A bathroom scale is a small mechanical device used primarily to measure a person’s weight. Today, in addition to standard scales, we also have ‘smart scales’ that measure a range of other body metrics from BMI to bone density and more.
Like the thermometer, the bathroom scale provides basic health information. Though unlike the thermometer, people tend to have a love/hate relationship with their bathroom scale. They love it when it confirms weight loss. They hate it when it tells them they’ve gained weight.
With all the changes that have occurred to the humble bathroom scale in the past few years we thought now was a good time to assess the state-of-the-art. So here they are, the 10 best bathroom scales for 2020.
1. Withings Body+ Wi-Fi Digital Scale
Those intent on knowing as much as technologically possible about the state of their physiology will find the Withings Body+ Wi-Fi Digital Scale right up their alley. It tracks a dizzying number of metrics, including pregnancy-related metrics. And it syncs effectively with Alexa for hands-off use.
What we like: We appreciate how consistently accurate the scale is. We like the broad compatibility with peripherals like Apple Watch, Fitbit and Alexa. And we also like that you get to track your progress through the continuously updated Health Mate app.
The most important of those things is obviously the consistent weight readings. Because all the bells and whistles on earth won’t do you much good if you can’t get an accurate read on your current weight.
Flaws: Maybe too many bells and whistles. But that’s a matter of personal preference. Also, getting some of those peripherals to sync can be a challenge.
2. BalanceFrom Digital Bathroom Scale
The BalanceFrom Bathroom Scale is a no-nonsense digital scale that’s handsome and thin and provides reliable weight readings within 2 ounces. It calibrates itself, turns off automatically to save your batteries and features a nice big digital display you can read standing up.
What we like: The large LCD display is really easy to read even from a full standing position. The scale as a whole is very attractive. A lot of thought obviously went into the look and feel. More importantly it’s very accurate.
The platform is large and easy on the feet and the scale can accommodate anyone up to 400 pounds. We also appreciate that batteries are included and that it doesn’t burn through them.
Flaws: Needs to be used on a hard, inflexible surface. So don’t set it on the shag carpet and expect accurate results. Also, no other body metrics are provided.
3. Thinner Scales Precision Analog Bathroom Scale
If your tastes run to the retro you’ll likely take a shine to this analog scale from Thinner Scales. There are no batteries to change and no cold glass surface to stand on when the bathroom is cold. If your home features vintage decor this will fit right in.
What we like: The scale has a good sized platform to stand on. The rotating dial is also larger than most so you can read it pretty easy even standing straight up. And it has a nice retro feel to it, though none of the tin can qualities of old scales.
Finally, the rubberized material on the platform is a welcome sight for older folks who have legitimate fears of standing on a water-slickened glass top scale. And it’s easy to calibrate.
Flaws: The max weight of 330 pounds is not as much as we like to see. Although it will accommodate most.
4. Greater Goods Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale
The Greater Goods Digital Scale gets its name from the fact that a portion of the proceeds are donated to charities fighting child trafficking. That’s good. What makes it even better is that it provides fast accurate readings and comes with robust customer support. So it’s a win-win.
What we like: If you’re a fan of clean minimalist design you’re going to love this scale. The LCD readout is large enough to see without leaning down. The scale also has a substantial feel to it. And the 4 sensors in the platform automatically recalibrate themselves periodically.
The Greater Goods scale will accommodate up to 400 pounds and has an extra wide platform. That platform looks pretty slippery but actually does a good job holding your feet in place.
Flaws: Has a tendency to burn through batteries pretty quick. And there are no bells and whistles. Strictly a weight-only device.
5. Taylor Digital Glass Cal-Max Scale
This is a handsome, well-built, if simple device that provides your current weight and advice on caloric input. The ‘cal’ number is supposed to represent the amount of calories you need to eat today to maintain your current weight. So, if you want to lose weight you eat less. Want to gain weight? Eat more than the recommended calories.
