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A good spirit level is an important piece of kit for a wide range of DIY projects. And if a job is worth doing, it’s most certainly worth doing right.
That means having the best quality tools to produce top quality results.
We’ve been looking at what spirit levels are out on the market today, and there’s actually quite a lot. However, there’s no need to worry.
We’ve been doing our homework and come up with our top 5 spirit levels. Following that we’ve got a buying guide for you.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Spirit Levels – Comparison Table
Best Spirit Levels – Reviews
Best Spirit Levels – Buyer’s Guide
In the following few paragraphs, we discuss the different types of spirit level available on the market today, and go through some things you might like to think about before making your purchase.
Bubble Spirit Levels
A traditional bubble spirit level is the simplest type you can come across and are also the most affordable. If properly calibrated, it will be just as accurate as their digital counterparts. When you place it on a horizontal surface, it’s easy to see if the surface is straight and level.
For the uninitiated however, figuring out the vertical side can be a little more tricky, especially if you need to mount something at a precise incline.
Digital Spirit Levels
If you’re prepared to spend a little more money, you could invest in a digital spirit level. Where digital spirit levels really come into their own is when you’re taking vertical and angle measurements, whereby the readings can be presented in a number of different ways.
You can get angle or slope readings as a percentage, decimal, fraction, or even via a sound as you approach the level, doing away with the need to take your eye off your measuring.
If you wanted to go for a digital spirit level, we can highly recommend our Number 1 product, the Digi-Pas DWL80E Pocket, or our Number 3 product, the Digital Spirit Level-Angle Finder.
Laser and LED spirit levels
Some spirit levels, both traditional ones and digital ones can sometimes give off a laser or LED light, which can be handy for several projects. And is particularly handy when working in tight or poorly lit areas. When you’re relying on an LED or laser light to see, this usually means that you don’t have to be holding the spirit level to do your job.
If you wanted to go for a laser spirit level, we can highly recommend our Number 2 Laser Level, or our Number 4, Silverline SL01 Laser Level Kit.
Which type of spirit level to go for
Digital spirit levels can offer you a lot more data for your DIY projects, and can give beginners to DIY that bit more confidence. However more often than not a traditional bubble spirit level will suffice in most instances.
If you’re not sure if you need a laser spirit level, our advice is to look at Youtube videos of people carrying out the same type of project as you, and see how they are doing it. If there are several methods, just choose the one that looks the easiest or best for your project.
There are a handful of brands that dominate the spirit level market, and they are bestsellers for a reason. They offer real precision that is often made use of in trade, and not just with DIY fanatics. These brands include Stanley, Silverline, and Stabila.
If you want to go for a branded spirit level, we would recommend our Number 4 product, the Silverline SL01 Laser Level Kit, or our Number 5 product, the Stanley Shock Proof Torpedo Level.
More money buys more fancy features. For example you pay a little more money for a spirit level with a laser than one without, and you’d need to pay more money again if you wanted a digital read out of the angle.
But that said, for most DIY projects, you don’t need all the latest fancy features. As a general rule, there’s no need to spend more than £30 on a spirit level.
The cheapest spirit level in our Top 5 products is our Number 5, the Stanley Shock Proof Torpedo Level which comes from a good brand, and is just as precise and reliable as all of the others.
Features to look for in spirit levels
Most spirit levels have at least two transparent tubes called vials where you will find the bubbles. These levels can be used for ensuring things are vertically level as well as horizontal. Some levels also have a third vial which allows you to find a 45 degree angle too. The placement of the bubble shows you when the desired level has been achieved.
The most important feature of a spirit level is it’s accuracy. A good quality spirit level will be accurate to within plus or minus 0.5 millimeters/meter, or 0.005 inches/inch or . 029 degrees. In order to ensure that your spirit level is accurate there are ways to check, and there are also ways to calibrate it before use. We cover this in our FAQ section later.
Spirit levels can vary quite considerably in size, going from being just 9 inches small, up to a whopping 48 inches or more.
Smaller spirit levels are the best option if you’re working in tight areas, but if you’re using it for floor installation then it’s a case of the bigger the better.
If you’re using the spirit level predominantly for hanging pictures or shelves, then a spirit level that’s about 24 inches long would be a good choice.
Some spirit levels can feature magnetic strips which can be handy for leveling metal objects. They’re not much use beyond that though.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know if a spirit level is accurate?
If you want to check that your spirit level is accurate, there’s a quick way can check. First, look at the vial, mark the edges of the spirit level and take a reading of the bubble’s position. Then turn the spirit level a full 180 degrees (not upside down), so the side that was on the left is now on the right, then align the level with your marks.
Take a second reading, and if the level is accurate, the bubble will be in the same position for both readings.
How do you calibrate a spirit level?
To calibrate a spirit level, first place it on a surface you know to be level. The screws should be facing up. Use a small screwdriver to turn the screw ever so slightly. As you do so, you will see the bubble begin to move. Keep turning the screw until the bubble is centred, then you’re done.