Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila
Laser distance measures use a laser and an optical sensor to determine the distance between two surfaces to find the height of a room, the length of a stairway, or other helpful measurements. With this tool, you won’t have to rely on a flexible metal tape measure. We put some of the best laser distance measures through the paces to test how accurately they measure, noting their features, to compile this list of the best laser measures for both DIYers and pros.
After lining up the laser distance measure with the surface on the other end of the room, this tool calculates the measurement almost instantly. Many laser measuring tools also provide area or volume measurements, as well as an impressive accuracy range that can measure to within ⅛, 1/16, or even 1/32 inch.
To help you find the best laser tape measure, our hands-on testing of some of the top models on the market included putting each of the following through a series of measures. We also spoke with industry experts to get their insights on ideal features that make a great laser measure, and we took this into consideration to evaluate other features like display, ease of use, and included apps. The result: this list of top picks by category.
- BEST OVERALL: Bosch GLM50C 165-Foot Laser Measure
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Atolla Laser Distance Measure
- UPGRADE PICK: Bosch GLM400CL Blaze Outdoor 400-Foot Laser Measure
- BEST COMPACT: Leica Disto E7100i Laser Distance Measure
- BEST FOR PROS: DeWalt Tool Connect 100-Foot Laser Distance Measurer
- BEST HYBRID: Lexivon 2-in-1 Digital Laser Tape Measure
- BEST RANGE: Leica Disto D2 Laser Distance Measure
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Bosch GLM165-25G Blaze Green-Beam Laser Measure
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Klein Tools Compact Laser Distance Measure
- BEST FUNCTIONS: Mileseey Outdoor Laser Distance Meter With Camera
Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Laser Measures
Before getting our hands on our top picks for testing, we interviewed Matt Mace, a drafter and interior designer for HartmanBaldwin, a full-service architecture, construction, and interior design company serving Los Angeles and Southern California, who says that laser measures can vary greatly in price point, so shoppers will want to consider what they would be using one for. “The complexity and power of the laser measure will determine its maximum distance. It is likely that the more expensive the unit, the greater the distance capabilities it will have.”
Mace goes on to say that “for the more technologically advanced, spending a little more can get you a unit that has Bluetooth capabilities that works in conjunction with a smartphone application to generate a floor plan automatically, and in real time.” We took this advice when selecting our range of products to test, ensuring that we had picks for both DIY and more professional applications.
The number of measurements we pulled during testing numbered well into the hundreds. We tested length, area, volume, level, and every other function we could—many times.
The first test included taking a measurement across three rooms, from the front door to the back of the house. Next, we used the laser measures to calculate the square footage of a room. We pulled each measurement from the exact same spots to ensure the laser measures were given a fair chance. Each measure from the laser measures that made our list proved to be accurate. After testing area measurements, we went with the volume test, which these models also passed.
For laser measures with extra features like Bluetooth or an extended range, we waited until the end of the test to dig in and see how they worked. We downloaded apps, connected our phones, and used the long-range features on nearby buildings to get a full scope of what these models could do.
Our Top Picks
There are a lot of details to consider when selecting the right laser measure for the job. To help shoppers find their best option in a laser distance measure, below are some of the best product picks based on quality, price, and the considerations outlined above. We performed hands-on testing with these models to ensure they met our expectations, and eliminated those that did not.
- Range: 165 feet
- Display: Backlit LED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Excellent digital display for DIY or professional use; can also be seen in low-light conditions
- Display rotates with angle changes for added user-friendliness
- Completely flat bottom offers accurate positioning on floors and tabletops
- Built-in digital level provides ample versatility
- Holster’s belt loop is likely too small for some users’ preferences
This compact laser distance measure from Bosch travels in a pocket or bag and gathers measurements at distances of up to 165 feet. The device automatically takes measurements as the user moves it around, accurately measuring to within 1/16 inch while providing information for length, area, and volume. It has an easy-to-use control keypad and a bold color display with large backlit text for easy reading in dim or lightless conditions.
