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What is the Difference Between Zero and Tare?

Often confused with each other, the difference between tare and zero is difficult to understand – even for people working in the weighing scales industry! Both are these functions are common on many different types of scale, including agricultural scales, food scales and laboratory balances. Since both tare and zero can be crucial to maintaining accurate weighing procedures, it’s important that we understand what they are and when they should be used.

What is the difference between zero and tare?

What is tare weighing?

The tare function on your scale is often the more commonly used feature out of the two, and is technically defined as being a deduction from the gross weight of a substance and its container made in allowance for the weight of the container. Put simply, it is used to remove the weight of an item that you do not want to be included in your overall weight measurement. This could be a bowl when weighing flour or sugar for baking, or it could be a container for holding screws when using a counting function.

You can also tare your items as you go, which is useful when weighing multiple subjects in one container or bowl. For making a cake for example, you could weigh out your flour in your container, tare the weight, and then measure out the correct amount of sugar using the same bowl, saving you time and washing up!

What does zero mean on a scale?

The zero feature on a scale differs from the tare function because it should only ever be used when there is nothing on your weighing pan but your display does not read ‘0’. Your scale might not read ‘0’ due to dust, dirt or moisture on your weighing pan, or if you have dropped a heavy item on your scale. Precise weighing instruments such as precision balances and analytical balances will be most affected by this due to their high sensitivity.

The zero function essentially readjusts the true zero of your weighing scale and lets it know that there is nothing on the weighing pan.

Tare vs. zero: Why is it important to understand both?

Now we know what both tare and zero are used for, why is it important to use them correctly? The answer is simple; to protect the load cell of your scale. Every weighing scale has a maximum capacity and exceeding this could potentially cause harm to the internal mechanics of your device. When taring a container that weighs 100 grams on a scale that has a maximum capacity of 1000 grams, you are left with 900 grams of capacity, despite your display reading 0 after taring.

Furthermore, if you tare a container that weighs 100 grams and then weigh a subject, after you remove that container your display will read -100 grams. Here, the zero button should be used to tell the scale the true value of zero.

If you’re still struggling to understand the difference between tare and zero, contact one of our team and they will be happy to help. Please Get In Touch.

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