Last updated: October 22, 2020

How Does A Laser Level Work?

Published 4:00 pm


A laser level is a control tool that comprises of a rotating laser beam projector that can be attached to a tripod. The control tool is levelled according to the device’s accuracy, and then it sends out a fixed red or green beam in a horizontal or vertical plane.

A laser level comes in varying designs, and some have specific applications. The basic components of a laser level are the levelling base that can be set on a surface or tripod. The function of the base is to send the beam at your desired height. The second component is the levelling system, it can either be automatic, or a have a spirit level joined to the unit. Most basic laser levels use a spirit level for its setup. The operator will have to adjust the laser level manually, to make it align with the marking in the spirit level. You can do this by adjusting the level in relation to the base, or you could change the position of the unit.

A laser level makes use of a laser which is an amplified light beam that is emitted from a solid-state device called a diode. These diodes that emit light are also known as LEDs, and they can be commonly found in many devices such as remote controls, digital clocks and television screens. A laser is produced when certain electrons are stimulated, which causes them to give off a beam of light that is collected by prisms and mirrors and then pointed in one direction, thereby resulting in a laser beam.

Laser levels send out a beam of light that is used as a virtual pointer when a straight and level point is required. The beams size depends on the size of the diode. The smaller, the better, a smaller beam of light is more precise. If you use a wider beam of light, the actual level point can be found anywhere inside the width of the beam.

The first laser levels were used only indoors because the beam of the laser was not bright enough to use outdoors – it couldn’t be seen. However, today we have brands that designed more powerful laser levels for both indoor and outdoor use. Many of these newly designed laser levels come with a light detector that reads the laser’s light. The light sensor is placed away from the laser’s diode and then moved up and down until the projection of the light beam is detected, then it signals with a beep or blink.

Majority of lasers emit a red beam of light, but some manufacturers now produce green lasers that are 400% brighter than their counterpart, and this makes them more visible for indoor and outdoor use. Because the green light is 400% brighter, it needs more power than the red beam. This means that it does not have a long-lasting battery life and the red lasers are more accurate and more dependable when used in different temperatures. Laser levels are usually made with small, low-intensity diodes, and they are powered by rechargeable or alkaline batteries.

Laser Level Vs Traditional Level

A laser level is best used when an application needs a straight guideline over a long distance, like when installing chair rails or closet shelving. A traditional level is best suited for small tasks such as levelling a piece of furniture or adjusting a family portrait on the wall.

How To Use A Laser Level

It is relatively easy to use a laser level. Although they come with a variety of designs, there is always a style that fits and application. Different types of laser levels have different specific uses. Still, they all include the two basic components, a levelling base and a levelling mechanism that is either a bubble vial or a pendulum with magnets and electronic sensors.

Laser levels work in different ways. The manual laser level work in the traditional way. The operator sets up a line bubble inside a vial either by changing the position of the level or turning a knob. It is best suited for DIY projects; they are less expensive and do not require a lot of battery power.

The self-levelling laser levels offer a high degree of accuracy. They work best when they are mounted on a surface that the operator thinks is close to level. You can also use a bubble vial to level the unit before the laser levels’ self-levelling mechanism takes over. The component of the laser hangs like a pendulum inside the level. Magnets and gravity still the pendulum, then the beam is projected through light or prism.

There are some laser levels that are equipped with electronic self-levelling sensors that increases the accuracy and reliability, and they are best suited for outdoor use. They also help to save time and increase reliability in indoor jobs.

Types Of Laser Levels

There are different types of laser levels that are available in the market; they vary in their application and price. They include;

A Point Generator

This is the simplest type of laser level. It is a spirit level that emits a laser dot and may have a line generator that can be turned down in front of the beam.

Dot Lasers

A dot laser sends out a simple point that can be square, level or plumb. There are different models of this type of laser level that range in price from $20 to over $500. The least expensive models are best suited for indoor use, while other models can be used outdoors.

Line Laser

This laser level is a point to point level that can emit numerous horizontal and vertical laser lines by making use of multiple LED diodes over a distance of 65 to 100 feet. They are made for indoor use and they most times come with a plumb up and plumb down ability. Some other models also feature a pulsing light technology that works as a light detector, and this allows them to be used outside. They vary in price from $40 to over $600.

Rotary Laser Levels

These laser levels send out a dot to create a 360% line. A detector is used to read the laser lines over a long distance. Majority of rotary lasers feature single line generators with plumb up and plumb down capabilities. They are suitable for outdoor use such as laying foundations, grading roads and laying pipes. They are the most accurate laser level and also the most expensive, they cost between $250 to over $2,000.


It is important to have a general idea of what you want your building to look like before purchasing a laser level. Knowing this will help you narrow down your search when it comes to certain features and specifications. A laser level can help you achieve accuracy with your work.