Stadiometer vs Tape Measure: A Quick Comparison


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A stadiometer vs tape measure? Let’s start with some basics to help you understand this comparison guide.

A distance measuring device is an important tool to have on hand whether you are hanging a few simple portraits or are busy with a large-scale construction project, and in this comparison, measuring the height of someone or something.

Measuring tools are useful for just about every craft, design, and construction project. Furthermore, they are essential tools in the kits of engineers, woodworkers, architects, contractors, handymen, DIY enthusiasts, doctors’ offices, and even seamstresses.

When you must accurately measure height, the best two measuring devices to rely on are the stadiometer and tape measure tools. So, which one of these tools offers the most efficiency and accuracy?

Well, in this handy stadiometer vs tape measure guide, we compare these measuring devices in detail.

Also, after reading this comparison guide you will know which one to choose that will offer you the most functionality for your specific purpose.

Stadiometer vs Tape Measure

Side by Side Overview

If you are in a rush, here is a table with a quick summary of comparisons.

 StadiometerMeasuring Tape
Most Accurate UseMainly for measuring height.Mainly for measuring long distances.
Easy To UseYes. Fairly simple once setup.Yes. Can be challenging to measure over long distances by yourself.
Easy ReadingYES.YES, (takes getting used to though).
Most durableMore fragile (typically mounted with less risk of being damaged)Protective casing
Easiest to calibrateEasy to readjustOnce issues with tape happen, a replacement is typically needed
SafestSaferSpring-loaded tape measure can recoil unexpectedly and potentially catch a finger cutting it in the process
Most affordable$100-$1000’s$10-$100’s
More portableLarger – but portable options are availableYES
Digital OptionsYES – More costsYES – More Costs
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Table Showing the Comparisons Between Stadiometer and Tape Measure

Now for some more detail.

What is a tape measure?

What is a Tape Measure
A tape measure with question marks???

Essentially, it is a very long flexible ruler that is rolled up into a coil so you can easily store it away or carry it with you.  Also, the measuring tool usually consists of a narrow strip with linear measuring markings along the strip.

So, the measurement indications are designed with numbers and markings that allow you to easily read how tall or long an object is, and the measurements can be in metric or imperial units.

Basically, tape measures can be made with various materials like plastic, metal, fiberglass, and cloth are some of the most common types.

Furthermore, these measuring devices are housed in a container that helps keep the roll compact and adds a layer of protection to the tool.

What are the different types of tape measures?

stadiometer vs tape measure
Evolution of Measuring

Surprisingly, there are many versions of tape measures and the most common being traditional tape measures and now the newly developing digital tape measures.

Traditional Tape Measure

Accordingly, these measuring tools can vary in length, design, and material.  Furthermore, they can be found in two categoriesspring tape measures and long tape measures.

 A Spring Tape Measure

Also known as pocket tape measures, these are designed to fit into your pocket and can be used to measure large objects and distances.

Long Tape Measure

Generally, these tape measures are designed with a much longer ribbon and are way too big to carry around in your pocket or on your belt. Also, the length of the ribbons can vary from 25 to 500 feet

They can be especially good to measure large buildings or used in surveying projects.  They are also fitted with a large hand crank and need to be manually rolled up after taking the measurements.

Digital Tape Measures

Digital Tape Measure

These types of tape measures follow the same variations in length, design, and materials, but have a digital component added.

Furthermore, adding a digital reading component to it allows for further accuracy by eliminating the possibility of human error.

Thereupon, it is always advisable to double-check the accuracy of these types to prevent digital error. (Regular maintenance)

What is the cost of a measure tape?

Depending on the quality of the tape measure and also the length it can measure, you can expect a range price from twenty dollars up to a few hundred dollars. 

If you are buying a tape measure just because or for a quick measurement it would probably be best just to buy a cheap one.

If you are a new carpenter entering the working world, then your best bet is to buy the best quality tape and pay that extra amount.

Is a measuring tape accurate for height?

LENGTH0′ – 6′6′ – 12′12′ – 12’+
Accuracy Data Provided By References Below

 Short answer – YES!

The longer answer is that there are many tape measures being manufactured and each has its own standards of accuracy. However, the standard is a 6 foot (6’) commercial use long tape measure must be accurate to within 1/32” (Read: ONE THIRTY SECOND OF AN INCH)

12 Feet (12’) normally has a precision accuracy of about ±1/32 in (1/32”). And beyond 12 Feet (12’) it should be within ±1/16 in (1/16”).

However, measuring height can be done differently (and probably more accurately?)

Now that we have talked about the tape measure, it’s time to talk about the stadiometer.


Stadiometer vs Tape Measure
What is a Stadiometer

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What is stadiometer used for?

A stadiometer is a measuring tool that is used to measure your height and consists of a long ruler with a metal plate which slides up and down. 

You may remember seeing these in a doctor’s office at one time in your life.

Thus, the person stands up straight with their back against the ruler.  The metal plate is then placed on top of a person’s head to determine their height.

What does a stadiometer measure?

