Pacific Laser Systems Upgrades Durability with PLS 180G Green Cross Line Laser
With the launch of the Pacific Laser Systems PLS 180G Green Cross Line Laser and the other members of its family, the brand is moving its focus from accuracy and range to improving the durability of its lasers. I brought it along to see how it stacks up against some of the other popular brands.
- Excellent accuracy
- Excellent visible and laser detection ranges
- Simple controls
- 1 meter drop tested and IP54 rated
- Multiple mounting options with clamp, bracket, and tripod threads
- Laser detector included in tested kit
- More expensive than less durable models
- No lithium-ion powered model available yet
This PLS cross-line laser has an accuracy of 1/8″ at 30′.
Cross-line lasers at this level can be as accurate as 3/32″. Those are few and far between and 1/8″ is what we like to see at the Pro level. Less expensive models drop to 1/4″ accuracy.
Like many lasers in this class, this one self-levels up to 4°. Most of our lasers blink when they get beyond the self-leveling range, but PLS just cuts the beam off to let you know.
You’re able to lock or unlock the pendulum with a slide switch near the base. Nearly every cross-line laser lets you lock it for transport. However, not all let you operate the laser in the lock position. PLS lets you and it’s an important function when you’re checking the consistency of any install at an angle like stairs, ramps, and fine art.
Visibility and Range
The advantage of green beams like the ones the Pacific Laser Systems PLS 180G has is that the human eye picks up green wavelengths better than red. In general, they appear brighter than red and you can see them at a greater range.
There aren’t a ton of distance limitations for indoor use in residential construction. You can feel comfortable working with a visible range around 100′ on larger buildings.
With the laser detector that’s included in the kit and system packages, you can stretch that range to 200′ and make outdoor use more realistic. Many of the lasers competing in this class make it to 150′ or 165′ and only a few reach 200′, so this is on the high end.
The PLS 180G Pacific Laser Systems cross line laser uses 3 AA batteries for power. The green laser beams use more energy than red, and you’re looking at least 3 hours of runtime before replacing them. On the other hand, the red beam version of this tool gets at least 8 hours.
At the moment, PLS doesn’t have any lithium-ion options, making it an easy target for a future upgrade.
Additional Field Notes
There’s no power button to turn the laser on and off like most cross-line lasers have. The PLS 180G uses the two beam buttons. Just hit the horizontal, vertical, or both to get the pattern you need. Hit it again to turn it off. It’s a simpler system than a power button and beam cycling button.
Next to the beam buttons, the lock button lets you know if you have the pendulum in the lock position while the laser is on and a battery alert lets you know when the power is getting low.
There are no plumb spots on this model, though PLS does have dedicated point and combo lasers with them.
Drop it Like it’s Hot
The PLS 180G is drop tested to 1 meter (3.3′) and that’s somewhat unusual for cross line lasers. The pendulum and diode inside are carefully calibrated to hit its 1/8″ accuracy. Most brands try to build some external protection, but don’t offer any kind of drop protection rating.
Not all lasers are IP-rated, either. This model gives you IP54 protection. Dust isn’t an issue and it can handle splashing water for 10 minutes. Just don’t expect it to do well in the back of your truck during a rainstorm.
We’re using the PLS 180G System that includes the following:
- Cross line laser
- Green laser detector
- SLD clamp
- PLS universal ceiling mount and wall bracket
- Floor stand
- Magnetic L-bracket
- Target card
- Canvas pouch
- 3 AA batteries
- Hard case
This kit is $539.99 and you can also get it as a bare tool for $332.99 or without the detector and SLD clamp for $422.99. The red system runs $449.99.
Most cross-line lasers out there don’t give you the option of a laser detector as part of the kit, though they are available separately. You also get a tougher build than most.
There is a trade-off to consider, though. You don’t have a lithium-ion power source option. Keep in mind that you can get rechargeable AAs to use if you like – there are even a few lithium-ion ones.
The Bottom Line
Pacific Laser Systems does a fine job dialing in the accuracy and visibility with this cross-line laser. The PLS 180G is more expensive than other brands with a similar feature set, but it’s more durable and we expect it to last longer on jobsites. As a Fluke company, we also have more confidence in the general quality of the build over other brands.
If you’re going to use the laser inside, the bare tool or mid-range kit is the way to go. The system kit is your best bet if you’re going to use it on exterior jobs since it includes the laser detector.
Pacific Laser Systems Green Cross Line Laser Specifications
- Model: PLS 180G
- Power Source: 3 x AA batteries (included)
- Estimated Runtime: 3 hours with both lasers on
- Operating Temp: 14º – 122º F
- Storage Temp: -13º – 158º F without batteries
- Dimensions: 4.6″ x 2.5″ x 4.1″
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Wavelength: 525 nm (+/- 5 nm)
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $332.99 bare, $524.99 as tested