Last updated: August 19, 2021

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If you've ever wondered how strong someone is, or how much something weighs that you can't place on a scale, we bring you a tool that will give you the answers, the dynamometer. This handy tool is used by professionals in many fields to obtain information about stress.

If you work in the medical field, a dynamometer will help you to find out the grip strength of your patients, so you can find out how fit they are. It can also give you information about the weight of things, and the pressure they exert or to which some objects are subjected, it is a useful and versatile tool.

As we want you to buy the best dynamometer on the market, we have made this buying guide by analysing the opinions of expert buyers. Here you will find out what features to look for in these products, what are the most important buying factors, as well as where you can buy them and at what prices.




Summary

  • A dynamometer is a measuring tool, which is designed to measure forces. They are used to measure the strength of patients' muscles, the pressures to which certain objects are subjected, as well as the pulling force. They can also be used to measure the weight of things.
  • There are many types and sub-types of dynamometers. There are mechanical and digital dynamometers, the former operate without any electronic components, and the latter do. These are subdivided into muscle-measuring dynamometers, drag and push dynamometers, compression dynamometers and hand-held dynamometers.
  • Always think about the intended uses of a dynamometer before you buy it, as they are all specialised to do certain tasks with ease. If you're going to use it for medical tests, look for models that allow you to measure the strength of patients' muscles, and if it's for engineering tests, a pull or compression one.

The Best Dynamometer: Our Picks

Finding good quality dynamometers can be difficult as they are incredibly specialised tools, sought after only by professionals and experts in certain hobbies. That's why here we present you with the most sought-after models on the market, making sure they can meet all your needs.

Buying Guide

If you don't know what dynamometers are and how you can use them, in this section you will find basic information about them. Here you will find out how you can get the most out of them, as well as the different types that exist. You will also learn where you can find professional models and how much they cost.

Push and pull dynamometers are commonly used in muscle rehabilitation centres to measure patients' progress. (Photo: kzenon / 123rf.com)

What is a dynamometer and what are its advantages?

A dynamometer is a tool that provides information about forces. It is powered by one or more internal springs, which move a mechanism as they expand or contract. Many of these models measure forces by means of a hook on which the objects to be studied are hung.

These tools can not only give you the weight of things, they can also give you information about the stresses exerted by people and objects under certain conditions. With them you can measure how much pressure a material can withstand before it fails, or how much force someone can exert by pulling with their arms or squeezing with their hands.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • No knowledge needed to use
  • Can measure weight and pressure
  • Provide stress information
  • Easy to calibrate
  • Compact
Disadvantages
  • Inferior to mass balances
  • Need constant calibration
  • Professional models are expensive

Mechanical and digital dynamometers - what should you pay attention to?

Although there are many sub-types of dynamometers in existence, it could be said that everything starts from two different technologies, mechanical and digital. Each has advantages and disadvantages, as well as different conveniences of use. Here we will explain each one, as the differences between them are very large.

Mechanical: These are the typical dynamometers that work without the aid of any electronic components. They can display the weights using clock-like dials where they display the results using hands, and also using a measuring scale, which goes up and down depending on the efforts it measures.

They are considered to be more accurate than digital dynamometers and are also cheaper, but both the information and the facilities offered are very limited. Mechanical dynamometers are ideal for very specific tasks or if you are on a tight budget.

Digital: This type of dynamometer uses electronic components to both perform the measurements and display the results. Many of them can be compatible with multiple accessories to increase their usefulness, such as measuring pressure in containers, traction or weight.

Convenience comes in the form of digital displays capable of showing results using different unit systems. They can also provide functions such as different types of graphs, hold information and even connect to other equipment through multiple outputs. Their only real disadvantage is that they use batteries.

Mechanical Digital
Use batteries No Yes
Versatility Usually designed for a single task Some use accessories to increase their usefulness
Mode of displaying data Clock dial, measuring scale Digital display
Considerations Inexpensive, accurate Versatile, expensive, more information offered
Common uses Measure weights, measure pressures Measure traction, compression, weights, muscle strength

Buying criteria: Factors that allow you to compare and rate different types of force gauges

Since dynamometers are very simple tools, there are not many factors that influence the purchase of a dynamometer, but you should not overlook them. Paying attention to a few features in dynamometers will be the difference between buying a valuable device, and one that won't work for you.

  • Specialty
  • Limits
  • Accuracy
  • Material
  • Accessories
  • Connection
  • Software

Specialty

There are different models of force gauges which are specialised to perform certain activities more efficiently and accurately. Being able to identify them will help you buy these tools more efficiently, without fear that you will end up choosing a model that won't do the job you need it to do.

Measuring grips: This type of dynamometers have a design that allows them to be gripped by one hand, resting their base on the palm and so that the fingers can exert pressure on the dynamometer. They are used for medical purposes, as they allow to evaluate the grip strength of patients.

Muscle testing: These are pull and push dynamometers, which have been modified to be able to receive and evaluate the force exerted on them. Like grip dynamometers, they are used in medicine to test the strength of patients' muscles. Some can be used for weighing.

Tensile force testers: These have a design that allows them to be hung, although some have additional slots for bolting to firm structures. The cheaper ones usually display measurements using a vertical scale, while higher-end models will use pointers or digital displays.

