Rotary lasers are laser-based measuring devices that are used to measure levels.
That is why they are mostly used on construction sites. There they are used to precisely measure concrete slabs, ceilings, floors and pipes.
Another field of application is geodesy. However, these are specially adapted devices that you are unlikely to find on construction sites.
There are many different manufacturers of rotating lasers and they all have their own terms for different functions. In addition, some features such as the TILT function work slightly differently on some units.
Therefore, before you make a purchase, you need to research carefully so that you know exactly what features the device comes with. We have listed the most popular rotating lasers and their features so that you can compare them more easily.
5 Best Rotary Laser Levels
What is a rotary laser level?
A rotary laser is a measuring device that is able to measure levels. For this purpose, a laser plane is created, which enables heights to be rationally set in relation to the rotating laser.
A laser beam creates this plane by rotating around its own axis at a high rotational speed of 600 rpm. People then perceive the laser beam as a laser line.
However, this laser line is very difficult to see at a few metres, so so-called receivers are used.
This makes use of the rotation of the laser, as it perceives the laser like an on-off signal. In this way, it is able to find the laser plane within a millimetre and to avoid faulty measurements by means of clear on-off signals.
The functioning of a rotary laser is easy to explain. A laser beam is generated in the device, which is directed to a rotating head. This head angles the laser beam by 90 degrees to make the laser beam rotate on a plane.
In addition, a complex self-levelling system ensures that the laser plane is always level. This is generated either by a “simple” pendulum or by servo motors. In most cases, servo motors are used for high-quality rotating lasers because they allow vertical levelling.
Advantages of rotary laser levels compared to line lasers / cross line lasers
Long range / large working area
With the help of a receiver, rotary lasers are able to create working areas with a diameter of 600 metres and more. A cross line laser / line laser with a suitable receiver, on the other hand, can only reach 100 to 200 metres.
The working range without a receiver is also slightly increased by the rotating laser, but cross line lasers are much more visible in this range. Please note that the size of the working range always only indicates the diameter. This means that the maximum distance from the receiver to the laser is half of the specified working range.
High quality rotary lasers offer a much higher accuracy than line lasers. This is particularly important over long distances, as the deviation increases for every metre. The high accuracy of rotating lasers is achieved by high-quality servo motors. A high-quality rotating laser has an accuracy of 0.1 millimetres per 1 metre. Professional cross-line lasers, on the other hand, only have an accuracy of 0.3 millimetres per 1 metre.
Suitable for construction sites
Due to the two advantages mentioned above, rotating lasers are ideally suited for use on construction sites. You will find at least one rotating laser on every large construction site, which makes measuring work much faster and easier.
In addition, they can also be used with machines. An example would be an excavator where a large receiver is attached to the arm, allowing the excavator operator to estimate exactly how deep he still has to dig.
Another advantage is that many manufacturers have developed their rotating lasers specifically for use on construction sites. They are usually certified with a high IP protection rating, which protects the laser from the harsh conditions on the construction site. Furthermore, many practical features are available, such as a remote control or an ALIGN function.
Areas of application rotary lasers
Rotating lasers are used wherever we need several reference points on one plane over longer distances. Areas of application are therefore often found on construction sites.
Because with such a helper, windows can be installed at the same height or masonry can be built up evenly.
Such a rotating laser is also a practical aid for laying pipes where a slope is important.
High-quality devices can independently tilt the laser plane by a few degrees. This gives you practical reference points for setting a slope quickly and easily.
Another area of application is the use of heavy equipment. For example, bulldozers and excavators are equipped with a so-called machine receiver, which allows the heavy equipment to carry out work with millimetre precision.
Our recommendation for different areas of application
e.g. tiling, installing kitchens (cross-line laser only)
Smaller tasks outdoors
e.g. aligning fences
Larger jobs outdoors (rotating lasers only)
e.g. aligning boundary stones, building garden sheds etc.
