Laser Levels & Batteries
A guide on laser levels & batteries. Some laser levels can only operate on standard (one use only) type batteries. This is generally the case with the smaller internal dot and line lasers but also some lower cost rotary lasers. Note that some of the higher quality trade lasers have a standard battery option as well as a rechargeable pack. This is handy if you are on-site and someone forgot to charge it up the night before and you need to finish a job.
Laser devices draw a fair amount of power so it is well advised to use a high quality “Alkaline” battery such as Duracell or Energiser. Do not be tempted to use a low-cost Heavy Duty or Super Heavy-duty battery. They will discharge pretty quickly, the best value for money are the alkaline. They cost a little more but last much, much longer.
Types of Rechargeable Battery
Ten or more years ago if a laser level had rechargeable batteries then they were most likely to be of the Ni-Cd (Nickel Cadmium) variety. These had pretty poor performance in holding a charge, compared to modern rechargeable batteries. They also needed a fairly bulky pack to do the job. Ni-Cd’s also liked to be completely discharged before recharging and could over time hold less and less charge.
These days most rechargeable batteries in construction lasers are Ni-mh (Nickel Metal Hydride). These hold more charge with less bulk compared to the Ni-Cd and suffer less from losing performance if not completely discharge before charging up. It is still advised, from time to time, to completely discharge to help maintain the condition of the battery.
Today there are a few lasers on the market with Li-ion (Lithium Ion) rechargeable batteries. Li-Ion is the type of battery used in modern smartphones and laptops and can provide a large storage capacity for a small physical size (and weight), they also suffer very little loss of performance due to irregular charging.
Using Rechargeable Laser Level Batteries
Rechargeable batteries of whatever type do not last forever. I would expect to get three to five years of service for a laser level that is used regularly (two to three times a week). So, checking the cost of a replacement pack when purchasing your laser in the first place is a good idea. Some laser level manufacturers do not include rechargeable batteries in the price as a marketing tactic. This is to keep the advertised price appear low so be aware of this when comparing different brands. (a future topic I think)
Batteries of all types do not like getting wet. So, if water does get into the battery compartment it is well worth taking the batteries out and drying them off. Another thing to keep in mind is, if you are not going to be using your device for some time (a week or more). Remove batteries out of the battery compartment as they may leak. I have seen a number of laser levels ruined because a battery has leaked and caused corrosion within the device.
Laser Level Battery Chargers
One final point is about battery chargers. I cannot stress enough the importance of using the correct charger with your laser level. To start with many chargers are NOT just a power adaptor or transformer they many have charging circuitry built into them. This circuitry may be specific to the model of laser and without this circuitry, it could overload. In the worst-case scenario overheat the rechargeable battery pack and be a fire hazard. Also using the wrong voltage or polarity can have a similar effect. So if you are in any doubt contact the laser supplier for advice before trying a non-original charging unit.
Need to buy a replacement charger or battery for your laser? Check out the spare parts link page HERE.
Does anyone else have any further advice on batteries and laser levels, please add a comment below.