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Bright color display and offers haptic feedback. Green-beam laser generates a dot brighter and more visible than standard red beam lasers. Measures up to 165 feet in distance with 1/16-inch accuracy. Rated IP65 for dust and water resistance for use on job sites. Durable housing. Comes with belt clip.
Screen display does not rotate. The dot can seem small to some users.
Affordably priced. It is splash-resistant and dust-resistant. Equipped with a 20-measurement memory, and can function in multiple modes. Convenient one-touch mute button allows you to quickly silence the tool when quiet operation is required.
The outdoor range of this model is significantly less than what it is capable of measuring indoors.
Excellent accuracy of 1/16 inch over a distance of 200 feet. Includes Bluetooth capability so you can transmit measurements wirelessly to a computer or mobile device. Will run on AAA batteries. Provides protection against water and dust. Will also calculate coverage area.
Making a Bluetooth connection can be tricky. Almost too small to hold steadily.
The compact yet large, bright, easy-to-read LCD screen makes this model a favorite for many. It measures up to 165 feet with an accuracy that falls within 1/8 inch. Bluetooth functionality allows measurements to be quickly transferred to a mobile smart device.
A few individuals weren't impressed with the tactile experience the buttons on this device offered.
Excellent collection of features, including distance measurement, area calculation, and simple mathematical calculations. Will take measurements within 1/16 inch. Good collection of buttons to easily access various features. Runs on 2 AAA batteries. Includes a backlight.
May not reach advertised 165-foot measurement in all types of working conditions.
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Whether taking frequent measurements is part of your job or you’re remodeling your home, an accurate laser measure can save you valuable time. These tools offer unbeatable precision for calculating not only distance but also area and volume.
And a laser measure is a tremendously convenient tool. Any measuring task is now a one-person job – you don’t need someone else to hold the other end of the tape.
But with so many options available, choosing the right one can be confusing. At BestReviews, it’s our mission to help you with all your shopping decisions.
A laser measure (also called a laser tape measure) is a relatively simple idea. The tool generates a beam of light, which is aimed at a target. Digital circuitry measures the time it takes for the laser beam to reach and bounce off the target and return to the unit and thus calculates the distance. There are two ways it does this: pulse or continuous beam laser light.
Pulse: This method is called “time of flight” – the tool uses a series of pulses and measures each one.
Continuous beam: This method is called “phase-shift” – what is effectively a reflection from the time the beam leaves the device until it returns.
Although the pulse method might be considered more accurate in that it gives several readings very close together (rather than just one one), in practical terms, build quality, optical precision, and software are more important factors when it comes to laser measures.
Although laser measures are perhaps most often thought of as a contractor’s tool, they’re also valuable for architects, realtors, and keen DIYers. While all models perform basic distance functions, there are other features that set various models apart.
In theory, a laser light beam goes on and on until it hits a solid object, and a portion of that light will always be reflected. In practice, it gets weaker over distance. As the tool works by calculating the reflected beam, it’s vital that it’s strong enough to come back!
Smaller, cheaper tools often have a lower-powered laser, so measuring distance is restricted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It depends what you need the tool for. If you’re doing internal renovations or fitting partition walls, a tool that will range to 60 or 70 feet might be all you ever need – and there’s no point in spending more. If you’re working in commercial situations, there are models that can exceed 300 feet.
Accuracy, controls, and display
Speed and memory
Although there are a few laser measures with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, most use one or two AAA batteries. These are cheap, and it’s easy to carry a spare set, so battery life isn’t much of an issue. As a result, manufacturers seldom quote it, though some say their tool will take several thousand readings before needing new batteries. Owners we consulted said their laser measures lasted anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months.
Many laser measures have an automatic sleep or off mode to extend battery life, which operates after a couple of minutes of inactivity.
We usually look at the warranty period as a reflection of the manufacturer’s confidence in their equipment. With laser measures, two years is common; the best offer three.
You can expect to pay from $30 to over $200 for a laser measure.
Inexpensive: Cheap laser measures can be found for around $30 to $35, and even at these prices you’ll find some feature-packed tools. What might be a concern is durability, but if you only have occasional need for this kind of device, these low-cost models could be the ideal solution. Spending more, from $35 to $50, won’t necessarily get you greater range, or more accuracy, but in our opinion you’ll get better reliability and repeatability. Professionals will also want a more robust alternative. While it’s best avoided, it’s likely these tools will get bumped around, knocked or dropped from time to time.
Mid-range: Good mid-range laser measures can be found for between $50 and $120, mostly depending on range. You’ll get excellent accuracy and all the functions most people need.
Expensive: High-end laser measures cost considerably more. If maximum range and Bluetooth connectivity are on your wish list, you’ll find few under $200.
Stand still while you measure. While laser measures can read with either you or the target on the move, the readings will be unreliable. For best results, both the measure and the target should be stationary. Although these tools are designed to be handheld, for maximum accuracy you should hold the device steady against a solid object or rest it on a stable platform.
Have a visual target. While targets aren’t usually necessary, some people like a visual reference point. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated – a sticky note will do.
Q. Is the laser in these devices dangerous?
A. You should never point any kind of laser device directly at anyone. In the U.S., laser pointers (including laser measures), are Class II or IIa – “safe for normal operation” – or Class IIIa (also called 3R) – “safe when handled carefully.” Neither would normally harm eyes within “aversion response” (the time it takes for a person to blink or turn away – 1/4 second or less). If accidental exposure is longer, there is a risk of “flash blindness,” which you might get with sudden bright light of any kind, but it should only be temporary.
Q. What is Pythagoras measurement or Pythagorean mode?
A. This is also called indirect measurement, and it enables you to calculate height or distance even when you can’t bounce the laser beam off a surface. For example, let’s say you want to know how tall an exterior wall is. Using the Pythagorean theorem, if you know the distance to the wall and the angle to the top, it’s possible to work out the height. A good laser measure does the calculation for you.
Q. What’s the difference between a laser rangefinder and a laser measure?
A. Both can use the same laser technology, although high-end rangefinders also use ultrasonics (sound waves). The big difference is accuracy. Laser rangefinders are used for targets that might be hundreds of yards away. A couple of feet variation isn’t a problem. Laser measures range to only a couple of hundred feet away, but the best can be accurate to 1/32”.