LASER LEVELS

Laser levels replaced the chalk lines in the work place. They save time and manpower on the job.

The laser level market has much to offer yet you need to know what best suits your needs and what advances and new technologies are available to you. We hope these explanations will help you do just that.

Terminology

With new technology comes new terminology.

These are some of the terms you will come across and should understand to best chose the laser level for you.

Although the laser diode is compact, lightweight with low power requirements (measured in milliwatts), its output is highly visible. There are two types of laser diodes on the market today: with red and green output.

Both the red and the green lasers are highly visible and equally accurate yet, there are differences. The green lasers appear brighter and the line or point is crisper with a slightly increased range than its red laser counterpart. Although the green lasers are more visible in low and bright light than the red lasers, for outdoor use with either the red or green laser, we recommend using a detector for optimum visibility.

The color of visible light corresponds to its wavelength (in nanometers) or frequency (in Hertz). The light of the wavelength, between 390 to 700 nanometers (nm) is visible to the naked eye, above or below these numbers, the eye cannot see because it’s either producing ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) light. The human eye is the most sensitive to light at a wavelength of about 555 nm.

Red lasers’ wavelength is around 635nm (±5nm) while green lasers’ is around 525nm (±5nm). Because the green lasers are closer to the optimum visible eye wavelength it is also the most visible.

A procedure for bringing the accuracy of the laser to within its factory specifications. Lasers are sensitive tools if it falls or is mishandled, it can lose or deviate from its initial factory calibration. It’s generally recommended to check the accuracy of the calibration periodically.

  1. Place the laser on a flat, vibration free surface as near as possible to a long wall.
  2. Switch the laser ON and press the Beam Selector button until the horizontal beam is projected.
  3. Make two marks on the wall at the laser line – one close to the laser and one as far away as possible.
  4. Move the laser unit as close to the far away mark as possible.
  5. Measure the height difference between the laser line and each of the 2 previous marks on the wall.

If the 2 height differences are equal, it is calibrated.

  1. Hang a plumb line from a high point on a wall.
  2. Place the laser on a flat, vibration free surface about 1m (3ft) from the wall.
  3. Press the Beam Selector button until the vertical beam is projected.
  4. Adjust the laser so that it touches the bottom of the plumb line.

If the laser line is touching the plumb line at the top, the laser is calibrated.

Accuracy represents an output’s degree deviation or tolerance. Professional laser levels have different degrees of tolerance, ranging from 0.1mm/m (0.0001″/”) all the way up to 0.4mm/m (0.0004″/”). This tolerance signifies that for each meter (ft.) of distance, the output of the laser level (projected line or dot) could have a maximum deviation of 0.1mm (0.0001″) from the ideal position.

The laser range refers to the visible area of the laser from the point of departure to the furthest point of reach. The range will vary if the laser level is used indoors or outdoors because surrounding light level and conditions are different. When using a laser level outdoors, it’s recommended to also use a detector.

Self-leveling is achieved by hanging the laser component, like a pendulum inside the level. Magnets and gravity work together to still the pendulum and the beam is then projected through a light or prism. Self-leveling laser levels offer a greater degree of accuracy. The self-leveling range is the scope of variation within which the pendulum stays level.

When you put a laser level on pulse mode you are changing the way the laser is projected. It no longer is a continuous light but appears in pulses of repetitive dots. It isn’t an obvious change to the human eye, but the detector will be able to read the laser beam only on pulse mode.

When working outdoors, the lighting conditions may not allow you to easily see the laser beam. This is where the detector comes in, a movable sensor which can detect the laser beam and gives a signal when the sensor is in line with the beam (either visual blinking or/and audible beep).

The durability of any laser level depends on its casing, the securing of the self-leveling mechanism and diode as well as maintenance. A tough shock resistant rubber casing is a must for a tool with sensitive internal parts in a tough work environment with dust, mud, water and other building materials. Because self-leveling laser levels have sensitive mechanisms they should be locked before being moved or stored and of course, maintenance is always key. Many lasers come with their own padded carry bags or hard carry cases.

Is a laser level safe for your eyes?
The short answer, as with any tool which is properly used, is yes.

A standardized classification for all types of laser systems (according to hazard with specified appropriate control recommendations) exists. Class II lasers are the industry standard in the European Union, although more powerful diodes are permitted in some markets. We, at Kapro believe that a small, low-intensity diode with a rated output of less than 1mW (Class II) is powerful enough and completely safe when used with a couple of simple precautions:

  • Never look directly into the source of the laser beam
  • Read and follow the manual safety instructions
  • Remember that BeamFinder glasses help you find the beam but do not protect your eyes.

The IP classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion of dust, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

The first digit of the IP code stands for solid particle protection (dust):

Grade 6 is the highest grade of dust resistance and is extremely useful when working drywall projects or in dusty working environments.

