What is The Difference Between a Scale and a Balance?

Scales and balances are both weighing machines, however the difference between a scale and a balance is that a weighing scale measures weight relevant to the force of gravity, while a weighing balance is used to compare the mass of two different objects.

This blog post will explore the differences between weighing scales and balances including what they mean, how they are used and which weighing machine is best for your needs.


What is a weighing scale?

Historically a weighing scale was a device that displayed weight by measuring a deflection, such as a spring scale. In modern weighing machines, scales generally use springs or strain gauge load cells. It is commonly accepted that a scale is less sophisticated in application and precision than a balance and is typically used within food, health, industrial and commercial industries for weighing ingredients, monitoring personal health in gyms or at home, and for checkweighing or stocktaking procedures for businesses. Types of scale include: Mechanical scales, digital scales, counting scales and crane scales.


What is a balance?

A balance determines mass by balancing an unknown mass against a known mass, as with a two-pan assay balance. In modern weighing machines, balances are usually of the design that uses a force restoration mechanism to create a force to balance the force due to the unknown mass. Balances are generally more sophisticated than scales and are used by professionals for advanced scientific weighing in science laboratories, universities, medical facilities and research and development related environments. Types of balance include: Microbalances, analytical balance and precision balances.

How precise can a scale or balance be?

Whilst all approved scales and balances are accurate, the level of precision they offer can differ greatly. We have compiled a short list below of several of the most common scale and balance types ordered by their level of precision to a decimal place:

  • Standard precision balance - 0.01g - 0.001g (2-3 decimal places)
  • Analytical balance - 0.0001g (4 decimal places)
  • Semi-micro balance - 0.00001g (5 decimal places)
  • Microbalance - 0.000001g (6 decimal places)

What is the right weighing machine for me?

Firstly, there are many types of balances and scales on the market and this largely depends on which industry you work in or how you want to use the product. For example, compact balances such as the Adam CB and Dune range, feature robust housing that is ideal for use in school science experiments and weighing parts in industrial warehouses where the scale is likely to undergo rigorous daily use. Whereas lab-based industries, including pharmaceutical, food testing and research will require advanced laboratory balances with a higher degree of precision, such as the Nimbus or Eclipse.

Some things to consider:

  1. Readability - As a rule, balances offer a higher readability than scales and are used for weighing in tiny increments.
  2. Capacity - How heavy are the items you are looking to weigh? Make sure you buy a scale with a weight capacity suitable for what you are looking to weigh.
  3. Cost - Balances are usually much higher in cost than scales due to their enhanced features and levels of precision.
  4. Application - Are you looking to use the weighing equipment in a professional laboratory capacity or for weighing food at home for example.

Our recommended weighing balances


Nimbus precision balance

Mid-range 220g-22kg 0.001g-0.1g Ideal for laboratories and materials testing
Buy now

FZ-i precision balance

Mid-range 120g-5200g 0.001g-0.01g Ideal for weighing jewellery
Buy now

440 precision balance

Low 60g-6000g 0.001g-1g Ideal for schools
Buy now

Eclipse precision balance

High 220g-32kg 0.001g-0.1g Ideal for laboratory and medical professionals
Buy now
* Prices shown correct as of 24th August 2018


Our recommended weighing scales


IBW portable bench scale

Mid-range 3000g-30kg 0.1g-1g Ideal for manufacturing and engineering applications
Buy now

CBK bench checkweighing scale

Mid-range 3000g-48kg 0.1-10g Ideal for weighing construction and building materials
Buy now

SJ-HS compact scale

Low 1000g-30kg 0.5g-20g Ideal for weighing small parcels and food products
Buy now

FKT touchscreen bench scale

High 6000g-65kg 0.02g-10g Ideal for mixing paint and weighing design materials
Buy now
* Prices shown correct as of 24th August 2018


If you would like more information about scales and balances, or would like us to recommend a scale or balance based on your needs then please contact us.