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Key Differences between Scales and Balances

Scales and balances are used for the same function – to weigh objects. But if these weighing devices perform a similar task, why are they different? How do you determine what is precisely being measured on a scale and balance?

To find the answer to these questions, it is important to know the key differences between weighing scales and balances, so that you can choose the correct option for weighing anything.

This article describes the 5 key differences between weighing scales and balances.

What do a scale and balance measure?

The main difference between a weighing scale and a balance lies in what they are used to measure. A balance is used to measure the mass of an object, i.e., the amount of matter in an object. On the other hand, a scale is used to measure the weight of the object, i.e., the force of gravity on an object.

Effect of gravity on a scale and balance

While the mass of an object stays the same irrespective of location and gravitational forces, the weight of an object will change depending on the gravitational force and location.

The weighing mechanism of a scale and the weight of an object placed on a scale changes with the gravitation pull of the earth. The strength of the gravitational pull on the object depends on the latitude of the location as well as the distance of the weighing location from the Earth’s core.

The SI unit of a scale and balance

Even though weight is a measurement of force using the newton, weighing scales show the weights in mass units such as kilograms. A balance shows the weight in kilograms.


A balance is considered to have more precision as against a scale. This is because there is more readability in a weighing balance and thus it is often used to measure tiny increments in weight. There are common analytical balances that are used to weigh masses from lower weights of 0.1mg up to 200g. Research labs often use analytical micro balances that are capable of reading weights as less than 0.01 µg.

Scales are often used to weigh objects with larger masses, both in commercial and domestic settings. For example, scales are commonly used in grocery stores or to weigh ingredients for baking. Weighing scales displayed the weight by measuring a deflection using springs or strain gauge load cells.

Due to the precision and advanced features of a balance, they are usually costlier than weighing scales.

Different types of weighing scales and balances

Weighing scales

  • Bench scales or platform scales are small scales that can be placed on workbenches or counters to weigh smaller weights. They are commonly used in commercial and industrial weighing applications.
  • Counting scales can not only weigh objects but also count the objects placed on the scale. Counting scales are also used to check-weigh against a pre-set weight. And Counting scales are used in banks.
  • Hanging scales, as the name suggests, measure weight when the load is suspended from the scale, usually by a hook or a strap.
  • Pocket scales are portable scales.


  • Analytical Balances: There are analytical balances that are used to weigh masses from lower weights of 0.1mg up to 200g. Research labs often use analytical micro balances that are capable of reading weights as less than 0.01 µg.
  • Precision Balances: These balances are used where large capacity and high resolution are simultaneously required.

If you need a weighing scale for your business, see the range available at RS Components.

Also Read: 5 Common ADA Compliance Issues to Avoid

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