How To Use Wheelchair Scales


Wheelchair scales are invaluable and come into their own when traditional means of recording weight simply aren’t possible.

Long seen as key medical equipment, they’re commonplace in hospitals and care facilities throughout the world. In recent years a rise in portable wheelchair scales has also seen more people invest in them for private use.

Wherever they’re deployed it’s important to use wheelchair platform scales correctly. And while their operation may appear straightforward enough, it’s very easy to overlook certain checks and balances and capture inaccurate readings as a result. This blog will help you avoid those failings.


The first thing to remember when weighing someone in a wheelchair is to remove any excess weight hanging on the chair itself. What sounds like an obvious course of action remains a common oversight. It’s easier than you might think to forget about bags and coats hung over handles…

Similarly, if the individual in the wheelchair is set to be weighed regularly, it’s worth assessing their clothing. Heavier dress such as thick jumpers and bulky coats will be reflected in final readings. While this won’t compromise the weighing process itself, it may skew periodic readings and lead to inconsistencies. Unexplained variances may very well impact treatment or diet plans moving forward.

Another key consideration is the surface on which the wheelchair scale is placed. This should always be hard and flat. It’s been proven that soft ground like carpets can see the scale sink into the floor… at the expense of accuracy.

Those assisting in the weighing of patients that are wheelchair bound should also make a point of checking the chair is indeed the same as that seen on their previous encounter. There is no universal wheelchair weight. A change in equipment should be factored into any long-term regime or patient chart.

Weighing Process


That’s the preparatory checks dealt with, now onto the weighing itself.

The first thing to point out is though wheelchair patients can weigh themselves, it’s far easier for them to do so with some assistance – be that from a professional or a family member.

Whoever that person is, it’s important they are familiar with lifting bedbound patients in and out of the chair. Great care should be taken when doing this, particularly if the individual has limited or no mobility.

If they lack the strength to lift themselves into a sitting position, carers will have to place one hand under their legs and the other behind their back in order to raise them up. The awaiting armrest should also be within reach to simplify this task.

One of many advantages of wheelchair scales is that the vast majority are big enough to accommodate any weight. Indeed, all those available through Solent Scales have a minimum capacity of 300kg.

Anyone self-conscious about being weighed in the vicinity of others will be pleased to learn a growing number of models now have their indicators located at the back, out of sight of all but those who need to know. Control panels and readout points are also at a convenient height for those being weighed to manage this themselves.

Wide bases are designed as such to accept most modern wheelchairs. Accompanying beams can also be manoeuvred if additional space is required.

There are two methods for weighing someone using wheelchair scales.

The first involves placing an empty wheelchair onto the platform before selecting the TARE button. This will record the weight of the wheelchair alone and when you subsequently remove it, display a minus reading on the indicator.

When you return with the wheelchair occupied, only the patient’s weight will be shown.

To recap, that sequence is as follows:

  1. Place a vacant wheelchair onto the platform scales.
  2. Select TARE.
  3. Remove the wheelchair and ensure a minus reading is displayed on the indicator.
  4. Position wheelchair with sitting patient onto the scales.
  5. Record the weight shown which will be theirs (minus the weight of the chair).


An alternative approach is to remove the weight of the wheelchair yourself.

This process differs in that it means waiting for zero to be displayed on the indicator, then selecting the TARE button BEFORE entering the known weight of the chair using the keypad. It’s then a matter of selecting the HOLD key and waiting for the aforementioned minus reading to be shown. Only then are the chair and patient weighed.

This second process is certainly quicker and preferable if the weight of the wheelchair is already known. This can often be found on either the back of the chair or its associated packaging.

To recap, this sequence works as follows:

  1. Switch on wheelchair scale and wait for Zero to be displayed.
  2. Select the TARE button and enter the known weight of the wheelchair using a keypad.
  3. Selecting the HOLD button.
  4. Ensure a minus reading is shown.
  5. Position wheelchair with sitting patient onto the scales.

It’s also very easy to calculate BMI using wheelchair scales. Most come with a dedicated button and it’s simply a matter of entering the patient’s height to discover this.

There are a great many products available to weigh people in wheelchairs, among them hoist scales, medical beam scales and actual chair scales, which are in effect wheelchairs with scales built in.

That said wheelchair scales are generally considered the easiest way of doing so whilst causing minimal disruption. There is no requirement for the patient to move between chairs, nor experience any major discomfort.

Wheelchair platform scales have long been fixtures of doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and care homes for those very reasons. Between them the likes of Kern, Marsden and Shekel have developed reliable Class III approved apparatus that will only get better.

They have made what could be considered a difficult process incredibly simple.

View our Wheelchair Scales here.


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