Nothing is quite so cool as having a laser on one or more of your tools. What kid hasn’t wanted a ray gun or laser to flash about and wreak havoc on the bad guys, all while wearing proper eye protection, of course! Lasers have been part of the tool world for quite some time now. In some instances, the implementation is not the best. But when the manufacturers get it right, having lasers to guide cutting and drilling actions is a genuine time saver. Not to mention reducing the amount of stock waste resulting from errant cuts.
Laser measuring tools are the focus of the reviews today. There are lasers for marking levels on walls to hang pictures and on dropped ceiling hanger wires to provide perfectly level ceilings. That is not the type of tool under review today. These are the laser equivalents of retractable tape measures and ultrasonic measuring devices. We have worked with the latter for years with mixed results, so when we were tasked with researching the laser versions, we were pumped to get it done.
Measuring open spaces with a rule or tape measure is equal parts of inaccurate and clumsy. Often, two people are required, so the end of the tape measure doesn’t keep moving and messing up your calculations. All you want for this task is to get it done as quickly and accurately as possible.
We look at five models in the laser measuring category that are going to appeal to the DIYer and contractor alike. Things to consider when shopping for your laser measuring tool include:
Put on your red safety glasses, set your laser measure to stun, and let’s get started.
|Fluke 424D Laser Distance Meter|
|DeWalt Laser Distance Measurer DW03050||5 oz||4.6/5|
|Bosch GLM 35 Compact Laser Measure|
(Best for the Money)
|Tacklife HD60 Laser Tape Measure||7 oz||4.2/5|
|General Tools TS01 100’ Laser Measure||5 oz||3.8/5|
Fluke is a familiar name among people who need tools that provide spot-on accuracy when measuring things like voltage, temperature, and distance. We picked them as our number one laser measuring tool for many reasons. The company’s reputation for rugged tools that can survive in industrial and harsh environments is chief among our selection criteria.
This company always turns up at the head of the class when it comes to measurement tools. Why? That is the sole focus at Fluke, measuring with accuracy and reliability. We’ve used several of their tools over the years and have never come away disappointed. We are sure you will be pleased with the Fluke’s performance as well.
The 424D is typical Fluke. Rugged case, able to survive harsh conditions inside and out, one-hand operation, large easy-to-read screen, a minimalistic keypad (easy to learn and use), and extremely accurate. It’s not a fluke (oh yes, we did write this) that the Fluke 424D tops our list.
When you need to make measurements at the speed of light, grab a Fluke.
Note: Never, ever try to measure the distance to an aircraft flying low overhead. All military and commercial aircraft are equipped with a laser targeting threat receiver. It is obvious why military aircraft have these receivers, but why commercial aircraft? In this day and age of terrorism and the proliferation of laser-guided shoulder-fired rockets, commercial aircraft are tempting targets. While it is unlikely these measuring tools will reach that far with enough power to trip the receiver, don’t take a chance. You might end up with some angry military folks asking intimidating questions.
Our second choice is the DeWalt DW03050. DeWalt has been equipping their tools with lasers to target cut line and drill points for a long time. And, their execution in these areas is excellent overall. This entry in the laser measuring tool segment is a solid one indeed. Put the DeWalt next to the Fluke, and the similarities are immediately apparent.
The DeWalt is a brick, almost in a literal sense. This device tips the scales at 2.2 pounds! It boasts rugged construction tested to survive a drop of six feet, a design with features like membrane buttons for use in all environments, an even easier to use keypad than the Fluke, and a large bright screen.
It looks like the top two compare nicely, so why isn’t the DeWalt top of the heap?
Here’s what we find appealing about the DeWalt:
The bottom line is the Fluke is a better tool if you have the cash. On the other hand, the DeWalt is an excellent alternative if you do not need all the bells and whistles of the Fluke.
Important: Lasers are dangerous to use, especially at the power level of these measuring tools. Always wear the proper eye protection (more on this later) and never point a laser at another person or look into the beam itself. Leave the Lasik to trained optometrists.
