What is the difference between a potential divider and a variable resistor?

Divider

becky 🙂 asks:

I am doing AS level physics and I really don’t understand what a potential divider and a variable resistor are. Any help would be really appreciated. Thanks x x

Best answer:

Answer by Mr X
In effect there is no difference.
A variable resistor (potentiometer) is a form of potential divider.

2 thoughts on “What is the difference between a potential divider and a variable resistor?

  1. A variable resistor is a device. One application of that device is in a voltage divider circuit. See the references for explanations.

  2. Potential divider provides a mean to pickup a voltage which can be varied by 1 of the terminals sliding along the side of the potential divider so that the voltage will be the maximum of the supplied voltage at 1 end and 0 at the other end.
    A variable resister provides a resistance value which may be varied from 0 to maximum by a sliding a shunt which bypasses the turns of wire or the material that makes up the total resister. The more of the resister bypassed the less the resistance.

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