What Is A Laser Level Receiver? (Explained For Beginners)

Picture this: you’re preparing a site for construction, and you need to get the level right. So, you mount your laser level on a tripod and head a hundred feet away. You try to look at the level, but you just can’t get it. The sunrays are just too bright for your tiny laser.

What would you do? Get a laser-level receiver!

a construction worker using a laser level device and a laser level receiver to set up levels

A laser level receiver is an instrument that detects a laser beam from a distance and thus helps you keep objects on the level. The laser is not always bright enough, especially when you’re working outdoors. The detector senses the beams when they’re invisible to the eye and keeps them safe from laser hazards.

I’m dedicating this post to beginners who just started their DIY construction pursuits.

Here, I’ll answer all your questions about laser level receivers: what is a laser level detector?  How does a laser sensor work? What are the applications of a laser-level receiver? And many more!

How a Laser Level Receiver Works

Laser-level kits run on different principles depending on their brand and manufacturer. However, the most common principles of producing lasers include the HeNe and the  CMOS technology

However, the HeNe method uses Helium and Neon to produce lasers for holography and barcode scanning.

Most laser level kits run on CMOS technology. It’s easy- the level unit has high-quality diodes that produce light.

Then, the “torch” has a lens system that ensures the light moves in a straight horizontal line. Finally, the receiver detects the laser signal and alerts you when it is on level.

This video demonstrates how a laser level kit works

What is the laser receiver used for?

Also known as laser detectors, receivers mount on level rods to sense the laser beam, especially when working outdoors.

Sunlight supersedes your laser and therefore dims it. Consequently, you may not detect the laser line from your level with your naked eyes, but a laser detector does!

When to use a laser receiver

Laser-level receivers have a wide range of applications. You can use the equipment for both indoors and outdoors applications, as long as you want to get accurate level references.

Using Laser Level Receivers Indoors

Whether you are installing tiles or chair railings, you will need to be sure they are level. Interior designers and decor aficionados require lasers to achieve precise patterns.

See a few indoor applications of laser level receivers

Using Laser Level Receivers Outdoors

Literally, every aspect of civil engineering requires a laser-level kit. Accuracy determines the success of any construction– that’s why civil engineers do so many calculations anyway!

And, what aligns objects on a level better than a laser level receiver?

Here are a few applications of a laser level receiver outdoors.

  • Laying construction foundations
  • Landscaping
  • Basic (and advanced) surveys
  • Alignment of bricks in masonry
  • Finding construction site layout and land elevations
  • Building drainage systems
  • Building farming contours across slopes
  • Aligning the posts and decks of a fence
  • Setting piping systems

How to Use a Laser Level Receiver Outdoors

  1. First, wear the safety gear and glasses that come with your kit. Safety glasses protect your eyes from the laser beam when you’re working outdoors.
  2. Now, mount the laser level on a tripod and then turn it on.
  3. Determine the point you want to take a measurement and lock the laser level to aim that position.
  4. Then, go with your laser level receiver to the position you want a reading. Most laser receivers come with a magnet, and you can use it to put the unit into position. Also, you can find a flat surface or a tripod the same height as your laser level.
  5. Now, move your laser receiver until it detects the beam, and; once it does, lock the position using the tripod, grade rod, or magnet.
  6. You just found the level, and you can continue with your alignment!

If you don’t already own a laser level, here’s a list of some of the best outdoor laser levels out there.

Are laser detectors hard to use?

Detectors produce short beep sounds when you are close to hitting level. Then, the sound becomes solid and uniform when you are at level.

Some brands have both visual and audible alarms to alert you when you are at level. The visual alarm has an LCD screen that notifies you that you are on level.

Types of laser receivers based on their laser beam

Conventional beam laser levels are red, but modern units have several other colors. Green beams are joining the party, and they come with several benefits.

However, the red and green varieties have sharp differences, as you’ll see here. 

Green laser level receiver

When you’re looking for visibility and a long-range for leveling outdoors, the green laser wins. However, you have to keep up with its short lifespan and appetite for high power consumption.

Red laser level receiver

Red is the most common laser color and provides an easy and cheap option. If you’re working outdoors for long hours, a red laser level receiver serves you longer because it consumes less power.

Which is better: Red or Green Laser?

Green beams appear brighter to the human eye because it is more prominent than the red.

However, if the two beams had the same power, the brightness would depend on the surface onto which they shine.