Laser class 2
Large construction projects
IP protection class min 65
Rotary Laser Levels
Bosch Professional Rotation Laser Level GRL 400 H (One-button keypad, Working Range: up to 400m (diameter), in carrying case)
- IDEAL FOR THE JOBSITE: Withstands harsh conditions of any outdoor jobsite thanks to the IP56 water and dust protection
- EASY TO USE: One-button keypad, Electronic Self Levelling functionality, and convenient battery tray
- PRECISE RESULTS: Consistently accurate results with ± 2,4 mm at 30 m levelling accuracy and an ADS shock warning system
- APPLICATIONS: Ideal for outdoor levelling, applications in building construction, civil engineering and landscaping
- ITEMS INCLUDED: Rotation Laser Level GRL 400 H, laser receiver LR1, 1x 9V battery, 2x 1.5V LR20 battery, carrying case, 1 x RB 1 Professional Receiver bracket, 1x Battery compartment
DEWALT Red Beam Rotary Laser Level 18V XR Li-Ion with 2.0Ah Battery Heavy Duty TSTAK Case and Laser Detection Glasses DCE074D1R
- ROTARY Red beam full automatic horizontal and vertical self-levelling laser to +/-5° . Manual RPM Control (rotation per minute): 150, 300, 600, 1200
- PRECISION AND ACCURACY: visibility range of 45m and 450m with detector (included) and accuracy +/- 3mm accuracy at 30m, ideal for professional use
- HIGH VERSATILITY: Works with 18V Li-Ion DeWAlt battery platform providing a runtime of upto 17 hours
- DURABILITY: Designed to withstand the toughest conditions with an over-molded housing, IP54 rating and 2m drop resistance. Suitable for construction site applications.
- EASE OF USE: Automatic rotary scan mode, manual single slope mode (allows user to set grade) and detection pulse mode. Integrated 5/8" thread for tripod mounting
Dewalt DCE079D1G XR Self Level Rotary Laser Kit, 18 V, Yellow/Black, Set of 8 Piece
- DCE079D1G Green Rotary Laser Kit 18V 1 x 2.0Ah Li-ion
Huepar 3D Cross Line Self-Leveling Laser Level 3 x 360 Green Beam Three-Plane Leveling and Alignment Laser Tool, Li-ion Battery with Type-C Charging Port & Hard Carry Case Included - B03CG Pro
- ⭐Fully Layout with 3 x 360° Line Lasers : One 360° horizontal and two 360° vertical planes enable users to cover the floor, wall, ceiling all around the room. The three laser lines can be selected individually depends on job site applications. With our smart pendulum system, this laser level tool self-levels and indicates out-of-level condition while pendulum unlocked. Once pendulum locked, it switches to manual mode to lock lines for use at any angle.
- ⭐Dual Power Methods & Type-C Charging Port: Huepar B03CG Laser Level employed a large capacity of 3.7V / 5200mAh lithium battery and provides up to 8 hours of running time. The lithium battery comes with a Type-C charging port that can be charged separately. When taking out the battery, the laser tool can be used at the job site by plugged in. 4 battery indicators on the keypad allow users to know the current battery volume and charging protection helps prevent from overcharging.
- ⭐Brighter Green Laser & Outdoor Pulse Mode: This cross line laser adopts the bright Osram’s green laser unit, which is resistant to temperature changes and has higher stability. At the same power, the green laser is twice bright as the red laser, with a working range up to 85 feet (300LUX) of accuracy within ±1/9 Inch at 33 Feet. The outdoor pulse mode can be activated by pressing the Pulse Mode Button, allowing to extend the laser range up to 200 feet with Huepar Line Laser Detector.
- ⭐More Installation Methods: The laser level comes with 1/4"-20 thread to suit for standard tripod or laser mounting pole. Equipped with a magnetic pivoting base, the laser tool can be rotated to the required angle. And the 1/4"-20 & 5/8"-11 mounting threads help mount it to different tripod threads. Two strong magnets allow for attachment to metal track and steel. Two nail holes for more fixing methods when working. The laser windows can be removed and replaced with a screwdriver.
- ⭐Durable Design & Package Contents: The laser tool is completely covered by TPR soft rubber, which delivers soft touch and stronger protection. IP54 water/dust resistance ensures you work well in hazardous working conditions. The kit comes with a hard carry case bringing much more convenient to carry and store the laser tool. Package includes Laser level, Li-ion battery with type-c charging port, Magnetic bracket, Type-C power cord, Power adapter, Target plate, User manual.