What we like: We love the way this scale looks and the way it feels when you stand on it. We also like that it produces consistently accurate readings. The big clear display is also a plus, considering how hard some scales are to read.
With a 440 lb maximum capacity this is also a scale that’s living in the 21st century where many of us are not as svelte as our grandparents were.
Flaws: The battery cover is screwed down, which may be the first time we’ve ever seen that.
6. Etekcity Precision Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale
If you forget to bring your glasses into the bathroom don’t worry. The more than ample size readout of the Etekcity Precision Scale has you covered. If you’re a larger individual they’ve got you covered there too with a 440 pound max capacity and an oversized platform.
What we like: We appreciate the big, wide platform and give a big thumbs up to the safe, gently rounded corners. The LCD readout is one of the largest and clearest you’ll find. It has a maximum capacity of 440 pounds and it regularly calibrates itself.
There are 4 equally spaced sensors under the platform that provide an accurate reading. It’s slender enough to hide away under just about anything and batteries are included.
Flaws: There’s no interactivity with fitness apps. Some people will find that a drawback. But it does provide easy-to-read, accurate weight measurements.
7. NewlineNY Step-On Travel Scale
If you travel a lot you know well the temptations of exotic cuisines. Not to worry. The NewlineNY Step-On Travel Scale has your back. Pop this puppy in your carry on and you can make sure you hold the caloric line wherever you go.
What we like: We like that it only weighs 1.25 pounds. Which makes it a true travel scale. We like that it has a 400 lb capacity, so it’s not just for the ultra-thin. And we appreciate that it’s fairly easy to read even when standing straight up.
It’s also handsome and sleek and small enough to fit in your carry on. And it costs about the same as one of those large pizzas that have you so concerned about your weight.
Flaws: After being banged around in your bag, you may need to hop on and off a couple of times to get an accurate reading.
8. eufy Smart Scale with Bluetooth
The eufy Smart Scale is another design winner that provides a ton of data on everything from bone mass to body fat and, of course, weight. It syncs easily with any Bluetooth enabled late model smartphone. And it’s remarkably affordable for such a feature-rich device.
What we like: There’s a lot of data coming from this scale. But if you’re a hardcore nutrition geek you’re going to love it. You have the ability to input up to 20 separate accounts. So everyone in the family can get information relevant to their particular situation.
The readout is big and clear. Of course, you can also view it on your smartphone. The Bluetooth pairing is fast and reliable and the scale is compatible with most smartphones produced in the past 3-4 years.
Flaws: Don’t look for anything more than your weight on the scale itself. If you want to drill down further you’ll need to sync the app where everything is displayed.
9. Yunmai Premium Smart Scale
The Yunmai Premium Smart Scale costs a bit more than some others but provides broad compatibility for that money. It syncs up with an array of health-related device, provides data on 10 different body metrics and has a 30 day money back guarantee.
What we like: We really like the way this scale looks. Very much a 21st century device. You’re also able to sync it with other devices including your Fitbit. It provides data on a lot of different body metrics and you can set it up for as many as 16 people.
Of course if you just want a quick snapshot of your weight it will deliver that, (along with an estimated body fat content), any time you hop on.
Flaws: For some reason the manufacturer has included some pretty tacky ‘motivational’ phrases that appear on the app screen. Some will find these a turn off.
10. Ozeri Rev 400 pounds (180 kg) Bathroom Scale
The last of our best bathroom scales is this one from Ozeri. It’s a simple, attractive, retro-style analog scale that’s as comfortable to stand on as it is reliable and accurate. Accommodates up to 400 pounds and comes with 3 AAA batteries to power that LCD display.
What we like: We love the vaguely steampunk way the design reaches both backward and forward in time. The dual readout will mollify those who complain analog scales are hard to read. While at the same time satisfying those who want a retro look to fit in with their old school bathroom decor.
There’s an integrated ‘alarm’ that warns you if you’re not weighing yourself at the same time every day. And finally, the 50 gram sensor technology is highly accurate.