Our reviews picked the Bosch GLM 35 as the best laser measuring tool for the money. You never give up much when you invest in a Bosch tool. They are invariably rock-solid and reliable. This tool is not as feature-rich or capable as our top two picks but if you can’t or don’t want to shell out the money for those choices, invest in the GLM 35.
The Bosch is a nicely proportioned tool so you can slip it in a pocket, a useful feature since it does not come with a belt case like both the Fluke and the DeWalt. The +/- 1/16th-inch accuracy is nothing to sneeze at, and it has a neat little feature that lets you use it like a regular tape measure, you point it at the target and as you back up it continues to increase the reading. If it made that distinctive tape measure retracting sound when you finished, that would be even better.
Naturally, you are giving up some things when you drop down from the leading contenders. For a DIYer and small contractor, they probably are not big deals. Here are the dings.
Note: One of the great features of the laser measure is accuracy. You know the old saying, measure twice, cut once, right? With tools that can measure to within 1 mm every time, you can stop worrying about multiple measurements to verify results.
So, what do you do if you would like to add a laser measure to your tool kit, but the budget is as important as the accuracy and sophistication of the tool itself? We have your answer, the Tacklife HD60. Look, you know there are going to be trade-offs when you go budget versus the top pick.
That said, the Tacklife packs quite a few features into its budget-friendly package. It handles area and volume calculations. It has a reported accuracy of 1/16th of an inch. It comes with a carrying case and strap; it has a maximum range of 196 feet, and stores 30 measurements.
What are the negatives for this budget pleaser?
Bringing up the rear in our reviews is the General Tools TS01. This laser measuring tool is the smallest of the five and has the shortest range. It does have Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone app. At first glance, we wondered about the value of the Bluetooth. It seems counterproductive to couple a smartphone with the tool, making measuring more difficult. Researching further, it appears you can save project measurements on your phone. That’s nifty.
Electronic wizardry aside, the rest of the features are insignificant when compared to the other four. The shortest range has already been mentioned as a drawback. The construction is not especially rugged, so you don’t want to take this tool into hard use situations.
Laser measuring tools have the cool factor. But, is that enough of a benefit to invest in one? Probably not. You will want to have a genuine need for it. People like painters, wallpaperers, kitchen and interior designers, HVAC contractors, siding salespeople, realtors, and anyone who needs highly accurate, fast measurements will want to invest one. They will want to lean towards a tool that is as accurate as possible and produces results they can rely upon each time they use it.
For the DIYer and small contractor, these tools are a great way to up their measuring game. They are fast, accurate, one-person tools that eliminate the frustration of traditional tape measures. Do these users need the Fluke? If you want the very best in all your tools, then grab the winner.
Let’s review the things you need to consider when evaluating a laser measuring tool.
Helpful safety tip: Invest in a pair of laser safety glasses for your protection. Lasers can be instantly damaging to your eyes, even reflected laser energy. When you are working inside, mirrors can bounce the laser right back at you. You’ve seen the science programs where they bounce laser beams around the lab like crazy. They do that with lasers and prisms.
Search for “laser eye protection safety glasses.” They are available in red, green, amber, and other colors. The red allows you to see your work through rose-colored glasses. How nice it that? We don’t care what color you pick, just get some and use them.
Next time you need to measure the speed of light, reach for a laser measuring tool. These reviews give you a good insight into the variety of products available and their capabilities. Some bring scientific-levels of accuracy and sophistication to your measuring needs. Others provide enough functionality to enable you to measure a tile project in no time with accuracy that doesn’t have you buying a box of tile too much or too little.
We consider Fluke to be a “bucket list” tool, one that we set our sights on having in our kit someday. Does the average user genuinely need that level of accuracy and reliability? Who are we to judge? The Fluke is the best option for professionals and DIYers who only settle for the best.
The DeWalt is a notch below the Fluke and if you are balancing budget against a few points lost in the capability category, go with the DeWalt. For regular DIYers and occasional use needs, toss a coin between the Bosch and Tacklife, both will do the job. We lean towards the Bosch because of their reputation for great tools.
We are glad to shed some light on the topic of laser measuring tools and hope you find the reviews useful when you decide it’s time to measure using photons instead of steel. Thanks for reading and stop back again soon.