Rotary Laser Levels 101


    rotart laser level 101

    They’re a must-have tool.  If you need to measure a straight line, transfer a consistent line of level over long and medium-range, then a rotary laser level is the go-to tool.

    Sure, there are water levels and transits, there’s the old guy with a piece of chalked string.  Those are all viable options…50 years ago.  But those all have one thing in common:  A high degree of human error.

    Why would you trust your eyes when you can measure and grade at such a precise level with laser technology?  Don’t answer that.  It was rhetorical.

    Not to mention that laser levels cut man hours, workload, and you don’t have to keep measuring, moving along a line and measure again…and again.

    What is a Rotary Laser Level

    • Advanced measuring tool
    • Creates a constant line across ALL types of surfaces and distances (for instance, finding a constant and level line along a slope.)
    • It is an independent instrument. In other words, it can measure distance and level with accuracy all alone.

    How Does a Rotary Laser Level Work?

    • It self-levels itself and emits a constant 360-degree laser beam both horizontally and vertically.
    • A detecting device locates the beam and then said detector will usually beep when it reaches/finds/calibrates into the desired level.

    Max Range of Rotary Laser Levels

    Depending on the type, brand, power of the rotary laser level you’re using it will vary.  The bigger and better the instrument, the longer the range.

    As an example:  The best laser levels that we recommend will reach a distance of up 2k feet!  While a good laser level will stay around the 1k to 1.2k feet range.  ALL WITH PRECISE ACCURACY OVER THOSE DISTANCES.

    Now, let’s take a look at how different methods of leveling will affect range, accuracy and price.

    Differing Methods of Leveling

    There are 3 ways of using these instruments to level:  Manually, Self-Leveling, and Auto Self-Leveling.


    It’s a tougher process where the user (that’s you!) adjusts the laser to bubble inside the liquid vial.  Depending on your eye and the quality of the mechanism (bubble and vial) the accuracy will differ. Accurate up to a 1/8 of an inch but only up to 30 feet.


    More accurate than a manual leveling experience.  The level does the work itself by using magnets, pendulums, and plumb bobs. Most of the time it is accurate to within an 1/8 of an inch at up to 100 feet.

    Did you know: A plumb bob, or plummet, is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line. It is a precursor to the spirit level and used to establish a vertical or horizontal datum.

    Self-Leveling Electronically:

    The be-all knows all of the accuracy.  Using micro, servo-motors, the laser level does the job completely by itself and is ultra-accurate getting to within 1/16 of an inch, up to 100 feet.  This is what we at TopLaserLevel call “automatic self-leveling”. Most of today’s rotary laser levels are these automatic leveling types.  It’s quick and accurate. Again, cutting work and man-hours by several multiples and drastically reducing the chance of human error.

    So, what are these Laser Levels Used For:

    Landscaping:  You can check out some of our articles here:

    Landscapers use rotary laser levels to determine grades of specific areas of land in order to determine if needs additional grading or styling determined by the work called for.  Wanna’ put in a yard pond?  You don’t do it on high ground.  It helps professionals and DIY home gardeners develop a more polished and cleaner look on the property.


    Well, yeah.  Construction workers, contractors, carpenters, handy-“men”, etc. have plenty of reason and need to have a laser level in their “tool belt”.  Laying tiles, redoing floors & ceilings, and foundation jobs all call for a great deal of accuracy and professionalism.

    Home DIY Improvement

    If you need to a home job then you can certainly use a laser level of your own.  We have plenty of articles here to help you through the process and usage of one of these gadgets.  Don’t feel like it’s too tech or too complicated.  If Raf can do it, so can you! 😊 If you’re adding a room or putting in window or walls, then these tools are just what you’re looking for.

    How to Properly Set Up a Laser Level

    Setting up a laser level, rotary or not, is the most difficult and most crucial part of the job.  If you want the most accurate results, then care needs to be given in this step.  Also, after set up you’ll need to calibrate the level so don’t pass up the chance to read our calibrating a laser level article (hyperlinked just up there ↑)

    Place the level on elevated and stable ground or surface.  Tripods are the crucial thing here and are adjustable to needed high.  Note:  If it’s not stable then it’s not good.  Make sure it can’t be easily bumped or blow over.  Not only will you have to start ALL OVER but it will damage the laser level.

    Turn on the laser level when it’s firmly in place where you want/need it.

    Self-Leveling will take a moment to find its level point. Manual levels need to manually configure to find its level mark. (Think dials, vials, and bubbles)

    Aim the laser in the desired direction and the wait for a beeping noise (these noises are similar in most makes and models but will differ somewhat).  Now, the laser may not be visible during the day so consider some laser glasses for daylight usage.

    Lastly, you’ll need to start marking and drawing lines.  This ensures accuracy.  A laser level receiver will help greatly with this and let you know if you’re off or not.

    Let’s Talk About Grading

    If you’re grading then you’re most likely doing some construction.  By grading, we mean ensuring that the base or ground that you’re working on is leveled adequately enough to start the foundation and building process.  The old adage si always true:  Bad foundations equal bad buildings. And grading is the point where it all starts.

    The rotary laser level is paramount for grading and when you are sure that there is no further digging, combing, pushing, plowing or filling needed, the construction phase is able to begin.

    Final Words

    Not only is the rotary laser level a huge upgrade to the construction community, it also allows us “common folk” who just like to do their own work to be as accurate as those contractors and carpenters.  The days of advanced algorithmic knowledge can mostly be a thing of the past thanks to the availability of laser level tech.


    Previous articleHow Much Does a Laser Level Cost?
    Howze it? I'm Raf. Been living and working construction in Hawaii for about 10 years. Just recently started doing some handy man work around my neighborhood and then got the itch to review equipment that makes my life easier and hopefully yours too.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here