Several factors go into the accuracy and consistent performance of a load cell. These factors include non-linearity, hysteresis, repeatability, creep, temperature, environmental effects, and zero balance.
Every Interface load cell’s design and specifications account for all these factors. Understanding each of these factors is important, especially considering the use case.
Specifications are detailed descriptions that outline the characteristics, features, and qualities of our products, systems, or services. Product specifications detailing performance, capabilities, capacities, and dimensions are included on all datasheets. Products have internal specifications tested during manufacture, typically with full traceability.
Zero balance is considered an electrical load cell specification value. It is essential to consider when selecting the type of load cell for any application.
Load cell zero balance is the signal of the load cell in the no-load condition. It is defined as the output signal of the load cell with rated excitation and no load applied. It refers to the amount of deviation in output between true zero and an actual load cell with zero load. It is usually expressed in the percentage of rated output (%RO). Zero balance is a test that can be done to understand calibration on a load cell.
Load cells constantly reset to zero after every measurement to maintain accuracy. If it does not, then the results will prove to be inaccurate. The zero balance must be within the error margin indicated on the calibration certificate. Interface sensors are typically +/-1.0%.
This is important to test because zero balance will tell you if a load cell is in working order or has been damaged or overloaded. A computed zero balance of 10-20% indicates probable overload. If the load cell has been overloaded, mechanical damage has been done that is not repairable because overloading results in permanent deformation within the flexural element and gages, destroying the carefully balanced processing that results in performance to Interface specifications.
While it is possible to electrically re-zero a load cell following overload, it is not recommended because this does nothing to restore the affected performance parameters or the degradation of structural integrity. If the degree of overload is not severe, the cell may sometimes be used at the user’s discretion. However, some performance parameters may violate specifications, and the cyclic life of the load cell may be reduced.
To perform a zero balance test, The load cell should be connected to a stable power supply, preferably a load cell indicator with an excitation voltage of at least 10 volts. Disconnect any other load cell for multiple load cell systems. Measure the voltage across the load cell’s output leads with a millivoltmeter and divide this value by the input or excitation voltage to obtain the zero balance in mV/V. Compare the zero balance to the original load cell calibration certificate or the datasheet. Every Interface product has a detailed datasheet available on the product page of the sensor.
ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL DEFINITIONS
Zero float is the shift in zero balance resulting from a complete cycle of equal tension and compression loads. It is normally expressed in the units of %FS and characterized at FS = Capacity.
Zero stability is the degree to which zero balance is maintained over a specified period with all environmental conditions, loading history, and other variables remaining constant.
Learn more about the specification values that define load cell accuracy in this short clip from our Demystifying Specifications Webinar.
Get your free copy of the Interface Load Cell Field Guide to learn more about factors affecting load cell accuracy. If you are concerned about the zero balance of your Interface load cell due to inaccurate results or recent damage, please get in touch with us at 480-948-5555.
ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL RESOURCES