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

    For detecting contrast differences

    Our vast array of diffuse sensors offers an economical solution if you want to reliably detect contrast differences. These diffuse sensors detect objects based on their surface, color, and material. Thus, their scanning range depends on the size, shape, color, and texture of the reflective object surface.

    The transmitter and receiver are housed together in a single unit so that you can easily mount the diffuse sensors and align them quickly using their highly visible light beams.

    You select the most suitable light type based on your application. Depending on the model, our diffuse sensors offer you highly visible red light, invisible infrared light, or very precise laser light that is ideally suited for detecting small parts.

    For color-independent and surface-independent detection, we recommend diffuse sensors with background suppression. They work with red light or the laser red light that is ideally suited for detecting small parts . Their scanning behavior is virtually constant, even with different reflectance levels.


    • Ideal for detecting contrast differences – dependent upon surface, color and material
    • Economical and easy to mount and align thanks to visible light beams
    • Shorter ranges as compared to retro-reflective and through-beam sensors
    • Mounting includes only one electrical device
    Diffuse sensors
    Diffuse sensors

  • Diffuse sensor with background suppression

    Virtually regardless of color and surface type

    Our diffuse sensors with background suppression detect objects within a set switching distance, without being affected by reflective backgrounds. Object and background can be differentiated very definitively, especially as these diffuse sensors are characterized by their low gray value shift and hysteresis.

    Since the transmitter and receiver are housed together in a single unit to save space, you can easily mount our diffuse sensors and align them quickly. In addition, the highly visible light beam with the versions available in red light and lasers make it easier for you to do this. You can easily adjust the settings using teach-in or via a potentiometer.


    • Reliable object detection with various operating ranges, as well as independent of surface, color, and material
    • Detects objects against very similar backgrounds – even if they are very dark against a bright background
    • Almost constant scanning range even with different reflectance
    • Only one electrical device without reflectors or separate receivers
    • With red light or the laser red light that is ideally suited for detecting small parts
    Diffuse sensor with background suppression
    Diffuse sensor with background suppression

  • Retroreflective sensors

    Reliable object detection regardless of surface, color, and material

    Whatever your application, Balluff offers you a wide range of retroreflective sensors. These enable you to reliably detect objects regardless of surface, color, and material. If you use a polarizing filter, our retroreflective sensors even enable you to detect shiny objects.

    The transmitter and receiver are housed together in a single unit so that you can easily mount this light barrier and align it quickly with its generous mounting tolerances.

    You select the most suitable light type based on your requirements. Depending on the model, our retroreflective sensors work with highly visible red light, invisible infrared light, or very precise laser light that is ideally suited for detecting small parts.


    • Simple alignment thanks to generous mounting tolerances
    • Large reflectors for high ranges
    • Reliable detection – regardless of surface, color, and material
    • Also with a pole filter suitable for detecting shiny objects
    • Mounting includes only one electrical device plus reflector
    Retroreflective sensors
  • Through-beam sensors

    Positioning made easy

    Through-beam sensors from Balluff serve to detect objects reliably, regardless of surface, color, material - even with a heavy gloss finish. They consist of separate transmitter and receiver units that are attuned to each other. When an object interrupts the light beam, this causes a change in the output signal in the receiver. Absolute reliability.


    • Ideal for positioning tasks thanks to excellent reproducibility
    • Extremely resistant to contamination and has a large functional reserve
    • Ideally suited for large operating ranges
    • Transmitter and receiver in separate housings
    Through-beam sensors
  • Fork sensors

    Unmatched high precision and reliability

    Our BGL fork sensors (with transmitter and receiver in one housing) are already aligned. This reduces effort and saves valuable time during commissioning and facilitates reliable processes.

    In terms of accuracy, the fork sensors from Balluff are unrivaled for small-component and detail detection as well as operational reliability. Achieve the best results with our laser fork sensors for precise positioning, secure detection of fast movement sequences, small parts in robotics, and automation.

