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Buyers' Guide: Construction Lasers

What Are Construction Lasers?

Construction lasers are used as an accurate level reference during any layout process. Typical applications include installing ceiling tiles and pools, landscaping, leveling floors, performing basic surveys, and even construction site grading.

In surveying and construction, the laser level is a control tool that includes a laser beam projector which is affixed to a tripod, leveled and rapidly spun to indicate a horizontal plane. The laser beam projector has a rotating head with a mirror that sweeps the laser beam around a vertical axis. Some mirrors are self-leveling, while others can be manually adjusted.

There are many types of construction lasers in the market today. The model and features you need largely depend on the job you are trying to do. The three basic types of construction lasers are dot lasers, line lasers and rotary lasers.

Dot Lasers (Plumb Lasers)

Dot lasers are used to project a reference point or points on work surfaces such as walls and ceilings.

Line Laser Levels (Line Generators)

Line lasers beam a level line in one direction along a single work surface. These types of lasers are typically used indoors and are handheld or mounted on a lightweight platform.

Rotary Laser Levels

Rotary lasers create a level line around an entire room in 360 degrees. These lasers are typically larger than line and dot lasers, are suited for indoor use – though they can also be used outside with a laser receiver – and are usually mounted on surveying tripods. Generally, line and dot lasers are used for distances less than 150 feet, and rotary lasers are used for distances greater than 200 feet.

Optical and Digital Levels

Optical levels act as magnifiers that you simply look through. Digital levels read a barcode rod for more precise measurements, eliminating the possibility of human error.

Accessories

Accessories commonly used with construction lasers include:

• Tripods
• Leveling rods and staffs
• Laser detectors
• Mounting hardware
• Batteries

What to Look for When Choosing a Construction Laser

When shopping for a construction laser, first consider the type of work you are doing and how accurate you need to be. Do you need a horizontal laser or are you working with grades? Are you installing a pool? Building a deck? Or are you using heavy equipment on a construction site?

Here are some features to consider when choosing the best construction laser for you:

Manual Leveling vs. Self-Leveling/Automatic Leveling Lasers

Manual leveling lasers require you to manually level them through the adjustment of foot screws and bubble vials. Self-leveling lasers automatically find and maintain a level within a specific range. With some lasers, you can use the bubble vial for a “rough” level and then the laser will more accurately level itself. Some automatic leveling lasers will continuously level themselves as needed and will even shut off if they get out of level by a certain range. Typically, self-leveling lasers level with the use of an internal pendulum, while automatic leveling lasers level by electronic servomotors.

Horizontal vs. Dual-Beam Lasers

Horizontal beam lasers project a single beam, whereas dual-beam, or split-beam lasers show horizontal or vertical beams to establish a regular plane, as well as produce a reference point such as a plumb-up dot on the ceiling.

Laser Detectors (Receivers)

Laser detectors, or receivers, are used with rotary laser levels. These detectors are typically mounted to level rods and are used to detect the laser beam when working outside. Laser detectors are needed when working outside with a laser level because the line is difficult to see in bright daylight. Most detectors have both a visual and audible alarm, and generally make a short “beeping” sound when they are close to being on level and a steady, solid tone when leveled.

Variable Rotation vs. Fixed Rotation Speeds

Most construction rotary lasers either have a fixed RPM (rotations per minute) or variable RPM. A faster RPM travels farther and provides more range, but is dimmer. A slower RPM is brighter and easier to see but does not travel as far. Typically, a slower RPM is used inside and a faster RPM is used outside.

Our Recommendations

Most Popular Horizontal Rotating Laser

The Leica Rugby 600 Series is the most popular horizontal rotating laser because of its ease of use and durability in the field. There are five models in the series – the Leica Rugby 610, 620, 640, 670 & 680 – all with different features.

The Leica Rugby 610, for example, has a simple, basic one-button operation and is fully automatic. This laser performs well with all Leica Rod Eye receivers and is very easy to use. The Leica Rugby 620 is ideal for concrete forming, pad placement and framework leveling. Setting foundations and footings has never been easier.

The Leica Rugby 640 rotating laser is perfect for any interior and exterior leveling, aligning and squaring application. Layout is quick and easy and the convenient “sleep mode” saves battery power without disturbing your setup.

The Leica Rugby 670 and 680 are great general construction lasers with digital grade capability. The unique “Smart Slope” function continuously monitors time and temperature changes to ensure accurate performance over the course of the day.

This series of horizontal rotating lasers is also popular because of its affordable price. Models start at $695 and go up to $2,500.

Best Price-to-Quality Ratio

All of the five models of the Leica Rugby 600 Series offer a professional solution with an outstanding price-to-quality-ratio, allowing quick leveling and aligning for general construction and interior applications and eliminating costly errors, rework and downtime.

The Leica Rugby 610 is a one-button laser that works perfectly for simple horizontal alignment tasks. The Leica Rugby 620 adds a manual slope feature for matching existing grades. For quick and easy interior and exterior alignment jobs, the Leica Rugby 640 is an ideal choice; the multipurpose rotating laser includes Leica Geosystems’ exclusive “Scan 90” feature, beam down and power-saving sleep mode.
The Leica Rugby 670 and 680 are semi-automatic grade lasers that provide continuous monitoring of the laser plane, ensuring accurate performance over the course of the day.
All five models feature the newest generation of long-lasting lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is extremely robust and allows more than 40 hours of operation per charge. The battery packs are interchangeable throughout the Leica Rugby 600 Series.

