Sim Racing Potentiometer: A Beginners Guide to Pedals

When it comes to sim racing, players tend to focus more on getting fancy wheels rather than pedal sets. The sim racing pedals allow players to use brakes realistically by utilizing muscle memory. You’ll find sim racing pedals in three leading technologies. These are sim racing potentiometer, hall effect, and load cells.f

Initially, potentiometer pedals were launched, which were later upgraded to hall effect pedals. The load cell pedals offer the most functionality out of all three.

In this article, you will get a detailed explanation of potentiometer pedals and how they perform. We will also briefly compare potentiometer pedals with hall effect and load cell pedals for better understanding.

Potentiometer Pedals

Out of all the three types of sim racing pedals, the potentiometer pedals are the most affordable ones you’ll find. They are also great for sim racing beginners.

The potentiometer technology uses mechanical sensors for measuring how a brake has been pushed in. This measurement then translates how the pedal traveled into a braking force. But in actual cars, the way a pedal travels is not measured; instead, it measures the applied pressure. Moreover, hydraulic brakes are used in real cars that offer resistance upon being pushed. The more force you apply, the more resistance you get. However, in the case of potentiometer pedals, dampers or springs are used for offering resistance. So, when force is applied, the pedals travel steadily.

Because of the two factors mentioned above, potentiometer pedals do not offer a natural feel in sim racing. Perhaps this is the primary reason for potentiometer pedals directly affecting lap times. When you compare potentiometer brakes with actual car brakes, it is difficult to use your muscle memory as finding the correct pressure to apply to these sim racing pedals time after time is not an easy feat.

Another downside is that because of the mechanical nature of potentiometer pedals, they are extremely sensitive and are prone to damage under heavy braking.

Even though these pedals have many flaws, it does not imply that they can’t be used entirely. Contrary to common belief, potentiometer pedals are great for beginners who have just started testing the waters of esports or sim racing in particular. The best part is that they are affordable too. You don’t have to spend a whole fortune to get potentiometer pedals for sim racing.

If you’re looking to try potentiometer pedals for the first time, you should start by using Logitech G29 and G923.

Potentiometer vs. Hall Effect

In terms of operation, there isn’t much difference between potentiometer vs. hall effect pedals. However, instead of relying solely on mechanical parts, the hall effect pedals use a magnet to measure the traveled path.

Like potentiometer racing pedals, hall effect pedals don’t offer a natural feel. But, in a way, you could say that the hall effect pedals are an upgraded version of the potentiometer. They come with a brake sensor that can sense the distance to the magnet, which is converted into an electric signal. The electric signal is then translated into the braking force.

They have a significant advantage over potentiometer pedals as the magnet measures the travel with more accuracy, and the results are far more reliable. It benefits the drivers in finding the ideal braking point for corners and turns. This results in better use of muscle memory than with potentiometer pedals.

Another plus point of hall effect pedals in sim racing is that they have fewer mechanical parts, resulting in less vulnerability to failure.

Generally, hall effect pedals are used only for accelerator and clutch pedals instead of brake pedals in high-end pedal sets. You can buy the sensor separately to integrate a hall effect sensor into your brake pedals. It is easy to install the sensor in any pedal you choose.

Potentiometer vs. Load Cell

Compared to potentiometers, loadcell pedals are on the whole another level of technology. Rather than measuring the way the pedal traveled, load cells measure the applied pressure similar to actual car pedals. The applied force generates a braking signal that is sent to the game. This gives players a realistic feel compared to the artificial sense that linear potentiometers provide.

You can create greater immersion and get a more detailed input using load cell pedals. It is safe to say that load cell pedals are currently the most accurate form of technology available in sim racing or any other e-sport.

In comparing potentiometer vs. load cell, load cell pedals are the clear winners. Not just because they offer a more realistic feel but also because they allow you to customize the hardware based on your preferences. You can tweak the pedals or use the pedals’ software to customize the hardware as needed.

But then again, something this amazing does not come in cheap. You’ll have to pay a hefty amount to get your hands on the best load cell pedals. Of course, there are some affordable options too, but when compared to potentiometer prices, they are still relatively expensive.

Final Thoughts

All three technologies of sim racing pedals have their advantages. When it comes to the sim racing potentiometer, there are many flaws in the design. However, this does not mean that they can’t be used at all. In fact, they are excellent options for beginners because of how affordable they are because other options are on the higher end of the price ladder.

You can still get as competitive as you want using potentiometer pedals. But keep in mind that when you compare potentiometer vs. hall effect, the hall effect offers better muscle memory and accurate measurement of the pedal’s travel. Although, it is also equally important to note that while the hall effect does offer more precision, they aren’t perfect either.

So why would you want to spend more money on a pedal set to get something that isn’t faultless? It is better to invest in sim racing potentiometer pedals over hall effect pedals.

But if the sky is the limit for your budget, nothing beats load cell pedals. They are the most widely used pedal sets today and are perfect for improving lap time. However, their only drawback is that they are expensive, which doesn’t make them ideal for beginners. It is best to invest your time and money on potentiometer pedals as a beginner. You can always upgrade to hall effect or load cell after gaining more experience.

As a general rule of thumb, remember that technology is not the only thing to consider when investing in a pedal set. Other factors, including material quality, sustainability, design, and shape of the pedals, should also be considered. Load cell technology integrated into a poorly built pedal set will only downgrade your gaming experience.