Compression gauge: These are dynamometers that incorporate a system for measuring the pressures exerted. Some digital models make use of accessory inputs, which would allow you to fit an external sensor if the measuring space is too small. There are models that measure compression and traction.

Limits

All force gauges are designed to withstand a certain amount of force, so think about how much weight you are going to put on it regularly before you buy it. Exceeding this limit may result in damage to the equipment, or the inability to make accurate measurements.

To find out the limits of a dynamometer, just look at the publication or on the product box, as this is such an important feature, manufacturers make sure to make it known. It is usually given in kilograms, pounds, tons or Newtons, and generally, the higher the limit, the more expensive the dynamometer.

Accuracy

Like all measuring tools, dynamometers are subject to small changes in measurement that can change the overall results. The changes resulting from these variations are often referred to as "margin of error", and are something to pay attention to when purchasing these tools.

To find out how accurate it is: Just look for the percentage of full-scale accuracy, often determined by a number followed by the abbreviations "%F.S", "%M.E" or "%F.E". The smaller the number, the more accurate your dynamometer will be. For example, a 0.05% F.S. dynamometer is twice as accurate as a 0.1% dynamometer.

Material

The material of a dynamometer will influence its weight, durability and price, so it is an important purchasing factor. Both mechanical and digital dynamometers can make use of both plastic and metal materials.

Metal: Most digital and mechanical dynamometers in the good range have housings of some aluminium alloy, this makes them resistant to corrosion, and gives them some protection against drops and accidents where heavy objects may fall on them.

Plastic: This lightweight material is usually found in mid- to low-end digital and mechanical dynamometers, although it is not uncommon in professional digital models. It is inexpensive and lightweight, although care should be taken to use it properly as it may break if accidentally pressed.

Accessories

Both mechanical and digital dynamometers are capable of receiving certain accessories that make some tasks easier. It should be noted that mechanical models are very limited in this respect, so do not expect them to be able to perform tasks beyond those for which they were designed.

Hooks and stand plugs: These are the most basic accessories. Most tensile and compression dynamometers incorporate coupling mechanisms for installing hooks, as well as inputs for installation on test stands. Such stands are essential for compression testing and laboratory use.

Peak force button: Allows only the maximum force obtained during evaluation to be displayed. On mechanical and digital force gauges it usually comes in the form of a side button, which will maintain the maximum weight even when the heavy object is removed.

External sensors: These are sensors that attach to a tensile or compression dynamometer by cable or wirelessly, which can be used with compatible digital dynamometers. These accessories are used for situations where it is dangerous or inconvenient to use the dynamometer to perform assessments.

External wireless connection: Some dynamometers have the ability to understand data from wireless sensors, but not to communicate with them. This accessory can be connected to the gauge via USB to receive data from other devices without the need for cables.

SD memory: This accessory will allow you to store data on your gauge, as well as install updates. It is not recommended that you use a memory card with a large amount of space, as it is unlikely that a dynamometer will make significant use of memory space.

Connection

Digital dynamometers have two methods of exchanging data with other devices, via cable and Bluetooth. These types of connections are found in most industrial and professional models, although there are also mid-range models that incorporate these technologies.

USB output: With a USB output you can connect your dynamometer to accessories that provide extra functions, and also to computers to save the data obtained. Simply connect the cable to your PC or laptop to save your precious data after making the necessary measurements.

Analogue: Analogue inputs such as RS-232 allow the dynamometer to connect to accessories, computers and statistical printers. It may not be as versatile as the USB connection, but it still provides an additional level of utility.

Bluetooth: This is a technology included in high-end digital dynamometers, which will allow you to connect your dynamometer to review and save data to your compatible Android or iOS smartphone. It's ideal if you like to keep an orderly record of your studies with your tools.

A dynamometer capable of connecting to computers will allow you to study assessments in more detail. (Photo: goodluz / 123rf.com)

Software

Software is another reason why it is preferable to buy a digital dynamometer over a mechanical one. It is what allows the device to process the information obtained, as well as offering the user certain conveniences to make evaluations and data interpretation tasks easier.

Change of units: A basic function of digital dynamometers is the ability to change the units used to display the data. Being able to display results in kilograms, tons, pounds, newtons, kilonewtons and others will increase versatility when interpreting the data obtained.

Graphs: Being able to review evaluations in graphs gives the user a way to visualise the studies performed. It can be used by physicians to evaluate the time it takes for a patient to reach or maintain maximum force, and by engineers to study the strength of materials as pressure increases.

Memory: A dynamometer with memory will be able to retain test results, which can be used to record them in a notebook or transferred to a compatible computer or smartphone.

Tare function: This will ensure that the dynamometer does not take into account the weight of receptacles, chains and hooks that may influence the results obtained. Although you can do this on mechanical dynamometers by calibrating them, you would need to recalibrate once you have finished testing, with the tare function on digital dynamometers you will avoid this.

Safety protocols: Some dynamometers incorporate alarms to warn users of certain situations, such as approaching their maximum weight limit or being close to being unloaded. These are useful features to extend the life of this expensive-to-replace equipment.

(Featured image photo: dolgachov / 123rf.com)

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