Buying a laser level ? Then here are somethings to look for;
- Spend as much as you need for the right tool – I’ve seen plenty of concreter’s who are using lasers day in day out for large commercial slabs buying entry level rotating lasers between around the $400 USD ($500 AUD, £300 or €400) mark. Now these will do the job but you are not going to get the longevity of use and possibly accuracy as you will with a rotating laser with similar features at double that price. Take into consideration potential down time for repairs and fixing up errors. At the end of the day You do generally get what you pay for.
- Check what you are getting with the price – A number of manufactures these days are selling a base package then you have to add in extra for rechargeable batteries and charger, The very popular Topcon RLH-4C is often sold in this way and its not a cheap option either. Other brands such as Leica with their Rugby 820 and 840 sell a base unit with a remote extra to give you semi automatic digital grade. So the electronics are built into the laser and then you pay the extra for the remote to access them. This is not to say that Topcon and Leica are bad lasers, far from it but make sure you know whats in the advertised price before you make up your mind. Many brands such as Spectra Precision, Johnson Level and AdirPro lasers have these types of options as standard.
- Warranty – Many brands these days offer 3 or 5 year warranty on the box but do not assume this is automatic. Many brands require you to register to get this “extended” warranty, and if you don’t these so called 5 year warranty drops down to a lesser time, sometimes 12 months. This is a marketing trick you can advertise a long warranty sometimes longer than the product quality really deserves knowing that a very large proportion of purchasers (up to 80%) will not bother registering. So check the fine print on the warranty and if you do purchase a brand that requires registering, remember to register, often they only give you 14 or 28 days to do so from date of purchase.
- Service – Before purchasing find out where you can get the particular brand serviced and calibrated, sometimes the service centres can be a fair distance from you and so this adds to the down time. The other thing to ask, both the seller but also colleagues who have experience of the brand you plan to buy, how they rate the quality of the service. Quality is not just turn round time, but also how strict they are on what is a warranty and what is charged repair some brands will turn down a warranty claim for the most minor of scratches or marks on the casing. Also what do they charge for a calibration, some offer “free” recalibration but they may require you to pay for freight in both directions. Some may require you to do this every 6 months and if you are late or miss one then the “free” is “free” no more.
- Brand – Often a well know and respected brand is a safe option when buying a laser level as they don’t generally get a good reputation for nothing. For example Hilti is a brand that is on the expensive side by has a huge reputation for product quality and service and so has a dedicated following of Hilti buyers for all types of power tools.
- Features – Make sure you are buying a laser level with the features you need or may need in the near future. Some of the other guide on this site hopefully will help you with that. But the key questions are if you are needing a laser for use outside, or inside or both? What distance do you need it to work to? Do you need to set grades? What accessories will you need? (tripod) etc.
Hopefully this has helped in the process of buying a laser level.