Then, the answer will depend on your type of vision: if you have color blindness, you may have to choose the color that is more convenient to you.

I have a more in-depth green vs red laser level comparison here, in case you want to learn more about the topic.

This table shows features of Green laser level receivers Vs. Red laser level receivers.
FeatureGreen Laser Beam ReceiversRed Laser Beam Receivers
Frequency and powerClass 3r wattage 5mWClass 2r 1mW
Outdoor Laser usageGreen lasers are more prominent than red, but you have to use a receiver.Red quickly dims in sunlight
Durability and reliabilityMore sensitive to the eye than red.Green laser intensity lowers with temperature.Green also fails more often than red.Less sensitive than greenRed laser intensity is less affected by temperature than green.Has a longer lifespan.
CostGreen laser diodes are more expensive.Green diodes also use up more powerRed laser diodes are cheaper than green.Use less power than green.

Can you use a laser level receiver for both green and red laser levels?

A laser receiver can pick up any laser signal within its range. Some laser detectors communicate with the laser level transmitter using radio signals: but even those that don’t will still receive the laser beam.

Receivers aren’t generic, and not all of them will work with any laser level. For example, rotating lasers don’t go hand in hand with purse line lasers. Line receivers, on the other hand, don’t work with the rotary laser levels.

Where can you buy a laser receiver?

Of course, you need a good laser level receiver, but where do you buy one? Deciding on the specific store is tricky, but you should consider how convenient it is.

Fortunately, genuine laser receivers are available at the hardware store in your town. You can also buy from Amazon or eBay.

Laser receiver brands available

Several companies manufacture laser receivers today. The leading laser level receiver brands include:

Bosch laser receivers


Since 1886, Robert Bosch’s German company has continued to boast quality and precision. And their receivers affirm this claim.

Dewalt laser level receiver


Dewal laser level kits boast pinpoint precision. Manufacturing quality engineering tools is an area that Raymond DeWalt’s company continues to pursue since 1923.

Leica laser detectors


When Ernst Leitz founded Leica in 1869, the German dreamt of revolutionary optical solutions. The Leitz Company may have changed its name to Leica, but their laser-level equipment quality remains true to their founder’s dream!

Spectra laser level receivers


Spectre is a musical masterpiece by Alan Walker, and; it’s he hasn’t let the engineers at Spectra Technology down. For more than half a century, the experts have maintained a respected status in producing hi-tech level kits.

Topcon laser level detector


Topcon is one of the global leaders when it comes to manufacturing precision measurement equipment. So, it’s not a wonder that the Japanese laser receivers are some of the best in the market since 1932!

Laser Level Receivers FAQs

Here are a few helpful answers to some questions most beginners (and even some pros) have related to laser level detectors.

Is the light from a laser level safe to your eye?

Looking directly at the laser light is dangerous. Laser levels produce light of up to 5mW, and that’s hazardous. If you expose your eyes to laser light for long without any optical instrument, it could damage your retina.

Are laser levels universal or brand-specific?

Most modern laser receivers work universally for all wavelengths of laser light. Advanced laser receivers are universal and will receive any laser wavelength, including red, green, and even infrared lights.

For example, the LED wavelength works with red transmitters for standard receivers, and the same case applies to green. 

Can light from other appliances disturb the laser detector?

Laser-level detectors can sense a wide range of light frequencies. For example, sensitive receivers will detect sunlight, strobes, and fluorescent lights.

How accurate is a laser level receiver?

For every 100 feet, a good laser level receiver would have a deviation of about 0.0625 inches. For a closer perspective, a liquid level has a deviation of half an inch per 100 feet.

So the laser level receiver is eight times more accurate than ordinary spirit levels!

Which is the best laser level receiver?

The ideal laser level detector should be accurate with a deviation of less than a quarter-inch from 100 ft.

Also, the best receiver must have self-leveling technology and ideal beam orientation. Take a look at our review of the top 10 best laser-level receivers here.

Wrapping up

Days you had to slog with a scale are long gone, and time is ripe for ultra-modern methods. Precision is the answer to all engineering questions, and a laser-level receiver provides precisely that!

When buying a laser level detector, pay attention to the color and overall performance of your unit. And, if you have any questions about laser receivers, be sure to ask in the comment section below.

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Adrian B – Editor

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, handyman … As a construction pro I love to get creative and see things done with my hands coming to life. Here I share with you some of the things I learn and hopefully you’ll get something out of it. Enjoy 🙂

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