Balances and scales utilized in labs today come in different shapes and sizes. A balance is a vital piece of instrument for any research center. Laboratory balances are generally utilized to determine the weight or mass of an object to a very high degree of precision. The weight of an object is usually estimated using metric units such as gram (g) and kilogram (kg) or alternatively pounds (lbs) and ounces (oz).


The modern-day digital weighing scale is refined weighing equipment accompanied by a set of software to note and process the outcomes achieved through weighing. The primary electronic balances showed up in the late 1960s with the capacity to read and display one part in 10,000. It was indeed a great achievement then, but today it is possible to record weight to within 1 part in a few million utilizing new weight detection frameworks and refined electronics.


Balances provide high readability, an expansive weighting range, and a high level of precision.  However, the environment of the laboratory, operating temperature, moisture, vibration, and ventilation current can all potentially influence the outcome. Therefore, it is essential to keep the weighing pan within an enclosed space or seal it to avoid contact with dust or different contaminants. Samples are preserved at room temperature to avoid the development of air currents inside the enclosed area. Furthermore, ensure that the balance is kept clean, leveled accurately, and is frequently maintained and overhauled.


From a general standpoint, laboratory balances determine the mass of an object; however, they are also utilized to measure solids, fluids, tissue, etc. They have an extensive variety of applications in practically any laboratory. These balances have the ability to measure a wide range of substances from a single grain of a synthetic solid measured by a microbalance to the weight of a large beaker on a triple beam balance.


An important factor to consider is the usage and application of the balance.  device. There are several overlaps as far as readability and precision are concerned.  If so, the use and weighing environment will generally establish the type of balance needed. Among some of the most common types of balances used in today’s laboratories are precision balances, compact balances, and analytical balances.


Precision Balances

Precision laboratory balances are also known as top-loading balances. Fundamentally, precision balance is a type of scale developed to offer profoundly precise outcomes, inside the sub-milligram range. Utilized for the measurement of small samples, this device gives an accurate, fast, and simple technique for measuring the weight of objects, for example, particulate matter. Electronic precision scales present an extensive range of weighing facilities, with the greatest capacity up to 64 kg. They permit readability in the range of 1 mg (0.001 g) to 1 g or 0-3 decimal places. High precision balances can increase this capacity to 4 decimal places; on the display of the device, 0.0001g (0.1mg) increments are utilized.


While precision balances may not be as precise as analytical balances, they are rather more precise than the standard bench or compact balance. However, precision balances typically generate consistent readings in a more extensive range of environmental conditions than analytical balances. Being less susceptible to temperature variations and air currents, the precision balances can offer a more suitable way of measurement. While a draft shield isn’t constantly required for the correct utilization of the balance, when functioning in a fume hood or under typical conditions with a high-resolution device of 1 mg readability, it ought to be utilized to maintain performance.


Compact Balances

The term compact refers to being closely and carefully packed together. In terms of weighing and balances, this essentially refers to a small digital weighing balance perfect for utilization in areas where there is a limited amount of space.  This device has excellent performance but is encased in a small unit for convenient use. Compact balances have been developed to meet the fundamental needs of educational and research laboratories requiring weight measurements to increments of 0.01g to 0.1 g. Their dependable and accurate measuring technology uses gold-plated, ceramic capacitors to find out the mass of a sample.


The compact balances, offering precision results, are the right choice for clinical laboratories and industrial operations. They can also be suitable for determining the weight of compounds in science classrooms, elements in food laboratories, and samples at veterinary clinics.  Lightweight and easy to use, the device functions by means of an AC adapter or battery power, enabling portability and use in the field or at remote testing areas where power is inaccessible.


Analytical Balances

Analytical balances were developed for extraordinary precision in quantitative chemical analysis. Analytical balances are utilized to provide exact measurements to four decimal places to the right side of the decimal point (up to 0.0001 g). The device is to a great degree susceptible to environmental conditions and, since air currents along with several other factors such as vibrations and temperature can influence the outcomes, must be secured by a draft shield. An optimal analytical balance has a weighing sensor that is quick, repeatable, has elevated thermal stability, and is easy to repair. It is possible to use the device for samples up to around 320 g.


