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A laser level materializes virtual lines in order to obtain level or plumb alignments. The tool is suitable for many jobs, but it exists at all prices and the choice is difficult.

6 laser levels

Simple to use, the laser level leave your hands free and avoid in some cases the use of a pencil or a cord powder. The light beam offers the advantage of staying focused on its target without deviating from its trajectory over several meters, which makes it very practical in many construction and development works.

Two types of levels

Rotating laser levels are mostly used by building professionals. They constantly emit a luminous point which determines by 360° rotation a virtual plane. Their range can reach 60 m. The lignin lasers, tested here, transform the luminous point in a straight line (vertical and horizontal), which they project on a wall. They are used indoors for the installation of tiles, the assembly of partitions and suspensions for false ceilings, the fixing of kitchen elements...
These devices do not require any particular setting. The diodes are fixed on a suspended metallic weight, stabilized by magnets in a few seconds. The laser therefore automatically finds the level if its foot rests on a slope less than 4°.

The laser principle

Unlike an incandescent bulb that produces a light composed of several colors, the laser diffuses a monochromatic light (a single wavelength) directional that is expressed in nanometer (nm *). It makes it possible to determine the range and the precision of the beam.
The smaller the number, the more precise the laser is. The most used laser levels for measuring instruments have a wavelength between 400 and 700 nm. The levels tested here are between 635 and 640 nm, for a range of 10 to 20 m and a margin of error of 0.1 to 1 mm / m. not
* One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.

Simple settings for laser routers

Set the laser liner

  • The settings can be summed up in the choice of the desired registration: vertical line, horizontal line or both. On Dewalt, Makita, Skil and Stanley, the start button is also used to select the tracking mode.
  • On the Stanley, it is particularly wide and easy to handle.

Laser laser settings

  • On Metabo and Bosch, it's a big red pusher quickly identifiable.

Laser Makita liner

  • Makita also offers a "Pulse" button, which reduces the light intensity of the beam.

Laser Skil liner

  • The projected lines flash when the level is not stable, except on the Skil which gives a beep and lights up a red light.

Bosch laser lighter

  • The weights can be blocked (except on Dewalt and Metabo) for diagonal projections.
  • But the angle is always random, except on the Bosch has a control screen that gives the right angle instantly.

Laser liner Dewalt

  • With the Dewalt, it is possible to make fine adjustments to the line perpendicularity, using a knob (6).

Very different aspects for lignin lasers

Stanley laser liner

  • The Stanley laser is surmounted by a dome that lets the light beam through 360°.
  • Three diodes are used for the projection of the horizontal line and a diode for the vertical.

Stable supports

adjustable tripod for laser liner

  • Bosch, Skil and Metabo provide a tripod adjustable in height up to 1.50 m.

Laser liner Dewalt

  • For a ground projection with a 90° angle, Skil and Dewalt add a lateral opening. Ideal for laying tiles or viewing a partition in 3D.

Laser Skil liner

  • The Metabo and Makita lasers are equipped with pointers that allow to check the plumb of a wall.

Choice criteria for lignin lasers

  • Some laser levels like Dewalt or Skil can project up to four lines to form a right angle (90°). It is a practical option for laying tiles on the floor or drawing a partition.
  • The levels Metabo and Makita, in addition to projecting a vertical line and a horizontal, give thebalance. In addition, the horizontal line of Makita and Dewalt is projected vertically 180°.
  • The Stanley has another peculiarity: it is designed for a 360° horizontal projection. The level can be placed in the middle of a room for a 3D view. Ideal for placing a frieze on a wall or ceiling, for example.
  • There are just about every price and every grade of laser.
  • The models tested cost between 130 and 485 € *. The choice is not always easy and we must evaluate the type of work to be done.
* prices are from December 2016

Protect your eyes from the shelf

Lasers are ranked from 1 to 4, at least to the most dangerous *. The models tested here are class 2 (Stanley, class 1) with a power of 1 mW **. These levels present little danger. However, it is better to avoid the presence of children who tend to look for the origin of the ray.
* To find out more: cnso.fr
** 1 milliwatt (mW) equals one thousandth of a watt
.

