How to Detect Visitors in a Driveway Using Infrared Photoelectric Sensors

Infrared photoelectric sensors may be used to detect objects in a number of ways. Mounting the sender and the receiver across from each other is known as a through-beam configuration and provides the strongest beam. Retro-reflective mounting places the sender and the receiver on the same side and bounces the infrared beam off an object when it is in close enough proximity.  Diffuse proximity mounting uses the same layout as retro reflective, but also uses a reflector on the side opposite the photo eyes. Any of these three configurations may be used to set up a driveway monitoring system depending on what type of structures are adjacent to the driveway.

Evaluate the best location to mount the sensors. This may be a mailbox, a fence post, a brick building, a bridge, or whatever standing structure happens to be within range of the driveway. If you mount the photoelectric sensors in a through-beam configuration they do not need to be very close to the driveway, whereas the other two options will need to be much closer, depending on the type of photoelectric sensors used, like ten to fifteen feet.

Trace a route back to your home for burying the sensor wires, but don't put the wires in the ground yet. Instead, extend the wires back to the house above-the-ground and connect the photo eyes to the appropriate power source or to an external amplifier if the photoelectric system includes one. Connect the output of the sensors to a buzzer or bell with a noise that is distinctly different from the sound that your doorbell or telephone makes so that you can easily distinguish them. Many photoelectric amplifiers include a relay output, so connecting them to a buzzer should be as easy as connecting a mechanical switch. See the manufacturer's website for wiring diagrams.

Test the system using different types of cars and trucks and also people. Adjust the sensitivity of the photoelectric system to the optimum level and mount the photo eyes at the right height from the ground to hit the midsection of most vehicles. When everything is set correctly, bury the conduit containing the wires and do your best to conceal the photo eyes from view. This system will provide a reliable means for detecting guests before they are standing on your doorstep and could also be interfaced with a security camera or lights. The opportunities are unlimited.

Related products and information
Infrared photoelectric sensors for driveway applications
Infrared photoelectric amplifier for use with photoelectric sensors