There are many things to consider when looking for a level and the new Sola BR48 Big Red 48-inch aluminum level really appeals to pro users thanks to its many on-target features. Extra large shockproof acrylic block vials makes it easy to quickly and accurately see if your project is plumb or level. With a thick wall aluminum box frame design, accuracy is maintained, yet the level never feels unwieldy due to its lightweight construction. With a lifetime warranty and great features like phosphorescent vials, we are excited to see this European brand coming to North America.
Sola BR48 Big Red 48-inch Aluminum Level Features
In the world of levels, most of the updates and improvements have been small and incremental at best. With the new Sola BR48 Big Red 48-inch aluminum level, we were quick to take note of the 30% larger level vials with the shaded in ends which we marked as significant improvements. The larger size vials, means that the level bubbles are larger, combine this with the shaded-in ends and it makes it very easy to see if a bubble is drifting out of the center. To make taking readings better in dim or even pitch black areas, there is a phosphorescent backing in each vial that is easily “charged” up with just a little exposure to a bright light. The vials are made of acrylic which makes them shockproof and highly crack resistant. Also since acrylic is UV stable, exposure to the sun and elements won’t cause the vials to fade or discolor. The shape of the level vials also allow the level bubbles to be read in any position.
The rest of the level features two built-in handles along with shock absorbing end caps. The main body of the level is made of 6063 Aluminum Alloy and we discovered that the wall sections of the level are pretty thick which we found when we removed one of the handles. This aluminum box beam level is incredibly rigid by design and yet it weighs in at at less than 2-1/2 pounds. The surface of the bottom edge of the level is machined to a smooth, bright raw aluminum finish with the rest coated in a deep red paint. We like this since the surface which will be exposed to the most abuse on various surface materials isn’t coated with a color that will readily show wear and tear.
Testing and Use
As with any level, our testing always starts in the shop. Since levels are somewhat specialty measuring tools, we do our best to verify their accuracy. The way we do this is to to compare the readings against few other high quality levels that we keep around for this very reason. All three of the vials on the Sola Big Red level were in complete agreement with the, Stabila, Empire and Johnson levels we compared it to. Taking readings with this level is super easy, thanks to darkened areas positioned on each side of the center. With the oversized vial, bright fluid and large bubble, it was easy to see if we were plumb and level. For fun, we “charged” up the vials on the Big Red with a flashlight and then shut off the lights. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to see the vials and level bubble, even in compete darkness.
As far as working out in the field, the Sola BR48 Big Red 48-inch aluminum level was used for some basic layout projects, particularly as a straight edge to mark some plywood for cuts and in other scenarios in residential construction that are fairly common (such as setting up studs and ensuring that the rebuilt eave of a roof was set correctly). After spending some quality time with this level, we liked the way it felt. It was light and quick to maneuver. Dropping it also didn’t seem to affect it much, thanks to the reinforced end-caps. The large level vials gave us quick reads and the way they retained light and gave a nice contrast to the background made them super-easy to read in nearly all conditions. This isn’t a tool you have to be very careful with – which is really nice asset for a tool you intend to use a lot. At the price Sola is asking, there’s no way you want to pick up this level and feel as if you can’t use it hard – every day.
Sola might not be a new name in some places on the globe, but for those of us in the North American market, we’re excited to welcome this Austrian company and the products they manufacture. From our use and testing experiences, we are confident that Sola can hold its own against even some of the biggest names. For our Performance rating we gave this level a near perfect score of 9/10 thanks to its build quality, features and ease of use. For our Value rating the Sola 48″ Big Red level gets a very respectable 7/10. This is a good level, but it’s also in a sea of equally competitive products. Since Sola is trying to make its way into the North American market, you might not always find them at your local supplier, but we found they are widely available online. If you pick one of these up you’ll have a product that should last a long time and take a lot of use and abuse.