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I'm thinking of buying a modern, probably electronic kitchen scale, to replace my really ancient mechanical one. I'm located in Bombay, India.

I'm wondering what considerations should inform my decision. Possible points include:

  1. Should the scale be waterproof? Is that useful?

  2. On a related note, what considerations should one give to being easy to clean?

  3. Apparently if the tare button is on the weighing surface, it can distort/bias the weight measurement by a few grams. It's not necessarily clear for a given item whether that will be a problem or not. It's presumably only an issue if the weighing is very fast.

  4. Should there be a platform for weighing, which is separate from the main machine? See the previous point. Also, if it's the same platform, then whatever you want to weight may block the display. Though some units, like the Soehnle Page Profi (see below) have a hold button to deal with that.

I'm currently considering Soehnle, specifically Soehnle KSD Page Digital Kitchen Scale and Soehnle KSD Fiesta Digital Kitchen Scale. Though the former appears to actually be the Page Profi. "KSD Page" has no hits elsewhere.

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    One consideration to throw into the mix is power source. Different electric scales take either mains power, "button" style batteries, or standard batteries. Seems like a minor concern until you pull the scale out of the cupboard and realize you've misplaced the mains adapter or the batteries have died in storage. You may want to choose one that's easy for you to replace when you realize the issue in the middle of food prep. – R.M. Apr 5 '18 at 22:12
  • Any reason you're not considering a modern mechanical scale? – barbecue Apr 7 '18 at 18:40
  • @barbecue I'm happy to consider a mechanical scale, but virtually everything on offer is electronic. Hence the words "probably electronic". – Faheem Mitha Apr 9 '18 at 15:26

12 Answers 12

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America's Test Kitchen did a segment on digital kitchen scales. Their judging criteria were:

  • Accuracy: Does the scale display the correct weight?
  • Button usability: Are the buttons in an accessible location? Can they be pressed without too much force?
  • Display visibility: Can you see the display when a large bowl is on the scale? Are the numbers large enough to read clearly?
  • Easy to clean
  • Stability: When you push the buttons, does the scale move?

To answer your specific questions:

  1. None of the 10 scales they tested were waterproof - it seems like that may be a rare feature.

  2. If you can detach the weighing platform from the rest of the scale, it will be easy to clean.

  3. They did not have problems with the tare button biasing the weight.

  4. A weighing platform separate from the main machine makes it easier to see the display and press the buttons, even when a large bowl is on the scale.

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    One caveat re. 2.: Make sure that the platform won’t wobble or tilt if you place a bowl or similar slightly off-center. – Stephie Apr 6 '18 at 12:19
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    I'd add capacity to the list of considerations. Max expected food weight, plus container big enough to hold it, plus at least 10-20% for overhead. – LightBender Apr 6 '18 at 19:11
  • I loosely cover the entire scale with a layer of plastic film (SaranWrap) when things will get messy. No need to wrap it up. – IconDaemon Apr 7 '18 at 18:34
  • "Display visibility" tends to be one of the most problematic things I've run into. I've had to do strange balancing acts to raise a bowl up high enough so it wasn't blocking the display on a couple of the ones I've had. Also a consideration you didn't mention -- precision. When it's in 'gram' mode, does it actually measure individual grams, or count by 3 or 5, or some other number? – Joe Apr 8 '18 at 17:23
  • You list easy to clean, which is the most important consideration I had. I would also say that the button design is very important to clean-ability. Models with seamless buttons or touch sensitive glass are the best. If there is a crack around the button - that's a crack that is almost impossible to clean. – JPhi1618 Apr 9 '18 at 3:31
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Generally, I'd suggest trying to make sure the display and buttons are easily accessible, even if you've got something big on it. That often means something that looks more like the one on the left than the one on the right:

scale with raised platform totally flat scale

If the buttons and display are on a single flat surface along with what you're weighing, that can work, just try to make sure it's pretty large.

If it's all flat and too small, then it'll be a pain at some point when you weigh something big. If the buttons and display are all the way at the front, with a bit of space below the weighing surface, and angled, they'll be easier to get at. Between your two options, the flat one probably comes out a bit ahead in this regard, because the one with a raised platform has the display way up next to the platform anyway, instead of out at the front where it's easy to see.

Beyond that, most everything is probably fine - it'll all be accurate enough, and it's a simple device, not like there are really any bells and whistles to worry about.

For waterproofing, water resistant seems like enough to me; it's unlikely you'll ever need to do much more than wipe it down.