Criteria for the evaluation of laser liners

For this test, we confronted three consumer laser levels and three models intended for building professionals. We performed tests that best fit common use for interior fittings. The devices are delivered already calibrated.

  • The precision allows to verify the fineness of the plot on small and long range, the lines tend to widen as the level moves away from the target wall. Light also affects the sharpness of projected lines. The more it is alive, the more the ray fades.
  • The functions are an inventory of what laser levels offer: accessories, options and settings. Basically, they all project a red line vertically and horizontally.
  • The comfort of use takes into account the weight of the device, its size and protective covering that covers it. It also concerns the ergonomics of the controls and their ease of use.
  • The commissioning is also an important point. We tested the startup, the settings and the automatic leveling time...

Test procedure *

The tests were carried out on a white wall and an anthracite gray, the levels being fixed on a Bosch tripod. The levels are indeed all equipped with the same attachment (M5 tapping). Different luminosities were tested: indoor artificial lighting and sunny natural lighting. Another check was made on the distance of the laser from the wall: from 1 to 10 m and then 15 m for the Makita and 20 m for the Metabo. This test revealed the precision losses of the devices, the intensity of the plot as a function of the distance as well as the variation of its thickness.
* System D test benches are made under real conditions of use by our journalists. The results may therefore differ from those displayed by the manufacturers, whose tests are performed by laboratories according to standardized protocols.

Laser Makita liner

  • Dewalt, Makita and Metabo are delivered with a magnetic plate to fix on the wall.
  • But the house must be equipped with plasterboard partitions with metal reinforcement.
  • The levels can be oriented on 180°, the turntables being equipped with a pivot

Laser lighter Metabo

  • The Metabo can be raised by 4 cm thanks to its sliding plate.

Stanley laser liner

  • Stanley, he proposes a tripod to be put on a workbench, a turntable to the wall and a telescopic pole up to 2.70 m.

Laser liner Dewalt

  • The Dewalt level comes with a sensor that allows measurements up to 50 m.

Laser storage box liner

  • Transport and storage These devices need to be stored and protected carefully.
  • Dewalt and Skil offer a hard enough hard case.
  • In the Skil, the tripod can take place.

Laser storage liner

  • Others have opted for a soft but padded bag that is worn on the belt (15).
  • Stanley, he offers a large bag 13 to store the level and the pole.

What to remember from the test?

Between the pros and the general public, the differences are played out on details. However, we note a better quality of manufacture for the first who will resist better in time. In the lead, the Dewalt is the most homogeneous and its projection in 3D makes it a simple level to use and to take in hand. Nearby, the Makita is well made, sturdy and accurate. Too bad he has so many optional accessories. Third tie, Skil and Bosch are good surprises. Three times cheaper than the previous ones, they are well equipped. We liked the control screen of the Bosch and the third line of Skil. In fourth place, the Stanley loses points on the readability of his lines. Fifth, the Metabo is a good product, but it offers too few benefits in terms of its price.

Skil, the favorite of System D

Skil, the favorite of System D

The Skil laser level is a good compromise. If you have to tile the floor it'sideal layout tool. Good value for money, it offers a hard case and a tripod very stable with adjustable head and adjustable height. The diagonal lines are possible and it is quite precise. Its compact size makes it easy to manipulate. Finally, the controls are clear and intuitive. No need to read the manual to understand how it works.

Comparative table of 6 laser levels

Comparative table of 6 laser levels


Click on the table to enlarge

Bosch laser level laser level

Bosch laser level laser level

Model: PLL 2
Price : 130 €
Wave length: 640 nm
Laser power: <1 mW
Laser range : 10 m
Precision0.5 mm / m
Diagonal tracing : Yes
Autonomy : 5 hours
Weight 400 g
Guarantee: 3 years*

  • Precision: 7,0
    The lines remain fine even at 10 m. But they fade on clear wall and natural light from 5 m
  • functions : 7,3
    Possibility to block the balance system for transportation and diagonal paths.
  • Comfort in use: 7,5
    It's the only one to offer a function control screen. It also gives the inclination for oblique plots
  • Commissioning: 7,5
    A big start button and a small button to choose the functions, the Bosch is in simplicity
Test result: 7.3

