Understanding Load Cells and The Types Available

Published On: July 21, 20200 Comments on Understanding Load Cells and The Types AvailableLast Updated: February 11, 20244.2 min read

Load cells are used to measure load. Acting as a sensor, the load cell measures and converts force (the load) into an electric signal. All electronic scales have load cells to display weight, either in units of mass or torque. Also known as a transducer, the load cell is a device converting energy from one form into another using signals. Found in a wide range of industries, a load cell can be installed on various test machines, industrial scales and flow meters to measure force. This is critical for effective and safe processes.

Understanding Load Cells and The Types Available

Load cells are classified according to their output signal generated by the load being measured. There are basically three classifications or types of load cells available. We explain them below.

1.     Hydraulic Load Cells

The hydraulic load cell is designed to measure water, mostly in tanks. The load cell is filled with oil and measures weight as a change in pressure of a fluid. The pressure of the fluid rises as a result of increase in force. As there are no electric components in this type, the hydraulic load cell is ideal for hazardous conditions. A standout feature of the hydraulic load cell is that they’re safe from lightning strikes and electrical surges. As it uses costly technology, it’s an expensive option compared to the other load cell types.

2.     Pneumatic Load Cells

Ideal for measuring lower weights with higher degrees of accuracy, the pneumatic load cell measures weight as change in pressure. It’s designed to automatically manage the balancing pressure. The pressurised fluid in a pneumatic load cell is a gas, often air. Pneumatic load cells are explosion resistant and can handle temperature changes. Ideal for real-time accuracy, pneumatic load cells are used in the medical industry for dispensing intravenous fluids.

3.     Strain Gauge Load Cells

This type of load cell is used to measure pressure applied to a support beam. As the change in tension on the support beam is measured, a signal is sent to the switching unit. This displays the weight measurement determined by how much force is exerted on the support beam. Strain gauge load cells have excellent fatigue characteristics as well as precise, linear measurements.  They’re not influenced by temperature changes and have a long operating life. As they’re reliant on excitation voltage to operate, they’re not suitable for areas with limited electrical supply.

Understanding Load Cells and The Types Available - load cell

Load Cells for the Right Application

Load cells have been designed to suit specific applications. They’re being used in a wide variety of industries. Here are some of the ways load cells ensure effective measurement where needed in an industry.

Manufacturing Industry

Testing machines with calibrated load cells are being used to measure a wide range of products. These machines allow for safe mounting and testing. Manufacturers rely on high degrees of accuracy when measuring their products. From harness durability testing to package filling, load cells ensure the end product is correct according to manufacturing standards of that industry. With load cell weighing devices dominating the industry, while reliable they can be easily damaged. Care must be taken to minimise damage to these devices.

Medical Industry

The healthcare industry relies heavily on measurement equipment. From fitness scales to medical testing machines to fluid level monitoring for surgery and dialysis purposes, the medical world depends on extreme accuracy. Doctors and nurses are constantly using various testing machines to manage your health needs in the best way possible. It’s critical that these machines are of the highest quality and the load cells are calibrated correctly.

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry is dependent on load cells to carry out applications such as autopilot control, assembly of aircrafts, brake testing, controlling tire pressures and jet engine thrusts. Load cells are also used for fatigue testing.

Automotive Industry

From crash testing to fuel tank assembly, load cells are used to assist the automobile designer in producing high quality vehicles. Load cells used in this industry have been designed to factor in features such as steering, mechanical overload protection and suspension. Both the hydraulic and pneumatic load cells systems are ideal for the automotive industry. They have been designed to be compact, tough, with no moving parts and accurate with a wide range of measurement.


Whatever industry you’re in, there is a load cell measurement system designed for your application requirements. If it’s a load cell test machine you’re looking for, then turn to the professionals to assist you in purchasing the right machine for you. The world as we know it now would be lost without measurement devices. The introduction of load cells has changed the way we do measurements, from mechanical scales to electronic scales. From intricate weighing of bird chicks for research purposes to the seven-post shaker to set up race cars, load cells are a critical component of scales as we know them today. Where can it enhance your functioning?

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