Absolute vs. Incremental Encoders – What’s the Difference?


When you need to measure the speed, direction of motion, or position of a rotating shaft, you will likely require a rotary encoder. Absolute encoders and incremental encoders are the two main types to consider, but what is the difference between the two technologies, and which is best suited for your particular design? While incremental encoders are typically less complex and thus less expensive, absolute encoders overcome several shortcomings of incremental encoders due to their ability to maintain a motor’s shaft position at all times. In this video, learn more about the basic operating principles of incremental encoders and absolute encoders as well as their advantages and disadvantages depending on your design requirements.