One of the first tools many homeowners purchase is a spirit or bubble level. Spirit levels use a small bubble in a tube to determine whether something is level or plumb. These levels are effective for small, inconsequential details, but for the ultimate option in accuracy, consistency, and convenience, a self-leveling laser level can make all the difference. The best laser levels are easy to use and can give a DIYer the confidence to take on a job that might otherwise seem too difficult.
Laser levels are the next generation of leveling technology. They can do everything a spirit or bubble level can do and much more. Laser levels project a beam of light across a room or job site to provide a point of reference for projects like installing electrical outlets or hanging a series of pictures. They can even handle larger jobs like hanging ledger boards for deck projects.
Not all laser levels are created equal, so I performed hands-on testing with several of the best laser levels on the market. If tried-and-true results matter while shopping for a tool, keep reading; you might be in for quite a shock!
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT Line Laser Self-Leveling, Red, 3-Beam (DW089K)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER Line Laser with Stud Finder (BDL190S)
- UPGRADE PICK: Bosch GLL3-330CG 360-Degree Green Beam Laser
- BEST FOR LIGHT-DUTY: SKIL 360° Red Cross Line Laser Level – LL932201
- BEST FOR HEAVY-DUTY: Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: Huepar Self-Leveling Green Laser Level 621CG
- BEST COMPACT: Bosch GLL30 30ft Cross-Line Laser Level
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Laser Level
A hallmark of any good level is accuracy, whether it’s a spirit level or a high-tech laser model. The best laser levels will list a degree of accuracy on the packaging or in the manual. For a rule of thumb, however, look for a model with less than ⅛-inch deviation at 30 feet for truly dialed-in results.
However, keep in mind that nearly any self-leveling laser will give a more accurate line than DIYers can achieve with a spirit level. The act of holding a spirit level perfectly and completely level is very difficult, though the end results tend to be sufficient. Laser levels operate on a similar principle while increasing accuracy.
The best laser levels on the market make leveling a push-and-play procedure. Most models with self-leveling technology use a laser on a pendulum in conjunction with magnets to provide stability. Once placed on a relatively level surface, the pendulum takes over and achieves the final degree of level. This makes setting up fast and easy, especially if there is an existing reference point to register against.
Many models that feature self-leveling also lock the pendulum in place when not in use. This helps reduce the risk of calibration issues while transporting the laser level, and it can be a big help in getting the most out of a level.
One of the most important features of any laser level is the beam orientation option. Depending on the budget, there are models with up to three orientation planes: two vertical and one horizontal, and one or more of those planes might be 360 degrees.
While the usefulness of the horizontal and vertical beams is obvious, a 360-degree laser’s practicality cannot be overstated. A 360-degree beam can help hang an entire room’s worth of pictures quickly and accurately, or it can help the user dig perfectly level sections of the yard. Also, for projects like drop ceilings, these levels are critical to both the accuracy and strength of the finished product.
Red vs. Green
It might not be obvious, but the color of the laser can make a big difference. There are two options—red and green—and they each have their pros and cons.
- Red lasers are less powerful but use far less battery life. These lasers are also less expensive to purchase, which is why many of the best models on the market continue to rely on red laser beams.
- Green lasers are more visible from a greater distance and easier to use for outside projects in sunlight. However, they’re also more expensive and potentially more damaging to users’ eyes than a red laser.
For these reasons, many pros own both red and green lasers and use them for projects that play to their strengths.
One of the most useful aspects of laser levels is that they allow the user to work essentially hands-free. Once set up, they’re designed to be left alone while the project continues on, using the laser line as a point of reference.
The best laser levels use different mounts and features to achieve this set-and-forget function. Some of the less expensive models might simply poke small pins into drywall for support. Other models will come with tripods or mounts that attach to metal studs or drop ceiling tracks. When purchasing a laser level, consider its intended use and which mounting accessories might be necessary to ensure compatibility.
Our Top Picks
That might be a lot of information on the best laser levels, but don’t let it throw you off-kilter. I performed hands-on testing with all of the following models to make the shopping experience that much easier. All of the listed laser levels passed my tests, even when the road got particularly bumpy.
Note: All of the following laser levels proved to be very accurate, far beyond what I could test with a standard bubble level (though I did check each several times during the test). Also, each model except the Black & Decker model features tripod compatibility, and all of the pendulums locked in place except for the DeWalt model.
Whether it’s for DIY use or a professional job site, DeWalt’s Line Laser level has what it takes to get the job done. This laser features three self-leveling red beams (one horizontal and two vertical beams) for leveling and lining up almost any project. It features accuracy to within ⅛-inch at 30 feet as well as having a micro-adjust knob on the top that allows the user to dial in the beam’s perfect alignment.
