Surveying tools have always been the backbone of the construction industry – for obvious reasons. And this industry has always been at the forefront of developing new technologies that make measuring easier, faster and far more precise.
Long gone are the days when a tape measure and a hand-held level were the most vital tools on a job site. The development and ongoing innovations of laser levels have revolutionized every branch and facet of your industry.
Great Features to Consider
You probably already compiled a list of ‘must-haves’ if you plan to choose a new laser, but here are a few that are worth considering. In addition to making your job easier, most won’t drastically inflate the overall price of the tool.
• Deciding between a manual vs. self-leveling laser is a personal (and financial) decision, but who wouldn’t love to set up the level, turn it on and let it do its thing? Some prefer to manipulate their laser levels by hand, but a manual level won’t sound an alarm to let you know it’s off level.
• Different models and brands offer different types and sizes of batteries, from alkaline cells to rechargeable packs. A self-leveling laser will chew up more power, but you’ll be spending less time using it. Rechargeable batteries can be either removable or built-ins, but always make sure you can charge the tool while it’s in operation if you go with the latter power option.
• A construction site is not the place for an expensive laser level that can’t take a hit or a fall. Thick rubber bumpers surrounding the tool may offer some protection, but that can’t protect a poorly constructed lase level. Buy what you can afford, but treat it with respect.
• The color and quality of the laser beam can differentiate between a precision measuring instrument and a laser level. Check the beam against a wall and look for sharp, bright lines, not lines that blur or dim intermittently.
Also, there’s a great deal of difference in the clarity of a green or red laser beam. The green diode lasers are more expensive, but always cast a bright, crisp line which makes them easier to see, even from a distance.
These pieces of equipment are invaluable to any contractor – especially if you spend a lot of your time working outdoors on the job site. Here are a few top-rated models, from hand-held to tripod mounted.
DeWalt DWO89K: This portable model provides you with three very bright red beams that can create 90-degree layouts, eliminating the need for a second laser level. This line laser is accurate to within 1/8 of an inch at a distance of up to 30 feet. The self-leveling DW089K operates on four AA batteries, which can power the unit for up to 30 hours.
PLS180 Green Laser: This cross-line laser level, manufactured by Pacific Laser Systems, is also accurate to 1/8 of an inch up to 30 feet. This laser is lightweight, compact and perfect for short- to mid-range interior work. The bright green beam is clear and easy to see even in brightly-lit areas.
Johnson Self- Leveling Laser System: The 99-006K rotary laser system includes pretty much everything a contractor needs to perform quick, accurate measurements, indoors or outside. In addition to a soft-sided carrying case for the laser, a 13-foot grade rod, a contractor-grade tripod, an LED one-sided receiver and bracket for use with drop ceilings, a free-standing laser target and protective glasses are part of the system. The rotary laser can project a 360-degree beam of light at adjustable rotational speeds of 200 rpms, 400 rpms, and 600 rpms. It’s accurate for up to 1/8 inch at 50 feet and has a range in diameter of 200 feet.
Thanks to the ever-expanding selection of levels available today, it can be difficult to decide on which type or model to purchase. Defining which features you must have is the first step in choosing a great level – adding any extra bells and whistles is up to you.