8 Best Spirit Levels (2021 Review)

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The best spirit level should be able to sit squarely on a surface and measure plum, level and true.

Larger models should be constructed from strong die-cast aluminium. For extra precision look for milled top and bottom surfaces as these provide accurate measuring and a straight edge as well as a levelling tool. Many spirit levels feature a “V” groove so they can be placed over rounded surfaces like pipes, and some spirit levels feature built-in magnets so the tool can be used in hands-free mode. Most aluminium levels come with rubberised end caps to protect them from damage.

Smaller spirit levels tend to be constructed from strong durable plastic.

Most spirit levels should feature at least one horizontal and vertical vial. These should be easy to read, ideally from both the side and top of the spirit level, and preferably embedded in magnified glass. Some levels even come with a rotating vial so you can check for any angle between 0° and 180°.

There are also those spirit levels that feature a laser function so you can project an accurate red line onto the wall in front of you at the same time as levelling up.

I’ve heavily researched the best spirit levels available right now, so read on to see what I’ve discovered …

What is the Best Spirit Level For You?

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Comparing the Best Spirit Levels

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that's most important to you.

  • Best For
  • Length
  • No. of Vials
  • Magnetic
  • Laser
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps
  • Hanging / Hand Holes
  • Cost
  • Our score
  •  

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In-Depth Reviews of Our Recommended Spirit Levels

Bosch Professional 1600A016BN 250 mm Spirit Level with Magnet SystemBosch Professional 1600A016BN 250 mm Spirit Level with Magnet System

Best spirit level with magnets

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
5
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Bosch Professional 1600A016BN 250 mm Spirit Level with Magnet System Review

Specifications

  • Length: 250mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: Yes
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: Yes
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

The Bosch Professional range of tools and accessories are some of the most reliable and trustworthy on the market. If you need a super-reliable level in a small package, the Bosch 1600A016BN 25 cm spirit level is pretty much unbeatable.

Constructed from die-cast aluminium and protected with shock absorbent end caps, this is a sturdy and accurate level. You get three separate vials of UV resistant liquid that are readable from both the side and the top of the tool.

What makes this the best spirit level for convenience must be the magnets though. There are three strong ferrite magnets embedded in the body, making it a hands free piece of kit. It’s probably the last spirit level you’ll ever need to own.

Pros

  • The top vial contains a “bullseye” viewing port for checking for level from above. It means you can easily see when something is straight without much effort at all.
  • There are hanging holes on both ends of the spirit level. It makes storing the tool that much easier when you can hang it on a hook.
  • The extruded aluminium body makes this an extremely straight and stable measuring tool. You could use the long side as a reliable straight edge in a pinch.

Cons

  • The aluminium edges can be quite sharp to the touch. I’d prefer it if they were better finished for a smooth feel in the hand.
  • Some users have complained that the two top vials don’t quite match up. This is a bit concerning from a professional level measuring tool.
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Stanley Fatmax Pro Torpedo 250mm Magnetic LevelStanley Fatmax Pro Torpedo 250mm Magnetic Level

Best torpedo level with rotating vials

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
5
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Stanley Fatmax Pro Torpedo 250mm Magnetic Level Review

Specifications

  • Length: 250mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: Yes
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: No
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

One of the world’s best known DIY brands, STANLEY make an incredible range of tools for DIYers and professionals alike. The 0-43-609 250 mm Xtreme Torpedo Scaffold Level is a measuring tool that features some clever tricks up its sleeve.

Constructed from strong die-cast aluminium, the torpedo shape is specially designed to take up only a small amount of space. The Three vials are all easy to see, especially the central one that is held inside magnified glass.

What I really like about this spirit level is the rotating vial on one end. If you want to check a precise angle or set something out at any angle between 0° and 180°, simply turn the dial. It’s a handy tool that you’ll find plenty of uses for.

