How to Select a Load Cell

Ask these 4 simple questions to pinpoint the exact load cell you need

You don’t have to be an expert in load cell technology to select the one you need and feel confident that it will get the job done right.

The technology found in many modern load cells can seem overwhelming at first, but in industries where precision is a must, choosing and properly using an appropriate load cell could mean the difference between another successful day at work and an expensive or potentially dangerous miscalculation.

Luckily, we’re in 2021. Once you select the load cell that’s right for your application, you can enjoy enhanced safety, accuracy, and efficiency through the use of simple software and load cell readouts that fit in the palm of your hand, function from nearly a mile away, and provide +/- 0.1% accuracy.

Despite the many brands and types of load cells available on the market today, choosing the exact right one for your needs is fairly simple when you break it all down. Let’s walk through the 4 simple questions that will guide you in selecting the right load cell.

selecting load cells
Tension load cells from Straightpoint can handle tension reading capacities ranging from 1-ton up to 500-tons.

1. What is your application environment?

First, it’s important to consider the general environment in which you’ll be using the load cell. In terms of durability, there’s a wide spectrum ranging from low-capacity, unsealed load cells to weatherproof multi-ton options.

If you’re needing load cells for industrial applications involving cranes or heavy loads, you’ll want to select a trusted load cell brand that’s been rigorously tested and proven to have high manufacturing standards. If the load cell could be exposed to water you’ll want one rated for common environmental protections like IP67 or NEMA6.

2. What are you needing to measure?

Next, what is the specific goal you’re trying to accomplish with a load cell? Tug testing? Structural weighing? Laying cable, or maybe something else? “Load cell” is a broad term that encompasses many different electronic measurement tools including tensiometers, dynamometers, load shackles, and even common crane scales. Of course, you’ll want to get a load cell that’s designed to safely measure whatever it is you’re working with. Still, keep in mind that there is some crossover in what these load cell types can do. Below is a list of common load cell types found in the rigging and lifting industry, plus their common application.

Compression Load Cells – structural weighing and the confirmation of mass or center of gravity


Tension Load Cells – measures tension levels, commonly used for overhead weighing and heavy lift applications


Crane Scales – weighs pretty much anything that can be fasted to its hanging hook, crane optional


Shackle Load Cells – common in industrial crane applications, especially limited headroom or super heavy lift projects

Towcells – monitors tensile towing forces, engineered for emergency/rescue services, salvage, 4X4 events, and other vehicle load monitoring applications


Running Line Dynamometers – measures tension, line speed, and distance for wire rope, electrical cables, and synthetic rope


Clamp On Line Tensiometers – measuring guy wire and wire rope tension

wire rope tension load cell from straightpoint
The Straightpoint COLT clamp on line tensionmeter is a fast and accurate tool for measuring guy wire and wire rope tension up to 11,000 pounds with up to 1-inch diameters.

3. How do you want to transmit and check load cell readouts?

If you have a smartphone in your pocket, you know just how far wireless technology has come over the past few years. Load cells are no exception. In fact, many modern load cells such as industry-leading Straightpoint load monitoring load cells, are compatible with your cell phone or smart device via Bluetooth or by simply downloading a free load cell monitoring app. These advanced wireless load cells work from long distances for increased safety and can also sync with a larger computer or a special wireless handheld reader to remotely read and adjust load cell setups. Of course, wired load cell options still exist, but it’s important to understand there are many more options in the field these days that could bring you added benefits.

4. What weight capacity and dimension requirements do you have?

Finally, once you know the level of durability you need, the type of load cell that measures your workload, and whether you want wired or wireless transmission, you’re almost finished. The final step in how to select a load cell is to ensure you get one that can handle your application’s weight capacity and physical dimensions. Whether it’s in pounds, kilograms, tons, inches, or centimeters – check the spec sheets carefully to ensure the load capacity and physical dimensions of the load cell itself align with your application. You shouldn’t have any doubt in your mind that what you order can handle your load safely and effectively.

Summary

Whether you have old load monitoring load cells that need to be replaced or are investing in these intelligent tools for the first time, selecting the proper load cell is important. Professionals in many different industries rely on these tools to provide precise measurements that could otherwise mean costly mistakes. First, decide on the level of durability you want. Then, consider what you’re needing to measure and the way you’d like to transmit those measurements. Finally, narrow in on the load cell specs to find one that’s able to comfortably handle your application.

Still have questions? Give our rigging and lifting product experts a call at 800-404-7068.

