Weighing scales are used for a wide range of applications to ensure product quality and consistency. An accurate scale will provide the results you need, whether you are weighing animals, machinery, chemicals or food products.

This post takes a closer look at both portable and handheld scales, discussing the differences, why they are used, and the advantages over other types of weighing devices.

What’s the difference between portable and handheld scales?

In the weighing industry, a portable scale is any type of scale that has battery operation or that contains built-in handles or wheels as part of the design. In contrast, a handheld scale is a more specific variety of scale that is pocket-sized or small enough to be operated manually (by hand), such as hanging scales, spring scales and pocket scales. In essence, a handheld scale can be classified as a type of portable scale, but a portable scale may not necessarily be handheld.

Who uses portable scales?

Education / Students

Schools require a wide range of science equipment. When conducting experiments in classrooms full of students, you’ll need multiple scales. Compact scales are ideal, due to limited classroom working space and small storage areas. These scales are battery-operated and can be easily stacked and transported to new classrooms or locations without access to power mains.

Field research

Weighing scales may be required when conducting field research where electricity is not available. Whether you are weighing small insects, plants or objects that require you to be outdoors, you need a battery-operated travel-sized scale that is lightweight and easy to transport.


Many professional jewellers rely on small, digital pockets scales, such as Kern's TCB, and trade-approved digital scales in order to quickly appraise, value, sell and buy gold jewellery and gems on the basis of weight.


Agriculture/ Farmers

Handheld scales are frequently used by farmers to weigh animal feed, produce and grain. Hanging scales such as Kern's HCB Hanging crane scale are portable and lightweight, with a hook and handle that can be attached to bags and sacks for suspended weighing.



How precise are portable scales?

The most common types of portable scales, such as compact, spring and pocket scales, have lower precision than specialised lab balances. A portable scale might have a readability of 0.01g, while professional analytical or microbalances can have readabilities between 0.01g to 0.00001g.

Why should I buy a portable scale?

The main advantage of choosing a portable scale over other types of scales is simply that you can move it around with little difficulty. Large platform scales are likely to be too bulky to be moved around safely, while analytical balances are expensive and unable to withstand being dropped or damaged.

Portable scales are constructed with practicality in mind and generally offer the same range of features and accessories as other types of scales. Moreover, they are usually less expensive, as they often lack the same level of precision.

Recommended hand-held and portable scales

CH hanging scale – Kern


Kern's CH hanging scale is a small, compact suspension scale with a steel weighing hook perfect for weighing tote bags of produce and sacks of animal feed in farm and agricultural environments. Recreational fishermen may also use this scale to weigh fish by slipping the scale's hook under a fish's gill plate for more accurate and stable results. This scale offers ten-fold higher precision than that of traditional mechanical spring balances.

CM pocket scale – Kern


Perfect for jewellers, Kern's CM digital pocket scale is ideal for weighing small gems, crystals and gold. This scale features a durable, compact design ideal for travelling along with a handy built-in calculator on the back.

Highland Portable precision balance – Adam Equipment


Adam Equipment's highland portable balance is a compact, multi-purpose weighing scale ideal for weighing cosmetics, food products and laboratory specimens.The Highland features Adam’s unique patented HandiCal® internal calibration with a built-in mass, and ShockProtect® as a safeguard against shock loading and accidental overload. This scale comes complete with parts counting, percentage weighing and accumulation applications. We also provide UK trade approved models perfect for selling food products and jewellery by weight.

HL-WP waterproof compact scale – A&D


A&D's HL-WP waterproof compact scale is a batter-powered device with an IP65 rated stainless steel constructed base. This waterproof top pan balance is perfectly suited to food preparation and laboratory weighing tasks. This scale comes complete with a 3 year warranty and UK trade approvals for selling products by weight.

PTM Drum and Wheelchair scale – Adam Equipment


Adam's PTM drum and wheelchair scale comes complete with portable handles for carrying the scale to a designated area. The scale is constructed from a durable, mild steel base and diamond-patterned surface for added grip when weighing wheelchairs, barrels and other products.

See also:

Scales for Schools: How to Buy the Best Weighing Scale for Your Classroom

How to Choose the Best Jewellery Weighing Scale