If you do really like one of the flat ones, or you really want something that you can store in a narrower space, just figure out the dimensions and compare to the size of the things you're likely to put on it. A lot of them will probably be big enough for most of your bowls, but then there'll be that one time where you for some reason want to weigh in something giant and it just doesn't work. Whether or not you care will depend on how you cook.

Finally, keep in mind that there are broadly two categories: big and small. Your question looks like you're looking for big things (many grams, up to kilograms), so that's what I've addressed. If you want high precision for small things (a few grams), most of that is no longer a concern.

  • This is actually my biggest pet peeve. Even when you have one that's at an angle, if it's LCD and no backlight, I'll have to grab a flashlight and keep bending over to see the reading as I'm trying to add flour, sugar, whatever else. – Joe Apr 8 '18 at 17:21
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far but is listed as "feature" of the first scale you linked is auto-off.

I expect that a manufacturer like Soehnle is able to implement this in a useful way, but better double check how it works and whether this is suitable with your work-flow.

I've met scales with time-triggered auto-off that were extremely annoying: when weighing several ingredients into a big bowl successively, the scale just switched off at some point. If that happens in between adding things, it's not so nice but OKish: switch on and let it tare again, and go on. If that happens while you are actually in the process of adding, well, you have to go on as if there were no scale...

  • Well, you would want auto-off to save batteries, but the period should be long enough, say 60 minutes. – Jan Doggen Apr 6 '18 at 11:12
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    It's often more like five minutes, which seems like it should be long enough, but it isn't. You lose the original tare, and sometimes you wanted that. – Joshua Engel Apr 6 '18 at 14:14
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    yes: 3 or 5 min is not much if, e.g. you find there wasn't enough flour in the box so you need to go and fetch more from the basement or ask your neighbour. Or the phone/postman rings, or you just find out that you wan't to compare with another recipe, and so on. – cbeleites Apr 6 '18 at 18:37
  • It won't help for the postman, but the times when I've gotten a phone call, or realized something else needed dealing with, I'll push or lift the bowl every so often, so the scale sees activity and doesn't shut off. (especially important when you run out of flour, and need to go retrieve another bag from the pantry, open it, make a mess, try cleaning it up, realize the scale has turned off, and you're not sure how much you had added so far, etc.) – Joe Apr 8 '18 at 17:19
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In my experience the only characteristic I'd add to the considerations is: - Ability to switch between different measurement systems (U.S./Imperial vs. Metric)

  • There are multiple different sized units in US/imperial/standard that just don't exist in metric. Does the recipe call for US or UK gallons with a variance of 20% ? For a location that uses metric normally, the older systems are of little value and any old recipes should be converted, tested, and tweaked. – Criggie Apr 8 '18 at 23:36
  • @Criggie This is a kitchen scale, not a recipe. It doesn't need to measure gallons. Pounds and ounces vs kilograms and grams is as far as it needs to go. Nobody uses pennyweights, troy ounces, carats or drams in cooking. – barbecue Apr 9 '18 at 16:51
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Some scales seem to try to make the display look more stable (or clandestinely compensate for a calibration drift problem?) than it is by not reacting to very small, slow weight changes until a threshold is reached - e.g., if you try to add baking powder by the gram you will get no change in display for the first few grams, then a sudden jump (or the small weight even never registers!). An unwanted feature.

Also avoid designs where the weighing surface is mounted in any way that can easily let it snag/bind to some part of the base - this can give you seriously wrong results that still look plausible enough.

Closely examining designs that seem to have the tare button in a spot where it would influence the measurement is indeed wise: There will likely be some software trickery involved (my first guess at how to do it: Have the scale periodically store a 100-to-200-miliseconds-ago value and actually use that value the moment the tare button is triggered) - which could be buggy in all kinds of ways.

Also, avoid extra features (timers, conversion) etc - you will have forgotten how to get back to weighing mode, and thrown the manual out, when the day comes that you accidentally activate them.

Ps. There are usually some simple sanity-check weights around in a kitchen: unopened 1 liter juice and milk cartons will usually be within 10% of a kilogram; commercially bagged flour and sugar (unless it got wet) .... these certainly will show you if your scale is weighing seriously LOW (which is the most likely thing to happen with mechanical defects).

