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How to Read a Load Cell Datasheet

Knowledge Base Directory, Load Cells Tips and Tricks

Preface

Every load cell on the market comes with a manufacturers’ spec sheet. Load cell specifications generally cover three things: (1) what output voltage can you expect for a given load, (2) how much error can you expect for a given output and (3) how to safely operate the load cell. Some of the most common load cell manufacturer’s specifications are explained below.

SpecificationUnitsInterpretationNotes
Breaking Overload%The amount of load, over the rated capacity, the load cell can withstand before it achieves structural failure.Expressed as a percentage of rated capacity.
Combined Error%The maximum output voltage deviation from linearity of any load between zero and rated capacity due to hysteresis and non-linearityExpressed as a percentage of rated capacity.
Compensated Temp Range°C to °C
°F to °F
The temperature range over which the load cell is compensated to maintain rated capacity and zero balance within specification limits. 
Creep in 30 minutes± %The maximum deviation of output voltage when measuring rated capacity twice under identical environmental conditions 30 minutes apart.Expressed as a percentage of rated capacity.
Full Scale OutputmV/VThe output voltage the load cell produces at rated capacity per excitation volt at the input terminals.The output voltage at rated capacity is calculated by multiplying the full scale output by the excitation voltage.
Hysteresis Error± %The maximum deviation of output voltage of a load measurement taken twice: once while increasing the load from zero to rated load and once while returning the load back to zero.Measurements are taken as close in time as possible.
Input ResistanceΩThe resistance of the excitation circuit.Measured under no load conditions and an open circuit at the output.
Insulation ResistanceMinimum resistance between the body of the load cell and any electrical wires connected to it.The larger the insultation resistance the better.
IP RatingIP68An indication of how resistant an electrical device is to fresh water and common raw materials like dirt, dust and sand.IP68 devices are protected from  immersion in water at a depth of more than 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.
Non-linearity± %The maximum output voltage deviation from linearity of any load between zero and rated capacity.Linearity is determined by a straight line between zero balance output and full scale output.
Output ResistanceΩThe resistance of the output voltage circuit.Measured under no load conditions and an open circuit at the input.
Rated CapacitytMaximum load the cell can bear and still operate within spec.Measured in tons.
Recommended ExcitationVRecommended DC input voltage to the excitation circuit.Frequently given as a recommended value and a max value.
Repeatability± %The maximum output voltage deviation of a given load for repeated readings.Measured under identical loading and environmental conditions.
Safe Overload%The amount of load over the rated capacity the load cell can withstand before it experiences a shift in performance beyond its specifications.Expressed as a percentage of rated capacity.
Sensitivitymv/VThe ratio of the change in output voltage to a change in load.Indicates the smallest amount of force detectable by the load cell. The higher this voltage change, the greater the load cell’s resolution will be.
Service Temperature Range°C to °C
°F to °F
Temperature range over which the load cell, while in use, will meet the specs in the data sheet. 
Storage Temperature Range°C to °C
°F to °F
Ambient temperature range allowable while the load cell is in storage, such that it will not experience a shift in performance beyond its specifications when it resumes service. 
Temperature Effect on
Sensitivity
±% of Cn/kThe change in sensitivity due to a change in ambient temperatureExpressed as a percentage change in sensitivity per degree Kelvin.
Temperature Effect on Zero
Balance
± % of Cn/kThe change in zero balance due to a change in ambient temperature.Expressed as a percentage change of zero balance per degree Kelvin.
Zero BalancemV/VThe output voltage the load cell produces per volt of excitation at no load.The output voltage at zero balance is calculated by multiplying the zero balance by the excitation voltage.