With its Bluetooth connectivity, this laser distance measurer shares information wirelessly with a phone, while the free Bosch app gives users the ability to document measurements and create floor plans. This device also has a soft slip-resistant grip on its body to help protect it from drops and impact damage.
The Bosch was an absolute joy to use during testing. First, it was the most compact of all the models in the test, yet it offered more features than almost any of them. All of the functions, including the built-in level, were accurate. It took a few minutes to understand how it integrates with the MeasureOn app, but transferring measurements was very easy. Also, the bottom of the GLM50C is completely flat, which made it easier to line up measurements. The only complaint we had is that the holster the GLM50C comes with has a very small belt loop that won’t fit comfortably over tool belts or wider leather belts.
Get the Bosch GLM50C laser measure at Amazon.
- Range: 196 feet
- Display: Backlit LED
- Connectivity: None
- Offers lots of calculations for user-friendliness and versatility; provides accurate measurements
- Compact design is suitable for use by professionals as well as DIYers
- Surprisingly accurate compared to other models available
- Several measurement modes included; single and continuous measurement, area, distance, volume, and Pythagorean
- Bottom isn’t perfectly flat; might not stay level when placed against a surface
- Laser wasn’t straight for some users
Portability and affordability are important considerations for some folks, and this model offers both. The Atolla device is compact enough to fit comfortably in a pocket, a tool box, or a bag, and is affordable enough that nearly any DIYer will want to consider it. Its adjustable wrist strap can be set to the ideal size to ensure that it doesn’t slip off the user’s wrist.
The Atolla water-resistant laser distance meter can measure accurately to within 1/16 inch up to a maximum distance of 196 feet. It features several measurement modes, including single measurement, continuous measurement, area, distance, volume, and Pythagorean mode. The backlit LCD screen is easy to see, and the built-in level helps properly align the laser with the targeted point in the distance.
The Atolla laser distance meter isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it proved to be an excellent value during testing. First, the bottom isn’t completely flat, so it does rock a bit when trying to get a measurement. Also, the laser wasn’t straight. But compared to the other models, neither issue affected its accuracy. It offers most of the same calculations, including length, area, and volume. We also liked that it’s relatively compact for such a budget-minded laser measure.
Get the Atolla laser measure at Amazon.
- Range: 400 feet
- Display: Backlit, plus video viewfinder
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Video viewfinder is ideal for long-distance measuring tasks
- Has the longest measuring range in the test; suitable for large spaces
- Fully digital menu provides ample user-friendliness
- Lots of beeping (but it can be turned off)
This outdoor laser measure from Bosch has a robust, reinforced glass screen that’s anti-scratch, glare-resistant, and shatter-resistant, which protects it and makes it easier to read the measurement results in bright light. It has several measurement options as well as built-in data storage capable of keeping the last 50 measurements and more than 600 images.
Bluetooth connectivity allows users to transmit collected measurements wirelessly through the free Bosch app, which can also create custom blueprints. This device can measure accurately to within 1/16 inch with a maximum distance of up to 400 feet. It also has a built-in camera with an adjustable zoom so users can locate the laser at a long distance when outdoors, despite the light from the sun.
During testing, the GLM400CL appeared to have everything one could want from a laser measure. For one, the 400-foot range is excellent for outdoor calculations. The menu is fully digital, so swapping between area, volume, distance, stakeout, and other settings is simple. Also, the video viewfinder is incredibly useful in pulling measurements from long distances. Unfortunately, every button press emits a beep, and this model’s beep drove my dog (who often works with me) up a wall. Fortunately, for both my pooch and myself, I was able to turn it off (30 beeps later).
Get the Bosch Blaze laser measure at Amazon, Lowe’s, or DK Hardware.
