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Home > Construction Lasers > Construction Laser Guide

Construction Lasers - Laser Levels - Rotary Laser Levels - Laser Distance Meters

These days, it can be a tough job shopping construction laser levels. The task of researching the various models is more than most people the time to deal with. The following information will explain which features do what and which product best fits your needs.

The first thing you should do is figure out what you want to accomplish with your laser. Do you intend to work indoors, outdoors, or both? Do you want to do construction site grading, install pipe underground, or fence posts? These are just some of the questions that will define the features you may want.

What are construction lasers used for?

Construction lasers are used in a variety of jobs where an accurate, level layout reference is needed. This includes applications such as installing power receptacles, chair railings or ceiling tiles. Some of these tasks are small, such as hanging pictures in a level fashion and some tasks are large, such as installing sewer pipe or handling a site grading plan for a new building.

Indoor Applications of Laser Levels

·         Align and plumb your walls

·         Leveling floors

·         Attach your laser to a wall or ceiling mount for easy drop ceiling installation

·         Easily check door or window heights

·         Installing drop ceilings

·         Install chair rails and wainscoting in your home

·         Align shelves, cabinets and trim

·         Use a tripod for easy installation and alignment of cabinets, chair rails, etc

 

Outdoor Applications of Laser Levels

 

·         Any type of basic surveys

·         Lasers easily check and level posts and beams on decks, fences and porches

·         Masonry alignment

·         Site layout

·         Easily check land elevations

·         Lasers with a slope capability can set grade for proper drainage and irrigation

·         Align fences, posts and decks

·         Establishing grades

·         Contour farming or drainage

When selecting a construction laser, there are generally three types of lasers that can make your layout less time consuming. These types are:

·         PLUMB (Dot Lasers)

·         LINE LEVEL (Line Generators)

·         ROTARY

When the construction application includes distances from 1 foot to 150 feet, your best bet is to use a line level or plumb laser. For distances of 200 feet or greater, a Rotary Laser is recommended. These rules of thumb on model selection can always vary depending on your specific application.

How Different Types of Construction Lasers Work.


Plumb or Dot Lasers:
This type of construction laser produces a single or multiple dot of reference on a wall or work surface. It works to provide a reference point.

Line Level or Line Generating Lasers:
This type of construction laser emits a level line on the wall in either a single line, or a cross-hair fashion. Typically these types of lasers only emit level lines in one direction and onto a single wall or workspace. These are most commonly used indoors and are usually small hand-held units either positioned on a ladder, saw horse, or table. Some of these models can also be mounted to a light-weight jamb-pole or laser platform that extends from the floor to the ceiling.

Rotary Level Lasers:
Finally, the rotary type construction laser emits a level line around an entire room in 360 degrees. Rotary lasers are commonly a bit larger and are typically mounted on sturdy surveying equipment such as tripods. Some rotary laser levels can be laid over on their side allowing them to project a beam on a vertical plane, using a mount called a trivet. The rotation of a single laser makes the human eye think its seeing a line around the room; hence the name rotary laser. Most rotary lasers work well inside, but if you want to work outside, you will need to make sure you have a laser detector, also known as a laser receiver. The receiver is necessary because the human eye cannot see the laser in direct sunlight more than several feet away.

Laser Level Features.

Manual-Leveling Lasers:
Manual leveling construction lasers require the operator to manually level the unit by turning thumbs screws located on the unit.  This manual leveling is attained by monitoring standard bubble vials.

Self-Leveling and Automatic-Leveling Lasers:
A self-leveling construction laser will automatically find and maintains a level within a specified range. Some lasers have a bubble vial that allows the user to perform ‘rough’ leveling and then the laser itself takes over to do the ‘fine’ leveling. Many of these self-leveling lasers will continue to keep themselves level even if the setup or platform is jarred accidentally. Some units even have an automatic shut off feature that activates when the level is off by a specific number of degrees.  This assures that the user doesn’t continue to use the beam as a bad reference. Also, you should note that some lasers advertise themselves to be Automatic-Leveling. Please be aware that the terms self-leveling and automatic-leveling can mean different things. The terms "self-leveling" and "automatic-leveling" can tend to conflict one another if you're new to construction laser terminology. Most self-leveling lasers have an internal pendulum that does the leveling, while most automatic-leveling lasers have electronic servo motors that do all of the leveling for you. We recommend taking the time to research and learn the differences before you make your construction leaser purchase.