In order for the analytical balance to provide a precise measurement, it is important for the device to be calibrated. Calibration is vital on the grounds that it defines the precision and quality of the measurements that are provided by the analytical balance. Users have the option to choose among two kinds of calibration available in analytical balances, i.e. internal motor-driven calibration external calibration, or both.  To guarantee the integrity of the measurement outcomes, there must be a continuous practice of servicing and maintaining the calibration of the apparatus throughout its lifetime. Therefore, dependable, precise, and repeatable outcomes will always be achieved.

Apparatus and Equipment

Precision Balance

The precision balance typically features a stainless-steel weighing pan, a strong plastic encasing, and safety against accidental spillage and damage. Additionally, the precision balance features an LCD display and gold-plated ceramic capacitance sensors for rapid and consistent weight measurements. It also includes easy external calibration and offers a variety of weighing options: grams, ounces, and carats. It has a built-in RS232 port for data transfer to a computer or printer. It has display increments of 0.001 g and has a capacity of 120 g. It has dimensions of 20.5 cm x 35 cm x 9 cm.


Compact Balance

The compact balance also comprises a full-bodied plastic casing, a stainless-steel weighing pan, and strong protection against chemical spills and accidental harm. The weighing pan can be easily detached for simple cleaning. The compact balance also includes an LCD display that depicts comprehensible results with easy-to-use keyboard functionality. The consistent and accurate weighing technology associated with the compact balance uses gold-plated, ceramic capacitors to measure sample mass.


Analytical Balance

The analytical balance consists of a combination of built-in electromagnetic sensor technology and precision mechanical components to compose remarkably precise weight measurements. The balance features a modular design, a metal base, top housing, a stainless-steel weighing pan, a glass draft shield with top-mounted side doors and flip/sliding top door, an LCD display, and easy calibration. It also provides a variety of weighing options: grams, ounces, pounds, and carats. The analytical balance has a built-in RS232 port for data transfer to a computer or printer. Its pan size (round) is 9 cm and has displays increments of 0.0001 g.

Mode of Operation

A factor that needs to be monitored during the use of balances is personnel considerations. For example, who will manage the operation and maintenance of the device and the type of training that the technician has received.  It is also best to adhere to the operating guidelines, calibration frequency, and maintenance instructions.


Compact and Precision Balance

A standard laboratory balance like the compact balance or precision balance is utilized for preparative work with a fairly accurate reading. In addition, these laboratory balances are frequently utilized for pre-weighing samples to measure the approximate weight. To ensure the proper functioning of the balance, first, make sure that the balance is placed on a level surface. Then turn on the power button. The balance will zero itself. Next place a weigh boat on the balance. And when the reading has become steady, push the tare or zero buttons to get a reading of 0.00 g. Now, make use of a spatula and slowly add the sample material that you are weighing into the weigh boat. Continue to add material until you reach the amount of the material that you want. Record the value.


Analytical Balance

On the other hand, an analytical balance should be utilized when an error less than 0.01 g is needed. Analytical balances are exceptionally sensitive and must be carefully calibrated. Before measuring anything on the analytical balance, ensure that it is leveled and zeroed. Close all plastic sliding doors on the draft shield. The balance will not be able to provide stable reading due to air currents if the sliding doors on the draft shields are open, the sample being weighed is warm, or anybody is leaning or writing on the table where the balance is placed. To verify the leveling on the balance, observe the leveling bubble on the floor of the balance chamber. On the off chance that it isn’t centered, center it by turning the leveling screws on the base toward the back of the balance.


Next, check for conditions that may influence your weight determination. Push the zero or tare button to make sure the balance has been zeroed. The LCD display should read 0.0000 (or 0.00000). Once the screen displays 0.0000 with a ‘g’ letter or other appropriate sign on the side, the sample is ready to be weighed. It is important to note that chemical compounds are never set directly on the weighing pan. A weighing boat, paper, or bottle is utilized under the chemical. Place the weighing boat on the balance pan and close the doors. Then, tare the container by quickly pushing the control bar. The LCD display will read zero with the weighing boat sitting on the pan. Next, open the door to the chamber place the object to be weighed on the center of the weighing boat, and shut the chamber door. Read the display when you see a value that does not change over a period of a couple of seconds. Make sure that the acquired value was correct. Finally, remove the sample from the weighing pan and close the chamber door.


