DIY handymen and professional contractors can benefit largely from self-leveling lasers. These tools shoot out a beam of laser which can be used as a guide for a number of applications, ranging from simple hanging mirrors or pictures to room and home renovation projects. The basic features to look for in a laser level are a self-leveling system, an automatic out-of-line gauge, and at least a 20-foot range.
In this piece, we’re going to compare two self-leveling cross line lasers which have been commended by their users for being both reliable and accurate to a T – the DEWALT DW088K and the Bosch GLL-55. Both of these laser guide models are extremely easy to use, making them great options for first-time users and aspiring craftsmen. The only question left to answer is which of these would suit you betterTo get to the heart of the matter, let’s compare and contrast these two laser guides.
The DEWALT has a working range of up to 165 feet, meaning that you’ll see the laser from that far away, but it’ll be distorted and unreliable. For home- and even most professional-projects, you’ll need only 100 feet at most, and this laser offers accuracy of ± ¼-inch from that distance. As a guide, this tool can deliver a precise leveling guide from up to 40 feet away, but anything past that will require a second opinion or at least double or triple measurements to guarantee exact leveling.
The Bosch has a working range of up to 65 feet. This is considerably shorter than that of the DEWALT, though realistically speaking you’re not going to rely on a laser guide for reliable level lines from distances beyond 40 or 50 feet. Bosch boasts an accuracy of ± 1/8-inch from distances up to 33 feet so exercise caution. Make manual measurements to determine how true of a straight, level line you’re getting.
Conclusion: Most users who purchase these laser guides won’t ever deal with renovation projects of colossal proportions so they only need an accurate guide for up to 50 feet maximum. Keeping this in mind, both of these tools require their users putting in manual work to determine precise lines, so accuracy-wise, it’s a stalemate.
Of course, the most important part of a self-leveling laser guide is its ability to auto-level itself. When set to auto-level mode, the unit’s lasers will begin to flash on and off when it’s not straight. After manually adjusting the unit to be within a 4°-level, the system will automatically take over and produce straight lines for lining tiles or ceiling partitions.
The Bosch features a smart pendulum system which includes an out-of-level indicator. When the unit is out of level, an LED light on the control panel will flash, alerting the user of the issue. After correcting the position of the tool, the pendulum system will take over and lock the laser to the desired level.
Conclusion: Both of these mechanisms work great and are great references to help correct the units’ level and create straight level lines. However, gun to our heads, we prefer the pendulum-style and out-of-level indicator systems that come with the Bosch.
Mounting and Magnets
Mounting the unit to a tripod, base, metal, or other fixtures is important for creating leveled lines at all sorts of heights. The DEWALT kit includes a plastic mount which can be screwed into walls or attached magnetically to steel frames. The laser guide itself also features magnets which lets users place the tool on virtually any metallic surface. However, one drawback of the DEWALT’s magnets is how weak they are. After brief use, we found the magnets slipping down a steel channel.
Similar to the DEWALT, the Bosch kit also includes a plastic 360°-rotating mount which automatically levels the tool, as well as a ceiling grid clip which attaches to the mount with magnets. In addition, the laser projector can also be fitted onto tripods (1/4-inch or 5/8-inch tripod screw mounts). The magnets are completely reliable, and there’s virtually no risk of a drooping or gradual out-of-level positioning.
Conclusion: Hands down, the Bosch takes the cake. The mount spins 360° which is extremely helpful when you need to work from a single plumb point while altering the vertical laser. In addition, the ceiling grid clip completely shatters the weak magnets of the DEWALT, making it much more effective from positions high off the ground.
The DEWALT’s system shoots lasers only in one direction, meaning that you can get a vertical, horizontal, and cross-section on only one wall at a time. This means that when you need to work on adjacent surfaces, you need to manually reposition the laser, increasing the risk of losing your initial level. While attached to the wall or metallic surfaces, the unit can rotate up to 180°, but it doesn’t offer full coverage.
Similar to the DEWALT, this Bosch model doesn’t shoot lasers in all directions. However, with the smart pendulum system in place, combined with the trusty 360°-rotating mount, there’s little risk of losing the initial level when manually changing the position of the laser guide from a single plumb point.
Conclusion: The ideal laser shoots beams of light onto all walls of a room, but this single-surface laser beam system works well, too. However, we found that the Bosch’s system is the better choice, thanks to the smart pendulum system, strong magnets, and rotating mount. You can get similar results with the DEWALT, but it requires more tinkering.
DEWALT DW088K vs Bosch GLL 55: Bottom Line
Honestly speaking, both of these models work great for light projects like laying tiles, attaching fixtures, and even light- and medium-duty renovation projects. However, in our opinion, between the DEWALT DW088K and the Bosch GLL 55, the Bosch is simply the better choice. This in no way means that the DEWALT is an inferior product, but it requires more manual labor to position and reposition the unit to product level lines on all surfaces of a room.
In addition, the somewhat weak magnet setup used in the DEWALT is a significant problem that needs to be addressed. To sum up, if you’re in need of an entry-level self-leveling laser guide for residential- and site-use, the Bosch GLL-55 could potentially be the perfect tool for you.