Digital Scales vs. Analog Scales

When someone thinks about "scales" there is likely one of only a few images that pop up in their brain. One picture seen is an analog or mechanical scale like the scales of justice - where something is weighed against a known weight. The other is a square metal box with a display. From the scale we all step on at the Doctor's office, to the scale that weighs fruit at the grocer - each business decided on one thing for sure : Digital v. Analog scales.

An Introduction Into Digital Scales

Summit Measurement predominantly sells digital scales, and in fact, we were one of the first purely online retailers to launch a curated collection of digital scales from dozens of manufacturers from all over the world. We mention this not because of any bias we have, but moreso because if we know anything - it's digital scales!

An Introduction Into Analog Scales

Analog (mechanical) scales come in different shapes and sizes based on their weighing mechanism and functionality. One of the common types of analog scales are spring-dial scales, where the spring is calibrated to spin a dial when compressed to a known load. Another type of mechanical scale is a triple beam balance, like we used in grade school. No matter digital or analog - the decision will be made based on your unique application.

Consideration #1: What's Your Purpose?

When shopping for new scales, there is almost always a need in mind that drives the purchaser to investigate. In our business, very few people go "window shopping" for fun... Scales aren't the most hobby-ish of purchases and when someone needs one, it's because they need one. This is super helpful because with a few key questions answered we can help you identify almost exactly the make, model, and capacity you need.

Consideration #2: Accuracy (displayed resolution)

We use the word 'accuracy' here because it is where most people start thinking about ways to filter down their hunt. Now, in the field of metrology accuracy means something different than most think, but we will use it here as a discussion of the scale's displayed resolution. When you need to weigh a handful of peanuts you need a different scale than a truckload of peanuts. Capacity is the amounto of peanuts you can weigh on a scale but the purpose of your measurement informs the resolution required. Are you trying to sell peanuts by the pound? Are you weighing an individual peanut as part of QA? Are you sorting peanuts by 100 lb buckets? Think about the resolution you need, and then buy the capacity that matches the job. Most times, you can cut the portion to match a capacity limit... but the quality result of your measure job requires a certain accuracy.

Consideration #3: Durability

Durability in this instance means what you think it means, but we really like to ask clients about the nature of the environment. Is it dusty? Wet? Indoor, outdoor? The durability requirements of the scale you buy will be determined by the environment in which it is used and stored. Most digital scales are built to withstand the environment for which they are designed... and the same for mechanical scales. If you have a unique or tough environment look to certifications like IP ratings and hermetical seals... We can help with stuff like this.

Consideration #4: Power Supply

One key difference is power. Digital scales may come with a rechargeable battery that in many business cases may only need to be charged weekly or monthly (Think 80 hours of continuous use) but power is a big factor in why someone would think about not buying a digital scale. If your situation is one that specifically can't power a scale, there may be mechanical options. But, reach out if you have questions because scales don't draw very much power and there are options for remote power source too!

Consideration #5: Portability

Portability is an important discussion point in buying a scale, digital v. analog. In many cases, analog scales are more robust and can handle a bit more movement without fear of needing a recalibration... but again this is determined by how delicate your weighing balance may be. There are a few common scale types that are designed to be portable... Either in a case, or hanging scales that are meant to not have a permanent resting place.

Consideration #6: Cost

Cost is one factor, of course. But actually in the case of analog v. digital won't be a filter to apply until other considerations have already pointed you in the right direction of analog v. digital. We have sold scales of each type for thousands of dollars, and scales of each type for less than $100. Think of cost as a filter in your decision making, but consider what you need first - then find a deal. Working with an independent retailer like Summit is also a good way to get an objective good deal. We aren't beholden to any manufacturer so we can work to get you the best price possible no matter what.

Find Your Next Scale with Summit

We hope these considerations have been helpful to you. There are a few others that only apply to a small subset of our clients, like NTEP certs, speciality weighing units likely only had in digital scales, or even the physical footprint of the space... If you have a weird or unique application, we would love to hear about it! We have helped people weigh all kinds of things! Birds on a perch, entire boats, even diapers!! Add your application to our wall of fame and call today.