Ryobi Air Grip Compact Laser Level Review
Ryobi Air Grip Compact Laser Level Review
Updated: December 22, 2016
The Ryobi Air Grip laser level is a low-cost option that is good for some basic around-the-house applications like hanging pictures and painting walls. Read on for more information.
At a Glance:
$ Low Range
Read our full review below for full technical specifications, pros and cons, and recommended applications for this model.
Full Product Review
Ryobi Air Grip Laser Level Review
The Ryobi Air Grip Compact Laser Level is a handy tool that can really speed up some projects around the house without putting much of a dent in your budget. The most notable feature of this tool is the air pump-created vacuum that holds it in place on flat surfaces like walls. Buyer beware: depending on who you ask, this is either a great convenience or a terrible nuisance... more on that below.
The Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is powered by a pair of AAA batteries. Ryobi doesn't publish the expected power life of the batteries - but keep in mind that the two small batteries power not only the laser diode but also the air pump that holds the tool in place. It can eat through batteries pretty quickly. This isn't much of a problem for hanging the occasional artwork on your walls. But it can get expensive for longer projects like closet installation or taping off many stripes for a decorative wall. If you're going to use the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level for any sort of long-term project, you might consider picking up some rechargeable AAA batteries to control your costs.
The laser itself is pretty powerful for such a small and affordable unit. It's a class IIIa laser, which means it's very important to avoid looking directly into the laser, and care should be taken to keep this tool out of the hands of children. Ryobi lists the operating range at 50 feet, and that seems to hold true in low-light indoor settings. Some online retailers randomly claim that the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is accurate to within 1/8 of an inch. But if you check Ryobi's official documentation it's clearly listed as being accurate to ± 1/2 of an inch at 16 feet. This is sufficient for most painting jobs and hanging artwork - just be sure to "measure twice, cut once," as they say.
The Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level uses an air pump to create a vacuum which holds the laser in place. There is no way to turn the air pump off - if the laser is on, the air pump is on. Some people find the noise of the air pump to be very bothersome. If you think you'll be bothered by the noise of the air pump, or if you're going to be using the level mostly in an upright position, resting on another surface - consider purchasing Black & Decker's BDL220S laser level instead. The Black & Decker laser mounts with a nail instead of a vacuum.
The durability of this tool is just OK. Some people seem to have good luck and get a long lifespan out of the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level. Others have reported that the tool stopped working correctly after just one or two jobs. Check out the reviews on Amazon for more detailed information. The bottom line is, Ryobi considers this tool to be a "consumable item," so if it breaks, it breaks. For the longest possible lifespan, handle this tool with extreme care and make sure you never let the battery get so low that it drops from the wall. One hard fall could be the end of this laser.
Operation of the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is as simple and straightforward as you could hope for. It's got one switch - on or off.
As I've already mentioned, there's only one mounting option with the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level. The integrated air pump is always on, and it works to create a vacuum which holds the laser in place. This doesn't work so well on surfaces that are textured or porous, so Ryobi does include a special mounting aid with the laser. It's basically a small disk of plastic that you can tack or tape to the wall, and then mount the laser to that disk.
- Integrated air pump for simple mounting on most flat surfaces with a non-marking base
- Horizontal and vertical spirit level vials for easy leveling in any position
Items Included in Package
- Ryobi Air Grip Compact Laser Level
- Mounting Aid
- 2 AAA Batteries
There aren't any accessories specifically for the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level. If you're going to use it for any extended period of time, you might consider picking up some rechargeable AAA batteries to help control your costs, as it can eat through those AAA batteries pretty quickly.
If you're going to use the laser for hanging shelving, you'll definitely want to have a stud finder on hand so that you can be sure your tracks and braces are securely mounted to the studs, and won't collapse the wall when you add weight to the shelves.
The Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is intended for indoor use. You won't have much luck finding the laser line beyond just a few feet in direct sunlight. If you're using it outdoor for any reason, try to arrange your schedule so that you're using the laser during hours of low or indirect sunshine.
Indoors, this tool is great for taping off paint lines and aligning artwork along your walls. It can be useful for installing shelves and closet components, or for leveling custom working surfaces. If you're working on projects like cabinetry where two lines are needed - both horizontal and vertical at the same time - it is worth the money to upgrade to an inexpensive cross-line laser level.
Pros & Cons
- Fast setup with Air Grip vacuum
- Great tool for leveling shelves, artwork, and other wall fixtures
- Great for taping off striped walls on painting projects
- Noise of air pump can be annoying, and there's no way to turn it off
- Does not mount well to textured surfaces
- No warranty against deterioration from normal use
While the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is very inexpensive, you do get what you pay for. Ryobi considers this tool to be a "consumable item," and that is how you should treat it. It's a convenient tool to have on hand for a specific job like taping off paint lines - but don't count on this tool being around for years and years of reliable use.
If you need a simple and convenient tool for a special project, it's great. If you want an all-purpose laser level that will be a mainstay in your toolbox for years to come, keep shopping. And finally, in case you didn't get the message in the full review above, the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level is loud... fair warning.
We give the Ryobi Air Grip compact laser level 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Product Specifications - Ryobi Air Grip
Line Laser (1 Line)
± 1/2 inch at 16 feet
Laser Diode Specifications
2 AAA Batteries
32° F / 0° C ~ 104° F / 40° C
3.5 x 2.9 x 1.4 inches