A quality analogue tape measure might be reliable and simple, but it is very limited.
You will have to find an individual to hold one end when taking measurements, raise the hot-work permits and make the risk assessments and the method statements.
A quality laser tape measure will help you avoid such problems and get accurate measurements each time. It is easy to use and versatile.
When taking measurements, you do not need the help of another person. They come with a built-in process to allow calculation and triangulation.
You can measure the distance, subtract, add and calculate volumes and areas.
In this article we look at:
- What is a laser tape measure?
- How do they work?
- How accurate is a laser measuring tool?
- Laser tape measure vs. a fractional tape measure
- What makes a good laser measuring tool?
- Round up of the best laser measuring tool for 2019…
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Best overall laser tape measure
Longest range laser tape measure
What is a laser tape measure?
Some people call them laser distance measures and others call them a laser distance meter. They are a good choice for people who do not want to use and have the restriction of a traditional tape measures.
A laser tape measure is a tool that sends out pulses of laser light to a defined target and records the time it takes to get a reflection of the light. This allows for accurate readings even over very long distances.
Moreover, the onboard functions allow addition, subtraction, calculation of volume, area and the triangulate. They can make the complex and time-consuming calculations fast, easy and accurate.
A quality laser tape measure will be a great addition to your arsenal whether you are an architect, contractor, builder, or surveyor.
How do they work?
To provide you with the measurement, a laser distance meter will send pulses of laser light to your target and take the reflection as it returns to display the measurement.
For distances less than 30 meters, the laser distance meters have an accuracy of +(-) 3mm and the onboard processing allows them to add, subtract and calculate the volumes, areas and triangulate.
The devices measure the time the light takes to move between the two points and converts them into distances. The conversion formula is very simple – Distance = 1/2 (Speed x Time). But because light travels at a speed of 300,000 km/s, the meter has to record the time intervals in the order of billionths of a second.
Do not panic, the devices are very accurate!
The ultrasonic distance meters, on the other hand, work in a similar manner, but instead of light, they use sounds with very high pitches – that you cannot hear. The sound moves at a speed of 1/2 km per second and therefore the measurement of time is very easy.
How accurate is a laser measuring tool?
Laser tape measures are more accurate than a standard traditional fractional tape measure, or ultrasonic distance measure, when it comes to recording the heights, widths, and lengths not exceeding 198 meters (650 feet).
Their accuracy is within 3 millimetres or an eighth of one inch when recording distance below 91.5 meters (300 feet).
Tape measures are a good choice for insurance adjusters, contractors, flooring professionals, architects and other individuals whose work involves a lot of measuring. Homeowners can also use them to take measurements around their homes.
Laser tape measure vs. a fractional tape measure
The distance measures are not comparable to the old-fashioned tape measures when it comes to speed, safety, accuracy, convenience, versatility, and functionality. The ultrasonic devices provide similar features but are also less accurate.
- Laser distance meters are accurate to within a few millimetres; they equal the fractional tape measures for large distances and their lines are usually straight – they do not sag or bend. The user has the choice of units and there are no risks of misreading with intermediate marks.
- A laser distance meter is faster because the work of the user is to point, click and wait for the results to show up on the screen. The measuring happens in a fraction of the time it would take the user to pull the fractional tape measure, take the measurement and do some other calculations.
- With the laser dot and backlit display, the laser tape measure is usable in the poorly lit conditions and you do not have to wait morning or light up some lights to measure a distance.
- You do not necessarily need to have access to the far end of a measurement range, if a line of sight to the target exists, you will easily find out its distance.
- You do not need to worry about an obstacle on the ground or a large feature such as a cable or a pipe.
- You can record upward measurements easily and safely.
- You do not have to scrabble up a ladder or wet surfaces or steep surfaces to get the measurements. The safety benefits are more valuable in hazardous environments. In some occasions, you might not be able to complete your job with a fractional tape measure.
- A laser distance meter allows the user to measure two sides of right-angled triangles at the same time and uses the built-in Pythagoras functionality to calculate the distance and area.
- In a similar way, you can record the height of structures without being next to them – you just need to measure the distance from their base from a top position.
- You can also measure the width of any building by standing a few meters from it and using the triangle method. A fractional tape measure will also never measure the volume automatically. You will require a notebook, a calculator and a pen to do the calculations.
- The laser distance meter helps you measure continuously in a situation where you would need to reposition the fractional tape measure repeatedly. You just need to walk and mark out the minimum distance from the building and then take the measurement. This method is highly beneficial in hazardous situations.
What makes a good laser measuring tool?
Just as you would expect when buying any other tool, the selection of a laser measuring tool involves a lot of thinking. Before you buy any measuring tool, you will have to ensure that it can match your needs.
Here are a few factors to consider if you want to do that easily:
The range tells you how far the laser measuring tool can reach and still provide you with reliable measurements. For most situations a good tool should have a rage above 100 meters.
Accuracy is important, and whether you are working on a simple or detailed project, you must be able to rely on the measurements you have taken.
The accuracy of a laser measuring tool relies on various factors such as the limit range and the environmental conditions. On a humid day, the water vapor can interfere with the beams. Ensure that the model you go for can work perfectly in such conditions.
The measurement modes
Laser tape measures provide several measuring modes. They allow the user to measure in a straight line and in various ways. The number of modes you require will be highly dependant on the type of work you do. If all your measurements are straight-line measurements, one to two additional modes will be a good bonus.
The ease of use
A laser measuring tool that has modes offers more control, but one that has lesser modes is easier to operate. If you do not need the fancier modes, go for a simple option that allows you to measure quickly and easily.
The display should be clear to allow easy reading. Look for a device that labels the displayed information clearly. For example, you should know the mode you are using and what the measurements on the display mean when in poorly lit conditions. Otherwise, reading will be hard and you are likely to make mistakes.
The protection rating
Manufacturers use a rating scale to grade their laser measurement tools. The rating scale describes various factors that can negatively affect the working of the tools.
The first digit is usually on a scale of 1 to 7 and tells you how tightly the manufacturer has sealed the device against dust. If the number is high, the resistance will be good.
The second digit relates to water resistance. The manufacturers rate the water-resistance on a scale of 1 to 9 and those on the higher side are more resistant to water.
Depending on the intended application, ensure that the model you choose will match the expected conditions.
The amount of memory that you require in the device will highly depend on the amount of measurements you will taking in any given period.
Most tools as a standard can store up to five different measurements.
How to use a laser tape measure
The below video demonstrates how to correctly use a laser tape measure…
A laser measuring tool will help you record accurate measurements quickly and effectively. If you need the best, you will have to pay attention to the memory, range, measurement modes, and the display.
- Bosch Blaze GLM 50
- Leica DISTO D2
- DEWALT Laser Measure Tool/Distance Meter
Item Dimensions - 7.3 x 7.8 x 2.2 in
Measuring Distance - Up to 165-feet (50 m)
Backlit Display - Yes
Precision - To within 1/16 inch (1.5 mm)
Weight - 5 ounces
Item Dimensions - 4.57 x 1.73 x 1.02 in
Measuring Distance - Up to 330 -feet
Backlit Display - Yes
Precision - To within 1/16 inch
Weight - 5 ounces
Item Dimensions - 7 x 4 x 1.3 inches
Measuring Distance - Up to 100-feet
Backlit Display - Yes
Precision - To within 1/16 of an inch (1.5mm)
Weight - 5 ounces