Huepar Self Rotating Laser Level Green Beam Kit, Professional Self Leveling Laser Level, 360 Self Rotary Laser Beam Indoor/Outdoor Heavy Laser Tool with Remote Control, RL200HVG
- 【VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL USES】: This rotary laser features electronic self-leveling , projecting 360 horizontal or vertical laser beam with Up& Down plumbing points. You can use vertically for laying out walls and floors, alignment and plumb of concrete forms, setting fence post alignment installing metal drywall track or horizontally for install wainscoting, drop ceilings, or leveling cabinets and more indoor & outdoor applications.
- 【DUAL SLOPE FUNCTION】: Electronic dual-slope function allows user to perform slope 8° in both X and Y axis. This dual-slope mode works perfectly when checking grade, setting drainage, landscaping-terracing or other slope work. This is a great laser tool for any job from DIY to large commercial construction, and everything in between.
- 【MAX VISIBILITY WITH GREEN LD LASER】: Four times brighter Green LD Laser than red beam with ±3mm per 30m accuracy makes it a great tool for large job-sites of a working range up to 500m diameter using with Receiver. It also offers a full selection of beam visibility enhancements with variable speed selection (0~600RPM) and variable scan angles for maximum visibility in light conditions.
- 【EASY TO USE】: With the remote control for one person operation, you can work on your own all around your job-site. In addition, electronic self-leveling makes it self level within 10 seconds automatically and slight movements can be ignored in windy or other vibrating conditions while turn on vibrate mode. Self-leveling or manual mode, choose whatever you need with our rotary laser.
- 【KIT CONTENTS】: This Rotary Laser Kit includes RL200HVG rotary laser, wall/ceiling mount, magnetic target, green glasses, rechargeable NiMH battery pack, alkaline battery pack, power adapter, remote control, receiver with clamp, user manual, hard-shell carrying case. Laser Class 3R, Power output < 5mW .
What to pay special attention to when buying
With every purchase, the focus is on ensuring that the device can perform all the tasks involved and that it does so at the most favourable price. Of course, other factors such as durability and compatibility with existing equipment are also important.
A decisive point would also be the energy supply. A good example of this is the Bosch appliances, because they use rechargeable batteries across all appliances or can be operated with batteries.
This way, you don’t have the problem of not being able to use the device because of an empty battery. You can replace the empty battery with a fully charged battery or batteries.
The compatible accessories also determine what you can use the laser for. For example, you can only use a rotary laser for instructing heavy equipment if it is compatible with a machine receiver.
The working area with receiver
The larger the working range, the longer the distances you can work. However, for ranges over 40 metres you will need a receiver that is compatible with your rotating laser.
You should also be aware that the working range is the diameter. If you want to know the maximum distance from the receiver to the rotating laser, you have to divide the working range by half.
However, there are also conditions where a cross line laser or line laser is the better choice.
This is the case, for example, when using the laser in smaller rooms. In these rooms, the laser of a cross-line laser is more visible to the human eye.
The tilt function
The “fully automatic” tilt function sounds tempting, but in most cases it is not needed. So if you can do without it, you often save £500 to £1000 on the purchase. However, if you do need it, please read the information on the different tilt functions under the corresponding heading.
Green or Red Laser
In most cases, choosing a green laser is also just an unnecessary gimmick. This is because over longer distances, even the green laser is difficult to see. So the green laser also needs a receiver at longer distances. You can therefore save yourself a few hundred euros by opting for a red version.
The choice of laser class
We can also recommend the choice of laser class 2 at this point. Unless you absolutely need the long receiver range of over 800 metres of laser class 3R. Because in order to be allowed to use laser class 3R, you have to complete a 400£ training course. In addition, you have to register with the Employer’s Liability Insurance Association and they will also check you during use.
All features of rotary laser levels explained
The “standard” rotation speed is 600 revolutions per minute. Some models allow you to adjust this either in different steps or continuously.
If you can reduce this to 0 revolutions per minute, this is also known as dot mode. In this mode, the laser head does not rotate but projects a laser dot onto the wall. You can think of this as a large laser pointer. You can then move the laser dot to the left and right or, if the rotating laser is set up vertically, up and down.
If you can adjust the rotation laser speed, this brings you some advantages. For example, the laser is more visible to the human eye at lower rotation speeds, and energy consumption is also reduced.