Measuring Height With Stadiometer

The stadiometer measures the height of the human body either in inches or centimeters.

Is a stadiometer a medical device?

Primarily – Yes!

Generally, it is used mostly by nurses, doctors, and other medical staff for routine checks and/or medical experiments

It is also used outside of the medical field for example, by police officers and the military.

What is a stadiometer price?

The cost of a stadiometer can range from a hundred to thousands of dollars. This all depends on the quality of the product you would prefer.

Is stadiometer portable?

You would think a big measure tool like this would not be portable, but it can be. Some companies have produced these portable stadiometers which can also be dismantled and carried in special bags for transport.

Is stadiometer accurate?

Yes, stadiometers are instruments that are known for their accuracy and are mostly used to determine the height of somethingThere are also digital stadiometers that are better though as they can rule out human error and are extremely precise.

It should be noted though that the installation process of a stadiometer is very important to achieve the desired accuracy.

Installation process for a particular digital stadiometer

Digital stadiometers

These devices have entered some medical offices for various reasons.  They are more accurate than the traditional ones because they require no estimation and are super precise.  They are quick and easy to read compared to conventional ones.

NOTE: Regular accuracy maintenance is not a bad idea when it comes to any type of digital product.

Now that we’ve talked about each measuring tool let’s get to the comparison.

Stadiometer vs Tape Measure: Let Us Compare

With all the information above, we can see that these two measuring devices are used for very specific roles. While the tape measure (or measuring tape as some parts of the world like to say) is a multi-purpose measuring tool, the stadiometer is predominantly used for the measuring of heights of, well – you and me – humans!

Also, animal doctors and other government officials are known to use (both of) them in the field too.

What is the difference between stadiometer and measuring tape?

Besides the obvious being material, shape, size, and distance, let us further dissect the differences between the two devices.

stadiometer vs tape measure

What is more accurate: stadiometer or tape measure?

Based on all the information we can say that a stadiometer is more accurate than a tape measure.  It has a solid base and no room for human or other physical errors such as bends or slack that a tape measure could encounter.

Another good reason the stadiometer is more accurate is due to the measurements being on a solid bar. it is in place and acts as a large ruler. And most rulers are designed for accuracy.

Stadiometer vs Tape Measure
Measuring with a tape measure

Problems that could happen are human error from both the reading person and standing person or a change in unexpected floor height without readjusting or recalibrating the unit.

With technology progressing as it is, both these tools have digital options where the measurements are even more accurate.

In general, the stadiometer has the upper hand here.

Which is the Easiest to Use?

Once set up, the stadiometer is extremely simple to use. It is just a matter of the person or object being upright under the sliding measuring plate (digital or traditional), and a reading taken.

On the other hand, as for the tape measure, this does take time in getting used to reading and understanding the measurements and key points on the measuring tape.

Over time, measuring tapes do fade or get covered in material such as paint as well as the locking mechanism malfunctioning which is a common issue.

Which is The Quickest?

Depending on the distance to measure, this could be the tape measure. But for simplicity sakes, the stadiometer is literally placed on the highest point of the object being measured and then a reading taken from it.

Surely, having issues reading and understanding the tape measure can be frustrating and you could find yourself taking several measurements for peace of mind.

Which is the Most Durable?

The stadiometer is the winner here but only by being fixed and with minimal moving parts compared to the tape measure.

The tape measure has some moving parts and if you have a metal band tape measure, metal can only be bent so many times before it gets brittle or breaks completely. These do come with a nice protective cover though usually with a clip for easy carrying.

Which is the Easiest to Calibrate?

The traditional stadiometer typically has minimal calibration required. The digital stadiometer would come with the owner’s manual on how to perform a calibration test to reset the device.

Depending on the cost of traditional tape measures, they typically do not see a “recalibration”. They are usually replaced with a newer version.

Digital tape measures will have a basic calibration test to follow to ensure accuracy. These tests can be done on the spot and differ from brand to brand but generally undergo similar requirements.

Which is The Safest?

Other than a stadiometer falling from the wall – which is highly unlikely but anything is possible -this would be safer than a tape measure. Why?

Well, having used many tape measures before and many more to come, there is the recoil of a tape measure that can retract at an incredible speed. Should you have a metal band tape measure with some sharp edges, this could cut you if not pinch you (it has to me many times).

Not only that, when using these retracting metal band tape measures, ensure all objects of potential electric shock or knock-over should always be in sight and mind.

A clean workplace is a safe one.

Which is the Most Affordable?

These two devices are used for two different reasons. Tape measures are definitely a general measuring device, and while stadiometers are used for measurements too, they are typically stand-alone devices specifically for heights.

Tape measures are anywhere between $10-$100’s making them cheaper than their stadiometer counterpart being $100-$1000’s.

Final Thoughts

Having accurate measuring devices is so important if you want the job done right. But not only that, having the right tool for the job is just as important.

As you can see from this stadiometer vs tape measure comparison guide, it is good to know what each device does so you can make an informed decision in your purchase.

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