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Scale Buying Guide

What to Consider When Buying Scales

Our goal at Scales Plus is to make the experience of shopping for scales easier, faster and to offer the best deals available anywhere on the web. Ordering the right scale is crucial for many manufacturing and production processes. Simply put, if your scale doesn't have the right performance capability, doesn't meet industry standards or fails government regulations, you could be looking at substantial loss of profits. Even small business owners can suffer from the results of inaccurate weighing. Although the loss may not be substantial from a monetary perspective, time lost due to incorrect equipment can be frustrating. It is for these reasons that we put together this quick scale buying guide.

Choosing Capacity

First and foremost, you need to choose the correct capacity for your application. Besides, a scale isn't much good if the capacity rating isn't sufficient. Determining weighing capacity is the first number to consider. Identify the weights of your samples, plan for the possibility of larger capacities and consider the potential of growth.

For example, ABC COMPANY packages and ships products based on weight. Joe Smith needs a scale for their packaging department to weigh their master cases. Each master case weighs 50 lbs so Joe will need a scale that can handle at minimum 50 lbs. Taking into consideration larger pack sizes and other potential weighing needs, Joe decides on a scale that supports up to 100 lbs.


Readability is the specification for how the scale displays weight readings, both how many digits beyond the decimal place and to what interval. For instance, a scale that has a 0.001 pound readability, will display out as far as 3 places beyond the decimal and can display to 1/1000th of a pound.

After identifying the capacity required, search for the readability you need. You'll likely have the readability you need as it pertains to your internal quality standards, ingredient measurement degree, etc. Bear in mind, readability is very much so related to capacity. Typically speaking, the larger capacity, the less readability you can have.

For instance, researchers typically use laboratory balances because they can get a higher degree of readability from them. With that higher degree of readability, capacity is decreased and typically stay below a capacity rating of even just a couple pounds. Otherwise, industrial scales are typically associated with more higher capacity applications such as warehousing logistics and bulk weighing applications like production, aggregates and more.

What Pan Size?

Capacity and readability won't much matter if you don't have the right size weighing pan for your samples. You wouldn't want to weigh a 5 gallon bucket on a 90 mm pan. Although this is an extreme example, the point is that stability is huge when weighing. If your sample is not stable, your display will fluctuate and it will be terribly difficult to get a final reading. On the other hand, there is no reason to have a 2 foot by 2 foot pan and measure 2 inch samples. 

NTEP or Not?

Do you need a scale that is NTEP-approved? NTEP-approved scales can be used in legal-for-trade applications. Each state has different laws as it pertains to commercial weighing where legal-for-trade approved scales are required. NTEP-approved scales are typically found in retail applications where a product is sold by weight. Examples of this are delis, farmers markets, propane filling stations and more.


This option is usually far less considered but it is important, especially pertaining to analytical and precision balances. Scales can be either externally or internally calibrated. Manufacturers may have their own interpretations of either method but at typically speaking this is either a manual, semi-manual or automatic process. Automatic internal calibration is exceptionally handy for applications where reliable weighing results are imperative and absolutely mandatory. Think pharmaceutical research, medical research and highly-precise development processes. The automatic calibration feature allows the scale to complete it's own calibrations based on preset parameters such as environmental changes and shock. This ensures that the scale is constantly kept in spec.

The calibration method of your scale should definitely be considered, especially where you're obligated to follow internal quality standards and processes. 


Do you need to print weight results or export measurements into a PC for data analysis? If so, you'll need a scale that is capable of transmitting date via RS-232, USB, Ethernet or other communication method. Not all scales have a communication interface. When looking at available scales, check the product page or data sheet under "communication" or "interface" to see what communication methods are available. Some scales come standard with them or require the communication ports are purchased as an upgrade.

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