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 Maximum AC Voltage Communication Protocol Maximum DC Voltage Terminal Type Light Source IP Rating Maximum Current Interface Response Time
RS Stock No. 288-9776
Mfr. Part No.WT150-P430
BrandSick
$223.30
Each
units
Block Diffuse 10 → 250 mm PNP 4-Pin M8 Connector - - 30V - LED IP67 100 mA - <=0.5 ms
RS Stock No. 842-8582
Mfr. Part No.WL2S-2F1330
BrandSick
$240.00
Each
units
Block Retroreflective 0 → 1.2 m PNP Cable - - 30V - LED IP67 20 mA - <500 μs
RS Stock No. 218-989
Mfr. Part No.WT100L-F2241
BrandSick
$263.75
Each
units
Block Diffuse 450 mm PNP 4-Pin M8 Connector - - 30V - Laser Light IP65 100 mA - <0.25 ms
RS Stock No. 444-3619
Mfr. Part No.XUX0ARCTT16
$297.36
Each
units
Block Diffuse, Retro-Reflective, Through Beam (Receiver) 1.3 m, 2 m, 11 m, 40 m Relay Screw Clamp 240V - 240V - Infrared IP65, IP67 3 A, 500 mA - <25 ms
RS Stock No. 909-2887
Mfr. Part No.Q4XTULAF300-Q8
BrandBanner
$863.66
Each
units
Barrel Diffuse 25 → 300 mm Bipolar NPN/PNP M12 Connector - - 30V M12 Laser Light IP67, IP68, IP69K - - 50 ms
RS Stock No. 219-2280
Mfr. Part No.EE-SX671OMC
BrandOmron
$55.22
Each
units
Fork Through Beam (Fork) 5 mm NPN Connector - - 24V - Infrared IP50 100 mA - -
RS Stock No. 786-5918
Mfr. Part No.WL12L-2B530
BrandSick
$1,055.60
Each
units
Block Retroreflective 0 → 18 m NPN/PNP 5-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - Laser Light IP67, IP69K 100 mA - 200 μs
RS Stock No. 444-3445
Mfr. Part No.XUB0BPSNL2
$246.50
Each
units
Barrel Multimode 0.12 m, 0.3 m, 2 m, 15 m PNP 3-Wire Cable 2m - - 24V - Infrared IP65, IP67 100 mA - <2 ms
RS Stock No. 289-2491
Mfr. Part No.WL150-P430
BrandSick
$223.30
Each
units
Block Retro-Reflective 2.4 m PNP 4-Pin M8 Connector - - 30V - LED IP67 100 mA - <=0.5 ms
RS Stock No. 859-3005
Mfr. Part No.S142ARNN924
$677.93
Each
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Block - - NPN/PNP - 24V - 24V - LED IP20 - - 20 ms, 30 ms
RS Stock No. 741-7635
Mfr. Part No.VL18-4P3140V
BrandSick
$176.00
Each
units
Barrel Retroreflective 0.1 → 5 m PNP 4-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - LED IP67, IP68, IP69K 100 mA - <=1 ms
RS Stock No. 800-4031
Mfr. Part No.OD1-B100H50I14
BrandSick
$1,413.50
Each
units
Block Background Suppression 50 → 150 mm Analogue 4-Pin M8 Connector - - 24V - Laser Light IP67 20 mA - 2 ms, 4 ms, 8 ms, 16 ms
RS Stock No. 358-7926
Mfr. Part No.WL260-R270
BrandSick
$304.50
Each
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Block Retro-Reflective 0.01 → 15 m Relay Cable 240V - 30V - LED IP67 3 A - <=20 ms
RS Stock No. 375-6302
Mfr. Part No.WT12L-2B510
BrandSick
$1,130.00
Each
units
Block Diffuse 20 → 50 mm PNP 5-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - Laser Light IP69K 100 mA - <=200 μs
RS Stock No. 768-5863
Mfr. Part No.E3FATP112M
BrandOmron
$179.51
Each
units
Barrel Through Beam (Emitter and Receiver) 20 m PNP 4-Wire Cable 2m - - 30V - LED IP67, IP69K 40 mA - 0.5 ms
RS Stock No. 775-4228
Mfr. Part No.E3FBRP21
BrandOmron
$152.59
Each
units
Barrel Retroreflective 0.1 → 4 m PNP 4-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - LED IP67, IP69K 25 mA - 0.5 ms
RS Stock No. 768-5951
Mfr. Part No.E3FALP21
BrandOmron
$134.74
Each
units
Barrel Background Suppression 100 mm PNP 4-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - LED IP67, IP69K 25 mA - 0.5 ms
RS Stock No. 784-6692
Mfr. Part No.DT50-P1123
BrandSick
$832.30
Each
units
Block Background Suppression 200 → 10000 mm Analogue 5-Pin M12 Connector - - 30V - Laser Light IP65 100 mA - 20 ms, 30 ms
RS Stock No. 812-8213
Mfr. Part No.CY-192A-P-Z-Y
BrandPanasonic
$66.79
Each
units
Barrel Retroreflective 4 m PNP M12 Connector - - 24V - Infrared IP67 35 mA - 1 ms
RS Stock No. 808-9442
Mfr. Part No.CX-491-P-Z
BrandPanasonic
$189.66
Each
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Block Retroreflective 3 m PNP M8 Connector - - 24V - LED IP67 100 mA - 1 ms