Rotary Encoders

Electromate offers a variety of rotary encoders including absolute & incremental rotary encoders. Rotary encoders, also referred to as shaft encoders, are electromechanical devices that convert angular position or motion of a shaft to analog or digital output signals.

Absolute encoders and battery backup incremental encoders provide precise and unambiguous measurements without losing track of their position due to a temporary loss of instrument power.

Rotary encoders typically fall under one of three major mounting styles:

Incrementals vs. Absolute Rotary Encoders:

Incremental Rotary Encoders

Incremental encoders convert angular motion or position of a shaft into an analog or digital code. The square wave or sinusoid output signal of an incremental encoder provides information about the motion of the shaft, which is typically processed elsewhere into information like position, speed, and distance.

Incremental encoders are among the most commonly used rotary encoders.

There are several advantages of incremental encoders, such as:

  • Excellent speed and distance feedback
  • Simple systems
  • Inexpensive

Absolute Rotary Encoders

An absolute rotary encoder provides speed and position information by outputting a digital word or bit in relation to motion. The output of an absolute encoder indicates the current shaft position, making it an angle transducer.

Absolute rotary encoders offer a few advantages over incremental, such as:

  • Higher resolution
  • Better start up performance due to low homing time
  • Accurate motion detection along multiple axes
  • Multiple output protocols for better electronics integration
  • Better recovery from system or power failures

Shafted vs. Hollow Rotary Encoders:

Shafted Rotary Encoders

Shafted rotary encoders mount with a flexible coupling.

Hollow-Shaft Rotary Encoders

Hollow-shaft and hub-shaft rotary encoders are mounted directly to a motor shaft.

Rotary Encoder Manufacturers:

We carry a number of major rotary encoder providers including Posital-Fraba, Quantum Devices, Netzer Precision, and Zettlex.


  • Over 1,000,00 varieties of absolute and incremental encoders
  • Choose from over 20 Communication Interfaces
  • Incremental Encoders feature any resolution up to 16384ppr
  • Magnetic and Optical Encoder varieties
  • Single and Multiturn Absolute Encoders
  • Fully Programmable Encoders
  • Encoders for Explosive Environments
  • Versatile Draw-Wire Displacement Linear Sensors
  • Precise Single and Dual Axis Tilt Measurement Inclinometers

Magnetic Sensing Technologies Changing How We Use Rotary Encoders

Selection Chart

Quantum Devices' QPhase is a family of high resolution miniature optical encoders for applications requiring high performance, high resolution digital feedback in a very small package.


  • Modular and rotary shaft versions
  • High frequency response
  • Bearing design simplifies encoder attachment
  • Resolution up to 5000 lines per revolution direct read
  • 4, 6 or 8 pole commutation
  • High noise immunity
  • High operating temperature option (100 C)
  • Low profile design
  • Multiple bolt circle mounting

Netzer Precision's rotary electric encoders provide exceptionally accurate, high resolution, absolute position with miniature to wide diameter hollow shaft.  Available with Analog Sin/Cos , Digital SSi , Digital AqB+I  outputs, these rotary encoders feature up to 20 Bit Resolution (with 12 bit A/D) and accuracy to <0.01° .


  • Simple, robust structure with a virtually  no- failure- mechanism
  • Very low weight, inertia, and profile (=<10mm)
  • Ring shaped, hollow shaft with a wide range of diameters
  • Absolute position output over 360° rotation range
  • Precision to 0.001° in selected models
  • Default operation range from -55°C to +125°C
  • Dual and triple redundancy options
  • No magnetic signature
  • High tolerance to condensation and contaminants
  • Insensitivity to EMI/RFI and magnetic fields
  • Low power consumption
  • Ultra-high-speed options
  • Wide variety of position feedback protocols

Selection Chart

Rotary Encoder Applications:

Rotary encoders are used in a number of applications and industries including:

  • Medical equipment
  • Industrial valves
  • Factory automation
  • Consumer electronics
  • Robotics
  • Oil and Gas
  • Renewable energy

Rotary Encoder Products:

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