- Thinnest model in the test; suitable for those who work on jobsites
- Bluetooth connectivity provides user-friendliness and sharing capabilities
- Detachable pocket clip assists with portability
- Perfectly flat bottom for easy measuring in certain spaces
- No volume calculation included in the model
- App is a little frustrating to use; may be tough for first timers
Anyone looking for a compact laser measure that they can keep in a pocket or a tool belt will want to give the Leica Disto E7100i some serious consideration. This model has a measuring range of up to 200 feet (with a claim of 1/16-inch accuracy at that distance). It comes with a detachable pocket clip as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
Also, the Leica Disto E7100i features a min/max function that allows the user to sweep the laser measure across a corner while it records only the longest measurement, offering extreme accuracy. It also has length and area measurements.
Testing proved that the Leica Disto is clearly a precise machine; its compact design does not affect its accuracy. We liked the pocket clip that can grip onto the lip of a tool bag, and it detaches easily. The bottom of this model is dead flat, so placing it against a surface and getting a quick, accurate measurement was a breeze. The only cons were that, despite the product description, we could not find a “volume” mode on this laser. Also, the Disto Plan app was a little frustrating to use; it wasn’t as easy to swap between metric and imperial measurements as it was on the actual laser.
Get the Leica Disto E7100i laser measure at Amazon or The Home Depot.
- Range: 100 feet
- Display: Backlit negative LED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Best app in the test; suitable for those who need to share or save measurements
- Simple functionality for first-time pros or DIYers
- Hard to lose, with large, durable construction and yellow color
- Bottom isn’t flat; may not suit some users’ needs
This DeWalt laser measuring tool is an option for professionals who need an easy-to-use device to take quick measurements of 100 feet or less. It has only five buttons to learn, and the entire device is covered in a thick, durable protective cover to help keep the laser measure safe from scratches and impact damage if it’s dropped.
The device can take and send measurement data through an active Bluetooth connection. The brand’s Tool Connect app collects and stores data for use in creating new projects like flooring or painting. It also can be used to export the project, saving pros time and effort that might otherwise include drawing a plan by hand.
The reason why the DeWalt laser distance meter is the best for pros truly boils down to its app. Pros who use the DeWalt Tool Connect app won’t have to add an additional app or confuse matters with another interface, and that’s a real “pro.” It was also the best app in the test, as it was the easiest to use once it was set up. The laser was simple to use, with very few buttons and easy functionality (despite having more functions than some more expensive models). We also like that it’s yellow, so it is harder to misplace. The only issue we had is that the bottom is not flat, so it wobbles quite a bit when held against a surface.
Read our full review: DeWalt Tool Connect 100-Foot Laser Distance Measurer
Get the DeWalt laser measure at Amazon or Acme Tools.
- Range: 130 feet
- Display: Backlit negative LCD
- Connectivity: None
- Convenient 2-in-1 design acts as a distance measure as well as a tape measure
- Digital display is surprisingly clear; suitable for professionals or DIYers
- Simple 1-button design is perfect for first-time users
- Magnet in hook is very weak; might not hold up for some users
When it comes to convenient design, it’s hard to beat the Lexivon two-in-one digital laser tape measure. This model has a built-in tape measure, allowing the user to pull measurements up to 16 feet. But, should the user want a faster method or a longer measurement, the laser measure can handle them up to 130 feet.
There aren’t many other bells and whistles to the Lexivon tape measure, but that’s part of its beauty. Its one-button design makes it easy to use, and it was just as accurate as other models. The digital display was very easy to read as well, despite this being a relatively affordable and simple tool. Our only complaint about this distance and tape measure is that it doesn’t have any function other than length, so volume, area, and angled measurements require old-school paper-and-pencil calculations.
Get the Lexivon laser measure at Amazon.
- Range: 330 feet
- Display: Backlit LED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Memory access is very easy; suitable for sharing measurements
- Easy to use and connect to a smartphone
- Flat bottom for easy readings in certain spaces
- The app is frustrating to use; may be tough for first timers
When it comes to long measurements, Leica’s Disto D2 laser distance measure might be the tool for the job. This laser measure features a maximum measuring range of 330 feet, so it is as suitable for outdoors as it is for indoor work.
