Professional builders or tradespeople need their tools to provide precision and accuracy, but none more so than a spirit level.
Spirit levels are designed to indicate whether a surface is horizontal (level) or vertical (plumb) , and without this tool, you’d end up building a house that looks like the Crooked House of Canterbury.
From the basic bubble and vial models through to high-tech laser levels, here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right one for the job.
Stabila R-TYPE 60cm Spirit Level
Stabila are known for their innovative technology and sophisticated designs. The R-Type level offers superior strength and stability thanks to the unique torsion-resistant five-chamber ‘R’ design.
Best Spirit Level – Buying Guide
Ok, so you know you can’t go without a spirit level, but what are some of the things you should be looking out for?
Firstly, there are two types of spirit levels available on the market today, and choosing the right one comes down to personal preference and job requirements.
Bubble/Spirit — This type of level has a vial filled with a coloured mineral spirit solution and an air bubble. This bubble determines whether a surface is level or plumb. The bubble needs to be centred in the middle of the four hairline marks on the vial.
Digital — A digital level displays level or plumb with a digital display. This type of level is generally used by professionals who need a high level of accuracy when measuring angles. Some builders also just prefer to have the digital display over the vial.
Some of the other factors to take into considering when buying your new spirit level:
Accuracy – Accuracy relies on the sensitivity of the vials used; sensitivity of a level or vial is defined as the change of angle required to move the bubble by a specific distance (usually 2mm). The sensitivity is directly related to the radius of curvature of the vial. The longer the radius, the more sensitive the vial will be. For example, if a build needs to be level within 0.1° then a vial that gives at least 0.5mm bubble movement for a 0.1° change in angle will be required .
Check our guide to find the best spirit level for kitchen fitting if you’re building a new house.
Durability – Metal levels are often more durable than their plastic counterparts and are usually better for worksites. The best spirit levels will be torsion-resistant, meaning that they won’t bend or shift under applied torque . The best professional spirit levels usually have rubber end caps that absorb the shock of accidental drops and prevent further damage.
Size – Spirit levels range in size from the torpedo level, which is usually around 9” in length, through to a 2m spirit level, plus all sizes in between. The larger spirit levels are great for foundation and building work, and the smaller torpedo levels are perfect for use around the home. However, if you’ve ever been on a worksite, you’ll probably have wished your spirit level was just a few inches longer or shorter, so there’s a use for every size.
Magnets – Magnets are an excellent feature on some spirits levels that help hold it on a metal surface or make for easy storage on the outside of a toolbox.
Vials – Spirit levels often come with two vials filled with a bright green mineral spirit liquid. This ensures good visibility of the clear air bubble. One vial measures if a surface is a level, and the other measures if a surface is a plumb, and some level tools come with vials that also display angles.
Now we’ve leveled up your knowledge, all you need to do is read through the reviews for the top four spirit levels and choose which one is right for the job.
|Stabila R-TYPE 60cm Spirit Level||
||see on amazon|
|Swanson 9-Inch Savage Magnetic Torpedo Level-min||
||see on amazon|
|Bosch Digital Angle Measurer and Mitre Finder PAM 220-min||
||see on amazon|
|GemRed XLB Digital Angle Gauge Level level vial-min||
||see on amazon|
Best Spirit Level – Reviews
1. Stabila R-TYPE 60cm Spirit Level – Best Overall
Why we love it:
This industry-leading brand has delivered the goods again. This level tool is built for professional performance, from the hard-wearing construction material to the user-friendly design. This level is perfect for interior fit-out or framing work and would be a great option for any professional.
Stabila are known for their innovative technology and sophisticated designs. The R-Type level offers superior strength and stability thanks to the unique torsion-resistant five-chamber ‘R’ design. That was a bit of a mouthful; basically, what you need to know about this level tool is that it’s incredibly durable, even under the harshest building conditions.
The extra-wide 4cm measuring surface is handy and prevents the level from tipping while in use. The ergonomic handrail has finger grooves along the entire length for a superior grip. The other feature we love is the removable shock-absorbing end caps. When removed, it allows for exact positioning right up to a corner.
