The simple answer is not much, it really depends on the power required in an application.
Fundamentally there is little difference betweenpotentiometers and rheostats. They both share the following characteristics:
- Variable and continuous adjustment of a specified resistance value
- Adjustment via a rotary shaft
- Are mounted (generally) via a bush mounting system
- Have similar temperature derating curves
- Both offer solder or quick connect termination options
- Both have a specified angle of rotation
- Both have a wiper in rotational contact with a resistance element
Low power applications generally call for a potentiometer whereas a high power applications use a rheostat.
Our AW series potentiometer are power rated to 3 watts whereas our APR series rheostats are available up to a 500 watt power rating.
If you need to choose a potentiometer or rheostat for your electrical application talk to us for more information.