Level headed: the latest laser levels continue to offer contractors new features, greater accuracy, and more efficiency

Level headed: the latest laser levels continue to offer contractors new features, greater accuracy, and more efficiency – Product Info

Katy Tomasulo

Lasers have found their way into our lives in countless ways, from CD-ROMs to supermarket scanners. And just as dealers have come to rely on speedier checkouts, contractors are more dependent on laser levels that save time, measure more accurately, and operate more efficiently. Laser technology also has improved vastly over the past decade.

From line generators to rotary units, the styles and features of laser levels vary greatly from brand to brand, and they’re being used for a variety of plumb, level, and squaring tasks. Like power tools, lasers are available for a range of users, from simple DIY models to more powerful and rugged self-leveling products aimed at pros.

As a group, laser levels have undergone a series of changes during the past 10 years. The once-bulky units now are lightweight and small, while still packing a powerful punch. Higher quality laser diodes have come down in price, putting most units within the reach of the average contractor.

“In recent years, [laser levels] have come down significantly in price,” says DeWalt’s product manager for laser levels, David Goldman. “If you look at the amount of productivity versus the cost, it’s a no-brainer.” The company says the dual-diode system in its rotary laser levels provides brighter, more visible lines than typical rotary models. The units incorporate a unique cordless battery system that uses the same 9.6- to 18-volt cordless batteries as the company’s power tools (circle 102).

“Laser diodes used to cost an arm and a leg, but because they’re so widely used in other formats and industries, the price is way down,” says Ismail Resul, a division manager for CST/berger. The company, which recently acquired fellow manufacturer David White, is introducing the MP5 straight-line multipoint laser, which offers five individual diodes that allow for bright, crisp light output (circle 101).

LeveLite’s new AccuSquare Pro layout laser utilizes two laser diodes. The beams cross in front and extend 50 to 100 feet (circle 103).

This summer, Porter-Cable became the latest entrant into the market, with three new laser levels. The line includes model LL3100, which features three bubble vials and three laser beams, a self-leveling rotary laser with three-speed remote control (model LR1100), and a self-leveling laser square, model LS3100 (circle 104).

Stanley’s FatMax combines a 24-inch level and a laser, a feature the company says offers the durability of the company’s box levels with the convenience of laser technology (circle 105). The new PLS2 Palm Laser from Pacific Laser packs two beams into a small unit (circle 106).

Many small and large contractors have turned to laser tools to reduce two- and three-man jobs into one-man operations. As laser technology in other industries develops, the benefits will be passed along to the laser level market. The number of self-leveling units and remote controls is likely to grow, and costs should keep coming down. And while manufacturers ate keeping fairly quiet about upcoming innovations, most predict that products will continue to get more accurate, consistent, and compact.

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COPYRIGHT 2002 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

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