Laser Level FAQ
This laser level FAQ has all of the most frequent questions that we hear about laser levels. If you're looking for some information that's not included in the list below, please use our contact form to let us know what you're looking for - we'll respond personally, and we'll update this list with new questions we hear from our readers.
Laser Class and Power
Lasers are divided up into safety classes to make it easy for end users and engineers to classify how dangerous any particular laser device is. The original standard was published back in the 1970s, and a similar but revised system was published in 2002. Lasers are classified according to their power, and in turn their potential for causing damage via fire or contact with skin or eyes.
The vast majority of laser levels fall into Class 2 or Class 3 - which means that operating a laser level is generally very safe, although there are some safety concerns you need to know about. As you'll see - even with lower power lasers - you should always take precautions to protect your eyes and the eyes of others in the area.
< 0.39 mW
< 0.39 mW
< 1 mW
< 1 mW
1 - 4.99 mW
5 - 499.9 mW
Laser Light Shows
> 500 mW
This information is provided for your general information only, and is not meant to serve as an authoritative guide for your safety or the safety of others. You must take responsibility for your own decisions and actions, and you are solely responsible for any outcomes that arise out of your use of a laser level or any other laser device.
For authoritative information, you should consult the Laser Institute of America, or the appropriate governmental authority for your region.
Laser color is determined by the wavelength of light which is emitted from the device. That wavelength is measured in nanometers (nm). The spectrum of visible light is broken down into six color categories: violet (380 - 450 nm), blue (450 - 495 nm), green (495 - 570 nm), yellow (570 - 590 nm), orange (590 - 620 nm), and red (620 - 750 nm). Today there are lasers capable of producing light across that entire spectrum.
Laser levels generally fall into two of these categories - red and green. So, which is better? Let's consider a few things:
- The human eye's recognition of the light color spectrum peaks at 555 nm, which is green.
- Green lasers are slightly easier to see in bright daylight conditions.
- Green lasers are typically more expensive than red lasers.
Green laser levels are only a little bit easier to see than red lasers when you're in bright daylight. In low light, green is much easier to see - but that doesn't really matter because red is easy to see in low light too. So, which color laser level should you select?
Here's my advice: If you're not going to be using your laser level outside in bright conditions very often - go with red. There's nothing wrong with red, and they're generally cheaper. The only way I think you can justify buying a green laser level is if you're going to be using it outside in bright sunlight the majority of the time. If you work strictly outdoors, consider getting a green laser and definitely pick up a pair of green laser recognition glasses.
IP stands for ingress protection. The IP rating system is a set of industrial standards published by the IEC to create a standardized system for classifying the degree of protection an enclosure has against dust and water. The standard was developed for industrial enclosures and casings, but it can be applied to any consumer item as well - including laser levels.
An IP rating is given in terms of two digits. The first digit shows you the degree of protection from solid particles, the second digit shows the degree of protection from liquid ingress, and they're always preceded by the letters "IP". Here are the breakdowns:
Solid Particle Protection
Solid Particle Description
> 50 mm
Protection from accidental body contact
> 12.5 mm
Protected from fingers
> 2.5 mm
Protected from tools
> 1 mm
Protected from wires and screws
Ingress of dust is not sufficient to interfere with functionality
Entirely protected from ingress of dust
Liquid Ingress Protection
Liquid Ingress Description
10 minutes equivalent to 1 mm rainfall per minute
Dripping Water When Tilted
Tilted 15°, 10 minutes equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute
10 liters per minute at 50-150 kPa
5 minutes under an oscillating fixture or 10 minutes in front of an non-shielded spray nozzle
6.3 mm nozzle at 30 kPa at a distance of 3 meters
Powerful Water Jets
12.5 mm nozzle at 100 kPa at distance of 3 meters
Powerful Water Jets (Increased Pressure)
6.3 mm nozzle at 1000 kPa at a distance of 3 meters
Immersion to 1 Meter
1 meter underwater for 30 minutes
Immersion Beyond 1 Meter
Up to 3 meters underwater
Powerful High Temperature Water Jets
2 minutes 80 °C water at 8-10 MPa
There's a bit more to it, but basically if a tool has an IP rating of IP54 - you know that it is protected against dust and splashing water. If dust and splashing water are something you run into in your daily work - this is something you should look for in a laser level.