The Leica Disto D2 has plenty of functionality as well, offering length, area, volume, and Pythagorean functions. It also connects to the Leica Disto Plan app through Bluetooth. The backlit LED display is easy to read.
During testing, the Leica Disto D2 was accurate and easy to use. We did struggle with a few of the settings (the Pythagorean theory setting, specifically), but the instructions cleared up the questions. Also, the backlit display on this Leica Disto D2 was very clear, and the dead-flat bottom made grabbing a quick measurement a breeze. Again, the Leica Disto Plan app was a little more difficult to use than the actual laser, but connecting the laser measure to a phone was very easy.
Get the Leica Disto D2 laser measure at Amazon or The Home Depot.
- Range: 165 feet
- Display: Backlit LED
- Connectivity: None
- The green laser beam is very easy to see outdoors and allows for faster measurements
- It stores lots of data, so users can check back on previous measurements
- Rounding option is unique and makes grabbing quick measurements easier
- It doesn’t have rechargeable batteries, but many other models on this list don’t either
- The screen was slightly more difficult to read than other large-screen models
The Bosch GLM165-25G Blaze Green-Beam laser measure has what it takes to replace any other outdoor laser level. It has a green laser beam that’s easy to see in daylight (something red lasers don’t always excel at) as well as a weather-, water-, and dust-resistant exterior to protect it from tough jobsite conditions.
The Bosch has a number of features and functions that make it a solid choice. First, it has a maximum range of 165 feet, making it useful for most outdoor projects. It also has an audible beep, auto shutoff, a backlit display, and battery-save mode. It’s compatible with a tripod and its functions include distance, continuous measure, area, volume, Pythagorean theorem, wall area, stakeout, and leveling. It even allows users to choose if they’d like to round and what fraction they want to round to for faster measurements: ½, ¼, ⅛, 1/16, or 1/32 inch.
While the Bosch was great indoors, we found the bright green laser was an excellent touch for outdoor projects. It’s easier to see in daylight, which allowed us to get measurements faster and ultimately helped us save more battery life. It was very easy to use, though we did think the digits on the screen were a little difficult to see. It also has a huge memory, storing so many measurements that we couldn’t even remember what they were. Our only complaint, and we had to dig for one here, is that it doesn’t have rechargeable batteries, but that’s the case for several other laser levels in this list as well.
Get the Bosch Green-Beam laser measure at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Ace Tool.
- Range: Up to 100 feet
- Display: Backlit LCD
- Connectivity: None
- Despite the display being small, the backlit display is easy to read
- Simple 1-button design makes it easy to use and cycle through the different settings
- Lightweight and compact, so it fits in a shirt or pants pocket easily
- It doesn’t have any functions beyond distance measurements
The Klein Tools compact laser distance measure is worth considering for anyone looking for a lightweight, pocket-ready laser measure. This tool weighs just 2.3 ounces, so it can sit easily in a shirt or vest pocket, or it can be clipped to a pants pocket without weighing the user down. And despite its size, it has a range of up to 100 feet.
This laser measure is simple to use. It has one button that toggles through the different settings: beep or silent, auto shutoff, measure, or continuous measure. It doesn’t do any complicated functions like Pythagorean calculations, however, but it does store the last three measurements right on the backlit screen.
We found the beauty of the Klein Tools compact laser distance measure in its simplicity. It doesn’t have a bunch of buttons or complicated functions, so we could simply take it out, grab a measurement, and move on. It’s also weather- and dust-resistant, so it should hold up to some basic outdoor hazards. We found the small backlit screen was actually quite easy to see as well. But if users need area or volume numbers, they’ll want to bring a pen and paper as this laser measure doesn’t offer anything but distance measuring.
Get the Klein Tools laser measure at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
- Range: 330 feet
- Display: Backlit LED and picture display
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- It has an incredible number of functions and measurements to use
- The built-in camera helps keep track of what each measurement represents
- Includes carrying case and recharging cord
- The functions are great but their labeling doesn’t make sense
- We weren’t able to get it to link to our Bluetooth
When it comes to functions, the Mileseey 330-foot laser might take the cake. This model’s functions include distance, volume, area, several Pythagorean theorem calculations, angles, round area and volume, stakeout, and more. It also features Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in camera, and an auto-rotate display.