At higher rotation speeds, the accuracy of receivers is increased. This is because it can indicate more quickly whether the laser is too far up or too far down. This is especially important when using machine receivers. That is why Dewalt offers a rotation speed of 1200 rpm on some models.
IP protection class
The IP protection class is divided into two numbers. Where the first number describes the water resistance and the second the degree of protection against substances.
Table of the IP degree of protection:
|1||>50 mm e.g. back of the hand|
|2||>12.5 mm e.g. finger|
|3||>2.5 mm e.g. tool|
|4||>1.0 mm e.g. wire|
|5||Dust in large quantity|
|2||Falling dripping water|
|3||Falling spray water|
|4||Splashing water on all sides|
|5||Jet water nozzle|
|6||Strong water jet|
Self-levelling ensures that the laser line is exactly level and is therefore the most important feature of a rotating laser. Without it, you would have to laboriously adjust the laser and readjust it at the slightest vibration. In addition, it is almost impossible to make the levelling as precise as a self-levelling device can.
Therefore, you should only consider rotary lasers with self-levelling for purchase. The self-levelling feature also differs from unit to unit in its characteristics. The simplest distinguishing feature is the levelling accuracy, which indicates the deviation per metre. The lower this value, the more accurately the device can self-levelling the laser.
Furthermore, professional devices are able to tilt the laser axis slightly and project exactly the desired inclination with the help of self-levelling. Another special feature is when you want to use the rotating laser to project a horizontal laser line. In this case, you must ensure that the rotating laser can also apply the self-levelling function when lying on its side.
How much the self-levelling can compensate for slant is specified as the levelling range. In most cases, this is between 5 and 6 degrees. Incidentally, there are two ways in which self-levelling can be implemented, by a pendulum or by servo motors. As a rule, the solution with servo motors is the higher quality solution.
The TILT function switches off the laser in case of vibrations. The reason for this is that the position of the laser line can shift by a few millimetres from the set height even with minor vibrations.
There are two ways in which the TILT function is implemented by the manufacturers. The first and safest variant is this: The TILT sensor detects a vibration and the laser is switched off completely until the user switches it on again.
The second implementation option is: The laser switches off only for the moment of the vibration. As soon as it has re-leveled itself, it automatically begins to create a laser plane. This can result in the laser plane changing in height, which can lead to unnoticed measurement errors.
For this reason, almost all rotating lasers use the first variant of the TILT function. With this function, the laser switches off completely more often, but the risk of measurement errors is significantly reduced.
Automatic height monitoring
Automatic height monitoring is an extension of the TILT function. However, the designation “automatic height monitoring” is not used by all manufacturers. For example, a rotating laser may have the same function as automatic altitude monitoring but not be labelled as such.
But what does height monitoring actually do? As mentioned above, it is an extension of the TILT function. It monitors whether the altitude always remains constant, i.e. if the rotating laser is shaken and the altitude has not changed, it automatically starts up again.
However, it offers additional protection compared to the normal TILT function. So it can happen that a height change of the laser happens very gently, where the TILT function would not trigger. In this case, the automatic height monitoring system sounds an alarm and measurement errors are effectively avoided.
VWS: Vibration Wind Protection
If a small gust of wind or slight vibration shakes the rotating laser, the TILT or the automatic height monitoring system would switch off. This can be particularly annoying if the rotating laser has been set up next to a vibrator. Heavy passing vehicles could also already trigger the monitoring functions.
The VWS was developed for this area of application. It allows the rotating laser to continue working even though it shifts slightly. However, it must be accepted that small measuring errors may occur.
There are two different laser classes for rotating lasers: laser class 2 and laser class 3R. Laser class 2 (1mW) can be used by anyone.
Laser class 3R (5mW) may only be used by commercial customers who have also completed a 400£ training course. In addition, you have to register with the Employer’s Liability Insurance Association. So a lot of bureaucracy is necessary for a 3R laser.
The advantages for a 3R laser are: 20% better visibility and a longer receiver range or working area.
The laser class 2 has a 1 milliwatt laser.
The 3R laser class has a 5 milliwatt laser and can cause permanent damage to the retina.
