Scale Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Scale

Weighing scales can be used in a wide variety of personal and professional settings and come in various shapes and styles to cater to each specific use. With so many different types of scales on the market, you should be clear on a few basic factors as you learn how to buy a scale: what you'll be weighing, a scale's weight range, analog vs. digital displays and special features of a scale.

>> What will your scale be weighing?

The first factor to consider when deciding how to buy a scale is what it will be weighing. This will help determine what scale design and weight range is appropriate. A common household appliance is a bathroom scale to determine your and your family's weights. These scales can help you track and manage your weight, which can lead to healthier living. As the most-widely sold type of scale, bathroom models have the most variety in features and accessories, such as body fat percentage calculators and digital tape measures.

Another common appliance in homes is a food scale. These kitchen scales come in a variety of sizes, from smaller, more precise models to weigh herbs and spices, to larger variations that weigh fish and other meats.

These two types of scales come in a variety of designs and styles, so you can match them to your taste or decor. They can range from simple black or white to sleek models with glass surfaces.

For those who travel often and want to avoid being charged for bags over the weight limit, luggage scales are an easy way to cut down on your travel expenses. While you could use a bathroom scale to weigh luggage, small scales or large luggage can often cause inaccurate readings. Also, a bathroom scale might not be an option for your return trip, so a luggage scale's portability is an advantage.

Some portable scales are useful for mobile clinics and home care nurses. Other portable scales are suited to take around to measure heavy items that would be impractical to transport just for weighing them.

Finally, postal scales are a great convenience if you run a business that makes frequent shipments. These scales let you avoid long lines at the post office and ensure that you pay just enough postage. Advanced models that connect to a computer allow you to create postage labels on the spot.

>> Look at scale size and range

Scale size is also an important factor in determining the best scale to buy, both for storage space requirements and for the scale's weighing area. For example, if you're re-packaging bulk ground beef from the grocery store in 2-lb packages for freezer storage, you'll need a scale with a large enough weighing plate to accommodate that volume of meat. The trade-off, of course, is that you'll need to make room to store a larger device. Finding a balance between these two factors is an important consideration when choosing how to buy a scale.

Weight range is a consideration for any type of scale -even those designed to weigh people. Within each category of scale, different models will have a range appropriate for its typical uses. A scale used to weigh fish, for example, would not cover the same weight range as one designed to weigh small amounts of herbs. A product description for a scale will state the unit's weight range, as well as the smallest weighing increment. Sometimes, these numbers are in text, and sometimes, they will be abbreviated For instance, a scale labeled as 5 kg x 1 g has a maximum capacity of 5 kilograms, in 1 gram increments.

>> Decide between analog and digital scales

Another decision you'll have to make is whether to buy a digital or analog scale. Analog scales are spring-based, inexpensive and very simple to use. Digital weighing scales can be both more accurate and precise than analog models, easier to read, and they don't need to be occasionally readjusted or "zeroed," like analog models. You can also use digital scales to weigh components of an item without removing the other components from the scale by using the tare weight feature. Digital scales, however, require batteries and are somewhat more expensive than analog models. Deciding which option fits your lifestyle better is an important consideration in determining how to buy a scale.
>> Consider features for your scale

As with most products, different types of scales can have very different features, each of which suit the specific role of the scale. A kitchen scale, for example, might feature an optional mixing bowl instead of or attached to the weighing surface. This is convenient for weighing liquids, powders or groups of small food items. Bathroom scales can have advanced health management functions, such as measuring body fat. The scale sends a tiny current you can't feel through one of the metal plates under your feet on the scale, which travels around your body to the other plate. The scale measures the time it takes for the current to go from one plate to the other and uses that to calculate your body fat percentage. Shipping scales can also have extra features, including rate calculation and comparison between various shipping services, so you can choose the rate that matches your budget and the needs of your customers.

Some scales can also store past measurements for the purpose of tracking changes. It's especially helpful for those managing their weight to be able to view their progress over time. This feature can also be supplemented by wireless access, so that you can access stored measurements from a computer.

A scale of some type has a place in most people's homes. With the information in this scale Guide, you'll be able to confidently pick the right scales for your needs.

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