Flaws: For some folks the platform may be a bit narrow. Some have also complained about inconsistent readings. But that wasn’t our experience.
Who Needs a Bathroom Scale?
Anyone interested in keeping track of their overall health needs a bathroom scale. Even if the only thing you track is your weight that is still crucial information. It can help you see where your lifestyle choices are either paying off or coming back to haunt you. In the end, however, the most important thing is not the information itself, but what you do with it.
How We Ranked
There was a time when assessing the relative value of different bathroom scales was a simple, straightforward process. They all pretty much did the same thing (display your weight) and the only considerations were accuracy, build quality and aesthetics. Today, though, there are any number of things to weigh (so to speak) when selecting a bathroom scale.
Of course, we test for accuracy. But, since bathroom scales are not used to weigh diamonds, there’s some wiggle room as far as that accuracy goes. 2 ounces, give or take, is considered an acceptable margin of error for a bathroom scale. What we want to see just as much as pinpoint accuracy, however, is consistency. If you stand on the scale 10 times over the course of 10 minutes and get 10 different readings, that’s a problem.
With analog scales we prefer ones that are accurate and don’t need to be recalibrated every time you step on them. We also want them to look better than their clanky predecessors. And we want them to be affordable. After all, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. Digital scales that just return weight should have a sleek contemporary look, exhibit consistent accuracy and not burn through batteries.
Smart scales, on the other, hand are defined by their features. So scales claiming to be smart but with extremely limited feature sets did not make our list. That said, if a bathroom scale claims it measures a slew of body metrics we want to see proof. And we want the data to be easily accessible and presented in a clear, concise manner. Smart scales should also look great, be durable and not burn through batteries.
Finally, we live in an age when most people are carrying more weight around than their parents or grandparents. Right, wrong or indifferent that’s just the way it is (1). So we want to see scales that reflect that reality and will easily accommodate larger individuals. The job of the scale, after all, is to provide information, not make value judgements. So if a scale had a 1980 upper weight limit it didn’t make our list.
Bathroom scales are a convenient way to track your weight. Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply like to keep tabs on your overall health having a bathroom scale can provide valuable information. These days this type of scale is typically far more accurate than its predecessors of just 20 or 30 years ago. So, not only are they convenient, they’re reliable too. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that can influence body weight (2). And that is true whether you are weighing yourself at home or the doctor is weighing you.
Bathroom scales let you keep your business, your business. Having a scale in the bathroom means you can track your weight and anything else you need to track without anyone looking over your shoulder. Weight is, after all, one of the most sensitive issues affecting people (3). Most have no interest in sharing their weight with the world. Unless of course their weight loss efforts are bearing fruit. The bathroom scale enables you to keep tabs on your weight and to keep that information to yourself.
Bathroom scales can provide weight loss motivation. That motivation might be positive or it might be negative. Negative you say? Sure. Just as negative motivation can be effectively leveraged in the workplace (4) it can also be effectively leveraged to drive weight loss efforts. If a person weighs more every time they stand on the scale it can motivate them to do something about it. Of course, if they are already on a diet and see their weight loss efforts are being successful, that can provide positive motivation to continue.
Bathroom scales can measure more than just weight these days. They can also measure a slew of related metrics including body fat content, muscle mass, Body Mass Index (BMI), bone mass, water retention and much more. Some will even provide you with a local weather forecast and/or the temperature in your bathroom. Of course the ultimate value of all this information is a matter of some considerable debate. Since simply eating a balanced diet and exercising will likely provide the average person the health benefits they’re after, regardless of sex or age (5).
Bathroom scales today are extremely stylish. That certainly wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t that long ago when the basic bathroom scale was a noisy tin can that banged and clanged when you pull it out from under the bathroom sink. It was available in dirty white or dirt-attracting white and never really fit in with any decor. Today’s bathroom scales (even the analog ones) are marvels of leading edge design. Some of the more advanced digital scales are almost worth having in the bathroom just for how cool they look. Even if you never use them.
