How to Use a Rheostat

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A variable resistor called a rheostat has two connections, and hooks up in series with a voltage source to vary its level from the full voltage to nothing. Rheostats appear in thousands or electrical and electronic applications for a multitude of uses. When you vary room lighting with an adjustable knob, you use a rheostat. Since there is no specific use, you must have electrical skills to use a rheostat not already installed in a device. You must know how to connect wiring safely, and know how to select and use all applicable tools and hardware.

Things You'll Need

  • Standard electrician or electronics technician tools.
  • Various electrical or electronic hardware.
  • Shut off the voltage source to the device that you wish to control with a rheostat. Since rheostats come in a huge variety of sizes, this could be a tiny electronic circuit or a huge motor.

  • Connect one wire of your rheostat to either one of the two leads from your voltage source.

  • Connect one lead from the electrical device you want to control to the other lead of your rheostat.

  • Connect the other lead of the device you want to control to the other lead of your voltage source.

  • Turn the power to you voltage source back on.

  • Vary or turn the rheostat until your device reaches the level at which you want it to operate, be it light intensity, audio volume, heat, the speed of a motor or any other control.

Tips & Warnings

  • 1. Work carefully around electricity. Never work alone.
  • 2. Select a rheostat suitable for your application.

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References

  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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