Here are some of the features you need to consider when buying a bubble level.
The first aspect you should look at when choosing a bubble level is whether its vials can give an accurate reading. An inaccurate construction bubble level is virtually useless, you might as well throw it away. When choosing the right bubble level, check if the unit’s vial has an accuracy of 0.0005 inches/1 inch (0.5 millimeters/1 meter or 0.29°).
Less expensive bubble levels are made of plastic or rubber. Some of the popular ones, however, are made of aluminum. Spirit levels made of aluminum are durable, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant. They also have a higher strength-to-weight ratio. Nevertheless, handle aluminum levels with care as they can still be dented or scratched.
Keep in mind, however, that aluminum construction bubble levels are a bit more expensive than levels made of plastic or rubber. Moreover, while the frame itself might be durable, the same cannot be said of the acrylic vials that might crack in case you accidentally drop or bang the tool against a hard surface.
If you want a more environment-friendly option, then check out spirit levels that are made of wood. This Johnson Level & Tool, for example, is made of bamboo. It is durable and lightweight, not to mention that it looks nice and unique. Wood, however, tends to shrink and swell, so it might affect the accuracy of your level in the long run.
Mineral Spirit Visibility
Have you ever wondered about the colored liquid stored inside the tool’s vial? Well, the liquid stored inside the vial is either alcohol or a mild solvent called mineral spirits. The liquid is dyed with fluorescein or other colorants to ensure that it is highly visible no matter the lighting condition. Check out this video to see how vials are filled with mineral spirits and how spirit levels are painstakingly made.
When buying a spirit level, check if the liquid and the bubble are visible in low light conditions. If you work outdoors, then make sure that the liquid is still highly visible even under the glare of the sun.
Spirit level frames are usually open at the sides. To protect the open sides, vials, and the frame itself, manufacturers fit them with end caps. These shock-absorbing caps are typically made of heavy-duty plastic or rubber to protect them from falls or impact. Choose a spirit level with end caps that do not fall off each time you use them.
You’ll probably use your construction level in easy-to-reach areas. But if you’re planning to climb a ladder or scaffold while carrying a spirit level, then make sure that your tool of choice is lightweight and has a handle or two to make carrying them easier.
Magnetic – magnets are excellent for functioning as a third hand when working with steel.
LED lights – battery-powered lights that significantly improve the visibility of a spirit level when operating in low or variable light circumstances.
Digital levels – Some professionals prefer a digital display over a vial, especially when working for specified grades, such as building handicap ramps.