The Leica Rugby 600 Series lasers include the “PROTECT by Leica Geosystems" customer care package, which offers a lifetime warranty and a three-year no cost period.
Most Popular Rotating Laser for the Value

The Leica Rugby 800 Series (810/820/830/840) are the most popular rotating lasers for the value. With more functions than the Leica Rugby 600 Series, this series offers simple and reliable one-button lasers that protect against mistakes. The single axis slopes up to 45° with a manual slope adapter, and the built-in 12-cm detection window allows you to easily detect its beam over the entire distance.
The Leica Rugby 820 is ideal for concrete forming, pad placement and framework leveling, as well as setting foundations and footings. The Leica Rugby 830 is most used for precision jobs such as long-range leveling applications in general construction and machine control up to 4,430 feet and 140°F.
The solar panel enables you to power and charge anywhere, anytime, and the maximum temperature stability guarantees the highest accuracy across the entire operating temperature range.
The Leica Rugby 840 laser has the highest application performance for any leveling, aligning, and squaring applications on site. Smart Targeting enables tie-in slopes in single or dual axis and automatically aligns at the touch of a button. Smart Lock monitors and corrects the laser plane in real time, ensuring you always have reliable results.
The Leica Rugby 800 Series offers excellent value, starting at around $1,000 and going up to $2,000, depending on the options.

Most Popular Dual-Grade Laser

The most popular dual-grade laser we sell is the Leica Rugby 410DG Dual-Grade Laser. The 410DG is ideal for projects like pouring concrete, roads, driveways, parking lots, and more.
The Leica Rugby 410DG is automatic and self-leveling, can be used for any application involving precise grade control (including building pads, parking lots and runways), and has precise depth control for sub-base and fine grade excavation.

These lasers also have agricultural applications such as land leveling or tiling, and are used for concrete forming and framework, retention ponds, and setting foundations and footings.
Features include a simple-to-use, five-button keypad; real-time grade matching; dual batteries; a scope mount in both axes; a visible and invisible laser beam; grade capability in both axes; long-range remote control; axis alignment; laser plane stabilization; and enhanced operating range.
The Rugby 410DG starts at around $4,300 and goes up to around $5,900, depending on accessories.

Most Popular Line and Dot Laser

For interior projects, the Leica DISTO Series is the most popular line and dot lasers.

There are seven models in this series. All of these lasers are built to withstand rough conditions and come equipped with unique features designed to fit a wide range of jobsites.

The Leica DISTO E7500i can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications and has a range of 660 feet. It has the capability to zoom 4xs and has a point finder that makes it easy to see while outside. This laser will store up to 5,000 points (or measurements) and will also calculate volumes, areas and heights.

The 360-degree tilt sensor allows you to calculate height from the ground on any type of construction and calculations are made quickly and easily.

Models in this series can communicate with your Apple products through Bluetooth technology and range in price from $149 to $1,700.

The Leica Lino Series is also popular and available with either three or five points, or with crosslines.

The Leica Lino P3 is an easy-to-use, three-point laser that is ideal for plumbing projects. This self-leveling laser comes equipped with Power Range Technology™ and a magnetic multifunctional adapter.

The Leica Lino P5 has five laser beams. The beams are exactly at right angles to each other, which makes setting-out tasks easier and interior fitting-out more precise and efficient. This easy-to–use, self-leveling laser also comes equipped with Power Range Technology™ and a magnetic multifunctional adapter.

The Leica Lino L2 and Leica Lino L2P5 are crossline lasers that make alignment easier indoors, combining all the advantages of the Lino dot and line lasers. These lasers are easy to use, durable, and very precise. They begin at around $240, where the point lasers range from $379 to $500.

Most Rugged Construction Laser

The Leica Rugby 800 Series are some of the toughest lasers on the market today, popular because of their rugged design.

These lasers include the Leica PROTECT lifetime manufacturer’s warranty plus a two-year Knockdown Warranty – a major selling point to our customers. This warranty covers the entire product lifetime, including free repair or replacement of all defective parts. If any knockdown occurs within two years, all repairs to the internal self-leveling assembly are also covered under the policy.
These lasers also include a new generation of lithium-ion battery that is unbreakable and can be charged anywhere, anytime on site. The Rugby Series are also the only lasers in the industry with a military-grade certification (MIL-STD810G) and IP68 rating.

Best Ease-of-Use Construction Laser

The Leica Rugby 600 Series is the most popular horizontal rotating laser because of its ease of use and durability in the field. There are five models in the series – the Leica Rugby 610, 620, 640, 670 & 680 – all with different features.

The Leica Rugby 610, for example, has a simple, basic one-button operation and is fully automatic. This laser performs well with all Leica Rod Eye receivers and is very easy to use. The Leica Rugby 620 is ideal for concrete forming, pad placement and framework leveling. Setting foundations and footings has never been easier.

The Leica Rugby 640 rotating laser is perfect for any interior and exterior leveling, aligning and squaring application. Layout is quick and easy and the convenient “sleep mode” saves battery power without disturbing your setup.

The Leica Rugby 670 and 680 are great general construction lasers with digital grade capability. The unique “Smart Slope” function continuously monitors time and temperature changes to ensure accurate performance over the course of the day.

This series of horizontal rotating lasers is also popular because of its affordable price. Models start at $695 and go up to $2,500.