Bathroom scales can give you a better idea of your overall health. This is particularly true when it comes to smart scales, as they often provide a wealth of information. And while some of it may be of questionable value knowing your BMI (6), for instance, can actually provide a useful window into your overall health. This in turn can help you make better dietary and other lifestyle choices.
Bathroom scales can help you track your kids’ overall health. This is vitally important because childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the developed world (7). There are a lot of reasons for this. The high carb western diet certainly plays a big part. But another contributing factor is all the time kids spend these days playing video games or staring into their smartphone screen instead of playing in the yard or the park. A bathroom scale can help you track important health metrics in your children so that you can take appropriate measures to stave off long-term health problems.
Bathroom scales last a long time with virtually no maintenance. The hidden cost of a home or a car is maintenance. The same can be said for garage doors, pets, lawns and scores of other things. One thing that does not require much, if any, maintenance is your bathroom scale. Aside from having to take a few seconds to adjust the calibration now and then the scale should provide many years of faithful service without ever needing a maintenance check.
Bathroom scales are a constant reminder to take care of yourself. Even if you don’t get on it very often just seeing the bathroom scale sitting there next to the vanity can provide motivation. And this can be just as useful as actually seeing the numbers displayed on the scale. In a very real sense, having the scale sitting there quietly is like subliminal advertising (8) urging us to take action.
Q: What is a smart scale?
A: A smart scale is like most of today’s other ‘smart’ devices (9). It contains a tiny computer chip that processes information and sends it to a synced device. Most often a smartphone. Smart scales enable you to track a plethora of body metrics including weight, BMI, the percentage of water in your body, visceral fat and more.
The scale derives this information from a small electric current that is introduced into the bottom of the foot. How this current interacts with your tissue is then interpreted by algorithms in the chip and the information is sent either by wi-fi or Bluetooth to your phone for display. Some smart scales only work with a proprietary app. Others however, are compatible with a variety of different apps like Fitbit.
Q: Are all digital scales compatible with smartphone apps?
A: This is a common misconception. The fact that a bathroom scale has a digital display and is battery powered doesn’t by itself mean that it is a ‘smart’ device. Remember, there were digital watches for 40+ years before the first smartwatch appeared.
So, if it doesn’t say ‘smart’ in the name or description then chances are the scale is not compatible with smartphone apps. Nor can it be synced to other devices like an Apple watch. If you want access to a broader range of health information you need to buy a scale that says it’s a ‘smart scale’ and details exactly what body metrics (10) it will allow you to track.
Q: Can I measure more than just my weight?
A: Again, how many different body metrics you can measure will depend on whether you have a smart scale or not. A standard analog or digital scale will provide your weight and that’s it. It may offer it in both kgs and pounds but that’s about all. If you want to keep track of your BMI, visceral fat (11), muscle mass and more you’ll need a smart scale. But be aware that not all smart scales measure the same metrics. So read the fine print carefully.
Q: What is an ‘impedance’ scale?
A: In the simplest terms impedance (12) is the way some scales measure body composition. Or at least claim to measure body composition. Technically, impedance is referred to as Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis and it uses an electrical current that’s sent through the foot when you step on the scale to glean its measurements.
The presence of an electric current raises red flags with some health professionals who believe these scales should not be used by pregnant women. Simply out of an abundance of caution. Other researchers, however, believe them to be perfectly safe, as long as the woman is not experiencing any complications with her pregnancy. And indeed several studies involving pregnant women have been conducted on impedance devices with no apparent adverse effects (13).
Q: Which type of smart scale is better; wi-fi or Bluetooth?
A: As a general rule wi-fi bathroom scales are going to cost a bit more than Bluetooth enabled scales. That’s because they need more robust technological support mechanisms to work. Bluetooth is, by comparison, a simpler technology. Which is one reason it has endured even in the age of widespread wi-fi adaptation.