Tracking function / Align function
The tracking function allows the rotating laser to “search” for the receiver. In doing so, it tilts the laser line in both axes until it hits the receiver exactly. This is particularly useful when determining or working with slopes. With some models, this function allows you to easily view the inclination in percent on a display.
Interior function / scanning function /SCAN
Cross line lasers or line lasers are much easier for the human eye to see indoors. To counteract this disadvantage, some rotating lasers have a so-called SCAN function.
This allows the laser dot to oscillate back and forth in a certain area, making it more visible. Another possibility to influence the visibility positively would be to reduce the rotation speed or to revert to the dot mode.
The range shut-off function works in a similar way to the SCAN function. However, the laser head still rotates completely (360 degrees) around its own axis. Only the laser is switched on or off in a certain range.
So the laser is no longer outputting 360 degrees, but only in the number of degrees you choose. The advantage here is that other workers are not disturbed by the laser beam. This is especially important if it is a 3R laser or there are several rotating lasers in use on the same construction site. However, this function does not improve the visibility of the laser as the SCAN function does. However, the range switch-off is somewhat gentler on the equipment.
The tilt function often causes confusion with rotating lasers. This is because it can be implemented in different ways. Moreover, there are no clear designations for the exact way it works. So if you are looking for a very good tilt function, you should inform yourself very well about the tilt function of the device.
Basically, there are 3 ways in which a tilt function can be implemented. However, only one of them is suitable for professional work.
The simplest implementation is a locking function with the use of a tilt plate. The locking function deactivates the self-levelling function and ensures that the laser generates a laser plane even when tilted.
The tilt plate can then be used to select the desired angle. We really can’t recommend this tilt function to anyone, because you will definitely not be able to set the angles properly and reproducibly.
The next option is the slightly more advanced version. Here, you no longer need a tilt plate, because the rotating laser adjusts the angle independently with the help of servo motors.
However, the self-levelling is also switched off with this variant and measurement errors can occur. Unfortunately, this function is also described as a fully automatic tilt function. In our experience, this tilt function is only suitable for occasional work where not every millimetre counts.
The last option is the “fully automatic” tilt function. This allows the same angle to be set reproducibly. This is achieved by not switching off the self-levelling function and by setting the angle using high-quality servo motors. Such devices usually also have an align or tracking function. Unfortunately, these devices are very expensive to purchase and you should carefully consider whether you really need the function.
Green lasers are clearly superior to red lasers in terms of visibility. This is up to 4 times better for the human eye. However, this colour is only very rarely needed. Over longer distances, it is necessary to work with a receiver that does not care about the colour.
In addition, cross-line lasers are superior to rotating lasers in terms of visibility indoors. In addition, green rotating lasers are much more expensive to buy and offer a narrower temperature window. Therefore, we recommend the use of red lasers for rotating lasers.
Why are rotary lasers so expensive?
If you compare rotary lasers with a simple line laser or cross line laser, you will quickly notice that the latter is often twice as expensive. Of course, there is a reason for this, because rotating lasers have a much longer receiver range and are much more accurate.
All this is made possible by the rotary laser head, which provides a strong on-off signal to the receiver through its rotation. In addition, the rotation enables a more precise balancing of the laser. However, fast rotating components are often expensive to manufacture. For example, an expensive electric motor and high-quality servo motors must be used.
Why are there only a few green rotary laser levels?
Many rotary lasers are only offered with a red laser. This is due to the lack of demand for the green models. This is because the green lasers cost a lot more, consume more power and are more sensitive to temperature.
The only advantage over the massive disadvantages is that at shorter distances the laser is more visible. However, since rotating lasers are mainly used at long distances with a receiver, the advantage of a green laser simply does not exist.
What is the most important thing about a rotary laser level?
The most important features of a rotary laser are levelling accuracy and a large working range with one receiver. A TILT function is also very important, but every decent rotating laser has such a function. After these 3 points, the importance of the other features and characteristics depends largely on your application.
Will any receiver work with any rotary laser level?
No, by no means. There are special receivers for cross line lasers and rotating lasers that can only be used with the respective device. In addition, most receivers only work with certain models. Logically, in the case of a Bosch receiver, it is a Bosch rotary laser. So you cannot interchange different brands.