Scales and Balances: What is the Difference?

The terms scale and balance are often used interchangeably, and while they are both weighing machines, they serve different purposes and can function in different ways. Depending on what you’re weighing and your industry, one might be better suited for you than the other. 

What are Scales and Balances Used for?

Scales are used to measure actual weight, while balances are often used to measure mass. Balances are also generally used for smaller weights up to 2lbs (1,000 grams). On the other hand, industrial scales can measure anything from as little as 5lbs to as much as 20,000lbs.

How do Scales and Balances Work?

Scales utilize load cells, which are basically sensors (or transducers), to measure weight. Load cells convert the pressure or force applied by your load into a standardized digital value you can read and record, such as pounds. The intricate details of how a load cell measures the pressure differ depending on which type of load cell is used.

Traditionally, balances worked by using an object with a known mass for comparison. A balance would have two pans, and the known weight would be placed in one while the unknown weight would be placed in the other. As technology has advanced, this manual comparison is no longer necessary. Similar to scales, balances use a load cell, or a magnetic force restoration transducer.

Scales Vs. Balances: Which Should You Choose?

Whether you should use a scale or balance depends greatly on what industry you are in. For lab-based industries such as pharmaceuticals or scientific research, you want to choose a balance because they are designed to measure the smaller weights you likely work with. If you’re in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, etc, a scale is going to be your best bet. Bench scales can usually weigh up to 200lbs, and industrial platform, cylinder and floor scales can go up to 20,000lbs or above.

Pros and Cons of Scales

The biggest pro to using an industrial scale is the capacity. When you’re working with large objects and heavy materials, you need something that can measure the massive weight. If you have a load that weighs tens of thousands of pounds, a balance isn’t going to work. Scales also tend to be more durable, making them great for rough factory and construction uses. 

The one big disadvantage to scales is they tend not to be as accurate. Scales can have great precision, but they might not have perfect accuracy. That doesn’t mean you need to worry about your measurements being completely off, however. With the right manufacturer, like Arlyn Scales, you can find quality, affordable scales that offer amazing accuracy. If Arlyn can be trusted by NASA, Chevron, General Motors and other big names, you know you can trust our scales, too.

Pros and Cons of Balances

The big pros of balances are accuracy and small measurements. They usually have a very high accuracy compared to scales, and you can use them for much smaller weights. But this can also be a con if you need something that can handle heavy objects. Another downside to balances is their durability. They are typically used in laboratory settings, meaning they aren’t designed to withstand the wear and tear of factory use.

Shop for Quality Scales at Arlyn Scales

Whether you need a large industrial scale for manufacturing and automation, smaller scales for university and laboratory use or something in between, you’ll find it at Arlyn Scales. We offer a wide range of scales to meet the needs of different industries. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds regarding scales and balances, we recommend our Ultra Precision Scales. These scales range in capacity from 5lbs to 1,000lbs and offer an accuracy that is ten times higher than standard industrial scales, and they’re made to keep up with rugged factory use. 

Browse our full inventory of quality scales today. If you have any questions or need a custom scale designed for your business, please contact our team, and we’ll be happy to help.