Features to Consider in a Laser Level
The modern, high-tech tools that we have at our disposal today make our lives so much easier. In the past, squaring and leveling a large-scale building project would take countless man-hours, not to mention the frustration of being limited by manual tools and human error. Laser levels have greatly increased our speed, efficiency, and accuracy in building.
Nearly everyone has or will use one, from someone just hanging a few pictures to a professional surveying a grade at a construction site. With such a wide variety of users comes a wide variety of products intended for different uses.
So, what type of laser level do you need for your project? It’s important to first identify the scope of your needs before deciding on a product to use. Keep reading along for a detailed discussion of various types and features of laser levels available to you.
Three Main Types of Laser Levels
There are three main types of laser levels. Dot levels are usually the ones that almost everyone has used. They project onto an opposing surface (usually a wall) a single dot or pattern of dots. Some even project crosshairs and multiple parallel lines.
Most project a red beam, which is best suited to indoor use. Dot levels are mainly used for comparing the heights of two opposing objects, for example windows or art on opposite walls.
Since they do not project a solid line, they can’t really be used to compare the heights of things on the same plane. These levels are best for casual home use. They often have a lower range of projection, which is perfectly fine for indoor applications.
The range is typically somewhere around 30 feet. Actually, you may already have a dot level in your possession and not even know it.
These levels are often included as part of other tools, such as manual bubble levels or stud finders. They typically don’t require permanent fixture to an object due to the nature of what they are used for. That being said, some do have reusable adhesive on the side.
If not, you can always prop them up on top of something else in order to keep them in place. Since they are almost always used in very short-term settings, it isn’t really necessary to go overkill with trying to mount them.
Fixed-Line Laser Levels
The second type of laser level is a fixed-line level. As the name suggest, these project a solid, fixed line onto a parallel surface. Like dot levels, they can be used inside and most commonly project a red beam. Unlike dot levels, they can be used to compare the relative heights of objects on the same plane.
They can be used vertically, horizontally, or on an angle. Since these do require more precise positioning (especially in outdoor applications) they can commonly be found either with mounting capabilities or already mounted on a tripod.
If your fixed-line level does not have either of these, it can usually be secured to a stationary object with a strong clamp.
They tend to have a much longer range than dot levels, with some being accurate to 1/16 of an inch up to a hundred feet away. In this case, which would likely be an outdoor application, a green beam would be a helpful option to have.
Green beams have much better visibility than red beams in bright light. There are even special goggles you can purchase to allow you to see the beam more clearly. Additionally, many of these types of lasers have a handy self-leveling feature.
This means that they will alert you if they are knocked out of level, so your entire project doesn’t get ruined before you notice something is off.
Rotary Laser Levels
Lastly, there are rotary levels. Used almost exclusively in larger scale projects due to both their capabilities and cost, these levels are mounted on a tripod and can rotate 360 degrees.
Many of them can also project multiple beams, which is extremely helpful when framing a building. These usually can project even further than fixed-line levels, some having a range of up to half a mile!
Obviously, these powerful tools would be more helpful to a surveyor than someone trying to line up picture frames in their living room. If you’re working somewhere with an angled grade, a rotary level can be your best friend.
Features to Consider in a Laser Level: The Build
If the model uses a lower capacity battery, you could be stuck changing them out more frequently than you’d like. Finally, if you’ll be working outside or in a dusty jobsite, you’ll want to make sure to invest in a laser level that is both dust and waterproof.
As always, research your options to the best of your ability. Online reviews can be very helpful, and many websites even have demos of these products.