Despite the plethora of options, finding the best bubble level doesn't have to be frustrating. In general, there are plenty of reputable options out there. Sometimes you just need to know what other professionals are using to validate your ideas. Also known as spirit levels, here are some of the most popular models and some things to look out for.
The Best Bubble Level Features to Look For
- Accuracy – A bubble level is only as good as it gives you a true level measurement. We prefer to use an accuracy level of 0.0005″/1″ or better. On a 48" horizontal plane, this gives us a maximum error of +/- 0.024" or 3/125". However, cheaper and smaller spirit levels like the Torpedo and Pocket often fall short of this mark.
- Visibility – The world's most accurate bubble level doesn't mean you can't see bubbles for nothing. Different colors and high contrast help a lot.
- Durability – Much of the work of a bubble level is done on the job site, where the environment is not as forgiving as the living room where you are trying to hang a picture. You'll want to avoid plastic.
- Magnetic – Magnets are great for acting as a third hand when you're working around steel.
- LED Light – The battery operated light really helps to improve the visibility of the level when you are working in low or changing light conditions.
- Digital Levels – Some pros enjoy the convenience of a digital readout rather than just a vial, especially if you're struggling to reach a certain level on a wheelchair ramp.
The Best Bubble Levels for Professional Users
We cover a variety of levels, looking at each genre and application for optimal performance. Some recommendations are related to quality, while others are related to specific features.
Best Premium Box Level
Milwaukee Redsticks MLBX48 – $95
There are very few players at the advanced level, our favorite being the Milwaukee Redstick level. Their Sharpsite vials offer excellent horizontal visibility compared to standard vials. But it's what you can't see that sets it apart – the full metal frame. The skeleton has multiple ridges that run along the inside of the box, giving it exceptional durability compared to other box classes.
Excellent 0.0005" rating with no compromises in accuracy. Like its competitors in its class, additional innovations drove up the price. Luckily, you can grab a case to protect your favorite bubble level. If you need more than one size, there are also multiple level sets in the Redstick collection that can help you save some money.
Stabila Model 80 AS-2 Spirit Level Kit – $130
The Stabila Model 80 AS-2 Bubble Level Set includes 12", 24" and 48" spirit levels. We like this set because it offers three non-slip boxed aluminum spirit levels. The Stabila has excellent accuracy – in the normal position 72 ±1/32 inch within inches.
We love the integrated wall handle and always love the Stabila acrylic vial with fluorescent liquid for easy reading. Rubberized end caps, electrostatic powder coating and the included special edition zippered case round out the reasons we think any professional will love this kit. We almost forgot to mention it's only $130!
best case class
Imperial E105.48H – $50
If you're willing to put a little effort into visibility and strength, the standard case level is the way to go. For a 48-inch model, you're looking at around $50. For this lesson, we turn to Empire Level and their True Blue vial. The blue tinting allows you to be more visible than the standard yellow vials, and they're pretty solid levels. For an extra $10, Empire's UltraView LED lights get even better visibility at your level. For the 48" class we recommend the EM105.48 for excellent accuracy and durability with excellent visibility.
Best I-Beam Class
KaPro 13-62-24 Project I-Beam Level – $10.99
I-beam levels are not as durable as box levels or billet aluminum bubble levels. They are cheaper and lighter, though. Case in point: the KaPro 13-62-24 Project I-Beam grade. For just $11, this 24-inch spirit level gives you the same great visibility and accuracy as most box spirit levels.
You can pay more and get better durability…but why? KaPro makes more expensive levels – including digital models. For a great I-beam for rough leveling on the job site, you really can't beat this tool.
optimal budget level
Stanley 42-480 I-Beam Level – $15.99
For the budget-conscious pro, you may have to give up a little accuracy to save money at the bubble level. This is the case with the Stanley 42-480 I-Beam spirit level. You get good durability with lightweight aluminum construction and protective end caps. A traditional three-bottle system gives you good accuracy to 0.0015 inches and great visibility. There is also a groove for working on the pipe.
What sets this level apart for us is that it's only $15.99—an incredible value for money for a Pro 48-inch I-beam level.
best torpedo class
Klein Lighted Billet Torpedo Level – $39.97
During the workday, you typically store your torpedo level in one of two places: a tool bag or a pocket. We like that the Klein 935RBLT torpedo level has a sloping nose to help it slide into both more easily. In addition to this, Klein also offers you horizontal, plumb and 45° vials with LED lights for low light conditions. You can easily see the air bubbles in these level vials at night. Since this is the tool of choice for plumbers and electricians, these low-light jobs are more frequent than many other trades.
There is also a V-groove on top to ensure you can easily handle steel with pipes and magnets. The Klein Lighted Torpedo Billet Level gives you great durability, great visibility and very good accuracy.