The Mileseey comes with a carrying case as well as a recharging cord. It’s weather- and dust-resistant, features tripod compatibility, and has a large picture display that functions with the camera.
One of us tested a Mileseey laser measure in the past, and to be honest, we hated it. It was inaccurate and clunky. Luckily, Mileseey solved the accuracy problem, because this model is excellent. We found the sheer number of calculations available meant we’d probably never need a pen and paper or calculator to measure large objects of all shapes and sizes again. Also, the camera helped us keep track of what each measurement represents.
But, it’s still a little clunky. None of the icons make sense, so cycling through them is somewhat hit or miss. Also, we could not get the Bluetooth to connect to our phone, and even the Mileseey product videos hint that it might not work with all devices.
Get the Mileseey laser measure at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Laser Measure
There are many choices when it comes to laser distance measures for DIYers and professionals. To help weed through the options, consider a few key features when comparing laser measuring devices since different characteristics are important for different types of projects. The following factors may help you find the right tool for the job.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Use
While most laser tape measures are only suited for measuring distance indoors, there are some products that are specifically for outdoor use. Most outdoor models can measure longer distances, but the laser light of the measure doesn’t change in any way. However, the bodies of outdoor models need to be able to stand up to rain, snow, and fluctuating temperature extremes.
This weather resistance helps prevent the interior of the tool from becoming damaged by moisture buildup, and the tightly sealed case helps keep out dust. However, the upgraded case comes at a cost, so users can expect to pay more for an outdoor laser measure.
Accuracy and Range
The accuracy and measurement range are typically listed together, with most products claiming an average accuracy rating to within ⅛ inch at a distance of 50 feet. However, some laser distance measures can accurately measure much longer distances (up to 320 feet). Just remember that as the distance increases, accuracy can begin to falter. Mace has some advice: “When taking a series of measurements in the same location, the smallest of the measurements is the truer number because angles will have a longer distance, in most cases.”
Laser measures rated for use at long distances often have a higher degree of accuracy, with many products capable of accurately measuring to within 1.6 millimeters or 1/16 inch. This increase in accuracy is often due to a stronger laser, which usually comes with a higher price tag.
When selecting a laser distance measurer, consider the tool’s various functions that may help make a project as efficient and successful as possible. Those who have no experience using a laser distance measure might want to consider a model with detailed operating instructions or one with very basic functionality.
A laser measure’s basic job is to simply measure the distance between two points, but some measurers can perform additional specialized functions:
- Some laser distance measures contain an integrated calculator that uses the length and width measurements to provide the area of the room, which is necessary for flooring projects.
- Other products can calculate volume using multiple laser measurements, which is helpful, for example, when determining the type of heater needed for a specific space.
- Still other laser measures contain a Pythagorean measurement function that uses known proportions to find an unknown length or distance.
Most laser measuring tools operate with the push of a button, though some provide a continuous or an automatic measurement while the operator moves around to find the ideal angle without needing to take multiple measurements. This is useful for quickly measuring the length, width, and height of a room.
A bright display with text that’s easy to read in dim lighting is an integral feature of a laser distance measurer. If the display is backlit, the text is easier to see in both direct sunlight and low-light conditions.
Laser measuring devices may display only a few numbers to indicate the distance and the unit of measurement. Or, the displays may be more complex, featuring multiple menus, functionalities, and accuracy settings. Some even have rotating screens to make it easier to see the readings from any position.
Connectivity and Storage
The best laser tape measure is often equipped with a continuous measure feature and the ability to transfer data from the device to a computer; this is handy for multiple measurements like stairway length and riser heights, for example. Upgraded models have an extended measuring range, and they may be capable of indirect measurement with the Pythagorean measurement function, keeping all information stored safely on the device.
