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Laser Considerations

Some of the following features can influence the instrument’s price, so it’s important to match the right features to the job and not overspend on the unit that works best for your jobsite. Your White Cap professional can help in the selection process. 

These are some important factors to consider before making a purchase.


1.     Working Range 

Before you buy you’ll want to remove the guesswork. Start by determining the average working range needed for your laser control beam.
Most residential interior applications will require less than 50 feet. But when working in larger more open settings such warehouses and office buildings, you might want to consider a construction laser with a working range that stretches to 125 feet.   

Selecting the right working range of a construction laser when working outdoors is a little more complex. Environmental considerations such as sunlight, area, and how the control beam is monitored will influence the decision. 

For many operations such as building decks or setting some simple formwork, the distance requirements for a visual beam can extend up to 150 feet. But on many applications the working range of a unit can be extended up to 300 feet with a beam detector.  


2.     Type of Beam Projection

Laser instruments can provide one of two types of beam projections. A forward projection beams a line directly onto the surface where the laser is pointed. This type of units provides a dot or line on one wall of a room. 

A 360 projection will beam a line 360 degrees around the center of the instrument, surrounding the laser. This type of projection provides a control line on all four walls of the room.

3.     Accuracy

A laser instrument’s accuracy is commonly reported on readings made on two distances – 30 feet and 100 feet. Accuracy can be affected by ambient temperature, external pressure, wear and tear, or inappropriate instrument handling. Most laser instruments provide a beam that is accurate +/- 1/8 inch at a distance of 30 feet. Advanced laser instruments up the accuracy to +/- 1/16 inch at a distance of 100 feet. 

Another factor affecting accuracy is the method you use to level the instrument during set-up. You have two options:

  1. 1.  Manually level the units
    2.  Purchase an instrument with a self-leveling feature
If the unit will be left on for extended periods of time, opt for the self-leveling feature. If these units are disturbed, they will quickly return to level. Regardless of your choice, look for an instrument that will alert you if it’s been disturbed and is off-center.

4.     Beam Visibility

Beam color is the major determinant for visibility. Laser levels come with either green or red beams for increased visibility. When working indoors, you will be able to see the red beam between 20 to 30 feet. When working indoors, green laser level beams will have a visibility range of 50 to 60 feet. Even more impressively, green laser levels can be visible outdoors when working at distances greater than 60 feet.
While construction lasers using green beams have superior visibility and a wider operating range, it comes at a cost. Instruments equipped with green laser beams are often priced higher than instruments with red laser beams.

5. Battery life

Most laser instrument manufacturers will report an instrument’s battery life. You want to select a unit that will match the amount of time you use it on the job.
Units with a red laser beam require less energy resulting in longer battery life. This is ideal for those who don’t want to replace the battery frequently or who only intend to use the laser level sporadically and don’t want to have to think about the battery. It could also save you money since you will need to buy fewer batteries.


6. IP Rating

In recent years, manufacturers have been providing a standard rating that describes how durable the instrument is with respect to dust and moisture. The Ingress Protection (IP) rating is based on an international standard. The code which appears on the unit is listed as “IP”, followed by two digits or the letter X. The first digit represents the resistance of the instrument’s enclosure to infiltration from dirt and dust. The ranking goes from 0 to 6, where 0 means no protection at all. Try to look for an instrument with at least an IP5X standard. An IP6X, the maximum protection assured, is the best protection you can purchase.

The second digit represents the instrument’s resistance to liquids. The Liquid Ingress Protection provides ratings between 0 and 8, where 0 means that the product is not protected in any way from the intrusion of liquid particles inside the case. When the instrument is rated 8, it is nearly waterproof.

For example, when the manufacturer rates a laser as IP55, it means that the instrument is protected against dust ingress but is not fully dust tight. It is also protected against wind-driven from any direction, and water splashed, or sprayed by a nozzle (0.25 in) against the enclosure from any direction.


Worth the Price

Laser instruments have reflected the transformation of construction applications from pen and paper to the digital age. Their highly accurate marking beams provide control points that have reduced construction tolerances that have increased a structure’s service life and quality.

Staying abreast of these important changes is the key to remaining competitive and productive. And by partnering with your White Cap professional, you can be sure to select the right instrument at the right price level to be a part of the digital age of construction.
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