Laser Tape Measures are great tools for quickly and accurately measuring distances. With laser tape measures getting cheaper all the time they are getting more popular. But is a laser tape measure right for you. And can it replace the traditional tape measure.
This site, and in particular this page, contains affiliate links to products. You are under no obligation to, but if you visit and buy something from their site from a link on this site, we may receive a small commission, the price you pay will remain the same.
How does a laser tape measure work?
A Laser Tape Measure uses pulses of light to measure a distance. The laser light is emitted from the laser tape measure, reflected off the surface of interest and received by the sensor. As the laser light is pulsed, the distance can be calculated from the time the pulse of light leaves the instrument to the time it comes back.
The pulses of light are of such a high frequency that it will appear to us as a continuous beam of light. Many measurements of the time period of this pulsed light travel are taken before the measurement will be displayed. Laser Tape Measures will usually only take about 1 second to work out the distance measured. Less reflective surfaces may take longer.
Are laser tape measures accurate?
Yes, laser tape measures are accurate. The most accurate laser tape measures will quote an accuracy of plus or minus 1.0mm (or about 40thou). This accuracy is often quoted for favourable conditions. The accuracy of laser tape measure can be affected by the atmospheric conditions the laser light is subjected too.
If using a laser tape measure inside, then most likely the conditions are always going to be favourable. The most likely thing to affect the accuracy when taking measurement indoors will be dust. Dust will scatter the laser beam, thus reducing the amount of laser light reaching and returning from the intended targeted measure point.
If you can see the laser beam from the laser tape measure, other than on the measure point, then your accuracy will be affected.
What would affect the accuracy of laser tape measures?
Unfavourable conditions will affect the accuracy of any laser tape measure. Unfavourable conditions is a very broad term and not really helpful in understanding when the accuracy of laser tape measures may be affected.
There are two factors that affect the accuracy of a laser tape measure. The first being the amount of light returning from the object being measured to. The second being the amount of time taken for the light to travel to the measured object and back again.
Laser tape measures need a certain amount of laser light returning to the device to obtain a reading. If you cannot clearly see the object that you want to measure to, then it is likely that the measurements taken will not be accurate. You may not get a measurement at all. This is due to the laser beam being dispersed by airborne particles. Airborne particles include dust and moisture. If both are dense enough, they will affect the laser beam. Moisture in the air in this case would be classed as fog. If the object being measured is not clear to you, then it will not be clear for the laser beam to reach and return.
The second factor to affect the accuracy of laser tape measure is the speed at which light travels through the air. Different densities of air will affect the speed that light travels at. The change in the speed at which light travels through the air is in most cases negligible. For nearly all the measurements taken with laser tape measures we can ignore this.
What we should be wary of though is great air temperature differences. The sort of temperature differences that cause us to see heat haze (or, as my son puts it, swirlies). The main issue with heat haze is that it will change the path of the laser beam. This change in path will mean that the light travels further.
The affect of different temperatures on laser beams can be seen in this video which shows the laser beam from a pipe laser moving around the target.
What is the most accurate laser tape measure?
The laser tape measure with the best accuracy I can find is the Leica Disto S910. It is also the most expensive one I can find. The accuracy of the Leica Disto S910 is quoted as plus or minus 1.0mm. This is for distances of up to 10m, after 10 m there is a deterioration in the accuracy. The deterioration is miniscule, at 0.0.05mm/m to 0.2mm/m for distances over 100m.
If you want the most accurate laser tape measure, make sure you do not pay to much. It is always a good idea to check the latest price on Amazon. Check the current price of the Leica S910 on Amazon.
What is the least accurate laser tape measure?
The least accurate laser tape measure I could find is the TC laser range finder. The accuracy is quoted at 0.5%. Measuring a distance of 10m would only be accurate to 50mm (or 2inches). If you are interested in looking at the worst laser tape measure I could find, have a look at it on Amazon here.
What is the best feature of a laser tape measure?
The best feature of a laser tape measure is the ability to measure to points that are inaccessible. Measuring to points that a traditional tape measure just can’t reach or possibly touch. The laser tape measure is also not susceptible to the sag usually seen with traditional tape measures.
Have you ever been frustrated by trying to measure to a point that you cannot reach. Trying to reach out with a traditional tape measure, only for it collapse and the end fall to the floor. The most distance you can get with traditional tape measures like the Stanley Fat Max is just 3.3m before the cantilever weight of the tape is too much. There is no such problem with a laser tape measure.
What is the best laser tape measure?
The Leica Disto D2 is the best overall laser tape measure available today. The Leica Disto D2 offers lots of great features like:-
- Great Measurement Accuracy.
- Long Measurement Range.
- Intelligent End Piece For Different Readings.
- Max/Min Measurement Readings
- 10 Measurement Memory.
- Bluetooth Technology.
- Free App Available on iOS and Android.
- Free Windows Software.
- Long Batter Life.
- Illuminated Display.
- IP54 Rating.
The Leica Disto D2 can measure distances from 0.05m all the way to 100m. The accuracy of these measurements is within 1.5mm. It is also light and compact so is easy to carry around or store away. Using the free apps that are available mean you can record and draw up your measurements on the go.
The Leica Disto’s are also well built. They have an IP54 rating to protect against dust and splashes of water. I know that the Leica Disto’s are well built, I have had my Leica Disto since 2007. It is still accurate today, in 2021. This is how to check a laser tape measure.
If you want the best laser tape measure, the Leica Disto D2, then check the latest price on Amazon using this link.
Leica Disto App on the Google Play Store
Leica Disto App for iOS
Do laser tape measures need calibrating?
Not for personal use. If you are using a laser tape measure for personal use, then you do not need to get it calibrated. Checking your laser tape measure for accuracy will be enough. If you are not happy with accuracy, then you should get it adjusted (Calibrated) and this is usually done at a specialist survey equipment supplier.
How much is a Laser Tape Measure?
Laser Tape Measures cost from under £15 and can cost as much as £1,600. A good accuracy, robust laser tape measures with decent features cost around £60 to £120 currently. Spending any less than £40 on laser tape measure would be false economy.
I would usually check the current prices on a site like amazon to ensure that I do not pay to much for any item. Check the latest prices for laser tape measures on Amazon using this link.
Where can I buy a laser tape measure?
As laser tape measures have come down in price, they have become more popular and can now be found in many DIY stores and on online stores. Years ago, laser tape measures were specialist survey equipment and were only available from specialist survey equipment suppliers.
Amazon is always a good place to start a search for a laser tape measure. They have a wide range that will suit any budget. I have listed below the laser tape measures I would buy from Amazon below. These are ones that have a good accuracy and are robust.
I have been using laser tape measures for over 15 years now. When I first bought one, they were very expensive. They were specialist pieces of equipment. Now they are affordable and abundant. Which is good. Everyone should be able to measure easily and accurately.
I would recommend everyone should have a laser tape measure in their tool box to accompany their traditional tape measure.