When carrying out construction and repair work it is impossible to do without a level. This is a universal tool that can be used to solve any problem associated with drawing a flat plane or line (both horizontal and vertical). Conventional bubble or more modern electronic levels are used depending on accuracy requirements and individual preferences.
Advantages and disadvantages
The digital level is very similar to the bubble level - the methods of application are practically the same. Often it has several vial ampoules along with a digital display. This element is used to display deviation data (in degrees or percent).
The scope of construction levels of this type includes checking vertical, horizontal and inclined planes, as well as marking at different angles. Note that the bubble level makes it possible to establish with good accuracy the fact of deviation from the horizontal or vertical axis, but it cannot be used to find out what the angle of inclination is. An electronic device shows the specific value of the angle, and this is one of its advantages (accuracy depends on the model).
This property of these levels can be very useful when performing work related to marking lines at any given angle, for example, laying paving slabs or certain types of roofing. Installation of rafters, beams, complex types of load-bearing structures (like arches) also involves the exact determination of angles.
Other obvious advantages of electronic type levels include usability, accuracy and enhanced functionality. Working based on the readings of a digital display is much more convenient than in the case of a bubble level.
As for accuracy, there are clear standards: most building levels of electronic type have a tolerance limit of 0.2 degrees. The most accurate models allow you to measure deviation with an accuracy of 0.1 degrees.
There are electronic levels with a goniometer function and with a laser. Thus, an impressive set of useful functions is another significant plus of such tools. However, they also have their drawbacks.
Level is a tool subject to damage. A slight deformation of the rail is enough for the readings to be violated. And in the process, the rail, usually made of aluminum, often receives random hits. For the ordinary level, this is not particularly important - its cost is low, since the service life of the device is small. But digital counterparts are more expensive, because they use chips.
Therefore, such devices have to be especially protected from shock, worn in a protective case, and not operated in severe frost. In addition, the electronic level requires a power source. To do this, use ordinary batteries, which need to be changed from time to time.
This category of tools is often equipped with a goniometer function (has an additional rail movably fastened to the main bolt), which allows you to measure the angles between two planes. There are also many models of electronic levels with a laser. They have a laser point that is projected in any direction (360 degrees) relative to the device, that is, they operate according to the principle of a laser level.
Those electronic levels that have a function for calculating angles differ in the measurement range (in degrees). There are models that allow you to determine angles up to 180 degrees. But if you need to work with wide angles, then you need a tool with a measurement range of up to 360 degrees. Limitations are always indicated in the technical specifications of each model.
Laser levels are also very popular among builders and homeowners. With their help, it is very convenient to do the markup. In addition to the display, such a device has an LED emitting a controlled laser beam. There are all kinds of modifications that differ in range, accuracy (deviation), light intensity.
Typically, the laser level does not extend more than 20 m, so it is used exclusively indoors. For work related, for example, with land surveying or geodetic surveying, you will need a specially designed laser level.
Finally, a very important parameter of a level in practice is its length (base). The longer the tool rail, the more accurate the readings will be, and vice versa. Usually use devices with a base of 60 to 80 cm, there are longer ones. At the same time, pocket-type devices with a short rail of 20-30 cm are on sale. They do not differ in great accuracy, but are convenient and compact.
Of the additional criteria, magnetism can be distinguished. Magnetic levels are a useful variation, and many models have several magnets along the working plane. If the surface to which you press the level during operation is metal, then the device will magnetize to it. This will protect it from accidental falling, and will also make it possible to attach the tool both from above and below, at any angle and not support it.
When buying a level with an indication on the electronic display, it is recommended to focus only on well-established manufacturers and their authorized dealers. All their products undergo special tests for compliance with technical standards (for example, in our country GOST 9416-83 applies for building levels).
Several well-known brands on the market are listed below:
Kapro levels are made in Israel. They are distinguished by modern technology and quality. The company also produces laser, measuring and marking tools, so the technical level of its products is really serious. Kapro tools also have a convenient, functional design and are available for both domestic and professional use.
Stanley has the advantage of being known in the US market at the beginning of the last century. Now it is one of the world leaders in the production of measuring instruments.
A distinctive feature of Stanley products is quality, the level of which is carefully monitored by production tests. The company also pays great attention to the implementation of innovations. Customers in their reviews note the accuracy and ergonomics of Stanley levels, optimal weight and a convenient display, from which it is easy to read readings.
Milwaukee is another major American manufacturer. The company used to specialize in power tools, but now its range includes more than 500 different types of products, including construction levels. Among them there are bubble levels and laser, with a mount that allows marking in any plane.
The German company Stabila produces levels of exceptional quality. They are more expensive than the products of many other manufacturers, but most experienced builders recognize their unique virtues. The Stabila tool has an extended service life - the powder coating of the case, shockproof ampoules and a display make them reliable and unpretentious. Stabila levels are highly accurate and professional-grade.
Measuring instruments from the company "Bison" are well known in the domestic market. There are digital magnetic models and goniometers from this brand.
When choosing a device, we advise you to pay attention to the following criteria:
ergonomics - the tool should be convenient to use;
accuracy - it must comply with the declared and in any case not exceed 0.2 degrees;
additional functions - do not neglect convenient functions such as a magnet, goniometer or laser if you purchase the device for continuous use;
tool reliability and manufacturer reputation.
Checking these parameters is quite simple. The device should be lightweight so that it can be kept on weight for a long time, performing a plane check. To check accuracy and calibration, you can use the following simple technique: attach the level to a plane, then rotate it 180 degrees and apply it again. If the readings differ, the instrument must be calibrated.
Buy a tool from an authorized supplier and when choosing, pay attention to the reviews and ratings of a particular model.
An overview of the electronic level, goniometer, inclinometer ADA Pro-Digit MICRO, see the following video.