Most receivers you get with your rotating laser provide you with a display that indicates when the receiver is either above or below the level line. Some receivers have a progressive display that indicates with he aid of graduated bars as you move the receiver closer to level but they don’t indicate how close.
Over the last few years laser receivers with a digital display indicating exactly how far from level the receiver is have become more popular. These receivers can be switched between metric or U.S./Imperial measurements but are often referred to as Millimetre Receivers.
These digital receivers are more expensive than your regular ones so what advantages do they give? The advantages are very much dependant on the application you are using the laser for in the first place. In the case of general site levelling you can quickly move around your site and get an idea of how much cut or fill you need to do in any particular spot. Fitting a window you can easily spot that you need a 8mm packer on the left side to level it off. In other levelling you may only want a rough level so you don’t need to spend time getting absolutely level when you know you are 1/8″ above or below.
These digital display receivers have further advantages. Firstly they tend to have a much larger reception window compared to your regular receiver. For example the Leica RE 160 Digital Rugby Rod Eye has a 5″ (127 mm) reception window compared to a Leica RE Basic which has a mere 1.4″ (35 mm).
A larger reception window is much easier to use on site particularly over larger distances as you can located the laser beam far more quickly. Some digital display receivers also feature strobe protection circuitry to prevent the receiver picking up strobe lights on earth moving machinery. Other models will provide a custom zero feature. This is where you can set the level point to where it is convenient rather than have to use the default location. For example where the default level happens to fall on the joining knuckle on the staff. Finally digital display receivers with their larger reception windows will often provide a greater range of accuracy level band settings. For instance with the Leica RE 160 it has five detection accuracies of, +/- .02″ +/- .04″, +/- .08″, +/- 0.12″, and +/- 0.20″ to suit your application needs. The Leica Basic has only two detection accuracies of +/- .04″ and +/- 0.12″.
There are a number of brands on the market, the more popular being Leica, Stabila, Hilti and Spectra plus more. They all offer slightly different features but the main ability of providing a digital reading of how far from level is common.
Below are links to a number of different models. In the spirit of full disclosure purchasing via one of these links may result in a modest commission which helps to cover the cost of running this site.
Do you have any experience with digital display receivers you would like to share, or do you have any questions. Please add your comments in the box at the very bottom of this post.