper should be equal to the adjustment of the potentiometer. To verify have someone adjust the potentiometer while taking a reading. The value should change with the adjustment
  • Taking a reading from the two end poles should show a reading equal to the potentiometer's rating. In our example, 1000 ohms or 1k ohm is the rating. This reading should not vary much if any when the potentiometer is adjusted
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