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How to choose a right encoder?

Consider resolution, accuracy, output interface, environmental conditions, speed, shaft type, and control system compatibility when choosing an encoder for your application.

Choosing the right encoder is critical to achieving precision motion control with motors. Key factors in selecting the right motor feedback encoder include understanding encoder type, technology, resolution, and environmental compatibility.

Encoder Type

Rotary encoders are most commonly used in motor applications to provide angular position and velocity feedback. Linear encoders are suitable for direct linear motion control.

Encoder technology

Optical incremental encoders are a popular motor technology due to their accuracy and fast response. Magnetic encoders are robust. Absolute encoders maintain position in the event of a power failure. Evaluate trade-offs such as resolution, size, cost and reliability.

Resolution and accuracy

Higher resolution and accuracy will result in better precision, but the cost will also increase. Determine the level of resolution needed to smoothly control the motor at the desired speed and position. Avoid drastically exceeding the need to control costs.

Environmental resistance

Consider the operating temperature range, humidity, vibration, and contaminant exposure that the encoder may encounter on the motor. Select the appropriate housing, inlet seal, and output type to withstand the conditions.

Interface compatibility

Encoders output digital pulse trains, analog voltages, or serial bus data. Sometimes the encoder is not compatible with the motor drive, so choose an encoder communication that is compatible with the motor drive and controller.


Choosing the right encoder for a motor application requires matching the encoding type, technology, resolution, environmental sealing, and interface to the motion control requirements. Working with an encoder supplier ensures that the best model is selected.

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