How to wire a potentiometer to a motor

February 20, 2024
  Reading time 7 minutes

Wiring a potentiometer to a motor, specifically for tasks like DC motor speed control using potentiometer, is a tried and true method for managing the operational pace of the motor. By leveraging the potentiometer’s capability to adjust electrical resistance, we can fine-tune the current flowing to the motor, and thereby control its speed. This is of particular importance in scenarios where precision in motor behavior is critical, such as in the nuanced fields of DC motor position control or when integrating components like arduino potentiometers for more complex projects.

Understanding Potentiometers

A potentiometer, often shortened to “pot,” stands as a versatile component in electronics. It’s a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If you’re delving into projects that demand nuanced control over your DC motor speed or considering intricate operations like DC motor position control, understanding how to utilize a potentiometer is fundamental. Within the sphere of motor control, rotary potentiometers are often preferred due to their user-friendly nature and reliability.

When considering arduino potentiometers, their functionality shines in how they can input variable signals to microcontrollers, which are integral to operations such as automated gadgets or robotics. The facilitation of variable speed control achieved through adjusting the potentiometer means engineers and hobbyists alike can achieve more precise and responsive control over their motorized projects.

 Step-by-step guide: Wiring a potentiometer to a motor

Tools and Materials Needed

Embarking on the task of wiring a potentiometer to a motor necessitates a collection of specific tools and materials.


  1. Wire strippers
  2. Soldering iron (optional)
  3. Multimeter
  4. Screwdrivers
  5. Pliers


  1. Potentiometer (suitable for DC motor speed control using potentiometer)
  2. Electric motor
  3. Wires
  4. Connectors (if required)
  5. Heat shrink tubing (for insulation)

Safety is paramount in any electrical project. Always disconnect the power supply before starting your work, and thoroughly check your tools for any damage or exposed parts that could pose a risk of electrical shorts or shocks.

Step-by-Step Wiring Guide

The task of connecting a potentiometer to a motor can be distilled into clear and concise steps. It’s a matter of precision and attention to detail to ensure all connections are correct and safe.

Identifying the potentiometer terminals:

A typical potentiometer will have three terminals, with two on the outside and one central terminal known as the wiper. It’s the heart of the device where the adjusting takes place.

Preparing the motor and power source:

Understanding the specific type of motor you’re handling is crucial. Different motors, especially those that are part of more intricate setups like arduino potentiometers for DC motor position control, will have their unique requirements.

Connecting the potentiometer to the motor:

For the sake of clarity, we’ll delve deep into the connecting process, complete with a comprehensive wiring diagram, in the second part of this article. Yet, here is an overview, in table form, of how to connect each potentiometer terminal in the context of a motor control circuit:

Potentiometer TerminalConnection Point
Terminal 1 (Ground)Motor’s Ground or Negative Supply
Terminal 2 (Wiper)Motor’s Control Input (Speed/Position)
Terminal 3 (V+)Positive Supply (after the motor)
 Motor control with potentiometer: Easy wiring tutorial

Testing and Troubleshooting

After you’ve wired the potentiometer to the motor, the next important step is to test the setup to ensure everything is functioning as intended. To start with, make sure that your workspace is clear of any debris or conductive materials that could inadvertently bridge connections and cause shorts.

Begin by setting your multimeter to measure voltage, and turn the motor circuit on. Slowly adjust the potentiometer dial and observe the voltage changes; you should see the motor’s speed varying in response. Testing at different points along the dial will give you a comprehensive understanding of how the changes you make to the potentiometer affect the motor’s performance.

Should you encounter any issues, here are common troubleshooting steps:

  1. Ensure all connections are secure and correctly matched to the corresponding terminals.
  2. Verify that the potentiometer’s resistance range is appropriate for the motor you’re using.

In the scenario of the motor not responding to adjustments, double-check the potentiometer itself. An incorrect wiring connection or a faulty potentiometer could be the cause. Additionally, ensure that the power supply is adequate for both the motor and the potentiometer, as an insufficient power supply could lead to a lack of responsiveness.


In conclusion, wiring a potentiometer to a motor is a skill that can greatly enhance your projects, allowing fine control over motor speed or position. The essential aspects to remember are to identify your potentiometer and motor requirements correctly, gather all necessary materials and tools, prioritize safety, and thoroughly test the wiring once completed. With patience and precision, even beginners can successfully implement potentiometer-based control in their motor-driven applications.

 DIY project: How to wire a potentiometer to a DC motor


  1. What is the main purpose of adding a potentiometer to a motor circuit?
    The main purpose of integrating a potentiometer into a motor circuit is to achieve variable speed control. By adjusting the resistance, the potentiometer alters the voltage delivered to the motor, thereby controlling its speed.
  2. Can all types of motors be controlled with a potentiometer?
    Most DC motors can be controlled with a potentiometer, though it’s important to select a potentiometer with the appropriate resistance range for the specific motor.
  3. What safety precautions should I take when wiring a potentiometer to a motor?
    Always disconnect the power source before starting any wiring work. Use insulated tools, wear protective equipment if necessary, and ensure all connections are secure before testing.
  4. Can I use a potentiometer for position control in motor applications?
    Yes, potentiometers can be used for position control, especially when coupled with microcontroller setups like Arduino which can interpret potentiometer readings as position inputs.
  5. What should I do if the motor doesn’t change speed when I adjust the potentiometer?
    Check the wiring connections, ensure the potentiometer is functioning and is of the correct resistance value, and confirm that the power supply is adequate for the motor’s requirements. If the issue persists, test the potentiometer with a multimeter to ensure it is not faulty.