Like just about everything else in life, a good foundation is essential for a good result. It’s especially true in the trades, as the incremental work done at each step of a project either builds on trueness or reveals the opposite. We’ve reviewed plenty of levels from standard spirit levels with aluminum construction to bamboo framed and even electronic. We still use the centuries-old technology of a bubble to make things level and plumb. But many projects call for level lines longer than the longest of bubble levels (around 8 feet). In those cases, we could use a string level but then again that brings challenges of attachment points and a physical string in the way. Fortunately, Bosch has put much newer technology on our side with the Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser.
When you think of a laser beam, I bet you imagine a red line of light, so what’s the story with this green laser? Although more expensive, green lasers are easier for the human eye to see than red lasers, making them useful in more lighting situations than their red brethren. Now I don’t expect the Bosch to replace my rotary laser and receiver for full-sun, outdoor use, but a quick shine on an exterior wall does make the green brightness promising. Bosch calls this maximum brightness technology VisiMax. It’s also designed to monitor the diodes’ temperature and keep them from overheating.
A quick glance at the IP54-rated Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser’s profile gives the impression of a large tape measure. But a more careful look reveals a narrow end with two windows – horizontal and vertical – through which the lasers are cast, a red off/lock/unlock switch, a two-button line selection keypad with power and lock indicators on the back, and a compartment for three AA batteries. The kit also includes a magnetic positioning device with ceiling grid clip and a green laser target plate. The laser’s base will accept a tripod, too.
Bosch claims the laser level’s accuracy is 1/8-inch at 33 feet and 3/8-inch at 100 feet. That might not be the tightest tolerance ever achieved but it’s considered acceptable for most jobs. It achieves its 4° self-leveling ability with a smart pendulum system when the unit is unlocked. Sliding the switch to the locked position removes the self-leveling function but allows you to use the laser to tilt the level and shoot an angle.
As The Pendulum Swings
I’m building an outdoor kitchen and bar on the back patio of a beautiful new home here in Lakeland, Florida. It really is the job that keeps on giving, as I built the radius tie beams over several of its bay windows nearly a year ago. Now the home is nearing completion and I am fortunate enough to be doing some of the smaller work, too. Even though the patio is shaded by the second-floor balcony above, there’s enough ambient light to consider this an outdoor project suitable for testing the brightness of the green laser beams.
You can use the horizontal and vertical beams independently, but that wouldn’t tell us much for this review. I already had some of the outdoor kitchen’s block laid, so I set the Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser against the wall in unlocked mode (self-leveling) to see where the counter would be level. Not only does it shoot a perfectly horizontal line across the wall, but the vertical laser also goes all the way up the opposite wall and across the ceiling above me. You can quickly start to see the all the applications for this laser – framing walls, ceiling grid, cabinets, anywhere you’d need a line on the wall to build, install, hang, and so on. That’s just about every trade, by the way!
Incidentally, if you lock the pendulum the lasers will blink to remind you that the laser is not able to self-level.
Next, I used the magnetic bracket to attach the laser level to a pole opposite the block. The picture tells the story: the accuracy of the workmanship leaps out at you in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily see or would just have to infer from moving a box level around the work. And I didn’t have to worry about getting the level at just the right spot to ensure accuracy because it leveled itself.
As I mentioned, even though this green laser is brighter than a red laser, you won’t be able to use it outside because it’s hard to compete with the sun. You’ll still need your receiver for that. Like any laser, it’s really best for interior use as Bosch readily admits, but as you can see the green laser can certainly work in brighter conditions than red. Moreover, red lasers can be used in a wider range of temperatures as most red diodes are rated for 120 degrees whereas green is just 89 degrees. Green lasers also eat up more energy than red lasers. In any event, the Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser really exceeds my expectations.
The Bottom Line
Going green in the laser world is a tradeoff. On one hand, you get a laser wavelength that is much easier for the human eye to see. On the other hand, they’re more expensive, power-hungry, and can’t handle as high a temperature. But when it comes to producing quality results, easier to see means better accuracy for a skilled tradesman.
The Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser uses a green laser with a 4° smart pendulum system to level and plumb its vertical and horizontal lasers to 1/8-inch accuracy at 33 feet and 3/8-inch accuracy at 100 feet. Bosch also developed VisiMax to maximize brightness and monitor the diodes’ temperature to prevent overheating.
Three AA batteries power the laser, but I’d like to see something on their 12V or 18V line to keep it rechargeable.
An IP54 rating is certainly adequate for job site use, particularly on a laser that’s going to be used inside primarily. However, I’ve seen models that will bump you up to IP65 if you need more protection.
The brightness of the laser really stands out on interior or shaded projects. It’s not going to complete with the Central Florida sun, though. You’ll still want a rotary laser and receiver for those jobs. That said, this an incredibly useful tool that will benefit Pros in most trades at some point. Framers, carpenters, and, of course, masons will find their jobs getting easier if the accuracy is tight enough to replace their spirit levels.
$249 may feel on the steep side, but it does replace all of your standard level sizes and extends well beyond what they’re capable of. It’s also in line with what other models are going for in this class and a little better than some. From what I’ve experienced so far, there’s no reason to pass up on this one!
Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser Feature
- VisiMax technology – provides maximum line visibility in standard working conditions
- Bright green beam laser — up to 4X brighter than standard red beams
- Easy-to-use laser setup modes – projects vertical, horizontal and cross lines
- Versatile job layout – lines can be projected separately or together for a variety of level and alignment applications
- Smart Pendulum System – allows the tool to self-level, and it indicates out-of-level condition
- Secure laser transport – after switching off, the pendulum is locked
- Simple keypad operation – easily select among the layout modes
- BM3 Positioning Device – provides fast setup and microfine height adjustment
- Sturdy over-molded construction – for protection against dust and water (IP54)
Bosch Green-Beam Self-Leveling Cross-Line Laser Specifications
- Model number: Bosch GLL 100 G
- Accuracy: +/- 1/8-inch at 33 feet
- Battery voltage: 1.5
- Laser diode: <10 mW @ 500 nm -540 nm, class 2
- Length: 4.4 inches
- Leveling type: self-leveling, up to 4°
- Mount threading: 1/4-20, 5/8-11
- Operating temperature: 14° F / -10° C ~1 22° F / 50° C
- Range: up to 100 feet
- Weight: 1.08 pounds
- Width: 2.2 inches
- Includes: (1) BM 3 Positioning Device + Ceiling Grid Clip, (1) Green Laser Target Plate, (3) AA Batteries, (1) Hard Carry Case
- Price: $249