Laser distance meters have a number of advantages over traditional measurement methods that translate into a much greater number of measurements with optimal precision and in less time.
Manufacturers offer a variety of models to suit all requirements, from those for professionals who must perform routine measurements with great precision to the hobbyist who, for example, plans to paint his own house and wants to know how much paint to buy , without leaving aside those who use these meters for strictly sporting or recreational purposes, such as golf, hunting, shooting, etc.
Therefore, when choosing or deciding to buy the laser distance meter that best suits our needs, we must first consider the task that we usually perform. The requirements of a flooring or carpet installer, or a telephone technician, for example, are not the same as those of a surveyor or those who then must use their measurement data in design software.
In addition to the ISO certification, which guarantees its quality, there are a series of parameters that define, a priori, the performance of the meter. These parameters are the first that we must take into account when choosing a laser distance meter and we will mention them below.
The main thing
Range radius: is the distance range that the EDM is capable of measuring and depends on the light conditions and the reflection properties of the measurement surface. The cheapest models usually measure between 0.15 and 30 meters, while the more sophisticated have a range between 0.05 and 250 meters, and come equipped with a telescopic sight to facilitate the vision of the laser beam at a distance. It follows that, for example, those taking measurements in shopping malls, sports fields or stadiums, for example, should choose a long-range meter, while low-range EDMs may be sufficient for those taking measurements indoors. or they perform level monitoring in fluid reservoirs and water tanks, for example.
Precision: Generally, this characteristic is associated with the range radius, that is, the greater the range the EDM offers, the greater its accuracy. Most laser distance meters have an accuracy that, depending on the model, varies between ± 1 and ± 2 mm, which if we compare it with the precision that we can obtain from the reading of a tape measure after measuring, for example 50 or 60 meters is an amazing quality.
Easy to use: the laser distance meter is a modern replacement for a tape measure; therefore its use has to be as simple as this one, or even more so. This implies that you must have a screen that offers clear readings, a user-friendly interface, buttons that are easy to identify and operate, and that the design is ergonomic enough and with flat surfaces to maneuver the device easily with one hand and in both frontal and lateral position, without introducing errors in the readings.
Durability: surely sometime, during use, the EDM will fall from our hand, hitting the ground or mud, or it will be exposed to rain and dust. That is why it is very convenient to choose a device that has protection against these eventualities. Many come with a silicone cover and / or carrying case, plus a wrist strap, so these details are worth paying attention to.
Visibility: it is important that the display can be read perfectly in low visibility conditions, for example in basements, warehouses, warehouses, tunnels, mines or in low daylight hours. This indicates the preference of choosing meters that have a backlit screen, that is, equipped with a sensor capable of adapting the light from the screen to the lighting conditions of the area to be measured. It is also advisable to choose devices whose screen is sensitive to movement, that is to say that, like the one offered by many cell phones, it automatically rotates when the device goes from a vertical to a horizontal position or vice versa.
Autonomy: Many of those who use laser distance meters seek to obtain a large number of measurements with the least loss of time and money due to changes and recycling of batteries. Mindful of this and the growing interest in contributing to the environment, some manufacturers have replaced 9 V cells and batteries with lithium batteries, which increase the number of measurements five times over and therefore ensure a much greater autonomy.
Connectivity: The possibility of coupling the laser meter to other devices to take advantage of the functions as a whole is a relevant factor, especially for professionals who make intensive use of these devices. For example, a laser meter that incorporates a tripod mounting thread is a priority for precise measurements over long distances. The availability of a Bluetooth / USB interface for exporting data to a computer and / or recharging a lithium battery, for example, is another huge benefit attraction. Some manufacturers also offer the connectivity of the laser distance meter with a graduated ruler, so that the set can function as a digital level (see figure below), thus being able to check, for example, the inclination of beams and beams or the alignment of toilets, such as bathtubs, with excellent precision.
Once we have taken these main factors into account, our decision will be completed by considering a number of extremely useful functions that our laser EDM should have to guide us to a satisfactory selection. In addition to direct measurements, built into any type of laser meter, these functions are as follows.
Indirect measurements: the presence of obstacles in the path of the laser beam or the objects to be measured whose access would imply the use of stairs or several successive measurements to obtain the final result should not be inconvenient for a laser meter. Therefore, if that is our case, let us always look for a meter that allows indirect measurements by triangulation, both of lengths and heights. When direct measurement is not possible, the dual height measurement function, which calculates partial heights from three measurements, is also convenient.
Minimum / maximum measurements: it is another very useful function. For example, if we want to determine the perpendicular or the horizontal for a fixed reference point, the minimum measurement will give us the smallest distance from that point. If, on the other hand, we want to determine the diagonal for a fixed reference point, the measurement of maxima will give us the greatest distance from that point.
Tilt angle detection: If a laser distance meter has a built-in inclinometer, this means that indirect measurements are even easier because they are reduced to a single measurement, eliminating the restriction of 90º angles because this time the calculation is based on trigonometric ratios, particularly sinusoidal functions. For example, to obtain the height of a house, simply aim the laser at the top of the house to take that distance, the sensor records the angle of inclination of the device and, applying the sinusoidal function, automatically calculates the height of the house. home, which is the result we see on the screen. Using the same principle, it is also easy to measure distances to surfaces that do not reflect the laser beam, such as a glass facade. In that case, the laser is aimed at a reflective location above the glass structure, and with that measured distance, the device quickly calculates the actual distance using the tilt sensor and the sinusoidal function. Therefore, the time savings offered by an EDM equipped with an inclinometer is considerable compared to meters that do not incorporate this feature.
Timer: This is another interesting function offered by the measurement programmed in time (generally between 1 and 60 seconds), which allows us to obtain precise values in the most difficult places and in cases where we must take readings at great distances without moving the device. , for example, when mounted on a tripod.
Automatic calculations: Tape measure users should have notepads, pencil and paper or a pocket calculator to perform area and volume calculations. With a laser distance meter we do not need any of that, since when pressing a button we will automatically obtain the surface of a wall or the volume of a room once we carry out the corresponding measurements using the corresponding buttons.
Memory: Another great benefit of a laser distance meter is memory capacity. For example, if we obtain a value that we are going to constantly use in other measurements, such as the height of a ceiling, the thickness of an insulation, etc., it can be registered in memory and used whenever it is needed. The memory function is also capable of storing both the last 20-50 measurements (depending on the model) and the calculations made by the device with those measurements, in order to have them immediately available.
Careful attention to each of these variables will help us find the desired laser distance meter, according to our needs and budget. It will also guide us in the search, since many manufacturers offer laser distance meters at a more than reasonable price, which have the vast majority of these characteristics.