How to Calibrate a Digital Weight Scale Without Weights

A person standing on a digital bathroom scale.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Owner's manual
Substitute weights
What You'll Need
Owner's manual
Substitute weights

A digital weight scale performs best when calibrated regularly. New scales have default weight settings; however, these are not a guarantee for calculating weight accurately. As digital scales are touted for their ease of use and dependability, the calibration must be correct or the accuracy of the scale will be affected. Some digital scales will calibrate automatically when activated without any weight on them, but if you're still unsure about the accuracy you can try a different calibration method.

Digital scales come in a variety of sizes and weight capacities. Some models also have printers for a written record of the weight measured while others can record the measurements electronically through your computer. This reporting exists to give a written record of the weights measured over a time period. For dieters, this is beneficial to track their weight loss effort.

Step 1 – Determine the Weight Capacity

Digital scales have a standardized weight capacity which is dependent on the size and durability of the scale. This weight specification is the highest weight that can be measured by the scale. It will be listed in the scale’s owner’s manual, listed directly on a tag on the scale, or on the manufacturer’s website.

Step 2 – Find Substitute Weights

Locate household items to use as substitute weights that have known weights. Make sure to look for items that can be guaranteed to have a consistent, determined weight. The weight of your item must match the maximum weight capacity of your scale to calibrate it properly.

Step 3 – Activate the Scale

Set the scale on a flat, level surface. Activate the scale and wait a few moments for the scale to stabilize the readings. Make sure that the weighing surface is empty during stabilization. Choose the calibration button or mode setting on the scale.

Step 4 – Place the Substitute Weight

Place your substitute weight on the scale’s weighing surface in the center. Wait while the scale calculates the total weight.

Step 5 – Calibrate the Scale

To calibrate the scale, choose the calibration button or mode setting. This will trigger the scale to register that the weight of the substitute weight is its maximum capacity and make adjustments accordingly. This process is complete when the display shows all zeros or “End” is listed on the display.

Step 6 – Double-check the Calibration

To check if the calibration process worked properly, start with removing your substitute weight from the scale’s weighing surface. Turn the scale off and wait about 60 seconds. Turn it back on and choose another item with a known weight. Place the item on the weighing surface and wait for the reading. If the scale reads correctly, the calibration was a success. Try the calibration one more time if the reading is incorrect. However, if the weight on your digital read-out is still wrong, your scale likely has faulty or damaged parts in need of replacement.