What is the difference between an auto level and a dumpy level? - EngineerSupply

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What is the difference between an auto level and a dumpy level?

Auto Level & Theodolite

Auto levels and dumpy levels can both be valuable pieces of a surveyor’s toolkit. The differences between them commonly cause confusion, but it’s important to understand all of their capabilities and limitations before you make a purchase for your next project. Let’s dive into the details so you can discover which of these tools is right for you.

Dumpy Levels

What makes a dumpy level appealing to many surveyors is its simple, straightforward design and relative lack of moving parts. Compared to an automatic level, a dumpy level is easier to manipulate but requires more precision from the surveyor. Surveyors will not need to make as many adjustments to a dumpy level as they would to an automatic level, as dumpy levels can retain adjustments for a longer period of time.

Like automatic levels, dumpy levels require support from a tripod that is raised to eye level. Dumpy levels feature high optical power that allows for accurate, reliable long-range readings.

Automatic Levels

Because automatic levels are higher-tech in their design, there can be a learning curve to using them effectively. However, surveyors who take the time to understand all the features and the full capacity of their auto level will find it easier to use. Auto levels are known for their high standard of accuracy, and while dumpy levels can also measure angles quite accurately, they require more input from the operator to achieve this standard of precision.

Auto levels contain an internal compensator mechanism that intuitively adjusts the line of sight to ensure accuracy. You can also adjust the position of the level’s sight bubble using the screws on any side of the device.


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The Decision

Your decision on which level to go with will ultimately come down to your budget, the particulars of your project, and your comfort level with the equipment. Engineer Supply has a wide selection of high-quality levels and general surveying equipment to take the stress out of construction. Don’t hesitate to contact the experts on our customer support team for more advice before making your next purchase!

Auto Level & Dumpy

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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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