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Platform Scales Read Time: 3 Mins
Should I Avoid a Cheap Floor Scale?

It may be tempting to save a few dollars with an inexpensive floor scale. After all, the capacity and size may appear to be the same as the more expensive brand and the picture may show similar quality. So, what is it that really separates the more expensive floor scale and typically makes it better than less expensive ones? Let’s take a look!

To start, you will need to determine if your floor scale needs to be legal for trade. Typically, less expensive floor scales are not certified as legal for trade. A general rule of thumb is if money is changing hands based on the weight of the product, then you will need a floor scale that is certified as legal for trade.

Next, compare the electronic components that make up the scale

  1. Load Cells - What load cells are used?  Some lower-quality floor scales use load cells that you cannot replace just one of the cells. If one goes bad, all four need to be replaced.  Many manufacturers also use load cells that are sourced overseas and have a very limited shelf life.  It is important to use quality components to ensure longevity out of your floor scale.  
  2. Junction Box - Is there a junction box?  The purpose of the junction box is so you can adjust the output of the loadcell so the scale weighs the same regardless of where the load is placed on the scale.  If a loadcell needs to be replaced the junction box allows you to easily remove the bad cell and replace it with the new one and wire it back into the scale without having to unwire and re-solder all the cells back together.  Many inexpensive scales just tie the wires together and eliminate the junction box in their design.
  3. Cabling – How durable is the cabling?  The best floor scales are made for the toughest industrial environments. The cabling should reflect something that is durable and could withstand some abuse instead of something like an extension cord in your kitchen. 

Maybe equally as important as the scale components is the build of the scale itself. The steel weighbridge. Pay attention to the ship weight of the scale. The heavier the scale typically means the better build quality. Thicker deck plate and substructure is key to giving the load cells the structure they need to perform properly. If the floor scale is flexing and bending the scale will not last and it will cause for inconsistent weights. Thin, short welds are also a sign of mass-produced low-quality scales and play into the structure of smaller floor scales. These welds will break over time and cause inconsistent weights and/or significant down-time.

standard scale
Standard Scale
robust scale
Robust Scale

Is it Complete? 

The last item, and possibly most important to consider, is the indicator that comes with the floor scale (or doesn’t). Is an indicator included in the price?  If it is, there are a few questions to ask:
  1. Is it calibrated to the scale base? 
  2. Do you need a certificate of calibration with certified weights for your ISO program? 
  3. Do you need a full numeric keypad to enter a tare weight? 
  4. Do you want to tie your scale into a computer or printer?

These are all common issues people come across when purchasing an inexpensive floor scale online and many times lead them to spending significantly more money with their local service company to get their scale to the functionality they never knew that they needed.  All of these items would be properly handled up-front when speaking with a salesperson or scale company that specializes in these types of applications.  Many times they are completely missed when looking to purchase a scale online.

Do the Math on a (non- repeating) Cheap Floor Scale 

Based on an 8-hour shift, 261 work days per year, Your product is worth $2 per pound, 5 weighments per hour, and your scale is just -2 lbs off from calibration.

(40 weighments per day x 261 days) x 2 lbs. x ($2.00/lb.) = $41,760.00

That equates to $41,760.00 of lost revenue!! You can’t afford to buy a cheap floor scale!

As always, B-TEK would like you to make the most informed decision possible to help your business.  We are here to help you with any questions you may have to help guide your decision.

About The Author

Steve Coddington
Steve Coddington
Northeast Regional Manager
Steve started in the scale industry in 1996 as a service technician for 10 years before moving into sales and has been “Living the dream” as a scale man ever since. He's an alumnus of Bryant & Stratton with a background in electronic technologies. He resides in Batavia NY and enjoys being on the... Read More

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