An optical level is an instrument used to accurately transfer levels over a distance. Using an ocular scope, it establishes or verifies points in the same horizontal plane in conjunction with a grade rod. It is often used in surveying and construction to set heights, measure height differences, and otherwise level planes.
Standard optical levels consist of a sturdy tripod and leveling scope and are designed for outdoor use. Handheld optical levels are also available and are pocket-sized and convenient for quick job site scans.
What is an Optical Level, and What is it Used for?
Optical levels are devices used to transfer levels over great distances that cannot otherwise be measured with a handheld tool like a spirit level or straight edge. They are used in tandem with a grade rod, which determines differences in elevation.
Optical levels can be used in professional settings, such as with land surveying and commercial construction, or for DIY and home repairs. If used correctly, they provide high-accuracy readings and are trusted to ensure that all planes are level and not unintentionally slanted.
How to Use an Optical Level
To use an optical level, first, you need to set up the tripod so that it is at a comfortable height. Next, screw the scope on the tripod and use the leveling knobs and spirit level to level out the scope. If you have an automatic optical level, the device will adjust itself. It's important to make sure the optical level is itself level before using it, otherwise, your readings could be inaccurate.
Once setup is complete you will be able to measure, compare, and find the difference in vertical distances by aligning the scope with distance markings on grading rods at different horizontal points in the area you are surveying. Because the optical level remains stationary and only rotates around its y-axis, meaning its height remains constant, you can accurately find height differences when comparing measurements on the different grading rods.