One of the first leveling tools many get acquainted with for home projects 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 details, but for the ultimate in accuracy, consistency, and convenience, a self-leveling laser level can make all the difference. The best laser levels are easy to use—the next generation of leveling technology. They can do everything a spirit or bubble level can do and much more. How do they work? Laser levels project a beam of light across a room or job site to provide a point of reference in projects as various as installing electrical outlets, hanging pictures, and building a deck.
Be warned: Not all laser levels are created equal. The best laser levels have different beams and orientations, can self-level, and offer long battery life and high-powered laser beams that are more visible during daylight. Purchasing a well-made and designed model will help you avoid expensive mistakes due to inaccuracy or visibility issues.
Ahead, our guide to understanding and navigating the available options, as well as a handful of our favorite picks in the category.
- BEST OVERALL: Bosch 360-Degree Leveling and Alignment-Line Laser
- BEST VALUE: Black+Decker Line Laser with Stud Sensor
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: SKIL Self-Leveling 360-Degree Cross Line Laser
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: Huepar Self-Leveling 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 have a degree of accuracy listed on the packaging or in the manual. For a rule of thumb, however, you should look for a model with less than ¼-inch deviation at 100 feet for truly dialed-in results. However, nearly any self-leveling laser will give a more accurate line than can be achieved with a spirit level.
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 you already have a reference point that you need to register the line on.
One of the most important features of any laser level is the beam orientation option. Depending on budget, you may find models with up to three orientations; vertical, horizontal, and 360-degree. While the horizontal and vertical beams’ usefulness is obvious, a 360-degree laser’s practicality cannot be overstated. You can easily hang an entire room’s worth of pictures or accurately level a section of a yard with a 360-degree laser level. Also, for projects like drop ceilings, these levels are paramount for both the accuracy and strength of the finished product.
Red vs. Green
You might not realize it, but the color of the laser can make a big difference. Red lasers are less powerful but use far less battery life. 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 more potentially damaging to a user’s 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 you to work essentially hands-free. Once set up, they’re designed to be left alone while you complete the project. The best laser levels use different mounts and features to achieve this. Some of the less-expensive models may simply poke two small pins into drywall for support. Other models will come with tripods or mounts that attach to metal studs. When purchasing your laser level, consider your intended use and which mounting accessories you might need to ensure compatibility.
The Best Laser Levels
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose leveler and don’t mind spending quite a bit more on one of the best brands in the business, this Bosch device is the way to go. This self-leveling model has a standard horizontal plane laser, horizontal 360-degree plane laser, and vertical 360-degree plane laser. The green laser is visible at ranges up to a 330-foot diameter.
The Bosch’s premium features can actually go unnoticed if you didn’t know they were there. 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 alert you to calibration issues. However, those sensors can also be the source of frustration as several units have been known to call for calibration even though they’ve never been dropped or damaged.
For those who don’t need all of the features available on top-of-the-line models, the Black+Decker is a nice option at an affordable price. This isn’t the type of laser level you’d use to start a major project or renovation, but for striking level lines when hanging pictures or shelves, it will get the job done.
This laser level has some nice features, including a stud-finder and electrical wire detection. It comes with a hanger that attaches to the wall with tack-like pins, and once hung the laser will self-level. We can’t comment on the range, as this tool is meant only to project lines onto the wall it’s affixed to. This is a major shortcoming as it limits the variety of projects it can be used for.
If you’ve given some thought to the projects on your to-do list, you may have already decided that you don’t need an expensive, complicated laser level. If that’s the case, then the SKIL Self-Leveling 360-Degree Cross Line Laser level might be the right choice for your toolbox. The SKIL has all of the basic features, including horizontal and vertical lasers as well as 360-degree coverage, but with a little less fit-and-finish. The result is a capable yet minimalist laser level at a lower price.
If you’re looking for a laser level for painting projects, hanging cabinets, and lining up picture frames, this model is capable. The red laser is visible up to 65 feet, which is plenty for nearly any indoor project. You should be aware that the included tripod is a little finicky, making it difficult to set up quickly or adjust easily.
For a professional-grade laser level, the Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level ticks most of the boxes, and it even boasts some features that the other models simply don’t offer. The Klein Tools 93LCLS has both vertical and horizontal beams, but it also features a plumb-spot finder, which can be a real asset when installing anchors for 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. Klein is known for making professional-grade tools, so you can be sure you’re purchasing something that will last for more than a project or two. Unfortunately, the range is on the lower end at 65 feet. We’d like to see this tool with a longer-range green laser, as well as 360-degree capability, but those are the only minor flaws we can find with the 93LCLS.
The Huepar Self-Leveling 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 you don’t have to worry about it the way you would 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; vertical and 360-degree horizontal. We like that the green 360-degree laser is easily seen, especially outdoors. We like that it has a 180-foot range, although that can only be utilized in the battery-saving pulse mode. Speaking of batteries, you should be aware that there have been issues with the power switch failing, forcing users to remove the batteries to turn it on and off.