Why should someone consider chucking their tried and true water bubble leveling tool in favor of a rotary laser level? It’s a good question. If the answer is simply that the laser level is new, well, that’s not good enough. It has to have some real, quantifiable advantages before getting rid of something that’s worked for cen
turies makes any sense. Fortunately for proponents of best laser levels there are a number of solid reasons to make them part of your toolkit including:
- Simplicity and significant time savings.
- Eliminating the need for marking guidelines everywhere.
- Easily adaptable to indoor or outdoor applications, large and small.
- Eliminating the need to reset should something or someone knock the level out of whack.
As with everything else though there are so-so laser levels, good laser levels and great laser levels. Below we’re going delve into what a rotary laser level is, review what we consider to be the 5 best laser levels available on the market today and then go into some of the things you’ll want to consider before buying one of these technical marvels.
Just what is a Rotary Laser Level?
The Best Rotary Laser Level uses a beam of light to create the equivalent of a chalk line that can be referenced to ensure things are properly oriented. The width of the beam is dependent on the size of the diode emitting it with narrower being better because it allows for greater precision. Early laser levels were limited in their power and so were limited in their usefulness; typically confined to indoor projects where the light they produced was easier to see. Today’s more powerful lasers mean that newer laser levels are equally effective both indoors and outdoors, where they are used on most of the world’s large scale construction projects including dams, skyscrapers and superhighways.
The rotary laser level rotates 360 degrees up to 1000 times per minute with some being effective out to 2000+ feet. In essence, they create a plane of light that is extremely accurate and negates the need for multiple readings and elaborately drawn reference lines.
5 Best Rotary Laser Levels Side by Side
There are dozens of rotary laser levels on the market today but not all of them can be considered big league instruments. Below is a side by side comparison of the ones we consider to be the best (in no particular order).
The Top 5 Rotary Laser Levels: In-Depth
Now that you know which 5 rotary laser levels we consider to be the best, we’ll go into a bit more detail on each so that you can make an informed decision when it comes time to choose one.
Bosch GRL400HKC laser level:
Features of the GRL400HKC rotary laser level by Bosch include:
- Variable rotation speed to accommodate various lighting conditions.
- Self-leveling achieved through use of “smart” pendulum.
- Remote range of 500 ft.
- Patented dual laser system for interior and exterior project requirements.
- Left/right beam adjustment can be made without relocating unit.
The Bosch GRL400HKC is built for the construction site. Exacting tolerances and thoughtful engineering mean it’s not susceptible to airborne contaminants the way many other precision instruments can be. Beyond sheer durability, however, the 400HKC is as accurate as any rotary laser level on the market and will retain its accuracy for many years. Typically more dependable and accurate than handheld levels, the device has a growing reputation as the go-to laser level for many construction projects.
Dewalt DW079KDT laser level:
Some of the features of the DW079KDT rotary laser level include:
- Horizontal and perpendicular auto self-leveling.
- Private mode eliminates interference among multiple levels working concurrently.
- Robust fabrication techniques for enviable durability.
- Solitary sloping mode to insure precise leveling.
- Accurate to within 1/8 inch at 100 feet.
The DW079KDT rotary laser level comes with a slew of accessories you won’t find in other rotary laser levels including an 18V battery, battery charger, IR, target card and perhaps most important, a heavy-duty aluminum tripod. Everything you need to set up and start working. The build quality is impressive (as you might expect from Dewalt) and the device comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
PLS HVR 505R laser level:
Here is a short list of just some of the 505Rs many features and benefits:
- Durable, versatile, easy to transport, easy to use.
- More affordable than many a comparable rotary laser level.
- Self-levels automatically to within 5 degrees.
- Includes magnetic laser targets and wall bracket.
- Full remote capability.
Pacific Laser Systems HVR 505R rotary laser level is an impressive mid-range rotary level that’s just as at home indoors as it is outdoors. The 505R is the perfect tool for home builders, landscapers, commercial paving companies, renovation specialists and more. If getting the job done right time after time is a principle that interests you, the 505R is a must have piece of kit.
CST/Berger RL25HKC laser level:
Features of the RL25HKC include but are not limited to:
- Practical working range of 2,000 feet.