Also Consider: Empire Level EM71.8 Magnetic Billet Level
If you want another great option, choose the Empire Level EM71.8 Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level. You'll get graduated markings at 0.125 inches, 0.25 inches, 0.375 inches, or 0.5 inches per foot of slope. Build quality is top notch, and we love the readability of the True Blue vials. You can buy this bubble level for around $19.89.
best pocket class
Milwaukee 4" Pocket Spirit Level (48-22-5102) – $19.99
Pocket levels are great for quick checks or working in very tight spaces, but the single-bottle system has some notable limitations. The Milwaukee Pocket Level handles it with a twist, lockable vial. You can dial in a specific angle in 2° increments, or find common angles of 15°, 22.5°, 45°. and 75° on the opposite side of the dial.
In this small package you get excellent durability, very good visibility and good accuracy. For less than $20, you really can't go wrong.
Also consider: Kapro 246M Handy Level
If you can ditch the rotating dial, we also like the striking Kapro 246M Handy Magnetic Level. It has a compact aluminum frame and shock-absorbing end caps. Pick up this tiny level for around $11.99.
Best Basic Mason Level
Kapro 930 Smartcast – $42.90
Mason has to be better than most. It's not just concrete, but the way masons hammer concrete to level bricks and blocks during construction. For a basic Mason level of full toughness, check out the Kapro 930 SmartCast. It's a cast aluminum non-standard I-beam style that gives you gradient measurements up to 2° and has rubber pads on both ends. Excellent visibility, durability and accuracy give masons confidence in their work.
Choose from 16, 24, or 36 inch lengths for this level. Pricing is between $42 and $47.
Best Adjustable Scalable Level
Milwaukee RedStick Scalable Level – $209
Some jobs require flexibility—such as placing a bathtub or window. We love the flexibility and functionality of the Milwaukee RedStick expandable level. It provides rock-solid precision and stable measurement and marking. We also like the magnetic model of the steel nail.
Grab the size you need and you can leave a couple of other levels. The 48- to 78-inch version is $209. Worth every penny.
best concrete trowel
Milwaukee MLCON48 Concrete Leveler – $99.97
Some Mason levels are more than just checking level builds and abusing trowel taps. The Redstick Concrete Level from Milwaukee puts you in charge of leveling and leveling jobs. The square edge on the base acts as a screed, while the rounded edge lets you smooth the concrete.
Milwaukee also designed this layer using materials that can be easily cleaned at the end of the day…or even the next. Sharpsite vials allow you to clearly see level, 1/8" or 1/4" grade. Get 0.0005-inch durability and precision for less than $100.
best digital level
Imperial E105.48H – $129
If you're one of the professionals looking to step up to digital levels, you'll love the Empire Level E105.48 (and the Empire EM105.48 if you want the magnetic version). A horizontal move from the standard box of $60 to the $170 price point is required. You can maintain the Empire's exceptional accuracy with digital readouts. The best part is that it's an auto-calibration system – just switch it on and it's ready to go.
The dual digital display is backlit for all but no need to check for bubbles. However, the battery is dead, and you can rely on the Empire's standard spirit level and lead bottle for excellent visibility should the need arise. Wrapped in an IP65-rated housing for exceptional durability, this is our favorite digital level.
Also Consider: Johnson 1760-4800 Digital Level
If you're in the market for a digital level, we like the 48-Inch 5700-4800D Johnson Digital Level. 1760-4800 is an updated version. This sturdy and precise tool is packed with high-tech features and works as an apprentice. Our reviewers use it to re-roof carports, put new doors in older homes, and more. Get it for $184.
Why use a bubble level?
Bubble levels have been around for a long time. Although crosshair lasers are a sexier option, bubble levels still beat them in several ways. Lasers lose their visibility once you get in the light, limiting their usefulness outside. While a laser is more accurate, it is better for longer distances than a spirit level. There is also a convenience factor – when you are constantly checking your level and plumbing work, you will usually choose a level. Crosshair lasers require more time to set up.
What is the standard?
There are various level courses out there. Admittedly, we haven't covered every option (e.g., post level). To be included in our list, each grade must meet our basic accuracy standard of 0.005″/1″ (1/2000″), featuring high visibility and durable metal construction.
- Outstanding – Best in Class
- Excellent – not top notch, but close
- Very good – solid, nothing to be ashamed of
- Great – it will work, but we don't want to lower it any further
See some missing brands?
We contacted many more manufacturers than are represented here, but some refused to participate, even though their bubble levels were excellent.
Disagree with our selection?
It doesn't matter! We know personal preference comes first in determining the mental level that's best for you, and every Pro is different. Do Pro Tool Nation a favor and tell us what your top picks are and why you like them. Feel free to drop it in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
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