Horizontal Lasers:
A horizontal beam laser that emits a single beam from its beacon.

Dual-Beam Lasers (Split-Beam Lasers):
These types of laser levels emit horizontal and vertical beams to establish both level and plumb reference lines. The term of “dual-beam” doesn’t produce a horizontal and vertical "plane" at the same time. A dual-beam laser is only able to produce its regular plane and produce a reference point, such as a plumb-up dot on the ceiling. We are unaware of any rotary laser that will produce both horizontal and vertical level loops around the room at the same time.

Laser Detectors (Laser Receivers):
Another integral part of using a rotary laser is the laser detector or laser receiver. Laser detectors typically mount to level rods and work to detect the laser beam when you’re working outside.  The detector is usually required when working outside as the laser line is difficult to see in direct sunlight. Most detectors will produce sound, sometimes a short beep, when being close to level, and then produce a steady or solid tone when on level. Laser detectors can greatly shorten the amount of time needed find the level beam and get on level. Most detectors have both visual and audible alarms. The visual alarm usually consists of an LCD screen on the unit itself. The audible alarm is most often a beeping tone that grows toward a solid tone the closer you gets to being on level. Most detectors will give you a fast tone if you need to move the detector down, a slower tone if you need to move up, and a steady tone when you are on grade.

Fixed Rotation vs. Variable Rotation Speed Lasers.

Rotary lasers come with either a “fixed rotation speed” or a “variable rotation speed”.  The rotations per minute (RPM) of a rotary laser represents the number of times the laser rotates in one minute. Most construction rotary lasers have either a fixed RPM or a variable RPM. A faster RPM produces a dimmer beam, but travels farther giving the user a greater range. A slower RPM laser does not travel as far, but produces a much brighter beam making it much easier to see. This makes a slower RPM laser ideal for indoor applications as it’s easier to see and a faster RPM laser ideal for outdoor applications as its beam will travel further.

When doing outdoor work, such as concrete driveways, grading or setting culverts, you will require a fast speed rotary laser. The line from a rotary laser is not visible to the human eye outdoors in bright sunlight, so you will also need to use a laser detector to find the exact location of the laser line. The faster the rotation, the harder it is for a human eye to see it, but laser detectors work great with faster rotation units. In order for a laser detector to locate or detect a beam, the rotary laser must have a rotation speed of no less than 600 RPM.

Rotary Laser Levels with variable speeds work better for indoor work. A variable RPM laser allows the user to adjust the rotation speed to the best visibility. As slower rotations have a more visible beam, the user will want to set the rotation slow enough so that the beam appears as a solid line on the wall. This allows for the best balance of solid beam appearance and beam brightness. If you need a solid dot reference, the user can set the laser at 0 RPM.


In summary, the different types of construction laser levels discussed here are available with varying features. These features may include remote controls, beam scanning, variable rotation speeds, rechargeable battery packs, AC chargers, grade capability and much more. Attachments such as trivets for mounting a laser on its side to a tripod for interior work, wall or ceiling mounts, laser platforms, and detectors are also available. We recommend you take the time to determine the tasks you wish to accomplish before purchasing a construction laser level. We recommend that you look over the varying comparison charts for Bosch, David White, and CST/Berger construction lasers. These reference charts can quickly point out which features are included in specific units.

We recommend you take the time to review the varying types of laser level specifications such as laser range and accuracy. Working with the proper construction laser setup can allow a single person to do the same that would normally require two people, saving you time and money.

For a free application analysis or questions on our construction laser systems please feel free to call 877-207-1244 or email sales@aikencolon.com

 

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