The best laser levels are used on every construction site, but they're just as vital when you're hanging up a frame at home. They can even be useful for composition when you're taking a photo. And they're certainly a much better alternative to the old-fashioned spirit level.
Patiently eying a bubble in a glass tube was never a very accurate way of doing things, and often called for drawing on surfaces. In contrast, a laser level can be set up and projected onto a surface, giving you a perfectly level line. Better still, the line can remain as long as you work and travel many meters from the point it originates.
Laser levels come in two broad categories. With manual laser levels, you direct the line at any angle to suit your needs. With auto-leveling laser levels, though, an internal pendulum mechanism ensures that the projected lines are perfectly horizontal or vertical if you get the device within a few degrees. This also eliminates the need for finding somewhere to hang a gravity-dependent plumb line. This mechanism can sometimes be locked should you need to project a line at an angle.
More generally, the best laser levels have the potential to vastly accelerate tasks, and the more ambitious you are, the more features you should look for. A brighter laser will be visible further; laser glasses and sensors can also assist. A turret design offers beams 360˚ coverage so you can work around a whole room. Below, you'll find the best laser levels on the market today, at a range of prices.
The best laser levels in 2023
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For most DIY tasks, like hanging pictures, mirrors, curtain rails, and other décor, you need just a single laser beam, which is what this handy little tool offers. It does it in a pleasingly familiar form, too, looking a little like an overweight traditional tape measure, though it sits upon a rotating attachment so you can let go of it and direct it to your chosen angle (at the expense of a tac-hole).
Compared to others the range is relatively low. But this device is better suited to DIYers, hobbyists, and those conducting tasks not too far beyond arm's reach so will be quite powerful enough. Indeed it may do well for unusual tasks like organizing elements of a montage without pencil lines and rulers – perhaps you already need two laser levels?
If your prime reason for owning a laser level is to hang pictures on walls, but you're not sure what's in those walls, the Black+Decker BullsEye BDL190S is a great choice. It won't just ensure that everything lines up straight: it also includes a stud finder. That means you can be sure of avoiding wood or metal studs, not to mention live A/C wiring when you hammer in that nail.
Otherwise, it's a very simple device; like the Black & Decker BDL220S above, it provides just a single, self-leveling line. But it does have an LCD screen, attaches to the wall via a small pin, and does what it needs to, reliably and efficiently.
The quirky cube-like design of this cross-line laser level from Bosch, and the handy adjustable clamp it is usually sold with, make it an excellent tool for DIYers not wanting anything excessively complicated, but who might still have a use for the dual-axis beams.
The included mini grip stand on the bottom can grip a post from 1-5cm thick, meaning you don’t need to worry about whether it’s a ferrous metal. That's very useful if you want to use your step-ladder as a support.
The slide-down cover for the optics also locks the pendulum, meaning this tool is well protected against a clumsy owner too. And one extra feature that might appeal to some – albeit one you need to choose at purchase by choosing the Bosch Quigo Plus – is the option of interval marking on the lasers to help space things out evenly.
Designed with tripod-based operation in mind, the 621CG has a 360˚ green laser from the top, as well as a line that can be projected from one side. This is assuming the device is positioned with the tripod mount at the base and projects 140˚ so it can reach the floor and ceiling.
Pendulum auto-leveling is included, and this can also be locked for angle work. An additional touch is an up/down red laser, which can act like a plumb line, projecting red dots above and below itself.
While some might prefer a rechargeable device, the 4xAA batteries are easy to source. We also appreciate the inclusion of the removable magnetic mount – a choice of weight over portability is available this way.
The Box-1G can tackle all the same scenarios that other cross-beam lasers can, with the added advantages that come with a 510nm “Green” laser. As well as the self-leveling pendulum, which like most works within 4˚, there is a lock for manual mode, so you can take on stair laying and other tasks involving angles.
You can expect the four batteries to keep the laser lit for four hours. That's better than some rivals, and you can cycle through the beams with the power button to extend that time or swap the batteries with no charging if needed.
Despite the low asking price, a magnetic bracket – which screws into the standard tripod mount – is also included. So for many tasks, it’s hard to suggest spending more, though you will need to budget for batteries, as they last under five hours.