An extensive range of industry regions depend on the accuracy of laboratory balances, chemistry being the most widely recognized, to deliver accurate outcomes. The applications of these balances can expand to a number of areas including clinical, research, and environmental settings.


Generally, precision balances are used for research and quality control labs of pharmaceutical, food, chemical, and textile enterprises, to academic organizations. In a laboratory setting, precision balances are used for simple measuring, dynamic weighing, preparing samples, statistical quality control, formulation, and interval weighing. Exceptionally precise and consistent, a precision balance is a perfect choice for any regular measuring task in the lab. Highly accurate, top-loading laboratory balances of 10 kg or more, set with a bigger stand, are commonly utilized in pharmaceutical, chemical, and adhesive producing applications. Other industries where precision balances can be utilized frequently are production, industrial, and manufacturing operations. Furthermore, they can likewise be utilized in the jewelry business for measuring gold, diamonds, and different valuable metals and stones.


Compact balances are utilized for a wide range of settings as they offer the perks and functions required for numerous diverse applications. They are appropriate for performing elementary weight measurement in general science labs, physics, and chemistry laboratories. There are units available with a special stackable design that can be utilized as an excellent solution for labs or classrooms with constrained space. Additionally, compact balances can perform quality control tasks and weighing tasks in small production plants or food processing facilities. Compact balances can also be especially helpful in medical and health facilities. Moreover, these balances can be used within gyms, health centers, and spas for portion control along with having opportunities for counting calories.


Analytical balances are preferably utilized in science laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry, and higher academic institutes for the formulation, determination of density, purity analysis, and conformance testing. They are also well-suited for use within medical laboratories and the healthcare industry as approved analytical balances are important for delivering accurate patient weight readings that can be checked by specialists and other healthcare experts. Furthermore, the analytical balance is frequently utilized for the preparation of standards or buffer recipes and measuring peptides.

Strengths and Limitations


The foremost strength of the digital balances such as the compact balance, the precision balance, and the analytical balance is the automation of the devices. Technological progress in electronics has significantly reduced the complexity of operating balances and has considerably cut back on weighing times. The balances have become so adaptable that they can now be incorporated directly into a production procedure.


Laboratory balances such as the compact balances and most precision balances are small in size and can be easily stacked in storerooms or utilized in small laboratories or classrooms.  In addition to being used in compact spaces, the battery-operated digital balances can also be utilized for field tasks where power is not available.


The digital balance also provides simple readability. Unlike the analog scales, the LCD screen on the digital balance clearly displays the accurate weight. Besides, the digital balances generally tend to have higher accuracy and precision than other scales. Furthermore, the digital balance enables one to observe and record data such as the weight history, body fats calculated and sync the data to a computer and a mobile phone.


The contemporary laboratory balances can be connected to a computer, a data printer, an analytical device, or even a laboratory robot using serial, parallel, or USB links. Some existing models are even equipped with Bluetooth technology and facilitate wireless communication.  All of the balances have a built-in RS232 interface for the transfer of data to computers, and printers.


A further advantage of working with a digital platform scale is that it significantly decreases or thoroughly removes the chance for human error. A digital scale can also be controlled locally by means of a touchscreen or remotely by means of a computer linked to the scale. Furthermore, the digital balances have user-friendly in-lab calibration.



Like most electronic instruments, digital balances have a limitation. The digital balances rely on electricity to run and operate. The load cells themselves need electricity, so manual operation is not an option. However, the option of rechargeable batteries can resolve this issue.


  • Laboratory balances are normally used to measure the weight or mass of an object to a very high degree of accuracy.
  • A few common balances used in labs today are precision balances, compact balances, and analytical balances with readability of 0.001 g, 0.01g, and 0.0001 g respectively.
  • The components of a laboratory balance generally comprise a plastic casing, a stainless-steel weighing pan, an LCD display, and in case of an analytical balance – a glass draft shield.
  • The applications of the laboratory balances can extend to various fields including clinical laboratories, research labs, industrial settings, production & manufacturing business, academic settings, and environmental settings.
  • Digital balances have extensively decreased or completely removed the chance for human error, simplified the operation of the device, and cut back on weighing times.
  • A digital balance has the drawback of relying on electricity to work and function.
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