Laser measuring tools might also come with Bluetooth connectivity, which allows the stored measurements to be transferred wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet, saving time and effort. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to properly connect the device.
The best laser measuring tools aren’t just about the basics. They can include a range of additional features to help make the laser measure easier to use and more convenient for users, including a battery life indicator, sound alerts, automatic shutoff, and holsters.
- Battery life indicators are usually simple visual symbols that are displayed on the screen to tell the user how much battery life is remaining. They may begin to flash or trigger a sound alert when the battery gets too low.
- Sound alerts can be used to notify the user about a low battery, to indicate that the device is ready to take a measurement, or to simply alert the user when the laser measure has successfully taken the intended measurement.
- The automatic shutoff function of a laser measure saves battery life. When the tool is idle for a certain period of time, it shuts down to conserve energy but typically stores the previous readings.
- Holsters may not add anything to the functionality of the device, but having a holster for the laser measurer makes it easier to carry, put away, or access when necessary.
The Advantages of Owning a Laser Measurer
Adding a laser distance measure to your tool box or workshop helps make many home renovation projects easier to complete. A laser measurer can produce an accurate measurement at long distances, unlike a metal tape measure that may slip or sag if not properly supported at both ends.
Not only do these devices deliver better accuracy than regular tape measures, but they also can be recalibrated. Many laser distance measures provide the ability to measure area, volume, or even triangular shapes. Plus, their compact size makes them easy to carry, store, and use.
Tips for Using a Laser Measure
Laser measuring tools are impressive tools that can make it easier to take long measurements. However, as the distance between objects increases, any slight alteration to the laser measure can change the measurement. To help ensure that the laser measure is lined up properly, use a piece of painter’s tape or a sticky note as a target.
Outdoor measurements with a laser measure can also be difficult because the laser can get lost in bright sunlight, making it hard to see if it’s properly aligned. Some laser measures have a built-in viewfinder or an external viewfinder to help users locate the laser and line it up.
After using the laser measure, make sure to properly clean it. These tools rely on the uninterrupted beam of light, so any dirt or debris on the tool can block a portion of the laser, reducing the accuracy of the tool.
- For accurate measurements, consider using a small target, like a sticky note, on the opposite side of the distance being measured.
- Use a viewfinder to help track down the laser on the target surface in bright light.
- Before putting it away in a tool box, clean the laser measure to continue to get the best results.
Before deciding on a new laser distance measure, you may have a few lingering questions. The following answers to some frequently asked questions may help you make a more informed decision about which model is right for you.
Q. How does a laser measure work?
A laser measure essentially emits light in a concentrated beam, then measures the time it takes for the light to hit an object and reflect back to the laser measure. Through this process, it is able to determine the distance between the laser measure and the object it’s pointed toward.
Q. Can a laser measure replace a tape measure?
A traditional tape measure is a better option for short measurements because it takes less time to set up, but there are hybrid laser measures that incorporate a traditional tape measure into the laser measure, providing users with both tools.
Q. How accurate is a laser distance measurer?
An average laser distance measurer is capable of accurately measuring a distance to within ⅛ inch or even 1/16 inch at a distance of 50 feet.
Q. Can you use a laser distance measurer outside?
Yes, laser measuring tools can be used outside, but bright sunlight can impair the ability to see the laser dot. Moreover, other factors can interfere with the reading, such as falling leaves or blowing dust and debris. Consider using a telescopic optical viewfinder, a tripod, or a targeting camera for better results outdoors.
Q. How do you calibrate a laser distance measurer?
To calibrate a laser distance measurer, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each model may have a different calibration method, such as a detailed manual process or an automatic process. Some laser measures may require professional calibration.
Why Trust Bob Vila
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Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Meet the Tester
Tom Scalisi is a full-time DIY and construction writer for many of the largest websites in the industry, including BobVila.com, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Forbes. He also owns and operates a pest control blog, RiddaBugs.com.
Additional research provided by Timothy Dale.