But Bluetooth is not without its drawbacks. Perhaps the most glaring one is the limited range. Bluetooth is also less reliable as far as syncing goes. And that’s true even if the Bluetooth device is right next to you. So, pay more for wi-fi and enjoy better range and more predictable performance. Or pay less for Bluetooth and accept limited range and occasional syncing problems. It’s up to you.
Q: How accurate is a bathroom scale?
A: You don’t buy a bathroom scale to provide inaccurate readings. And with competition so fierce these days manufacturers know they can’t get away with the kind of ‘ballpark’ readings older scales were famous for. As such most of the best bathroom scales, including those on our list, have a well-deserved reputation for being very accurate time after time.
Where things begin to get a bit hinky is when you are talking about some of the more complex and difficult to define metrics like bone mass (14). While the technology to detect such obscure metrics has greatly improved in recent years you are still likely to get no better than an approximate figure for this and other metrics.
Q: How does a digital scale work?
A: Whether you have a digital or analog scale they both use mechanical components to measure weight. What’s different is the type of mechanism used and how the information is displayed. Most digital scales today use a lever that brings pressure to bear on a calibrated steel beam.
The degree to which the beam flexes indicates the weight being applied. This is picked up by a strain gauge which then relays the information to the display. While both digital and analog scales these days tend to be very accurate, some prefer the digital simply because it typically doesn’t need to be calibrated as often.
Q: How does a traditional analog scale work?
A: As we mentioned both digital and analog scales use mechanical components to determine weight. In the case of the analog scale levers embedded in the platform focus weight on a spring that has been carefully calibrated. As the spring stretches the pointer in the dial rotates a corresponding amount until it comes to rest on the appropriate weight. Either that or the plate with the different weights printed on it rotates and the indicator line remains static in the middle of the view window.
Q: Which type of scale is more accurate?
A: As we mentioned, both digital and analog scales tend to be very accurate these days. Where digital scales gain some separation is in long term accuracy. For the most part they’ll stay accurate for longer than analog scales. Some also offer automatic calibration, which can be a very handy feature indeed.
At the same time it should be said that calibrating a scale (15) is not exactly rocket science. It can usually be done in about a minute by just following the instructions that came with the scale. At the end of the day though, you need to ask yourself just how important is it if the scale is off by an ounce or two? No one’s health will be hanging in the balance if the scale reports they weigh 154 pounds 2 ounces, when they really weigh 154 pounds 4 ounces.
Q: Can temperature affect accuracy of a digital scale?
A: This is a myth that started circulating some years ago and despite everyone’s best efforts to eradicate it the myth persists. The temperature in the average home never varies more than a relative few degrees all year round.
But even if you have your bathroom window open every day of the year the temperature differential would not be enough to affect the behavior of the scale. (Although it will send your energy bills through the roof, so don’t leave your window open all year round.)
Q: Is there anything else that can affect the accuracy of the scale?A: While modest variations in temperature aren’t going to affect your scale how often you move it and the surface you place it on can and will. Moving your scale can affect the calibration. So if you pick it up, put it under your arm and walk it from the bedroom to the bathroom, you’ll probably need to calibrate it once you set it down.
Likewise, if you set your scale down on a thick rug or an uneven surface it could cause the platform to warp a bit once the weight is applied. This could produce an inaccurate reading. Just to be safe the scale should always be set down on a flat, hard surface to produce best results.
The humble bathroom scale has come a long way in the past couple of decades. From the rattling, strictly-analog tin can of yesteryear to the high-tech member of the internet of things that many are today that measure everything from weight to bone density to BMI and more.
Whether you need all that information is a decision only you can make. But the great thing is that you have almost unlimited variety of scales to choose from today. You can still get direct descendants of those rattling tin boxes (although better made). Or, you can pick a digital scale that will provide only weight. Or, you can pick a smart scale that will provide the aforementioned body metrics. Many of today’s best scales have the added advantage of looking like works of art.
Any of the best bathroom scales on our list should serve you well for years to come. So take your time and choose the one that provides exactly what you want.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended bathroom scale, click here.