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Designation : Lecturer.
Branch : Electronics and Communication
Institute : Govt. Model Residential
Polytechnin Gajwel.
Year / Semester : I Year.
Subject : Electronic Components & Materials.
Subject Code : EC-105
Major Topic : Resistors.
Duration : 50 Mts.
Sub Topic : Rheostat and its applications.
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On the completion of this topic, you would be

able to learn the following:

• What is a Rheostat ?

• The diagram of a Rheostat.

• The specifications and applications of


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In the previous topic, you have learnt about the
following points:

• The comparison between Carbon and Wire – wound


• The need for tapering in Potentiometers.

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• A rheostat is a multi-(two)terminal variable resistor.

• Rheostats are designed to handle much higher voltage and


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Rheostat – Circuit symbol

2 1

Or 2

Fig 1

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Cylindrical and Circular Rheostats

Fig 2

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A high power toroidal wire wound Rheostat

Fig 3
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Construction of a Rheostat

• Rheostats are constructed as a resistive wire

• wrapped to form a toroid coil with the wiper moving

• over the upper surface of the toroid, sliding from

• one turn of the wire to the next.

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Construction of a Rheostat

• Sometimes a rheostat is made from resistance wire

• wound on a heat resisting cylinder with the slider made

• from a number of metal fingers that grip lightly onto a

small portion of the turns of resistance wire.

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Construction of a Rheostat

• The 'fingers' can be moved along the coil of resistance

wire by a sliding knob thus changing the 'tapping' point.

• They are usually used as variable resistors rather than

variable potential dividers.

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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 4
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 5
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 6
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 7
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 8
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 9
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 10
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 11
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Rheostat with various ratings and sizes

Fig 12

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Rheostat construction

• A rheostat is constructed by winding a resistance wire

around a former.

• The former can be round and flat or cylindrical.

• A wiper blade is then arranged to touch the surface of the

resistance wire, and is made to be moveable.

• Power is supplied to both ends of the resistance wire, and a

wire is attached to the slider.
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Rheostat and its construction

• The voltage at the slider wire is determined by the position of

the slider on the resistance wire.

• By moving the sliding connection along the winding the resistive

wire is made effectively longer ( or shorter) thus increasing ( or
reducing) the resistance in the circuit to which it is attached.

• If both ends of the winding are used and the central slider
(tapping) is still connected then as one side gets shorter ( lower
resistance ) the other gets longer ( higher resistance) and a
voltage or potential divider is formed.

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Rheostat and its construction

• A rheostat consists of nichrome wire resistors connected in

series or parallel and connected to wound rotor of motors by
slide wire contacts.

• The resistors are encased in a metal housing where it is

immersed in transformer oil coolant.

• During start up of motors, the rheostat is set at maximum


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Rheostat and its construction
• Gradually the setting is increased reducing the resistance
connected to the rotor such that the motor speed also

• Finally, the resistance is zero when the wiper contacts are

short-circuited at the last stage and the motor rotates at
rated rpm.

• Rheostats are used in wound rotor motors to reduce its

starting torque and current.

• Rheostats can still be used as dimmers of lighting circuits.

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Specifications of Rheostats

• Resistance value : 1 Ω to 10 K Ω

• Power ratings : 100 watts

• Temperature : withstand up to 300 degrees centigrade

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• Used in Heater and Oven controls.

• Used in Light dimming controls.

• Used in speed control of DC motors.

• Used in arc welding process.

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In this topic , you have learnt about the following points:

3. Definition of Rheostat.

6. Construction of a Rheostat.

3. Specifications and Applications of Rheostats.

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1). A Rheostat is a ________ terminal electrical

b. Two

d. Three

f. Four

h. Five

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2). A Rheostat is designed to handle

b. Low currents

e. High currents

h. Low and high voltages

k. High currents and high voltages.

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Frequently asked questions

• What is meant by a Rheostat ?

• Describe the construction of a Rheostat.

• Mention the applications of a Rheostat.

• List the specifications of a Rheostat.

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