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How to choose the correct Proximity Sensor Technology ?

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How to choose between different Proximity Sensor Technologies?

Many proximity sensor technologies are available on the market, enough to get stuck when it is time to choose the best solution for you. This article will first give you a broad definition of what is a proximity sensor, then will present the different technologies available on the market, and finally, will give you tips on how to choose between them, depending on your needs.

What is a proximity sensor?

A proximity sensor consists of detecting a position, a presence, measuring a level or a speed and so on, without any physical contact with its target.

For example, you are able to get on an elevator thanks to sensors. The sensor will detect if the doors are opened or closed before allowing the elevator to move, it will make sure no one will get stuck in between the doors and get hurt, and it will allow the elevator to stop when it has arrived at the desired floor.

What are the different technologies of proximity sensors available on the market?

There are 5 main technologies on the market when we talk about proximity sensors :

  • Inductive sensors: will only detect a metallic target (the simplest example is a metal detector ! Your metal detector will "beep" when it is close to a metal piece.)
  • Capacitive sensors: will react thanks to an electric field (your smartphone's screen is equipped with capacitive sensors to detect the position of your finger, and where to click.)
  • Optical sensors: will react to a ray of light (for instance, your computer mouse is equipped with an optical sensor to detect your movements.)
  • Ultrasonic sensors: will work thanks to a soundwave: it will then detect if any object or person is in the reach of the soundwave (the easiest example would be your car that parks by itself: ultrasonic sensors will check the position of other cars while it parks, to avoid any collision.)
  • Magnetic sensors: will react to a magnetic field (in order to refer to the example in the introduction, a magnetic sensor will make sure the doors of the elevator are closed before it moves: the position of the doors will be detected by a magnet creating a magnetic field, then allowing the sensor to detect the position of the doors.)

How to choose between these technologies?

Very simple questions will help you choose the best technology for your project :

  • Do you need to detect a position, a level, a presence, or a speed?
  • What will be the distance between your target and the proximity sensor?
  • What will be the working conditions of the sensor? (dust, vibrations, humidity ...)
  • What material will be close to the sensor? (iron, plastic, aluminium ...)
  • What are your needs in terms of electrical data? (type of load, voltage, contact ...)
  • What are your needs in terms of design? (Tubular, rectangular, PCB mounting, screw mounting ...)

The decision tree below should help you find the best technology :

decision tree

At celduc®, we offer a wide range of Magnetic Proximity Sensors. Discover our full range of Magnetic Proximity Sensors.

With nearly 200 full-time employees in 4 countries on 3 continents, celduc® relais is a leading player in the global market for industrial automation and magnetic proximity sensors. Founded and located in Sorbiers, France, celduc® relais, is known as the expert in solid state relays and magnetic sensors. Every year, we are proud to manufacture more than 1 million relays are sold worldwide, helping to promote French industrial expertise and “100% made in France” quality.
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