Different types of Sensors for Arduino | Classification, and Applications

• Updated August 25, 2021

Nowadays we are living in a world of sensors. We can find different types of sensors in our surroundings, at the home, office, college. The sensors for Arduino can be used for other purposes too, Like IoT Projects. Sensors make our life easier by detecting temperature, pressure, fire, smoke, etc, and sending the essential information to processing devices.

basic sensors for arduino

All the automation tasks are impossible without sensors. Before going to more discussion about different types of sensors for Arduino, their explanations, and applications, we will discuss what is a sensor, and its application in a simple automation project.

What is sensor?

A sensor is an electronic device that can sense some sort of physical parameters like light, temperature, pressure, etc, and give information as an electrical signal to the receiving end.

We always use sensors in an electronic device. Every particular sensor is used to measure some particular physical parameter. A sensor may be known as a digital or analog sensor depending on its physical construction. But the usual thing between all sensors is that they all can convert a physical parameter to an electrical signal. Basically, It consumes low energy and has high performance. For the Internet of things, data is collected from the environment using sensors.

Classification of Sensors

Each sensor has its own class depending on its configuration. We can classify a sensor depending on its working principle or mechanism on physical, chemical, and biological effects on which the sensor work. We can also define a sensor with its output signal which can be an analog or digital signal. Some of the sensors are very simple and some are hard.

Here are two types of sensors depending on the energy source: the active sensor and the passive sensor.

Active sensor

Active sensors both produce a pulse of energy and dictate the reflected energy. An X-ray machine is an example of an active sensor. The X-ray machine transmits energy to a human body and senses what is reflected in the sensor.

The active sensor includes a laser fluoro sensor which detects the primary characteristic of oil, GPS, etc.

Passive sensor

A passive sensor detects or measures electromagnetic radiation from natural emissions such as the sun. The camera on your Smartphone is a passive sensor that detects light to click your photo. The energy detected by passive sensors is physical temperature, surface composition, surface roughness, and other physical parameters on the earth.

Some examples of passive sensors are light sensors that detect if the light is shining on it and infra-red sensors that sense an object’s temperature.

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Different types of sensor

Here we collect a list of different types of sensors that are basically used in various applications in IoT. All the sensors are used to measure the different types of physical parameters like temperature, light, conductance, etc.

  • Light Sensor
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Color Sensor
  • Touch Sensor
  • Humidity Sensor
  • position Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • Pressure Sonsor
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Smoke, Gas and Alcohol Sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity Sensor
  • PIR Sensor
  • Magnetic Sensor
  • Microphone
  • Tilt Sensor
  • Strain and Weight Sensor

We will briefly discuss a few that we commonly use in IoT projects.

Light Sensor

The light sensor is basically known as the photoelectric device or photosensor. The light sensor is a passive sensor that converts light energy into electrical output. The most common light sensor is a photoresistor that is also known as LDR (Light-Dependent Resistor). The photoresistor is used only for detecting if the light is on or off.

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The light sensor has multiple uses in IoT from the office to the agriculture field. It is used to control the brightness of light in the office ( similar to our mobile auto-brightness functioning ), in Laser alarms, car’s auto light-hood up system, etc.

LDR is one of the crucial sensors for Arduino and it’s widely used among basic as well as complex projects.

Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor is an electronic device that detects the temperature of its environment and converts the output data into an electric signal. basically, the temperature sensor is a device that measures the temperature, it can be air temperature, room temperature, and liquid temperature, or temperature of any solid matter.

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Temperature sensor…

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The temperature sensors are used to measure different types of applications in IoT. It monitors various machinery, environments, and power plants manufacturing. In agriculture, we use the sensor to detect the temperature of the desire plants or the temperature of the soil.

Color Sensor

The color sensor is an active sensor that emits light radiation from its transmitter and detects the light reflected from the observation object. It basically detects the intensity of red, green, and blue light from the received light, and thus this sensor determines the proper color of the detection object.

For example, the target object is green and the sensor emits the light containing red, green, and blue wavelength on the target object. The green light will be reflected in the sensor. similarly, for white, all light will be reflected in the sensor. thus the sensor detects the color of an object.

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Color Recognition Sensor..

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The color sensor is used in image processing, digital signal processing, and object color identification machine. We can recognize the true color of an object by the sensor. DIY Arduino Color Sorter is a well-known project where a color sensor is used.