Though it’s quite small for a 3-plane laser, the CM-701 is a powerful device with a built-in battery. It's one of the cheapest available in the rugged professional category but goes out of its way to be useful on-site. The turret design means there are 360˚ lasers in all three axes, but to reduce the drain on the battery, each can be individually switched off via its own button on the case – no multiple presses to cycle through the lasers (though the four brightness levels are all accessed via the power button).
The included remote control can also be used to switch off the lasers so they’re only drawing power as you work, and without the risk of moving the device if it’s staying in place using the magnet bracket. Also included are a precision adjustment tripod and a reflector, so you really get everything the pros get, plus a future-proof USB-C charging socket.
While Elikliv’s brand might only be tangentially connected to DIY – they also ship CO2 detectors and pulley systems for fitness enthusiasts – the laser level they’ve chosen to import under their brand is a great example of getting good features for less. With four 360-degree lines, the machine can be adapted to most tasks, from floor tiling upward. In terms of power, two rechargeable batteries are supplied which can keep you going for up to eight hours total – something you can check thanks to an LCD percentage display on the device itself.
The bundle also includes a remote control, meaning there's no need to knock the device itself when switching lasers. That's not too shabby given the price, and we’re told it’s 1m drop tested.
Pricier than its red laser cousin the GLL30, but more powerful into the bargain, this compact laser level will provide as much guidance as most DIY enthusiasts need, with the advantage of brighter lasers so you can get out on a sunny weekend and get those unfinished tasks done.
Go beyond 4 degrees and the internal pendulum will lock for protection, meaning the lines can be used for angles too. The batteries will last a little longer than you might expect thanks to Bosch’s VisiMax technology. It’s also appreciated that Bosch includes not only a bag but one of their flexible mounting devices which can screw into the laser’s tripod mount and clamp onto – well, it depends on what you’re working with, but you’ll find something.
While it might not have the snappiest of names, the DW089K is certainly built to last, with an almost over-molded design that can certainly stand a drop or two without risking the laser. It is effectively one big roll cage. Use is also straightforward on-site, with the one-button-per-laser operation and an easily gripped big knob allowing for precise adjustment of the intersecting lines (or easy re-direction to the next wall).
A low battery indicator on the side is a useful addition (not that you’ll see it for 25 hours) and the diagrammatic buttons are very clear – confusion seems very unlikely. DeWalt is also to be praised for its typically rugged kit box and the notably brighter laser than predecessors in the same line, though the IP20 build implies the DW089K is not waterproofed.
In keeping with Leica’s tradition of high-quality optics, the ML180 (even though it’s a somewhat unfashionable red laser) has the longest range and the best precision. Any kind of job within scope, even in a large outdoor space, is achievable thanks to the ‘Smart Targeting’ function.
As well as traditional layouts with lines at 90˚ to each other, the XCR Catch device can be placed on a distant wall and, with the help of the ML180, will be guided to the point exactly opposite, to help one operator work from the existing structures like inward-corners. It also projects a dot directly downward to help position.
With such a reliable electronic helper, you’ll also be glad to know that if the 12h battery expires, Leica has your back; you can charge and keep using, it or swap for type D batteries. The pack is pricey, but it includes a good range of accessories (including that remote). You’ll need a 5/8” compatible tripod.
If you can lay your hands on the understandably sought-after Milwaukee laser level, you’ll definitely impress the other folk on a site. And it’s robust enough that even if they drop it in a fit of jealousy it’ll likely survive.
Of course, it is a green laser – the accepted brighter shade – but it’s bolstered by the power of Milwaukee’s 12V rechargeable batteries which means it can keep projecting those lines the whole working day (and not just union hours; up to 15 according to Milwaukee). If you use any of the firm’s 100 battery-powered tools, this will no doubt have further appeal; If not, one of these REDLITHIUM batteries and charger are supplied.
Other site-worthy aspects are the included rare earth magnets, which more than comfortably support the device on steel stud work, despite its not inconsiderable heft. The device also manages a very impressive 38m visibility on site with the human eye – not a theoretical claim with a measuring device.
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