Updated April 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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Buying guide for Best laser levels

For DIY-ers, commercial contractors, and everyone in between, laser levels are outstanding tools to have on hand. These tools create a laser beam that provides a visible line for people to use during a project to guarantee they have a perfectly level guide line. 

These tools are highly versatile, as people can use them for a job as simple as hanging a picture or a wallpaper border. They also can use them to ensure the floor is perfectly plumb, which simplifies many other aspects of a remodeling job. Someone remodeling a kitchen could use the laser level to hang multiple cabinets at the same height. Trying to use a bubble level for this type of job adds quite a bit of time and frustration to the work versus using a laser level. 

For large construction projects, a commercial-grade rotary laser level may sit on a tripod in the center of a lot outdoors, creating a 360-degree laser line to generate proper grading. Such rotary levels would be overkill for the majority of homeowners working on DIY projects, however. Laser levels made for use at home are smaller devices that you can use to create a simple line along a wall. 

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Depending on the environment in which someone is using the laser level, having waterproof and shockproof capabilities in the device may be helpful.

How to choose the best laser level

Line lasers

The line laser is a very common choice among non-professionals and professionals. This model projects a perfectly straight line onto a wall or floor in a room. This is useful for a remodeling or construction project where workers are hanging kitchen cabinets or trying to create a tile floor with perfectly straight grout lines.

It’s popular among DIY-ers because it’s easy to use and it has a reasonable price point. DIY-ers rarely are going to need the rotary laser level to create a level grade outdoors, but they can find a way to use a line laser in a room indoors.

The line laser can hang on the wall and project the laser light sideways. It also can project the line forward, creating almost a 360-degree effect. Some line lasers can create both a horizontal and vertical line at the same time.

Spot lasers

The spot laser projects a circle of light upward, downward, or outward in one or more directions. Contractors often use this type of laser to check that the joist in a room is plumb before hanging drywall or creating a wall frame. 

Plumbers also use the spot laser when laying out pipes. (Some manufacturers call these pipe laser levels for this reason.)

Some line laser devices can also create spots. (Manufacturers may market these types of lasers as combination laser levels.)

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Did You Know?
Some laser levels also contain a stud finder capability, giving the homeowner two tools for the price of one.
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Features

Accuracy

A laser line that isn’t accurate is worthless. The majority provide an accuracy measurement as part of the specifications for the device. Typically, the manufacturer provides an accuracy measurement over a 20- or 30-foot line.

A high-quality level is accurate to within an 1/8 of an inch or less over 30 feet. Being off less than 1/8 of an inch over a 30-foot span isn’t noticeable to the human eye, and this is far more accurate than the typical DIY-er is going to be able to achieve manually using a bubble level and sliding it along the wall.

Laser color

These tools can generate either a red or green laser light.

  • Red: Red lasers are less powerful than green lasers, so they have a limitation in the distance over which they’ll work versus green. Red offers plenty of distance to work well in a typical-size room, however. Red lasers use less battery power than green lasers, so they’re popular in levels made for beginners. Red laser levels have a lower price point than green models.
  • Green: Green lasers are easier to see in sunlight for an outdoor project than red, so they’re more popular in high-end levels made for construction companies. They also generate more powerful lasers, which allows them to work over long distances. Green laser levels are more expensive than red, and they also carry a greater risk of harming someone’s eyes, if an accident occurs.

Beams

The plane on which the laser light appears is another differentiator for these tools. Inexpensive models only generate light on one plane. Others may generate both horizontal and vertical planes at the same time. A few models made for DIY-ers may even generate a 360-degree beam, which is ideal for creating a drop ceiling.

Automatic leveling

When you hang the level on the wall or from the ceiling, you obviously need the mechanism to be perfectly level. If the device making the laser line is off even a tiny fraction of an inch, the line will be inaccurate.

Some laser levels have a self-leveling mechanism built into them. The mechanism uses a pendulum to ensure it’s hanging perfectly level before generating the line. Users may want to test the accuracy of the mechanism with a bubble level tool.
 

Some rotary laser levels have Bluetooth capabilities built into them, allowing for an easy way to test the calibration of the level and to operate it from a distance.

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Pricing

Inexpensive: The lowest-priced portable laser levels cost $15 to $50. They have basic features, such as only being able to create one or two lines at a time. They often run on alkaline single-use batteries, rather than from rechargeable batteries. Red laser lights are common in this price range.

Mid-range: Mid-priced laser levels are often portable models that cost $50 to $200. These models frequently make use of green laser lights and have some extra features, such as self-leveling capabilities and three-plane laser light generation. They may run from rechargeable batteries. A few rotary models fit in this price range, but these are not trustworthy models in terms of performance and accuracy.

High-end: The most expensive of these tools cost $200 to $1,000 or more. Some high-end portable models appear in this price range, featuring green laser lights and Bluetooth capabilities. Rotary laser levels frequently appear in this price range too, but the majority of these units deliver far more power than the typical homeowner needs.

Dyk2
Did You Know?
Many of the top tool manufacturing companies offer laser levels, which is nice for a homeowner or contractor who has an affinity and loyalty for one particular tool brand.
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Tips

  • Add a chalk line. After making the laser line on the wall, some contractors snap a chalk line over the laser line. They then can turn off the laser light to save battery power and to remove the remote chance of suffering eye damage.
  • Lay out tiles. Keeping backsplash tiles straight on a wall can be a challenge. A chalk line doesn’t help in this case, as the tiles cover it. The laser light generates a consistent line that’s always visible for keeping the tiles straight.
  • Avoid shaky light. If doing a remodeling project where the floor is weak, the laser level on a tripod may see its light bounce around as you walk on the floor. Try clamping it to something sturdy on the wall or ceiling instead.
  • Double-check the laser line. If you aren’t quite sure about whether the projected laser line is straight, use a bubble level at a few spots along the laser line to check its accuracy.

 

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If the user drops a laser level or strikes it hard with another piece of equipment, it may fall out of calibration, necessitating testing it.

FAQ

Q. Are laser levels safe to use around people?

A. All lasers could present some danger of causing damage to the eye with a long enough exposure. However, the majority of laser levels use a weak-powered laser, which is relatively safe. If someone had the laser light go directly into the eyes for a few minutes, it could cause damage to the retina. Look for protective eyewear that works with laser lights to generate maximum safety.

Q. How accurate are laser levels versus a manual bubble level?

A. People who typically use bubble levels appreciate the accuracy of these tools, but laser levels easily at least match them in terms of accuracy. Additionally, because they work over a longer distance, they generate far more accuracy over a dozen feet or more versus manually moving the bubble level along the line. 

Q. How do I know if the laser level is out of calibration?

A. A few high-end models measure themselves for calibration. However, for the majority of models, users have to check the calibration manually. For a quick check, use a trustworthy bubble level to verify the laser line. If the line is out of alignment, follow the calibration instructions that ship with the laser level. Checking the laser level’s calibration before beginning each job is a good idea.

 

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