The top performers in our review are the DeWalt DW087K, the Gold Award winner; the Bosch GLL 2, the Silver Award winner; and the Skil 8201-CL, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with details on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Whether you're hanging pictures or framing walls, levels are a necessity to make sure your projects line up perfectly. Traditional bubble levels are great tools that can help you determine true horizontals and verticals, but they are always limited by their size, typically ranging from 8 inches to 6 feet long. Today, laser line levels can project a perfectly level, virtual chalk line across an entire wall, ceiling or room. This means you only have to set your system up once as opposed to carrying a bubble level with you and checking it every few minutes to make sure everything is lined up perfectly.
However, there are different grades of laser levels that meet different needs. During our testing process, we evaluated the accuracy, usability and projection capabilities thoroughly to be able to explain the real experience of each tool. We found the best laser levels have a number of projection and leveling features, in addition to a high level of accuracy, that make them useful in a number of different projects, such as tiling a bathroom or hanging a mirror. For more information on laser line levels, check out our articles that can help you use these tools effectively. While you're considering laser line levels, check out our reviews of the best cordless drills.
The first and most important element to consider with these tools is accuracy. Regardless of whether you use the tool to draw a paint line or completely renovate a room, accuracy is vital to your project. We tested each laser level to make sure it was capable of finding the true level, regardless of whether you have to manually position it or if the tool can self-level. We paid special attention to self-leveling models that use an internal pendulum to find true level, which seemingly have the most potential for error but are, in fact, incredibly accurate.
An important note to consider with self-leveling laser lines is their ability to find true level while being somewhat out of level themselves. Each self-leveling model uses an internal pendulum to find true level, but they all have to be within a certain degree range to be accurate. Look for units that can accommodate at least four degrees out of level.
When you are looking for the best laser level to fit your needs, you'll want to consider each tool's ability to cast a line effectively against your surface. Many of the levels we considered can project a clear, visible line up to 30 feet away, which gives you plenty of room to work around. Another element to consider is the laser's fan angle, which is how wide the level can cast a line against a surface. The wider the angle, the longer the line appears on your wall or surface, meaning you only have to set the tool up once to get a consistent, level line across an entire wall or multiple walls.
Another important feature to consider is the number of beams the levels can produce simultaneously. Some levels only project one horizontal beam, but more advanced laser levels can produce crossbeams with two lasers. This cross-line feature is useful in a number of situations, such as when you need to tile a bathroom or hang a picture frame with furniture below it.
Whether you plan to use your laser line level for weekend house projects or a job site, make sure the laser level you buy has a durable design that can withstand rough conditions. In case the level is bumped off its tripod or wall-mounting bracket, you want to know that it will survive a little tumble. This consideration is particularly important for self-leveling laser lines, as the internal pendulum is a sensitive component of the tool. Tools that allow you to lock the pendulum in place minimize this risk.
Additionally, make sure you have an understanding of how long the batteries last, as you don't want to be in the middle of a project when the batteries die, leaving you at square one. Look for laser line levels that will operate for hours with continuous use, as this ensures a long battery life between replacements.
Help & Support
Whenever you buy a tool, it's a good idea to know what the warranty is so you can return it if needed. Look for a company that offers a warranty of at least a year so you don't have to worry about running into a defect days after the warranty expires. In case you have questions or concerns about your laser level, you'll want to make sure you can reach the manufacturer via email, through live chat or over the phone.
The best laser line levels offer a number of projection capabilities and leveling features that make them versatile tools for any situation. Regardless of what specific features you are looking for, these tools should have a rugged design that can withstand a little punishment, regardless if you use it in calm or harsh work conditions. Most importantly, these tools are designed to be accurate and make your life easier, so you only have to set them up once and have an accurate line for as long as you need.
Based on our testing and research, the DeWalt DW087K, Bosch GLL 2 and Skil 8201-CL best exemplify versatile laser line levels that have their uses for a number of different projects and situations. Each one of these levels offers a high level of accuracy, great projection capabilities, long battery lives and durable designs.