Dewalt Laser Level Liner

Dewalt Laser Level Liner

Model: DW089KD
Price : 485 €
Wave length637 nm
Laser power: <1.5 mW
Laser range: 10 m
Precision0.3 mm / m
Diagonal tracing : Yes
Autonomy: 8 hours
Weight900 g
Guarantee: 2 years

  • Precision : 8,5
    The lines remain bright and visible even with a bright light and clear wall. They measure approximately 2.5 mm
  • functions: 8,0
    The configuration of this level makes it possible to visualize the future partition or room in three dimensions
  • Comfort in use: 8,0
    This laser level can be used both indoors and outdoors. With the sensor, its range is 50 m
  • Commissioning: 7,5
    Quite heavy, it is very stable even on the floor or on a table. It comes with a magnetic holder and a clamp
Test result: 8.0

Laser Level Makita Liner

Laser Level Makita Liner

Model: SK103PZ
Price : 348 €
Wave length635 nm
Laser power: <1 mW
Laser range15 m
Precision0.3 mm / m
Diagonal tracing: Yes
Autonomy: 8 hours
Weight470 g
Guarantee: 3 years*

  • Precision: 9,0
    The lines are neat regardless of the distance. This level can reach 60 m with an optional sensor.
  • functions: 7,6
    The horizontal beam can be seen on 180°. A bright pointer on each side helps to pinpoint this angle with precision
  • Comfort in use: 7,5
    This level is under high protection. It is covered with a thick anti-slip and shockproof sheath
  • Commissioning: 7,3
    The start button is also used for plotting. It is also protected from blows by a protective rubber.
Test result: 7.9

Laser level Metabo lighter

Laser level Metabo lighter

Model : KLL 2-20
Price : 483 €
Wave length635 nm
Laser power: <1 mW
Laser range: 20 m
Precision 0.3 mm / m
Diagonal tracing: No
Autonomy: 20 hours
Weight 540 g
Guarantee: 3 years*

  • Precision: 7,5
    The lines are fine and precise up to 10 m. But the vertical line becomes very difficult to discern at 20 m
  • functions : 5,5
    This level can broadcast two lines at a time (cross), but no diagonal line. On the other hand, it has the function plumb.
  • Comfort in use: 7,0
    The function selection button is a bit small. The case, covered with anti-slip material, is well protected
  • Commissioning: 7,0
    Compact and lightweight, it is easy to transport and immediately ready for use. The start button is flexible
Test result: 6.8

Stanley laser level liner

Stanley laser level liner

Model: SLL360
Price: 190 €
Wave length635 nm
Laser power: <1 mW
Laser range: 10 m
Precision 0.4 mm / m
Diagonal tracing : Yes
Autonomy : 8 hours
Weight600 g
Guarantee: 3 years*

  • Precision: 6,5
    The lines are not very legible with clear lighting. Better to work without too much light. Otherwise the plot remains thin at 10 m
  • functions: 7,8
    The level offers 360° vision, coupled with the cross function. In addition, it is possible to draw diagonals
  • Comfort in use: 7,0
    A single button is used for startup and settings. The level is protected from shockproof rubber material
  • Commissioning: 7.2
    Automatic leveling is very fast. This level comes with a mast for work at height.
Test result: 7.1

Laser level Skil liner

Laser level Skil liner

Model: LL0516
Price:131 €
Wave length: 640 nm
Laser power: <1 mW
Laser range: 10 m
Precision: 0.5 mm / m
Diagonal tracing: Yes
Autonomy : 5 hours
Weight: 500 g
Guarantee: 3 years*

  • Precision: 6,8
    The plots are quite thin up to 5 m. Light beams do not like bright light and clear walls over long distances
  • functions: 7,5
    Its vertical side beam is a real plus for the ground layout. The level can also make oblique plots.
  • Comfort in use: 7,5
    A hard case and a telescopic tripod with adjustable head are part of the basic equipment
  • Commissioning: 7,5
    This level is perfect to start. Sound signal and simplicity of the command to choose the functions
Test result: 7.3


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