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How Do I Choose the Best Electronic Balance?

Article Details
  • Written By: Lakshmi Sandhana
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Electronic balances are used in laboratories and are very fast and easy to operate. Scientists use them to measure the mass of chemicals and other substances with an extremely high degree of accuracy. You can classify balances broadly into analytical and top-loading categories. Other factors to consider when selecting an electronic balance are capacity, repeatability, and readability. The different types of weighing units, weighing modes, and connectivity are also important.

The first thing to consider is the type of measurements you need to make. Some applications, such as measuring a certain amount of chemical, may not need a high degree of accuracy. If a laboratory procedure calls for 2.0 grams of a chemical, it may not matter if it varies between 1.9 to 2.1 gm in some cases. Top-loading electronics balances are best when you don't need a high level of accuracy. They can measure mass with an uncertainty level of ±0.05 grams.

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In contrast, you should choose an analytical electronic balance in cases where you need very precise quantities of substances. It can measure the mass to an uncertainty level of ±0.00005 grams, and it is very expensive. This balance is extremely sensitive, and this sensitivity comes at a price. Readings can be affected by changes in external conditions like floor vibrations or a person leaning onto the table where the electronic balance is placed. Air currents, wet samples drying off, oil deposits from people handling sensitive glass objects with bare fingers, or breathing on them can also throw off the readings.

To choose an electronic balance, you need to consider the level of accuracy you truly need in your measurements. Speed and convenience are other factors that you should consider along with the method of data collection. You should also be aware of the environmental conditions the balance will have to work under and the type of people operating it — whether they are students or experts.

Once all these questions have been answered, you can select the electronic balance based on more specific attributes. The maximum weight the balance can accurately measure, or its capacity, is very important. At minimum, it needs to be able to measure a mass that is 15 percent more than what is typically required. Many electronic balances connect to the Internet to enable the user to store and record data accurately. Check to see if the device has the requisite ports.

Readability refers to the tiniest weight difference that the electronic balance can accurately display. Choose one that exceeds the requirements of your typical application. Another factor to check for is repeatability, or the capacity of the balance to give consistent readings when the same mass is weighed at different times. Many electronic balances offer selectable weighing units and weighing modes, and these are important to consider when choosing the best balance for the task at hand.

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