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Analogue Vs Digital Gauges - Are you using the right type?

Analogue Vs Digital Gauges – Are you using the right type? 

Analogue gauges may have a long history of providing quick, reliable readings, but, as Hydrajaws Sales Manager, Neil Stone points out, “the popularity of digital gauges being used for recording pull test results is increasing”.


We compared both to find out why:

Analogue vs Digital Gauges: Pros and Cons

While analogue and digital gauges both fulfil the same functions, they use quite different technologies. There are several distinctive characteristics that make digital gauges stand out against the standard analogue mechanical gauge whose technology dates back to the mid-19th century.

Analogue Gauges

Sometimes referred to as dial gauges, analogue gauges have a needle that directly responds to changes by pointing to numbers on a scale corresponding to the force sensed by the measuring element. Movement of the needle translates to force applied, which is easily recorded on a pull tester via the maximum load indicator (sometimes referred to as the drag needle).

Pros: Analogue gauges are cheaper and easy to use, and because they are made of mechanical parts, they don’t require a power source.

Cons: Analogue gauges are purely mechanical - they are made of small gears and moving parts. Neil says, “they’re much more susceptible to damage from typical on-site conditions which can lead to inaccurate readings. They are also sensitive to extreme temperatures, corrosion, and vibration, which can cause damage beyond repair.”


Digital Gauges

Digital gauges use transducers to display force readings on a digital indicator. They provide accurate results with clear readability. Digital gauges perform reliably and provide consistent readings and are powered by a battery.

Pros: There are several key characteristics that give digital gauges an edge over their analogue counterparts.

  • Durability - Digital gauges can perform without failure in extreme temperatures and our issue 3 digital gauge is no exception with a very impressive ambient temperature operating range of -20° to 35°C. Designed to withstand abuse and cracking, they are made from aluminium with thick, crack-resistant plastic faces to protect them from shocks, drops, and flying debris. As a result, they are far more durable and resistant to accidental damage than analogue gauges. Our issue 3 digital gauge has achieved an Ingress Protection Code of IP54 meaning it can withstand dust ingress sufficient to prevent it from operating normally and it is fully protected against solid objects and splashing of water from any angle.


  • Calibration - A calibrated digital gauge stays calibrated much more reliably than an analogue gauge. Digital calibration is done using software, so it is much more precise.
  • Customisation Options - Digital gauges can be customised to suit your application – display units can be set on request in kN, lbf, Kips, psi, or bar. This is impossible with analogue gauges – a completely new gauge would need to be purchased.
  • Digitised Data Collection - A huge advantage of digital is data collection. Hydrajaws Digital gauges have built-in Bluetooth connectivity allowing results to be sent to Hydrajaws Bluetooth Digital System via a mobile device which is then stored securely in the cloud, for data storage and/or analysis. The reports, which can include photos and notes, can be sent directly to clients or managers and accessed remotely anywhere on a browser via a user’s company dashboard. Calibration reminders are also displayed via this system helping keep your gauge calibration up to date.


  • Readability - Digital gauges feature a clear readout on a large, easy-to-read display. Our digital gauge includes a ‘backlight’ facility for improved viewing in low light applications. Taking readings from an analogue gauge always requires interpretation of the location of the needle. In some applications, analogue is preferred because of the quick, at-a-glance nature of seeing the needle on the dial. But analogue gauges can be misread due to parallax error, where the dial appears to be in different positions based on the angle of the person interpreting the data.
  • Accuracy – Our issue 3 digital gauge has an improved accuracy class of +/- 1.5% full-scale deflection whereas the analogue gauge has an accuracy class of +/- 2%.


Power source - A digital gauge will always require a power source, so if your usage is infrequent then you’ll need to remove the battery to stop it from being drained. Batteries don’t last forever but thankfully a spare battery is supplied with our digital gauges as standard.

Price - No comparison analysis between analogue and digital gauges would be complete without considering the cost. Because digital gauges use microprocessors and sophisticated equipment, they are more expensive upfront. However, analogue gauges often fail - they’re not as reliable, and they need to be replaced much more often so what you save in price initially might end up costing you more in the long run.

Which Gauge is best for you?

Neil advises: “In the end, your choice of gauge will be influenced by your or your client’s specific needs. There will probably be users unlikely to convert from an analogue gauge, but if you want accurate pull test results to confirm the safety of your job, there is a good chance your pull tester gauge is ready for a digital upgrade.”

Our technical experts are on hand to help so please call us on 01675 430 370 or fill out our contact us form.

Hydrajaws Digital Gauge

The Hydrajaws standard digital gauge provides many advantages over the standard analogue gauge including more accurate and clear results. Standard 25kN, 30kN, and 145kN are available (other sizes are available on request). Rise and fall mode and peak hold function available. The Digital gauge has an improved accuracy class of +/- 1.5% full-scale deflection (Analogue gauge accuracy class of +/- 2%). The ambient temperature operating range is -20 degrees C to +35 degrees C. New improved Gauge issue 3 features include ‘backlight’ facility for improved viewing in low light applications, screen orientation flips allowing easy reading from any angles (set by Hydrajaws upon request), tougher outer gauge protective cover supplied as standard and improved interface allowing easier setup and operation of facilities such as ‘peak hold’. Learn more.

Posted: 17/03/2021 13:14:11 by Hydrajaws | with 0 comments