Compression Type Load Cells: Wireless vs. Wired

How to choose the best compression load cell for your application

Compression type load cells (commonly referred to as canister load cells or load cell pancakes) are necessary tools for compression force testing, structural weighing, and the confirmation of mass and center of gravity.

Essentially, a compression load cell is a block that’s designed to sit under a load at a single point in order to measure compression. While tension load cells measure the pulling force, compression load cells are more low-profile load cells that measure pushing force along a single axis.

compression type load cells being used

Compression type load cells are used in many important industries including mining, energy, defense, heavy rigging, shipping, and general transportation sectors.

However, with the advancement of wireless load cell technology, professional operators now have more compression load cell choices than ever before. Should you go with the old-school wired option or upgrade to a more modern wireless model? Read on to learn the advantages of each compression type load cell, plus our expert recommendation.

Wireless Compression Load Cells

Wireless compression load cells use an internal antenna to electronically transmit load cell readings and alerts to a wireless handheld readout device, computer, or smartphone.

Advantages

Where do we begin? By eliminating the need for external cables, wireless compression load cells offer a number of major advantages. First, you’re able to be more mobile on the job site and aren’t limited to a fixed location. As long as you’re within signal range, you can be anywhere you need to be. Next, you don’t have to deal with the complexity of setting up cables and running them around obstructions. This saves time and allows the load cells to be used in more diverse applications. In some cases, there is a moving part or other obstruction that makes wired cables nearly impossible. Wireless load cells also eliminate the cost and hassle of replacing cables once they wear out, making them much more cost-effective in the long run.

Plus, because wireless compression load cells are able to receive load cell data transmissions via computer and smartphone apps, it’s easier to translate the data and further process it. Wireless load cell software even allows operators to observe multiple load cells in parallel from a single workstation. Last but not least, wireless compression load cells are just plain safer than wired load cells. Depending on the brand of load cell you get, you can monitor transmissions from several thousand feet away. When the object in question is several tons, every foot of distance matters.

Straightpoint LoadSafe
wireless compress load cell from straightpoint
  • Best heavy-duty wireless compression load cell
  • 3,280-foot max wireless range
  • 5 ton to 1,000-ton capacities available
  • IP67 environmental protection
  • 1,200 hours of continuous battery life
  • +/- 0.1% accuracy
  • Bluetooth output option available
Straightpoint Loadblock Plus
low profile load cell from straightpoint
  • Best lighter-duty wireless compression load cell
  • 1-inch built-in digital display
  • 550 pound to 5-ton capacities available
  • IP65 environmental protection
  • 80 hours of continuous battery life
  • +/- 0.1% accuracy
  • Option to add cabled output

Wired Compression Load Cells

Wired compression load cells use a heavy-duty cable to connect and transmit readout data from the load cell to a compatible handheld load cell reader or computer.

Advantages

In some applications, such as subsea use, cabled load cells are necessary for accurate readings. Or, some operators might simply prefer the old-school cabled load cell setup as that is how they initially learned to set up compression load cells. Also, some may be concerned about the possibility of experiencing technical difficulties or radio interference with wireless load cells. Although this is mostly unfounded due to the advancement of wireless technology, load cells with physical analog outputs could be seen as more reliable to some.

Straightpoint Wired Compression Load Cell
cabled compression load cell
  • Best cabled compression load cell
  • Equipped with a 30-foot output cable
  • 5 ton to 1,000-ton capacities available
  • IP67 environmental protection
  • +/- 0.1% Accuracy

Best Compression Load Cell Brand

When purchasing new compression type load cells, you have many options. When you want a brand that’s extensively tested and trusted, we always recommend Straightpoint brand load cells. They’re a more durable and advanced load cell than anything else on the market, and they’re priced very reasonably. Plus, Straightpoint is now a Crosby company, so you know they’re a product you can trust to perform for years and years.

straightpoint compression load cells review

Conclusion

When deciding between wireless and wired compression load cells, it’s important to understand the advantages of each. Today, advances in technology have made wireless compression load cells a very efficient, flexible, and reliable choice for nearly any application where you need to measure compression or confirm the center of gravity. While some see cabled compression load cells as more reliable and simple to use, wireless load cells are increasingly becoming the better option.

At the end of the day, safety is what these important tools are all about. Given how safe, and simple, and cost-effective these modern wireless compression type load cells are, we regularly recommend them for most compression measuring applications.

Have questions? Contact our compression type load cell experts by calling 800-404-7068 or email us at customerservice@uscargocontrol.com.