Now let’s talk accuracy for a second; this level has a measuring accuracy of ± 0.2° in both regular and overhead working positions. The precision twin vertical vials and single horizontal vials have great visibility and are easy to read.
Why we love it:
This feature-packed small spirit level represents amazing value and would be a great option to have at home or for any journeyman. It’s super lightweight at only 259g and easily transported thanks to the magnets; when precision and mobility are combined, this is the result.
This all-in-one small spirit level is a great option for professionals and home handymen, thanks to the innovative features.
The Savage Magnetic Torpedo Level is manufactured from solid aluminum billet, which has been anodized for maximum strength and durability, and the edges have been precision ground to make them perfectly square, offering superior accuracy.
This magnetic level has a few unique features that set it apart from its competitors; it has been built with four rare-earth Neodymium Magnets which are renowned for their high-strength magnetic field and excellent bonding strength . This means you can easily attach the level to a toolbox for storage or go hands-free when working with a metal conduit. The other nifty feature is the laser-engraved measurement markings in both inches and centimeters.
But what about the all-important vial accuracy? Firstly, the level has four vials that measure angles from 0°, 30°, 45° to 90°, and the patented Brightview milled vials capture and reflect light for increased visibility. The vials offer the same high level of accuracy of ± 0.2°.
Why we love it:
With a measurement range of 0° to 220° and accuracy of ± 0.2°, you’d be hard-pressed to go past the convenience of this digital level. It operates on two AA alkaline batteries which means it’s easy to take on the go without the hassle of recharging it, and thanks to its soft grip and super lightweight of 0.9kg, it offers superior handling performance.
The Bosch PAM 220 Digital Angle Measure is an easy-to-use and convenient tool for measuring, calculating, and transferring angles, offering an accuracy of ± 0.2°.
This digital level is perfect for any job that involves installing skirting boards, crown mouldings, tiling, or flooring, whether on a job site or in your own home.
Convenience is key with this level, and it has been designed with the user in mind. It has an illuminated digital display plus the level and plumb vials for a visual reference check. It has a super handy leg extension that helps when measuring tight spaces and hard-to-reach angles.
The integrated calculation function provides precise calculations for both simple and compound mitre; for simple mitre, the level can measure angles up to 220° and a compound mitre measure of up to 220°, and the fast results are displayed on the backlit digital screen.
Why we love it:
This digital level is a great tool and can replace other single-use levels and inclinometers because it has both functions neatly packed into a compact box. It’s really user-friendly, accurate, and sturdy. Plus, it’s so affordable we’d suggest having one for home and one for work. The handy little storage pouch is a nice touch as well.
This digital device is a level, protractor, and angle gauge that provides relative and absolute measurements. It has a measuring range of 180° with 0.1 repeatability, which refers to the reference for variance in results . While we’re talking about accuracy, it offers accuracy of 0.1° from 0° to 90° and 0.2° for remaining angles.
It features a large, easy-to-read LCD screen and the handy hold function to freeze the display so you can get accurate measurements easily, and if you happen to misuse the tool, you’ll instantly get an error message on the screen.
It’s constructed from a lightweight aluminum frame and has magnets in the base for easy application to metal surfaces, and it runs on one AAA battery.
This handy little gadget is useful for setting the blade angle of miter saws and circular saws, tool setting on lathes, determining drainage angles and run-off slopes, and grader and tractor work alignment.
The Stabila R-TYPE 60cm Spirit Level easily comes out on top against its competitor’s thanks to the permanent accuracy, robust build, and ease of use. Stabila is a brand that is known and loved by professionals and offers an unrivaled reputation for performance.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks without compromising quality, the Swanson 9-Inch Savage Magnetic Torpedo Level is a perfect choice.
1. Place it on a surface and cross-reference with a level you know is accurate, OR;
2. Place the tool on a level surface and make a mark at the end of the level, and also one on the side next to the level.
3. Check the vial and then rotate the level 180° end-to-end and line up with your markets.
4. You will know the level is accurate if the bubble is in the same position for both readings.
Damage is the number cause of an inaccurate spirit level, or if you have a plastic level, heat or moisture can cause it to warp or damage it. If you need a torsion-resistant level, we’d always recommend a metal frame.