During testing, the DeWalt proved to be one of the easiest to set up and use. It features a magnetic back as well as a beam clamp for attaching to angle iron, though most of my test involved setting it on a flat surface. The red laser was very bright and easy to see. The factor that pushed the DeWalt to the top of the heap was its robust design. It’s not the largest laser level, but it is one of the heaviest and sturdiest, and the drop test left it largely unscathed. The only thing it really can’t do is project a 360-degree beam.
- Beam color: Red
- Planes: Horizontal and two vertical
- Accuracy: ⅛ inch at 30 feet
- Robust build quality
- Easy setup and use
- Micro-adjust knob
- Not capable of 360-degree beams
For those who don’t need all the features available on top-of-the-line models, the Black & Decker BDL190S is a nice option at an affordable price. This isn’t the type of laser level that’s capable of a major project or renovation, but for striking level lines when hanging pictures or shelves, it will get the job done.
The BDL190S has some nice features, including a stud finder and electrical wire detection. It comes with a hanger that attaches to the wall with a tack-like pin, and once hung, the laser will self-level.
During testing, the Black & Decker served its purpose. It projected a perfectly self-leveled line to the left and right and steadied quickly. There was a section of the wall where the beam appeared to lighten and become a bit more challenging to see, but this is because there was a bow in the wall, and that’s typical of wall-mounted laser levels. Also, the beam finder was a nice touch and appeared to work well.
The downside of the Black & Decker is it requires the user to poke a small hole in the wall to mount it, which could be a deal-breaker for concrete or brick surfaces. Also, it only projects a horizontal line.
- Beam color: Red
- Planes: Horizontal only
- Accuracy: Unknown
- Built-in stud finder
- Simple design
- Steadied quickly
- Requires poking a hole in the wall
- Only projects one direction
Shoppers who are looking for a level that can do it all and don’t mind spending quite a bit more on one of the best brands may want to consider the Bosch GLL3-330CG. This self-leveling model has a 360-degree horizontal plane laser and two 360-degree vertical plane lasers, providing a level line of reference for any job. The green laser is visible at ranges of up to a 330-foot diameter.
The GLL3-330CG’s premium features can actually go unnoticed. The level monitors its battery life and adjusts the beam for both optimal visibility and length of use. It also has internal sensors that detect bumps and drops and alerts to calibration issues.
The Bosch GLL3-330CG proved to be a serious piece of machinery during testing. I don’t have a way to measure its accuracy over other laser levels, but I had no reason to doubt that it’s more accurate than the rest (3/32 of an inch at 30 feet as opposed to ⅛-inch). The three 360-degree planes were easy to see and use.
After dropping the GLL3-330CG three times, it registered a calibration fault that required logging into the app to clear. This was more of a benefit than an issue as it was easy to clear and did warn of the shocks. Also, I like that this level offers flexible battery sources (rechargeable or replaceable). The only problem? It is a bit expensive.
- Beam color: Green
- Planes: Horizontal and two vertical, all in a 360-degree direction
- Accuracy: 3/32 of an inch at 30 feet
- Multidirectional lasers
- Bluetooth connectivity for monitoring calibration
- Flexible battery sources
- It’s an expensive laser level
Every DIYer has different needs, and a high-end, expensive, heavy-duty laser level isn’t always a priority. For those who’d prefer something a bit more light-duty and affordable, the SKIL Self-Leveling 360-degree Cross Line Laser is worth a look. The SKIL has all the features necessary, including horizontal and vertical lasers as well as 360-degree coverage, but with a little less fit-and-finish look. The result is a capable yet minimalist laser level at a lower price, and it even comes with a tripod for setting it at any height.
The SKIL was the surprise of the hands-on testing. It truly is a capable light-duty model. For its price and intended use, it’s well built and durable while being very simple to set up and use. It also steadied very quickly. While the tripod wasn’t of the highest quality, it was one of the only setups in the test that allowed for positioning the laser at an angle.
- Beam color: Red (though green is available)
- Plane: 360-degree horizontal as well as vertical
- Accuracy: 3/16 inch at 30 feet
- Easy to set up
- Decent build quality
- Steadies quickly
For a professional-grade laser, the Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level ticks most of the boxes, but has some features that the other models don’t. The Klein Tools 93LCLS has both vertical and horizontal beams, but it also features a plumb-spot finder that projects above and below the level, which can be a real asset when installing conduit, piping, or drop ceilings. It also features several mounting options, including a magnetic mount with a 360-degree swivel and a specialized mount for drop ceiling tracks.
The 93LCLS falls short when it comes to a constant 360-degree laser, but the ability to swivel it on the mount while maintaining level helps to offset that shortcoming. The variety of mounting options makes it incredibly versatile.
