A Hall Effect Sensor or a Hall Effect Device is a transducer which varies its output voltage in response to changes in magnetic field. Unlike reed contacts, Hall Effect Devices require amplification circuits and an external power source for operation.
A Hall effect sensor is a transducer that varies its output voltage in response to a magnetic field. Hall effect sensors are used for proximity sensing, positioning, speed detection, and current sensing applications.
In a Hall effect sensor, a thin strip of metal has a current applied along it. In the presence of a magnetic field, the electrons in the metal strip are deflected toward one edge, producing a voltage gradient across the short side of the strip (perpendicular to the feed current). Hall effect sensors have an advantage over inductive sensors in that, while inductive sensors respond to a changing magnetic field which induces current in a coil of wire and produces voltage at its output, Hall effect sensors can detect static (non-changing) magnetic fields.
In its simplest form, the sensor operates as an analog transducer, directly returning a voltage. With a known magnetic field, its distance from the Hall plate can be determined. Using groups of sensors, the relative position of the magnet can be deduced.
Frequently, a Hall sensor is combined with threshold detection so that it acts as and is called a switch. Commonly seen in industrial applications such as the pictured pneumatic cylinder, they are also used in consumer equipment; for example some computer printers use them to detect missing paper and open covers. They can also be used in computer keyboards, an application that requires ultra-high reliability.
Hall sensors are commonly used to time the speed of wheels and shafts, such as for internal combustion engine ignition timing, tachometers and anti-lock braking systems. They are used in brushless DC electric motors to detect the position of the permanent magnet. In the pictured wheel with two equally spaced magnets, the voltage from the sensor will peak twice for each revolution. This arrangement is commonly used to regulate the speed of disk drives.