What Is A Rotary Laser Level? | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

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What is a Rotary Laser Level?

What is rotary laser level infographic

A rotary laser level is used in a variety of construction projects. It shoots a 360-degree horizontal or vertical beam around a room. It can even be used in outdoor applications with a laser detector and grade rod for the purpose of digging down or building up. A construction laser level can be either adjusted manually with a bubble level, or it will have an electronic self-leveling mechanism that operates based on a pendulum system or with set of gears.

What is rotary laser level infographic

It projects the beam around a complete circle, which allows it to establish a horizontal or vertical plane. It’s actually a single beam of light that can rotate between 100 and 1,100 RPM, which is what makes it look like a 360-degree chalk line. For indoor applications, a rotary laser level kit is useful for anything that requires a horizontal level reference around a room. But if you place it upright, you can have a floor-to-ceiling vertical reference. The beam is created by something called a “diode,” which is a semiconductor that produces light when a current passes through it. And they’re used in many common appliances (such as CD players, computers, and TV remote controls).

Rotary Laser Leveling Methods

A rotary laser level can be leveled in three different ways, which includes the following:
  • Manual Leveling — With this method, you will have to level the device by adjusting the laser according to a set of bubble vials that have been built into the device. So, its accuracy will depend on the quality of the level vial and how good of an eye you have. While the accuracy of a construction laser level can be 1/8 of an inch for every 30 feet and the setup is longer, it will be the least expensive option.
  • Self-Leveling — In this method, the laser levels itself through a pendulum and a series of magnets. The accuracy will typically be 1/8 of an inch for every 100 feet, so it’s better than a manual leveling system.
  • Electronic Self-Leveling — Also called “automatic self-leveling,” this method uses a series of small servo motors to level itself to an accuracy of 1/16 of an inch for every 10 feet.
If you’re looking for the best rotary laser level kit for your specific needs, be sure to look at what we have at Engineer Supply.

Rotary Laser Level Wavelength

The color of the beam is determined by the wavelength of the laser. The diodes are measured in nanometers (nm), which is one billionth of a meter. So, it’s very small in size. The color spectrum that’s visible to the human eye is between 380 nm (purple) and 750 nm (red). The color of a laser beam is either red (635 nm) or green (532 nm), which is near that center of the visible spectrum and makes the beam more noticeable to the human eye. Green beams are considered to be at least 400% brighter, so it’s more visible than a red laser level. But regardless of the color, you won’t be able to see the beam coming from a rotary laser level outside. That’s why outdoor applications always require the use of a laser detector.

Laser Intensity

The intensity of a laser beam is determined by the amount of power that’s used to project the beam, which is measured in milliwatts (mw). Class I and Class II lasers are considered low-powered with a range from below 0.4 mw to 1 mw, but laser levels are typically Class IIIA, which is between 1mw and 5 mw. At these levels, the beam is safe if it catches your eye. But you shouldn’t stare directly into it. The closer the laser is to 5 mw, the brighter (and more expensive) it will be. Class IIIB lasers can be anywhere from 5 mw to 500 mw and require special controls. But Class IV lasers are considered high-powered at about 500 mw, which is dangerous to view under any conditions. So, they’re not typically used on a construction laser level.

The Accuracy of a Rotary Laser Level

Safco Standing Desks

The accuracy of a rotary laser level kit can range from 1/16th of an inch to 1/18 of an inch for every 50 to 100 feet. This is much more accurate than a spirit level (or bubble level), and it can cover a much wider distance.

The Working Range of a Rotary Laser Level

The range of a rotary laser level kit will usually be within a specified diameter, which will often be measured in feet. This will be your 360-degree range. And because the rotary laser level is in the center of the range, the distance in any one direction is considered the radius (which is 1/2 of the specified diameter). The range of this type of construction laser level can be up to 2,000 feet in diameter with a laser detector, which is most likely to be used outside because of distance and the inability to see the beam in outdoor environments. But if you’re inside and can see the beam, the range can be even greater.

How to Calibrate a Rotary Laser Level

You can calibrate a rotary laser level by taking the following steps:
  • Place the level on a flat surface or tripod in a room with two opposing walls.
  • Put the unit one inch from the wall and at least 20 feet from the opposite wall.
  • Position the laser along the axis of the vial you want to level, which should point to both walls.
  • There are two screws that correspond to each vial. Adjust them until the unit is level along both axes. Both vials need to show bubbles resting between two black lines.
  • Turn on the laser.
  • Mark where the laser beam hits the near and far walls.
  • Move the laser one foot away from the far wall.
  • Level the laser and adjust the height so it hits the mark you made on the far wall.
  • Walk over to the initial near wall to measure the difference between the first mark and the laser line.
  • If the difference is less than or equal to the level’s specified accuracy, the unit has been properly calibrated.
  • If the difference is greater, the unit needs to be calibrated further.
  • Go back and adjust the laser so it hits halfway between the two marks you measured. This mark is considered “true level.”
  • Remove the screw cap for the vial. And using the appropriate tool, adjust the vial until it’s level.
Once you have completed these steps, your rotary laser level will be properly calibrated.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rotary laser level?

Safco Standing Desks

A rotary laser level kit emits a level line reference around a room in 360 degrees. They’re a little larger and are mounted on a tripod. Some of them can be laid on their side by using an optional trivet that allows them to project the beam along a vertical plane.

What is the best self-leveling laser level?

Laser technology has been helpful in providing a point of reference in projects that need a “straight line” reference, but not all of them are created equal. The best ones have different beams and orientations, can level themselves, and have a long battery life. They even come with high-powered laser beams that can remain visible during daylight hours. Getting a good construction laser level that’s well designed can help you avoid expensive mistakes related to inaccuracy or visibility issues.

How do I calculate grade with a laser level?

You can calculate grade with a laser level by performing the following steps:
  • Set up the level on a tripod that’s set on firm, dry ground.
  • Turn on the laser level, and give it a moment to self-level.
  • Determine the initial height of your grade.
  • Place the bottom of the leveling rod at the desired height.
  • Adjust the laser detector up or down until you hear a beep.
If you’re looking for the best construction laser level for your specific needs, be sure to browse through the broad selection we have at Engineer Supply.

What is the best rotary laser level?

Because there are so many things that go into the selection process (such as design, accuracy, and range), finding the right rotary laser level kit is far from easy. There are a lot of options available, so you want to make sure you choose one that will meet your specific needs.

Where can I buy a quality rotary laser level?

If you’re looking for a quality rotary laser level you can use on your next project, you can find what you need at Engineer Supply. We have a variety of laser levels and measuring tools from some of the best manufacturers in the industry. Feel free to look at what we have in stock, so you can find a construction laser level that will meet your specific needs.
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