What’s the Difference Between Industrial Scales, Commercial Scales, and Domestic Scales?

Manufacturing warehouse with pallets on shelves

If you need to buy a weighing scale, you may have discovered that there’s an overwhelming number of options. If you’re not too familiar with the different types of scales, you might feel even more intimidated. 

If you aren’t sure of the differences between, for instance, an industrial scale vs. a commercial scale, keep reading to learn how you can make choosing the right scale much easier.

What Is an Industrial Scale?

Btek industrial scale weighing heavy metal load in a manufacturing warehouse

If you need to weigh heavy products or large loads — like you often do in industrial settings like construction sites or farms — you should use an industrial scale, also sometimes called a manufacturing scale. In these fields dealing with heavy-duty products, like those used in manufacturing, scales are usually specially designed to resist moisture and impact.

Types of Industrial Scales

There are many different types of industrial scales, depending on your need. Some common types you might use include:

  • Floor scales: These are built to sit low on the floor, making them best for heavy-duty loads, oversized objects, or other items that would be hard to load onto a regular scale. For instance, they are often used in agriculture to weigh totes and seed-treating applications or in retail to load and weigh stock pallets quickly and easily.
  • Bench scales: These are compact scales mainly intended for use on a plain surface like a workbench or tabletop to weigh large objects like boxes in warehouses and other industrial environments. They can be used in dry or wet working environments, depending on the materials they’re made from.
  • Truck scales: These scales weigh trucks, lorries, and other heavy-duty vehicles used for industries like manufacturing, shipping and logistics, roadways, and mining. They help accurately measure a vehicle’s load and often include an intercom so the driver can interact with the scale operator without leaving their vehicle.
  • Crane scales: These hanging scales attach to a crane so you can lift and weigh heavy items that may be awkwardly shaped. For instance, you might use one to measure a load on a construction site or dockyard. These scales usually include an LED display indicator so it’s easy to read measurements even with low visibility.

What Is a Commercial Scale?

Close up of a commercial scale with brown freshly roasted coffee beans

Commercial scales include common retail scales or food scales that you would use to weigh small amounts of produce or other products. They are accurate but don’t have the same level of precision required at industrial levels, so they are commonly used in smaller businesses. 

Though these scales have a lower requirement for precision and reliability, certification from a recognized organization like NTEP is still necessary before you can use one to set prices. 

Some places you may see these scales include:

  • Jewelry stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Post offices

They largely follow a standard, practically universal model, making it easy for anyone to quickly understand their measurements. As a result, retailers often set these scales in front of their customers to be transparent about the weight and price of a product. 

They’re typically smaller and more portable than industry scales.

Common Features of Commercial Scales

Some features you can expect from a commercial scale include:

  • Printers to produce labels
  • Removable platforms for quick clean-up
  • A dual LED display so the operator and customer can both easily see the measurement

Some businesses like grocery stores also use scales with software features like item memory, which can reduce repetitive price entries.

What Is a Domestic Scale? 

Domestic scale being used in a home closeup of feet weighing

Domestic scales are the sort you would use at home. These may include:

  • Kitchen scales to measure ingredients for cooking
  • Bathroom scales to check your weight

In general, these scales are good for light use but can’t withstand heavy objects or extreme stress.

Industrial Scale Vs. Commercial Scale Vs. Domestic Scale (How To Choose)

Here are some questions to ask yourself when picking the right scale for your needs.

Which scale is right for you? 5 important questions infographic
Which scale is right for you? 5 important questions infographic

1. Where Will You Use the Scale?

The environmental conditions in which you’re using the scale could vary from dirty factory floors to wet outdoor settings. Consider the temperature, humidity, and even airflow that the scale will face, because these factors could significantly affect performance and lifespan.

Industrial scales are usually the most durable, so they’re often the best option in harsher conditions and in a manufacturing setting. Domestic scales are best used at home or for smaller weighing needs while commercial scales are good for places like grocery stores or retail shops.

2. What Is the Weight Capacity Requirement?

As you may guess, domestic scales are generally good enough if you need to check light weights like ingredients or the weight of a person. Industrial scales are best, though, for higher loads (for instance, a truck scale could have a weight capacity of over 100 tons).

Another consideration here is the level of precision you’ll need. Scales that handle larger, more heavy-duty weighing (industrial scales) could weigh in increments of 100 grams, while more precise scales, often used in lab settings, can offer increments as fine as 0.1 milligrams.

3. How Big Are the Items You’ll Weigh?

Make sure the scale you use is an appropriate size for the items you’ll weigh (independent of their weight).

For instance, a portable bench scale is great for light industrial and commercial products but would be far too small for larger items, like a vehicle or a rail car coil. In contrast, while a truck scale is a perfect size for large, load-bearing vehicles, it would be too expensive and bulky to use for smaller items.

A professional scale supply company can help you determine what the best scale is for your needs based on the items you’ll be weighing.

4. What’s Your Budget?

The budget for a scale should reflect both short-term and long-term goals. You shouldn’t buy a scale that takes a significant chunk out of your business’s overall budget, but a cheaper option may not be as durable. By being too stingy in the short term, you could end up overspending in the long run on maintenance, replacements, or repairs.

Since industrial scales are generally larger, remember to factor in the cost of the space they will occupy, as well. There are typically options that help conserve space to accommodate a budget better. For instance, a monorail scale is a good option to weigh large objects that are tough to move in limited space.

5. What Industry Are You in?

The industry you’re in sets many of the conditions under which you’ll be using your scale. As a result, it should have a big influence on the type of scale you buy, whether you are working in:

  • Pharmaceuticals and labs: Accuracy is crucial here. You’ll often be weighing out small dosages or counting pills, so you should look for a high-precision scale
  • Agriculture and food: Because there’s a lot of packaging and selling in this industry, sellers need high accuracy to ensure they don’t give away more products than they charge for. Floor scales are usually best.
  • Quarrying and mining: In these industries, you often need to move large volumes of heavy loads, so you could use conveyor scales to weigh products while they’re moving instead of manually placing the product on the scale.

Buy the Best Weighing Scale for Your Business

Btek truck scales sitting outdoors stacked on top of one another.

As you can see, choosing the right scale for the job is crucial.

A domestic scale is perfectly fine in some cases, but if you need reliable accuracy to sell a small or medium quantity of products, you need a certified commercial scale. On the other hand, if you need to weigh a high volume or heavy load of products, your best bet is an industrial scale.

To make sure you’re getting the best scale for your specific needs, contact American Scale and speak to our experts about our customized, end-to-end weighing solutions.