How does a Laser Level Work?


Laser levels come in an array of designs and some are application specific. The two most basic components of all laser levels are a leveling base that can rest on a surface or a tripod. The function of the base is to project the beam at the desired height. The other important component is a leveling system, either automatic or a spirit level attached to the unit.

Basic units use a spirit level to orientate its setup. The user will have to manually adjust the unit, to align with the marking in the spirit level. This is done by adjusting the level in relation to the base or by re positioning the unit.

Useful Key Points

The size and specifications of a laser level can vary greatly from one device to another.  Interestingly enough, there seems to be a laser level for about every building application you could think of.  A laser level takes all of the guess work out of accurate alignment and can cut back on time and money which in turn can save you time and money.  A good quality laser level does not need to be the most costly one since a lot of cheaper laser levels have a fair amount of special features for their price range.

Why Laser Level

Laser levels are used in a variety of applications ranging from DIY home renovation projects to larger construction site jobs.  Any surface which needs to be level will benefit from the use of a laser level.  There are many different kinds of laser levels on the market and each of them has their own personal specifications.  With so many great laser levels to choose from, you would benefit greatly from first taking a look at the project or task at hand.

Best Type of Laser Level

Some important things to take note of when shopping for a laser level are the size of the task you are going to attempt as well as what kind of dimensions you are going to be working with.  Will you need a rotary laser level or a cross beam with a plumb line.  The amount of light you will be working in will greatly influence the visibility of the laser so it’s important to factor in whether it is an interior or exterior job site.  All of these factors will help you decide on the type of level laser you should be purchasing as well as any extra accessories you might need.

How to Set up a Laser Level Properly

Using a good quality laser level is the most optimum way of getting correct results from your building project.  Follow these easy steps to get your laser level up and running:

  • To start using the unit make sure that the batteries are installed correctly or that the unit is charged, depending on the type of power source.
  • Setup the base of the unit on the surface you intend to project from. Avoid setting up the unit at eye level to avoid accidentally exposing your eyes to the beams.
  • The surface that the base is setup on should be more or less level, since adjustments can fall out of the practical range of the base, if the surface us uneven. Manual units use the spirit level to get the base setup. Self leveling units will automatically compensate in the surface it is resting on is not level. Switch on the unit so that the beam is emitted onto the work surface you intend to measure or mark on.
  • Rotate or adjust the unit horizontally or vertically as need to aim the beam in the desired location. Ensure that the base remains stable. Mark the vertical, horizontal or dot projected by the beam, on the work surface.
  • The markings will be level in relation to the surface the unit was setup on.
  • Self leveling units have a range of motion vertically and can compensate within a range of capabilities of the internal mechanism. If more height is needed the height of the base will have to be adjusted accordingly.

Other Important Specs

Self leveling units are more accurate, and the adjustment is done by the unit itself to find true horizontal and vertical alignment. These units are more suited for situations where it will be moved more often.  The device makes use of internal magnet and pendulum system which makes it able to self level. Laser level units can project a single dot or vertical and horizontal lines. The more complex rotary units are used to project a beam over a large distance; a special detector is used to interpret the beams.


It is a good idea to have a general knowledge of your building design and layout before purchasing a laser level.  Having this information ready will Ensure that you know what you are looking for when it comes to certain features and specifications since you cannot show up to a construction site with a mini dot site laser and expect to build a house with it.

About the Author

Bob Robinson has been a tool enthusiast and lawn care expert for the past 11 years. First working with John Deere to reduce their impact on the environment, whilst building his love for writing in his spare time. Now, Bob runs the editorial team at BestofMachinery and tends to his garden in his spare time.

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