Types of Load Cells

To wrap up the discussion we’ve been having over the past several weeks, we’d like to discuss the different types of strain gauge load cells available and how to know which style is right for your application.


S-Beam Load Cells: These are used for tension applications, often when hanging or suspending a weighing system. They are so named because of their shape and are also sometimes called Z-Beam load cells. With high precision, low cost and easy installation, s-beam load cells are among the most popular, but they are designed solely for in-line applications and are very sensitive to off-center and extraneous loads. The LFS 210 is Cooper Instruments’ best-selling s-beam load cell.


Beam Load Cells: These load cells get their name from their shape, which is rectangular. Some typical applications include tank, hopper or silo weighing. Cooper Instruments’ most popular beam load cell offering is the shear beam LQB 610. Beam load cells are divided into several sub-categories.

Shear Beam: Shear beam load cells have an actual “shear” machined inside to protect the cell from side loading forces. ‘Single-ended’ shear beams are used for medium capacity weighing while ‘double-ended’ shear beams are used for higher capacities.

Bending Beam: Often used in bench scales, bending beams must be installed with care to avoid side-loading.


Canister Load Cells: These (shockingly) canister-shaped units were the first strain gauge load cells designed. Today they are typically used for high (100,000 lb+) capacity compression applications. See our LRCN 710 for an example of a canister load cell.


Pancake Load Cells: Also called Low Profile load cells, pancake load cells (like theLGP 310) offer high precision with less sensitivity to load condition. Sometimes they are designed with multiple shear struts and sometimes with bending beams. They typically have a female thread through the center and a ring of outer holes for mounting, so they can be used in either compression or tension (by using the outside mounting holes).


(Load) Button Load Cells: These are round load cells with a small, raised ‘button’ in the center, like our LKCP 410. They are comparatively small in size making them ideal for use in limited space and are used for compression applications. Common uses are in the medical and automation fields where space is often an issue and the load cell must be small in size.


Thru-Hole (Donut) Load Cells: Shaped like donuts, thru-hole load cells are used for bolt force measurement, clamping force, post or leg mount and many more applications. They offer high accuracy and high stiffness for applications requiring compression, off-center or press loading. Cooper Instruments’ LKCP 48X series are donut load cells.


As always, if you have any questions related to this material, our support staff at Cooper Instruments is available to help. Contact them by calling (800) 344-3921 or emailing


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