- Levels automatically to within 5 degrees.
- Alert informs you if the device has deviated from goal.
- Dual LCD displays and 7 display channels.
- Intense build quality for long term onsite survival.
- 85-hour battery capacity.
Accurate to within 3/32 of an inch over 2,000 feet, this rotary laser level is intended for professional builders of large-scale commercial and residential developments, as well as infrastructure projects. The build quality is first rate and intended to see the device through many years of use and abuse on busy, dirty construction sites. Attach the RL25HKC to a tripod, power it up and leave your worries behind. The unit will do the work of several people with greater accuracy in a fraction of the time.
Topcon RL-H4C laser level
The Topcon RLH4C rotary laser level has a slew of professional grade features including:
- Top flight build quality to withstand the rigors of the job site.
- Waterproof and dustproof ensuring it will be there for you day after day.
- Incredibly effective work radius of 2,600 feet.
- Precise slope matching ability ideal for excavations.
- Automatic battery shut off after 30 minutes of inactivity.
- 5 year limited warranty.
The Topcon RLH4C rotary laser level is easily one of the best on the market with accuracy to within 1/16 of an inch at 100 feet and the ability to relevel itself to within 10 arc seconds automatically. The RLH4C works fast, works accurately and works dependably so you’re never left holding the bag or digging through the bag for your old water bubble level. With an incredible effective range of 1/2 mile this is the tool you want when you’re building big.
Rotating Laser Level Applications
Regardless of how experienced and clear-eyed a contractor is there is virtually no way to avoid tiny discrepancies in leveling. Over 50 or more floors this discrepancy could add up to a building actually being several inches off kilter. This is one reason almost all large scale construction sites in the world today use precision rotating laser levels and why so many of today’s skyscrapers are confidently pushing beyond what was previously considered a safe height. But the usefulness of the laser level does not stop there. Other common uses of the rotary laser level include:
- Ensuring a level foundation for new home construction.
- Establishing level framing for new construction or remodeling projects.
- Establishing levels for sills, windows and doorways.
- Installing tiles in kitchens and baths.
- Installing inground fiberglass swimming pools.
- Making sure the new backyard deck is properly leveled.
- Installing natural stonework floors for outdoor kitchens.
- Hanging artwork in homes, offices and museums.
- And much more…
Choosing the Best Rotary Laser Level
There is a lot of equipment out there that looks great, but looks can be deceiving and professional salespeople can be very persuasive. In order to avoid being sold something you don’t need or can’t use there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind about the particulars of your work and/or the specific job you’re purchasing the rotary laser level to help you with. These include:
- Range: If you primarily build private homes, home additions, decks and the like you’ll have no need for a rotating laser level with a 2,000+ foot range. If on the other hand you specialize in highway construction or other large scale projects, a level with a 500 foot range may be too limited.
- The Job: If you’re purchasing a rotary laser level with a particular project in mind, you’ll want to consider things like whether the level has 360 degree capability, whether the beam will be sufficiently bright if it’s an outdoor project and whether or not you’d benefit from having wireless remote control of the unit.
- Battery Life: Some laser levels have relatively short battery life while others, like the Berger RL25HCK feature batteries with an 85 hour life. You may also want to purchase an additional battery or batteries depending on how much you anticipate using the unit in the field.
- Build Quality: If you primarily work alone on smaller job sites your unit is probably not going to be subjected to much environmental abuse. If, on the other hand you work large-scale commercial jobsites you’re going to want to make sure you purchase a laser level that can take a pounding.
- Storage Case: When transporting the rotary laser level from shop to jobsite and back, you’ll want to be sure you do so using the storage case built specifically for the device and that that storage case is sturdy and will safeguard the unit if and when it is jostled around in the truck.
- Warranty: While the best laser levels are built to last, you’ll nonetheless want to be sure you get the most robust warranty you can. Laser levels may look like heavy duty construction equipment but they’re also precision, high-tech devices. You’ll want to be protected.
The days of endlessly repositioning the water bubble level in order to keep track of where things are on the jobsite are history. Today’s leading edge builders use leading edge equipment like rotating laser levels to achieve pinpoint accuracy in every aspect of the finished product. We hope you found these self leveling rotary laser level reviews helpful.