Testing the 93LCLS Laser Level revealed the Klein to be an over-built, sturdy, reliable laser level. The laser is very easy to see, and the plumb spot is a feature I wish I’d had on several recent projects since it’s far faster to use than an actual plumb bob or level. The setup was also very simple. The one con with this particular level is, for the price, it should probably offer a 360-degree beam.
- Beam color: Red
- Planes: Horizontal and vertical, with plumb spots
- Accuracy: Unknown
- Plumb-spot finder is fast
- Over-built and durable
- Fast, simple setup
- Doesn’t feature a 360-degree plane
The Huepar Self-Leveling Green Laser Level is an interesting choice for outdoor use. This is a highly visible model with a 360-degree laser, but it’s inexpensive enough that users don’t have to worry about it the way they might a far more expensive model. It has an IP54 rating for water and dust resistance, making it ideal for building decks, grading small sections of land, and installing siding.
The Huepar has two laser planes: a vertical and a 360-degree horizontal. The green 360-degree laser is easy to see, especially outdoors. It also has a 180-foot range, although users can only utilize it in the battery-saving pulse mode.
During testing, the Huepar proved to be a high-quality laser level, with a bright green beam and an easily utilized pulse mode. The 360-degree horizontal plane was also nice, particularly when leveling a large outdoor area. The area where the Huepar fared the worst, however, was in steadiness. During testing, the laser shook far more than the other models, which does make the line potentially less accurate, though it steadied when all movement ceased. Also, it features plumb-spot indicators above and below, which is a nice and rare feature.
- Beam color: Green
- Planes: 360-horizontal and vertical
- Accuracy: 1/9 of an inch at 33 feet
- Highly visible green beam
- Easy to switch to pulse mode to improve battery life and range
- Plumb-spot indicator
- Shakes more than other laser levels
Having a laser level available within arm’s length at any time might seem like a luxury, but with the compact and affordable GLL30 from Bosch, it can become a reality. This small laser level features vertical and horizontal red laser beams and offers 5/16-inch accuracy at 30 feet. With its tiny footprint, it’ll fit in a tool bag or a tool box with ease, ensuring it’s always available.
Realistically, the Bosch doesn’t have the size to hold a lot of high-end hardware, so it trades a bit of accuracy for its compact profile. However, I found no issues with its accuracy during testing, and it was very easy to set up. Also, it came with a multipositional mount with a clamp for attaching to a variety of objects, plus the ability to position the laser at any angle (something almost none of the other levels could do).
- Beam color: Red
- Planes: Vertical and horizontal
- Accuracy: 5/16 of an inch at 30 feet
- Incredibly simple setup
- Multipositional clamp attaches to a variety of surfaces
- Fits in a tool box or a bag with room to spare
- It trades some accuracy for its compact size
Anyone looking for an all-around top-notch laser level should consider the DEWALT Line Laser for its multiple planes and robust design. However, folks shopping for a laser level with all the bells and whistles won’t experience disappointment (though maybe a little sticker shock) with the Bosch Line Laser.
How We Tested the Best Laser Levels
At its basic purpose, a laser level projects a line onto a surface that the user can reference, and it would make sense that accuracy would be the baseline of this test. But it wasn’t. Testing modern laser levels for accuracy is almost laughable, as even the most affordable model is more accurate than the human eye can tell (particularly with a bubble level).
Instead, the more critical factors, such as how well the laser line showed, how easy the levels were to set up, using the different features, and, ultimately, a durability test were the main focuses of this review. I set up each level to compare their accuracy (quickly), their beams, and their features. Then, the shocking part: I purposely dropped them on the ground.
Laser levels are somewhat precision instruments, but drops are entirely possible during a project. I dropped all the levels from the height of a sawhorse, all at once, three times. It broke my heart a bit to purposely abuse these tools, but I did it in the name of science.
If making an informed decision on this handy tool feels like information overload, you’re not alone. Let’s bring things back to level by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the best laser levels. Be sure to check for an answer to your question listed below.
Q. Which is better: a red or a green laser level?
Neither color is better overall, but each one is better in certain circumstances. Red lasers are harder to see in sunlight, but they offer better battery life and are less likely to damage the user’s eyes. Green lights are more expensive and can damage eyesight faster than red, but they’re easier to see in daylight.
Q. Are Bosch laser levels good?
Bosch makes some of the best laser levels on the market, and the brand’s higher-end models are more accurate than most models.
Q. Is it worth getting a laser level?
Whether it’s for DIY jobs or for professional use, a laser level is worth getting. For most purposes, they’re more than accurate enough, and the setup time and consistency can make short work of a long project.