Also, if you are low on shelf space: Make sure there is a wall-hanging hole. And get a scale that is rugged enough to survive occasionally being dropped on the floor (if that actually happens, sanity check it!) when missing the hanger :)

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    I had one of those scales that ignores small increments, and I would consider avoiding that as one of the most important criteria: You could add over 10g very slowly and still have it read 0g. And when you need a very accurate measurement, you probably would be adding it slowly. As for extra features, they're only a problem if you have difficulty using electronic devices. – John B. Lambe Apr 8 '18 at 21:36
  • Lol no - the more proficient you get with electronic devices at all, the less patience you retain for illogical user interfaces of simple devices overloaded with features. Let buttons do what is written on them. – rackandboneman Apr 8 '18 at 22:59
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If you want consistently very accurate results, you can get a model that lets you calibrate the scale using known weights. This is especially helpful when you replace the batteries.

The MyWeigh i2600 has the calibration feature; the weights are an optional feature.

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I have one that includes a digital watch. That means it runs out of battery everytime I need it for something important.

Had I been aware of that, I would have chosen a model, that did not use power when not in use.

So get one, where off means off.

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    This would have been acceptable if the designers had included a small solar panel with enough capacity to power the clock. Not so good if the unit is kept in a dark cupboard. – Criggie Apr 8 '18 at 23:41
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I'm wondering what considerations should inform my decision.

  • The biggest consideration for me is to have a separate tare button. Models with a single button for tare vs. "off" require you to long-press the button to get either function, and that just annoys.
  • I would take a flat one with a recessed button/display area. I.e., not one like the Soehnle 67080. If you put a large container (e.g., a pan) on it, you won't be able to do anything anymore.

Should the scale be waterproof? Is that useful?

I don't know if my electronic scales over the years were waterproof, I never needed that feature.

On a related note, what considerations should one give to being easy to clean?

I prefer the type with a neat, clean surface (no ridges etc.). One good swipe, that's it. They don't come into contact with food, the way I use them (unless I spill stuff on them while dropping it into the container sitting on top).

Apparently if the tare button is on the weighing surface, it can distort/bias the weight measurement by a few grams.

I guess that would be a pretty unfortunate design...

Soehnle KSD Page Digital Kitchen Scale

Just a single flat surface. What happens if your pot is just a bit too large?

Soehnle KSD Fiesta Digital Kitchen Scale

Might gunk up between the separate parts...

Finally: I like the Soehnle 67079 myself. It hits all the sweet spots for me. Clean surface, simple design, nothing to come off, fall down etc., real AAA batteries instead of button cells, near indestructable. Unfortunately, at least amazon.de does not offer it anymore, so it might be discontinued (?).

  • The Soehnle-67079 is actually available here. Do you think that is a better choice than the Soehnle KSD Page Digital Kitchen Scale? Near indestructible is good. Have you owned one yourself? – Faheem Mitha May 20 '18 at 23:34
  • @FaheemMitha, I have been owning and using a 67079 one for 6 years now (yay for keeping old emails ;) ). When comparing with the KSD Page, I guess it's a bit of personal preference. It would depend on the feeling and responsiveness of their "virtual" buttons, I guess. I still do like the design of mine with the slightly angled display. – AnoE May 21 '18 at 7:04
  • Hi @AnoE. The KSD Page is available for a lot cheaper here, at least currently, plus it's covered by a 1 year warranty, which the 67079 doesn't appear to have. So, overall, looks like a better deal. Thanks for the feedback. – Faheem Mitha May 21 '18 at 10:57
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For a larger scale, there should be a large enough platform so you can safely put on a larger container.

Buttons and display should be easily accessible at all time.

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Get something with proper buttons. I had an old scale where the buttons where touch style controls and barely worked at the best of times, sometimes adding weight to the scales would reset it.

Waterproof I wouldn't say is a huge concern, I can't think of a time where I would be all that worried about getting a scales wet.

Easy to clean is handy, but it depends how you weight things. I usually put a bowl on before putting whatever I'm weighing in that so the scales don't get dirty usually, but if you were weighing things like butter directly on the scale then easy cleaning is better.

I've never had any issue with the pare button either so I'm not sure if that's something to be worried about.

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All good suggestions.

I'd add checking the maximum weight capacity of the scale. Most cooking scales top out at a surprisingly low weight and exceeding that will damage the mechanism.

I've had to watch out for that when doing a double batch.

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A minor feature is a hold function and a beep.

This retains the last measurement for some amount of time so you can unload the scale, and then read off the number.

By comparison, an old spring balance would loose the measurement as soon as the item was lifted, so if you're weighing a big thing it can be hard to see the display.

The beep lets you know that the sensor settled and reading was done, again while not being able to see the display.

protected by Jolenealaska Apr 8 '18 at 0:29

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