The second digit of the IP code stands for liquid ingress protection (water):

Grade 5 covers dripping, rain, falling water, splashing water as well as projected water which is extremely useful in any indoor or outdoor construction environment where the unexpected can happen

Types

WHICH LASER LEVEL WILL BEST SUIT YOUR NEEDS?

The decision of which laser level to invest in depends on whether you’re a professional contractor and will use the laser tool on an on-going basis or if you’re doing a one-time job. For home improvement jobs, investing in a simple multi-purpose laser product can be a money saver and make your work more professional. In some situations, such as working in confined spaces and “up close” level and plumb readings, a traditional level may be a better choice. For professional applications, a laser level saves time and money because it allows one person to do layouts and take measurements that used to take at least two people to do and increases the accuracy of the overall work.

TYPES OF LASER LEVELS

These are the more basic lasers and produce single or multiple dots on the wall or work surface. They work much like a reference point, or a laser plumb bob.

Plumb up and plumb down beams help in framing rooms or transferring measurements from the floor to the ceiling.

Within the line lasers there are multiple categories: line laser, cross line laser and multiple line laser. As per their descriptive name, it’s easy to visualize their assets.

Some offer additional features such as plumb up and plumb down, 360° beams and multiple crosses (when plumb and level lines cross each other)

Rotary Lasers emit a rotating dot at high speed to create a 360° line in the work environment. Rotary Lasers come with either a Fixed Rotation Speed, or a Variable Rotation Speed. RPM (Rotations Per Minute) represents the number of times the laser in a Rotary Laser rotates in one minute. Most Construction Rotary Lasers have either a fixed RPM or a variable RPM. A faster RPM is dimmer but travels farther (so you get more range). A slower RPM does not travel as far but is brighter and easier to see. Use a slower RPM when inside because the beam will be easier to see and a faster RPM when outside because it will travel farther. If you need a solid dot reference set the laser at 0 RPM.

The line from a rotary laser is not visible to the human eye outdoors in bright sunlight. Using a laser detector helps you locate the laser line. For a Rotary Laser Detector to locate the line the RPM must be at least 600.

A laser detector does not emit, it receives the laser beam. laser detectors are generally used when working outdoors in bright light with a laser level and the laser lines or dots are difficult to see. Laser Detectors can shorten the amount of time needed when trying to find the level beam and get on level.

Most Detectors have a visual and audible alarm. The visual is usually an LCD screen and the audible is a beeping noise that beeps faster and faster the closer you get to being on level. When you do get on level, a solid tone that alerts when you’re 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.

Outdoor lasers have various reliable ranges of operation.

TYPES OF LASER LEVELING

A manual leveling laser requires the operator to manually level the unit by turning the unit’s thumbs screws and getting the unit leveled by looking at the bubble vials.

In self-leveling lasers, the laser diode is mounted on a pendulum, which allows it to self-level. The moment the lock is released, the pendulum is set free. For indoor jobs where the level is moved around frequently, a self-leveling mechanism helps save time and increases reliability.

Electronic servo-motors do all the leveling for you. Electronic self-leveling mechanisms boost accuracy and reliability and are ideal on a busy outdoor construction sight.

FIELDS OF APPLICATION

Whether you are doing and indoor or outdoor project, the right laser level will be invaluable.

These are Kapro’s recommendations for some of the possible projects you might embark on.

INDOORS

OUTOORS

DISTANCE MEASURER

What does a laser distance calculate and how?

A Laser Distance Meter sends a pulse of laser light to the target and measures the time it takes for the reflection to return. On-board processing allows the device to add, subtract, calculate area, distance and volume as well as triangulate.

Dynamic measuring is basically continuous, the device takes  many measurements a second. As you measure and move, the measurement changes according to your position.

The theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

As an equation it looks like this:  a² + b² = c²

An inclinometer is an instrument used for measuring angles of slope or tilt, elevation or depression of an object with respect to the gravity’s direction.

Distance measurers are recommended for job estimation, layout and raw material calculations as well as construction calculations and measurements.

Kapro offers two top of the line distance measurers for all your measuring needs.

363 KAPROMETER K-3

Distance measurer with BeamFinder™ flip cover, a choice of 2 reference points, a 2mm/m accuracy and a measuring range of up to 30m (100′). User friendly, the 363 will save you time when calculating and measuring projects.

377 KAPROMETER K7

Distance measurer with inclinometer, Bluetooth, BeamFinder™ flip cover, achoice of 3 reference points, a 1.5mm/m accuracy and a measuring range of up to 100m (328′). With the Bluetooth Wireless technology and Kapro application, you can transfer the 377 KAPROMETER™ K7 measurements to your smartphone or tablet.

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