A potentiometer (known as a "pot") is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If only two terminals are used (one side and the wiper), it acts as a variable resistor or rheostat. Potentiometers are commonly used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on audio equipment. Potentiometers operated by a mechanism can be used as position transducers, for example, in a joystick.
Potentiometers are rarely used to directly control significant power (more than a watt), since the power dissipated in the potentiometer would be comparable to the power in the controlled load (see infinite switch). Instead they are used to adjust the level of analog signals (e.g. volume controls on audio equipment), and as control inputs for electronic circuits. For example, a light dimmer uses a potentiometer to control the switching of a TRIAC and so indirectly control the brightness of lamps.