Visibility. Accuracy. Durability. Those three characteristics define the quality of a level better than any others. Of course, there are other features that help separate levels once you know what you’re getting from the Big 3. Empire’s e95 series levels are working to take visibility much higher with the inclusion of LEDs. We got our hands on an Empire Level em95.48 for some testing and here’s what we found:
In broad daylight, without the LEDs turned on, the Empire Level em95.48 remains clearly visible from a variety of angles just like all of their TrueBlue level vials. The magic really happens when you turn the LEDs on.
The concentrated surround dual LEDs light up the vials, while the UV activated optical brightener emphasizes the light intensity coming from the LEDs. The high contrast e-Band vials highlight the edge of the bubble. Everything is bright and clear.
Two AA batteries power the LED feature on this level, providing up to 32 hours of LED lighting. Press the button once, and the LEDs light up the top vial. Press it again, and the LEDs switch to the plumb vials. The LEDs can be turned off by holding down the power button for two seconds, or you can leave it alone and they will shut off after two minutes. As the batteries die, the LEDs will flash when you turn them on.
Although Empire makes a TrueBlue Ultraview model without magnets (e95.48), the em95.48 uses rare earth magnets to hold the level in place against metal surfaces. The magnets work well; the magnetic force is strong enough to hold the level onto a surface without being so strong that I feel like I need a crowbar to pry it off.
The Empire Level em95.48 has all the features you’re used to that you can read about below.
Empire Level EM95.48 Ultraview LED Level Features
- Shock absorbing removable endcaps
- Surface grippers
- Precision milled edges for greater accuracy
- Rare earth magnets
- Solid block E-Band vials
- 2-minute auto shut-off or press and hold to turn off
- Hang hole for ease of storage
- 2 (AA) batteries included
- Vials made in the USA
The addition of LEDs doesn’t change Empire’s accuracy on this level. It’s dialed in at 0.0005″. When it comes to box levels, that’s really the baseline we look for in the Pro category and it’s what most will have at this, ahem, level.
The build quality is solid with the Empire e95 series. As a box level, it has a stronger construction than I-beam levels, but it’s not going to be as strong as something like a Milwaukee Redstick that has additional strengthening inside.
Empire includes removable end caps that absorb a lot of the bumps and drops that levels take on the jobsite.
The weak link, if you can call it that, is the fact there are electronics on board for the LEDs. The covering design earns an IP54 rating. Unless you just really like working in the rain or snow, you’ll be fine in most conditions.
You can grab the Empire Level em95.48 for under $60. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty on the frame and the vials along with a 1-year warranty on the electronics.
While the Empire Level em95.48 does a lot of things well, it really shines when it comes to visibility. The vials are pretty visible all by themselves, but the LED light and accompanying blue glow really makes the bubbles difficult to miss. The top vial is visible around the sides and the top of the level. Not all levels feature this kind of visibility, and we appreciate its inclusion here.
The IP54 rating means that you probably won’t have to worry too much about the electronics on the em95 shorting out due to water or dust. Granted, there are levels available with a higher IP rating, but so long as you’re not chucking this level into puddles, you’ll probably be okay. At the end of the day, Empire has put out a pretty solid, easy-to-read level at a reasonable price point.
Empire Level em95.48 UltraView LED Level Specifications
- Model: Empire Level em95.48
- Power Source: 2 AA batteries
- Light Source: LED
- Auto Shut Off: 2 minutes
- Accuracy: 0.0005″/1″
- Magnetic: Yes
- Warranty: Lifetime on vials and frame, 1 year on electronics
- Price: $69.99