Lab balances aren’t inexpensive, so choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Let’s look at the factors to consider when you’re shopping for a new balance!
What Do I Need in a New Lab Balance?
The first thing to ask yourself is, “what do I need this balance to do?” Are you replacing an existing balance? If so, consider the applications you’ve been using. Did your previous balance meet your needs or did it lack functions that would be helpful in your lab?
When doing formulations, a balance with a storage function like the Solis range of analytical and semi-micro balances and precision balances can streamline weighing operations for chemists. QC labs would likely need a percentage weighing function.
Technology moves fast! If your old balance was past its prime, there may be new capabilities that weren’t available when you purchased it. Maybe your older balance lacks the ability to communicate with a computer, flash drive or printer. Some of today’s balances even have multiple communication options on the same device. Adam Equipment’s Equinox range, for example, includes both RS-232 and USB interfaces.
In addition to transferring results to applications like Excel, the ability to connect to LIMS (laboratory information management system) and other lab management systems can be critical today.
Good Laboratory Practice-compliant printouts are essential for labs. Many modern analytical and precision balances are capable of GLP-compliant output, so make sure the balance you choose can output the data you need for recordkeeping.
A more expensive balance isn’t necessarily a better balance for you. It depends upon your needs. While it’s easy to equate a higher price with better quality, higher prices could be the result of a specific brand (lesser known brands don’t have to mean lesser quality), specific higher end features you may not need or higher capacity and readability than your lab requires. Look at your current needs and consider what your future needs may be during the lifetime of your new balance.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What applications do I need my balance to do?
- Are there new features that weren’t available when I bought my last balance (including updated communications interfaces and data storage)?
- Have your weighing needs (such as capacity, readability or pan size) changed?
- Do you use multiple units of measure? Labs usually use grams and milligrams, while food is weighed in ounces, precious metals in pennyweights and gem in carats.
- Is internal or external calibration better for my lab?
- Do I weigh caustic chemicals? If so, you’ll need a weighing pan made of a non-corrosive metal.