Photoelectric Sensors

Photoelectric sensors detect and measure physical objects or quantities by emitting a field or beam of electromagnetic radiation, an object is detected by measuring alterations in the return signal. There are 3 main types of photoelectric sensors which provide reliable detection, these are through-beam, retro-reflective and diffuse. The basic function of each is to detect the presence or absence of objects or measure the distance to the object.

Through-beam Sensors

Through-beam sensors (aka thru-beam) rely on two separate housings, one for the transmitter and one for the receiver, with the transmitter providing a continuous beam of light to the receiver. Each time an object passes through the beam this interrupts the signal between the transmitter and receiver, which in turn causes the receiver to send an electrical signal to the output. Through-beam sensors are suited to long-distance sensing and are capable of detecting almost any object, irrespective of colour or angular motion.

Retro-reflective Sensors

Retro-reflective photoelectric sensors (retroreflective) have both the transmitter and receiver contained within the same housing but require a reflector opposite to the sensor. The reflector bounces the light beam back to the transmitter until an object breaks the beam. Objects which are highly reflective such as aluminium require sensors with polarising filters. The filter allows the sensor to acknowledge that the reflected light from reflecting materials is different from the reflector.

Diffuse Sensors

Diffuse sensors (proximity sensor) are easier to install as only one device has to be mounted. This is because the transmitter and receiver are contained within one housing. Diffuse sensors use the reflection from the target object within a predetermined sensing range. The transmitter sends out a continuous beam of light, once this hits the target it is diffused in all directions, a part of this light is reflected back and recognised by the receiver, the receiver then sends an electrical signal to the output.

A special type of diffused mode is background suppression which enables the user to precisely control the sensing range. A diffuse mode sensor with background suppression is less sensitive to the target colour. They can also use a visible red light or infrared light sources.


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Description Price Sensor Style Detection Type Detection Range Output Type Electrical Connection Switching Mode Maximum AC Voltage Communication Protocol Maximum DC Voltage Terminal Type Light Source IP Rating Maximum Current Interface
RS Stock No. 729-5117
BrandRS PRO
MYR356.29
Each
units
Barrel Retro-Reflective 0.05 → 7 m PNP Cable - - - 30V - LED IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 903-3939
BrandRS PRO
MYR330.35
Each
units
Fork Through Beam (Fork) 30 mm NPN/PNP 4-Wire Cable 2m - - - 30V Pre-Wired Infrared IP67 15 mA -
RS Stock No. 729-5110
BrandRS PRO
MYR335.04
Each
units
Barrel Retroreflective 0.05 → 7 m NPN 4-Wire Cable 2m - - - 30V - LED IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 729-5198
BrandRS PRO
MYR340.46
Each
units
Block Retroreflective 7.2 m NPN 4-Pin M8 Connector - - - 24V - LED IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 729-5182
BrandRS PRO
MYR575.63
Each
units
Block Background Suppression 10 → 140 mm NPN 2-Wire Cable 2m - - - 24V - LED IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 256-405
BrandRS PRO
MYR475.32
Each
units
Barrel Diffuse 200 mm PNP M12 Connector - - - 30V - Infrared IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 440-5639
BrandRS PRO
MYR417.41
Each
units
Barrel Diffuse 100 mm PNP M12 Connector - - - 30V - Infrared IP67 100 mA -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4472
BrandRS PRO
MYR294.07
Each
units
Block Diffuse Reflection 2 m PNP+NPN 2m PVC cable - - - - 2 m cable - - - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4466
BrandRS PRO
MYR169.62
Each
units
Block Through Beam (Receiver) 20 m PNP NO/NC M12 connector - - - - M12 - - - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4467
BrandRS PRO
MYR259.86
Each
units
Block Background Suppression Sensor 100 mm NPN NO/NC 2m PVC cable - - - - 2 m cable - - - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4478
BrandRS PRO
MYR339.66
Each
units
Block Polarized Retro Reflection 5 m NPN+PNP M12 connector - - - 30V M12 Red LED IP67 - -
New
RS Stock No. 204-4009
BrandRS PRO
MYR159.13
Each
units
Barrel Through Beam (Receiver) 20 m PNP NO/NC 2m PVC Cable - - - 30V 2 m cable LED IP67 - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4426
BrandRS PRO
MYR248.47
Each
units
Block Diffuse Reflection 1 m PNP 2m PVC cable - - - - 2 m cable - - - -
New
RS Stock No. 204-3985
BrandRS PRO
MYR191.49
Each
units
Barrel Retro Reflection 3 m PNP NO/NC 2m PVC Cable - - - 30V 2 m cable Yellow LED IP67 - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4443
BrandRS PRO
MYR149.12
Each
units
Block Through Beam (Receiver) 10 m PNP NO/NC 2m PVC cable - - - - 2 m cable - - - -
New
RS Stock No. 202-4444
BrandRS PRO
MYR156.09
Each
units
Block Through Beam (Receiver) 10 m PNP NO/NC M8 connector - - - - M8 - - - -
RS Stock No. 729-5090
BrandRS PRO
MYR340.69
Each
units
Barrel Background Suppression 1 → 140 mm NPN 4-Pin M12 Connector - - - 30V - LED IP67 100 mA -
RS Stock No. 729-5185
BrandRS PRO
MYR547.38
Each
units
Block Background Suppression 5 → 250 mm PNP 4-Pin M8 Connector - - - 24V - LED IP67 100 mA -
New
RS Stock No. 204-3994
BrandRS PRO
MYR83.92
Each
units
Barrel Through Beam (Emitter) 10 m NPN NO+NC 2m PVC Cable - - - 30V 2 m cable LED IP67 - -
New
RS Stock No. 201-8160
BrandRS PRO
MYR248.47
Each
units
Block Polarised Retro Reflection 3 m NPN NO/NC Cable - - - 30 VDC 2 m cable LED IP67 - -