Touch Sensor

The touch sensor works like our skin. The touch sensor is a passive sensor that only captures the physical touches, embraces, or pressure on a device or object. It is also known as Tactile sensors. It is too simple to design and low cost to manufacture.

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Capacitive Touch Sensor..

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A touch sensor basically acts as a switch. This sensor is commonly used in robots to detect surrounding touches. In our smartphone, it is used to sense fingerprints to unlock.

Ultrasonic Sensor

The ultrasonic sensor mainly measures the distance of the target object. It emits an ultrasonic sound wave and converts the reflected sound wave into an electrical signal. It works like a radar system. the wave which is emitted from the sensor is faster than the audible sound wave. The ultrasonic sensor has two-component one is the transmitter and another is the receiver.

The ultrasonic sensor is one of the most used sensors for Arduino, it’s used for basic as well as High-level Projects. Its main purpose is to measure the distance from the source to the Target.

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The ultrasonic sensor is one of the most common and useful sensors. The ultrasonic sensor is basically used for robotic sensing, full detection, stacking height control, irregular parts detection, etc. It is also used to control the water levels in any IoT project. It has many applications in the production line.

Humidity Sensor

A humidity sensor is an electronic device that measures the water vapor present in the air and converts its data to a corresponding electric signal. For agricultural and medical environments humidity is an important factor. So, the humidity sensor is used to measure the humidity value for security and safety purposes.

Here are two types of humidity sensors based on humidity measurement, these are identified as Relative Humidity sensor and Absolute Humidity sensor. And also the humidity sensor is divided into three types depending on the parameter used, these are classified as Capacitive Humidity Sensor, Resistive Humidity Sensor, and Thermal Conductivity Humidity Sensor.

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Humidity sensor…

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The humidity sensor is used in various applications to measure humidity in HVAC systems, Printers, Fax machines, Weather stations in the agriculture fields, automobiles, food processing, refrigerators, etc. Due to their low cost and small size, it is found in the handed devices such as smartphones. And also there are much wide humidity sensors that are integrated with larger embedded systems.

In the majority of scenarios Humidity sensor comes along with Thermal sensors for Arduino. It’s probably the rarely used sensor in our list of sensors for Arduino.

Microphone (Sound sensor)

A microphone sensor is an electric transducer that only detects sound waves and converts them into an electrical signal. Basically, it is used to measure to detect the intensity of sound. This sensor is also capable to detect noise approximately within 3kHz to 6kHz frequency.

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The telephone is the most common example where the microphone sensor is used. Moreover, the microphone sensor is used in many applications such as headphones, recording audio, public address systems for concert halls and public events, etc.

If you are aware of Buzzer sensors for Arduino, Microphone sensor does the complete opposite of that, the main function of Buzzer is to Omit sound waves, whereas Microphone receives soundwaves.

IR Sensor

IR sensor is the last item in our list of most used Sensors for Arduino as well as for IoT purposes.

An IR sensor or Infrared Sensor is one kind of electronic device that detects only infrared radiation or thermal radiation from its surrounding environment. The IR sensor is mainly used to measure the temperature and motion of a targeted object. There are two types of sensors depending on their applications which are the following.

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IR Proximity Sensor…

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  • Active IR sensor
  • Passive IR sensor

Active IR sensor(AIR)

This type of IR sensor includes both transmitter and transducer. This sensor basically emits radiation from its transmitter and receives it from the transducer. Most of the time, in an IR sensor a laser or a LED, is used as a transmitter, and photodiode, photoresistor, or photoelectric cells are used to receive the reflected radiation.

Passive IR sensor(PIR)

This type of sensor includes only a transducer. The passive IR sensor uses targets as a transmitter or source. Here the object radiates the energy which is detected by the receiver of the PIR sensor. The passive sensor also is divided into two parts: Tharmel and Quantum. The thermal PIR sensor is used to detect infrared energy as a source of heat. The detection of Quantum PIR is faster than the thermal PIR sensor. Basically, this type of sensor depends upon the wavelength of deflected radiation.


We can see an IR sensor used in laptops, telephones, PAds, etc., or any electronic device for their low power requirements. In smartphones, this sensor is used to detect the distance of an object. Burglar Alarm is the most common application of IR sensors. In spite of this application of the IR sensor, they are used in various projects and also in electronics devices like Night vision devices, Radiation thermometers, and infrared tracking, etc.

IR Sensor is one of the majorly used sensors for Arduino, as it has many purposes and they can be used in a very creative manner through vast types of projects.

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