    Our comprehensive portfolio also offers you reliable solutions for difficult applications. Some special applications include transparency detection, water detection, and web edge control.


    • Different light types (red light, infrared, laser)
    • Robust metal housing
    • Simple alignment to the object
    • High optical resolution and reproducibility
    • Fork widths from 5…220 mm with standardized mounting holes
    • Identical mechanical and optical axes
    • The transmitter and receiver are firmly aligned to each other, yielding high process reliability
    • Saves time and expense – only one electrical connection is required
    Fork sensors
    Fork sensors

    Laser fork sensors can be optimally used for precise positioning as well as with secure detection of fast movement sequences and small parts.

  • Angle sensors

    Precise detection around all angles and corners

    BWL angle sensors from Balluff are a logical development of Balluff's fork sensors for more demanding applications. Their special housing configuration and beam geometry enable objects to approach and be recognized from almost every direction.

    Red light and laser variants guarantee a wide range of application scenarios: Such as when controlling the feed of flat and large objects, when counting and detecting objects in complex feeders, as well as in a variety of other applications in severe industrial environments.

    Installation is very simple even in difficult, confined spaces: The transmitter and receiver are firmly affixed to each other, making expensive brackets superfluous. Even time-intensive adjustments are eliminated.


    • Ideal for each application using various types of light (red light, infrared, laser)
    • Robust metal housing
    • Extremely flexible mounting thanks to its angled shape
    • High optical resolution and reproducibility
    • Identical mechanical and optical axes
    • High process reliability since the transmitter and receiver are firmly aligned to each other
    • No time-intensive adjustment
    • Large selection of different shapes and sizes
    Angle sensors
    Angle sensors

    The configuration and emitter geometries enable start-up and recognition of objects from almost every direction.

  • Optical windows

    Dynamic or static area checking within a stable frame

    Our BOW optical windows are useful when objects need to be scanned, not just at specific points, but over an area. Their multitude of parallel beams enable them to detect objects within a wide window. At the same time, our optical windows ensure uniform resolution at every point within the frame.

    Optical windows from Balluff are available in dynamic and static variants. The dynamic version only recognizes moving objects within the active area without being influenced by feeder devices. They're ideal for scanning and counting quickly-moving, jumbled items.


    • Uniformly high resolution over the whole area of the frame
    • Detection of small parts with a diameter of up to 0.8 mm
    • Robust metal housing with M8 standard plug connector
    • Adjustable sensitivity and output signal length
    • Dynamic and static variants
    • Modular construction kit with numerous frame sizes
    Optical windows
    Optical windows

    Optical windows are the best choice when objects need to be scanned not just at specific points, but also over an area (window).

  • Light grids

    Count objects and measure large areas

    Our BLG light grids are ideally suited for scanning large areas, counting parts, detecting stack heights (of paper, for example), or for measuring the height of pallets. They are superior to classic through-beam sensors that typically only scan specific points.

    The light grids from Balluff feature a switching output – for counting, for example – and an analog output for measuring tasks.


    • Different lengths available
    • Also suitable for large objects with a range of up to 2.1 m
    • Ideal for counting due to its quick reaction time
    • Robust metal housing
    • Invisible infrared light
    • Switching output (PNP) and analog output (0…10 V)
    • Simple connection, easily-assembled installation without additional equipment
    • Ready for immediate use – no parameterization necessary
    Light grids
    Light grids

    Light grids are suitable for reliable detection of wide and very large objects.

  • Light bands

    Identify parts, determine positions, and count objects – with high precision

    Our multi-functional, high-resolution BLA light band unites up to three different parallel measurement results in one device: You can identify parts, determine positions, and count objects. Numerous measurement modes are available such as testing object diameters, positions, gap widths and positions, edge positions, and object quantities. The continuous and homogeneous light band is produced by a powerful red-light laser and is highly visible. Up to six different objects over digital outputs can be taught in and displayed using the intuitive control panel.


