Total Station Versus an Auto Level | EngineerSupply - EngineerSupply

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Why Use Total Station Instead of Auto Level?

Blog Total Station Instead of Auto Level

Total stations and auto levels are two kinds of survey equipment. While each one is durable and high-quality, they do differ and are best suited for certain tasks. Here’s a guide to help you learn about both instruments and determine which one is right for your job.

blog total station instead of auto level

Total Station

A total station contains a distance meter and a theodolite, both of which are electronic. A distance meter uses a laser to measure distance, and a theodolite has a telescope that moves and measures angles in the vertical and horizontal planes. Thanks to its electronic data collector and microprocessor, the total station can also calculate and store the following information:

  • Height and location of specific points
  • Slope between a point and the total station
  • Averages of distances and angles

For additional analysis, you can download the measurements to your computer.

blog total station instead of auto level

Auto Level

An auto level is a piece of equipment that determines the height of points, which must lie within the same horizontal plane. Inside an auto level, you’ll find an internal compensator mechanism, an optical device that sways back and forth. You don’t have to make the base exactly level because this mechanism eliminates discrepancies when positioned near the plane. Since auto levels are self-levelling, they are easy to use. To set one up, simply insert the tripod into the ground and secure the level on the tripod. Make sure the compensator mechanism is in the middle of the vial, and fine-tune the recital. Finally, calibrate the lens so you have a clear view of the point you’re focusing on.

Uses of Each Instrument

Choosing a total station or an auto level depends on hat kind of work you’re doing. If you have zero coordinates or one coordinate, or you have two points, then a total station will work best. Resectioning, finding area, control and detail surveying, missing line measurement and remote distance measurement are examples of tasks a total station can accomplish. Because auto levels are self-levelling, they are ideal for land surveys and use on properties that aren’t even and have varying heights, such as rough land and construction sites. Keep in mind, though, that they only calculate measurements in the horizontal plane, not angles or measurements in the vertical plane (You’ll want to use a total station to collect that data.).

Watch our videos to learn more about Auto Levels

Shop With EngineerSupply

EngineerSupply has been the premier online retailer for architecture, construction and engineering equipment for 20 years. Whether you need a total station, an auto level or both, we promise we’ll have it for you at an unbeatable price. Visit our website or call 800-491-8907 to shop our large selection of survey equipment today.

Best Total Stations

#1: Leica iCON 5-Second iCB70 Manual Construction Total Station

Best total stations leica-868588

Featuring mobile data capability, this Leica total station will let you transfer construction data between the office and the instrument. This will always keep your project progress and plans up to date, which will make sure you don’t miss any changes in the design. The device is simple and easy to master, so you can finish your projects more efficiently and with minimal training. You can analyze layout points both quickly and accurately, even on complex structures. You can also make fast and accurate as-built measurements, do volume calculations on-site, and work with digital design data (including fully rendered models in IFC format).

#2: GeoMax Zoom90 Series Robotic Total Station Package

Best total stations geoMax-6010321

With this total station, you can minimize the amount of time it takes to perform any survey task, while maximizing your performance and accuracy on the job site. This total station for surveying is the ultimate one-man system with the following features:

  • Up to 20% more automation performance.
  • Extended reflectorless measurement capability.
  • STReAM 360.
  • AccXess technologies.
  • Windows CE open connectivity.
It will scan the entire working area in seconds, so you can find your target quickly. Once it’s locked, the instrument will continue to aim at the target (even if it’s moving). It will also aim accurately at any prism without having to look through the telescope, and measurements are performed automatically with a great deal of dependability.

#3: Leica iCON 5-Second iCB50 Manual Construction Total Station

Best total stations leica-868584

This Leica total station will allow you to go digital, so it’s leading the way to the no-strings and no-tapes approach for a construction project. It’s easy to learn, so you can finish your projects more efficiently and with very little training. This total station will allow you to perform a variety of tasks, which include but may not be limited to:

  • Evaluating layout points and lines quickly and accurately.
  • Evaluating complex structures easily.
  • Quickly performing verticality checks on formwork and structures.
  • Completing fast and accurate as-built measurements.
  • Working with digital design data (including fully rendered models in IFC format).
If you’re looking for one of the best total stations for construction and surveying applications, be sure to pick yours up at Engineer Supply.

Best Smart Levels

David White LT8-300P 26x Transit Level with Optical Plummet

best smart levels 2021 PI-46-D8871

If you’re looking for the best smart level on the market, the David White LT8-300P 26x Transit Level with Optical Plummet is certainly a contender. This unit boasts features such as the following:
  • Range up to 400 ft.
  • Thread size of 5/8 x 11
  • Leveling accuracy of +/- 3/16-in. at 150-ft.
  • Hard carrying case included
This is one of the best builders levels on the market, and its 2 Year manufacturers limited warranty ensures that it will last.

ZIPLEVEL Pro-2000 High Precision Altimeter

best smart levels 2021-PI-ZIPLEVEL-Pro-2000

The ZIPLEVEL Pro-2000 High Precision Altimeter is another one of the best builders levels available, with several features that make it stand out:
  • Average, minimum, or maximum record reading
  • Range of up to 12 meter rod or 6 meter tripod
  • Automatic shut off after four minutes to save battery
  • Internal precision of 0.05” and 0.005” in HP
This smart level is designed to measure any elevation or distance, and its rugged build make it perfect for everyday use on job sites.

Topcon 32x Automatic Level AT-B2

best smart levels 2021-PI-2110220B0

Of all the auto levels on the market, the Topcon 32x Automatic Level AT-B2 stands out for its IPx6 rating and powerful ATB2 viewer. Some of its other features include:

  • 9 inch focusing range
  • +15 arc-minutes range
  • .3 arc-second accuracy
  • 2-speed focusing knob
These details make this one of the most precise levels available. When efficiency and accuracy matter, Topcon gets the job done.

David White LT8-300LP Universal Level-Transit with Laser Plummet

The only thing better than David White builders levels is a builders level that comes with a laser plummet, too. The LT8-300LP is a two-in-one wonder, and offers these features, too:
  • Class 2M laser plummet
  • Thread size of 5/8 x 11
  • Range up to 400 ft.
  • At 150 ft., +3/16 in. accuracy
The unit also includes Stadia and comes with a 2 year manufacturers limited warranty.

Sokkia B20 32X Automatic Level

best smart levels 2021-PI-2110120B0

Durability meets precision in the Sokkia B20 32X Automatic Level. With its magnetic damping system and two-speed focus knob, it’s designed for performance. These features add to its appeal:

  • Easy to see stadia lines
  • Quick setup
  • Automatic compensator
  • 20cm focus distance
If you need a unit that’s resistant to dust, shock, and vibration, this is one of the best auto levels you can choose. Its compact design and superior ruggedness is perfect for construction sites.
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