Sensors > Photoelectric sensors
Photoelectric sensors

Non-contact object detection from long distances

Balluff’s photoelectric sensors include a wide variety of housings including exclusive miniature designs, tubular styles from 8mm through 30mm, and small, medium, and large block styles. These devices provide non-contact detection of parts over longer distances than other sensing modes such as inductive or capacitive sensors while providing numerous mounting options and flexibility.

Photoelectric sensors provide non-contact accurate detection of targets. They emit infrared, red or laser light and the target breaks the light beam or reflects the beam back to the sensor to activate the sensor output. Photoelectric sensing modes are divided into three primary types, those being through-beam, retro-reflective and diffuse. Photoelectric sensors can check for presence, color, distance, size, shape, and many more targets attributes.

Diffuse sensing mode, sometimes referred to as proximity or energetic, uses the reflectivity of the target. Unlike other photoelectric sensing modes, the object reflects the light back to the sensor’s receiver instead of interrupting the light beam to actuate the output.

Retroreflective sensing mode, occasionally referred to as retro or reflex, requires the use of a reflector or reflective tape to reflect the emitted light back to the receiver. Similar to the through-beam sensing mode, the target must break the light beam to actuate the output.

Through-beam sensors are often the “go-to” photoelectric sensor since no matter what the target object’s color, texture, surface finish, or material, it will be reliably detected. Through-beam sensing mode, sometimes referred to as thru-beam, transmitted beam, opposed mode or beam break, is the oldest photoelectric sensing mode. The light emitter and receiver are in different housings.


  • Ranges up to 100 meters
  • Plastic and metal enclosures
  • Housings with IP69K ratings
  • Robust and reliable performance
  • Variety of outputs and connections
  • Network compatibility

Product families

Diffuse sensors

Diffuse sensor with background suppression

Retroreflective sensors

Through-beam sensors

Fork sensors

Angle sensors

Optical windows

Light grids

Light bands

Color sensors

Contrast sensors

Luminescence sensors

Fiber-based devices for plastic and glass fibers

Plastic and glass fibers for fiber-based devices

Micromote Sensors

Photoelectric distance sensors