    • Robust metal housing for stable mounting and precise alignment
    • Light band with a width of 50 mm
    • Up to 2 m distance between transmitter and receiver
    • Excellent resolution from 0.01 mm
    • Two freely configured analog outputs
    • Three programmable digital outputs
    • Intelligent interference contour masking at the touch of a button
    • Simple, intuitive operation via a display with plain text display
    • Only one power supply for both sensors – saves on wiring effort, power supply units, and costs
    • Self-contained device – no additional accessories such as controller, PC, or software required
    Light bands
    Light bands

    Thanks to two analog outputs and three digital outputs, positions and wire thicknesses can be detected and displayed in parallel.

  • Color sensors

    Reliably determine color and contrast – better than the human eye

    Simplify and accelerate your automated processes with the versatile BFS color sensors from Balluff. Use for recognizing color nuances in textiles, on painted sheets, as well as colored markings on packaging or labels. Our color sensors sort out reject parts and ensure uniformly high product quality. In this manner, they contribute to a reliable production process.

    Balluff's TrueColor sensors see like the human eye with a higher resolution. They differentiate between subtle color nuances and evaluate the quality of the finished pieces. In addition, they test with a precision that is unaffected by human failings. Always objective and absolutely incorruptible.


    • High switching frequency
    • With or without display
    • Robust and industrial grade
    • Large operating ranges of up to 400 mm thanks to a strong white light
    • Optionally with IO-Link interface for simple parameterization
    • Differentiation between any number of objects (255 can be learned directly)
    • Very high color resolution
    • Application-specific parameterization
    Color sensors
  • Contrast sensors

    Quickly recognize print marks and reliably detect small differences in contrast

    Contrast sensors are high-resolution diffuse sensors that distinguish objects based on their gray values. The robust BKT contrast sensors from Balluff detect even small differences in contrast, have a high switching frequency up to 30 kHz, and are especially fast. They enable high positioning accuracy and are suitable for a wide range of applications, such as in the printing and packaging industries.


    • Pinpoint accurate switching for fast processes with a high switching frequency of up to 30 kHz
    • Different light types (laser/red/green/blue or white light)
    • Large ranges with laser
    • Clearly visible light points for easy alignment
    • Pulse extensions
    • Outside Teach-in possible
    • Also available with analog output signal
    • Easily adjustable via the display (also available without)
    • Different model series for different applications
    Contrast sensors
    Contrast sensors

    Several models series with different types of light and functions are available for a wide range of sensor applications.

  • Luminescence sensors

    Reliably detect invisible marks and markings

    Our BLT luminescence sensors (with UV light sensor) detect objects that a human cannot see without help. They are useful for detecting invisibly marked products or lubricants that were previously enriched with luminescent particles.


    • UV light – no external lamp or light source required
    • Programmable with the touch of a button – without separate software
    • Robust, industrial-grade configurations
    Luminescence sensors
    Luminescence sensors

    Objects labels with fluorescing substances are not visible to the human eye, but can be detected by luminescence sensors using UV light.

  • Fiber-based devices for plastic and glass fibers

    Maximum flexibility thanks to plastic or glass-fiber optics

    BFB fiber-based devices for plastic and glass fibers from Balluff are used when a conventional optical sensor would be too large or too rigid for the application. They can be combined with plastic or glass fiber optics for a complete sensor so that, depending on the application, the maximum amount of flexibility is available to you.

    Our large selection of plastic fiber optics can be used especially when requirements for robustness or resistance to environmental temperatures or chemicals are not too ideal. We do, however, have high-temperature-resistant fibers available in our range of products. With glass fiber optics, we also offer tread-resistant, temperature-resistant, and chemical-resistant variants.


