When considering which balance is best for your application, the first decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose a mechanical or electronic balance.

## Mechanical or electronic?

When considering which balance is best for your application, the first decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose a mechanical or electronic balance. Mechanical balances are usually used in elementary and middle school classes to teach basic weighing techniques. These balances, due to their hands-on nature, also help students develop manual dexterity and show them how mechanical movement is translated into a measurement value. Mechanical balances do not require electrical power. They have a fixed weighing unit, fixed weighing mode, and no computer connectivity for recording and storing measurement data.

Electronic balances are primarily used in high school and college classes. Easy and fast to operate, these balances enable students to use their lab time more productively when performing complex, multistep experiments. Electronic balances require electrical power, either from batteries or a plug-in adapter. Advanced functions include selectable weighing units, selectable weighing modes, and computer connectivity for recording and storing measurement data.

## Understanding balance specifications

The following specifications describe key balance capabilities. Understanding these specifications can help you choose the balance that best meets your application’s requirements.

### Capacity

The maximum weight the balance can measure. Choose a balance with 10 to 15% more capacity than your application requires.

The smallest difference in weight that the balance can display. Choose a balance that meets or exceeds the readability that your application requires.

### Repeatability

The accuracy of the balance in measuring the same weight within a given time. Choose a balance that meets or exceeds the repeatability that your application requires.

### Weighing Units

The units of measure that the balance can display. Choose a balance with the weighing units that your application requires.

### Weighing Modes

The balance’s ability to perform specialized weighing tasks. Examples of this include percent weighing, parts counting, and animal weighing. Choose a balance that offers the weighing modes that your application requires.

### Environment

The range of environmental conditions (typically temperatures) in which the balance can provide accurate measurements. Choose a balance that provides accurate measurements under the environmental conditions in which it will be used.

### Connectivity

The balance’s ability to connect to a computer and record and store measurement data. Choose a balance with an RS232 or USB port if your application requires computer connectivity.