Kitchen Scales - A quick and easy buying guide

Do you have a preference over digital, spring or balance scales? In the end your decision will come down to personal preferences, but there are factors that could and should influence your decision. We've put together a simple buying guide to try to help you decide which features are important to you and which are not.

Accuracy

The serious cook, or anyone who bakes regularly, will require more accurate scales than someone who cooks only occasionaly. For accuracy go for good quality digital or balance scales from a reputable scale manufacturer. These will cost a little more than their unbranded counterparts, but they will use better quality materials to produce a more reliable and accurate scale.

Purpose

With the rise of E-bay and changing postage costs many people will use their kitchen scales to weigh their post as well as for weighing ingredients. If this is the case then consider digital scales with a raised platform that will accomodate awkward shaped objects. Avoid scales with fixed bowls as you'll only be able to weigh what fits inside the bowl. Also, keep in mind the scales maximum capacity. Scales, particularly spring and digital can esily break if overloaded.

Space and Storage

Consider where you will be keeping your scales. If space is not a problem you may choose to have you scales left out on the work top. This can be convienient plus there are some very stylish models available. However, if your kitchen space is limited consider slimline digital scales that can easily be put away in a cupboard, wall mounted scales or perhaps spring scales that can be stored inside their own bowl.

Balance scales are heavy and large and you need somewhere to store the weights when not in use, so this might not be be the best option for a small kitchen.

Displays

Digital scales have an LCD screen that displays the weight. Look closely at the position and size of the display and if possible try to see a working example. Check that the display won't be obscured by bowls / objects placed on platforms.

If your vision is not good then its best to avoid spring dial scales as it can be difficult to accurately read the dial. The same also applies to balance scales, as you will need to be able judge when the scales are balanced. Instead look out for digital scales with large backlit LCD screens as these are the easiest to read. There are also talking scales available - see our page on speciality scales for an example produced by Terraillon in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Accessories and Functions

These days scales can perform a multitude of tasks, we list some of the more useful and common ones for you to consider:

- Gram / ounce convertible

- Timer

- Add n Weigh (tare)

- Low battery indicator

- Clock

- Liquid measuring

- Automatic switch off (can this be disabled?)

- Mains adaptor

- Are bowls removable, dishwasher safe, how deep, do they have a handle?