    • Detection of low contrast differences
    • Very fast – up to 8 kHz
    • High positioning accuracy
    • Flexibly mountable, simple to install
    • Additional functions available (parameterizable)
    • Mechanically robust
    • Highly-accurate switching
    • With one-way or detecting principle
    • Straight or angled optics
    • Compact configuration for mounting on top-hat rails
    • With or without display
    • Different light types (red or infrared)
    • Also optionally available with analog output signal
    • Different model series for glass or plastic fibers
    Fiber-based devices for plastic and glass fibers
    Fiber-based devices for plastic and glass fibers

    A broad selection of special base units with different capacities and different functions is available for a wide range of applications: From simple implementation with potentiometer to high-end devices with display.

  • Plastic and glass fibers for fiber-based devices

    Top-shelf performers with special qualities

    Our plastic and glass fibers, which are designed and tested for our fiber-based devices, are available as switches or in single-use designs. You can use them whenever you have virtually no installation space available, such as for detecting small parts, controlling part characteristics, parts positioning, counting tasks, and in robotics.

    Plastic optics are used when requirements for robustness as well as temperature or chemical resistance are low. Glass fiber optics are suitable for harsh environments – even with oil mist and influence from chemicals – as well as for temperatures of over 200 °C.

    Both of our plastic as well as glass fibers are characterized by their transmission accuracy and speed. Various end fittings (diameter from 2 to 8 mm, square from 5 x 4 mm to 23 x 55 mm, …) with straight or angled light emission, even bendable optic heads for plastic fibers, round out Balluff's portfolio.


    • High function reserve
    • High quality materials and precise machining
    • Homogeneous optical properties
    • Compact, flexible, and robust with various sheathing materials, lengths, and diameters
    • Teach in on the sensor via teach-in input or via the especially easy IO-Link
    • With diagnostics and condition monitoring functions upon request
    • Also available as user-configurable fibers
    Plastic and glass fibers for fiber-based devices
  • Micromote Sensors

    Especially flexible system with a wide range of sensor heads for your specific requirements

    The BOH Micromote system from Balluff is especially small and can be utilized in a very flexible manner. It combines an external processor unit (amplifier) with exceptionally small photoelectric sensor heads. As a result, it is suitable for even extremely constricted spatial conditions and moving machine elements.

    The modular system, which consists of Micromote sensors and innovative sensor elements, meets the most individualistic requirements. A variety of housing configurations ensure a particularly high degree of design freedom while precise optoelectronic components ensure maximum process accurately for any application.


    • Large selection of high-precision sensor heads with integrated light sources: Microspot, Nanospot, laser, infrared, classic red light LEDs
    • Amplifier for analog, digital, dynamic
    • Display indication of target and actual values
    • Convenient operation
    • Extremely flexible sensor cable
    • Outstanding technical parameters
    • Robust – can be used under difficult environmental conditions
    • Optimum use in grippers thanks to lightweight component parts
    • Elegant, seamless integration in the machine
    • Adaptable via separated amplifiers at easily accessible locations of the application
    MICROmote Sensors
  • Photoelectric distance sensors

    Specialized in optical distance measurement

    Photoelectric distance sensors from Balluff help you with positioning, material flow control, or level detection, as well as in many other applications. Whether in the automotive industry, factory automation, logistics, or in constructional steelwork, you can achieve noticeable increases in productivity through reliable and distance measurement and avoid faults in a targeted manner. We offer various, semi-adjustable measurement ranges from 20 mm to 20 m and variants with and without background suppression ability.

    Our non-contacting, wear-free sensors function based on the triangulation principle or time-of-flight technology (TOF) and use red light or lasers. They are housed in durable plastic or metal housings and have analog current and voltage outputs as well as digital serial or IO-Link interfaces. Our photoelectric distance sensors are degree of protection IP65/67 and IP69K rated, making them suitable for even harsh environments.


    • Ideal for distance measurements and distance monitoring of short, medium, and long measurement ranges
    • Additional switching outputs with adjustable switchpoints available for almost all products
    • Teach in on the sensor via teach-in input or via the especially easy IO-Link
    • With diagnostics and condition monitoring functionality upon request
    • UL approval and optional Ecolab certifications
    Photoelectric distance sensors
    Photoelectric distance sensors