Pros

  • The bottom of the spirit level isn’t flat but has a “V” groove milled into it. This makes it perfect for holding against a curved object like a pipe.
  • You don’t need to hold on to the level to use it all the time. The base contains rare earth magnets that will hold it against any ferrous metal surface.
  • The aluminium has been cast with holes in the ends for hanging the spirit level up on a hook. It’s a nice design feature that looks good, saves weight, and keeps it out of harm’s way.

Cons

  • Compared with the Bosch Professional 1600A016BN, the ends aren’t protected from shocks with rubberised end caps. This level could be vulnerable to knocks and drops over time.
  • The torpedo shape looks good and saves space, but it’s not ideal for every situation. Having a parallel surface like on the Stabila 96-2-60 is a lot easier to read upside down.
  • Several users have complained about the build quality of this level. The two magnets can work loose if the spirit level is dropped, or the rotating dial can fall off.
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Semlos Multipurpose Laser Level with Measuring TapeSemlos Multipurpose Laser Level with Measuring Tape

Best spirit level with laser level and tape measure

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
4.3333333333333
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Semlos Multipurpose Laser Level with Measuring Tape Review

Specifications

  • Length: 250mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: No
  • Laser: Yes
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: No
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: No

Semlos make a bit of everything, from homewares to torches. They also make a spirit level that feels more like a James Bond gadget. Their 004-00247_SML multipurpose laser level is packed full of clever tools that should make hanging pictures and getting shelves level a piece of cake.

If you want to use this 200 mm long plastic tool as a standard spirit level, there are three vials to choose from. They’re easy to read and will tell you if you’re on the level in three dimensions. Need to take a quick measurement? Pull out the 2.5 m tape measure from the end. You can never have enough tape measures in a workshop!

But if you want to level up and use a laser, you can project an accurate red line onto the wall in front of you. There are three modes to choose from: a horizontal line, a vertical line and a cross. It’s not self-levelling like a standalone laser level, but you can use the spirit levels to get the device straight.

Pros

  • It’s hard to find a measuring tool that fits in this number of gadgets for the price. Having a laser level on hand is useful, but when it’s paired with a measuring tape, it’s excellent!
  • The measuring tape will always come in handy. It’s in metric and imperial and has enough length in it for most quick workshop jobs.
  • The level is shipped with spare batteries for the laser. That’s a great thing to see from Semlos, and you shouldn’t be caught short on a job!
  • The laser level is adjustable, so if you find it’s not completely accurate you can fix it yourself.

Cons

  • The accuracy of the laser is sometimes a bit inaccurate compared with the spirit level vials. Check your level against a trusted device before you start using it, then adjust.
  • As several users have noted, this device would be greatly improved with a threaded hole in it. It could then be attached to a tripod because it’s otherwise not easy to position.
  • Compared with the Bosch Professional 1600A016BN, the plastic construction of this level is never going to be as accurate. Extruded aluminium is much stronger as well.
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Bosch PLL 1 P Laser Spirit LevelBosch PLL 1 P Laser Spirit Level

Best spirit level with laser level and pointer

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
4
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Bosch PLL 1 P Laser Spirit Level Review

Specifications

  • Length: 150mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: No
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: Yes
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

German tool heroes Bosch make some of the best DIY level tools as well as their trusted professional level ones. Making up part of their “green” line of DIY measuring tools is the PLL 1 P Laser Spirit Level. It’s a compact and handy bit of kit that would be an improvement to any tool kit.

Fitting easily in the palm of my hand, it’s a slimline level that doesn’t take up too much room. Measuring just under 150 mm, it’s ideal for getting into tight spots. There are a pair of small vials that give you horizontal and vertical readings, but that’s not the clever part of this device.

What sets this apart from the competition is the bright red laser line that you can shine from the end of the level. You simply line up the bubble in the vial, then project a perfectly straight line across the wall. You can use the wall mount to fine adjust the laser line to any angle you want, which is handy.

Pros

  • A well-made and lightweight measuring tool. What it lacks in size it makes up for with an accurate laser line up to 5 m. You couldn’t fit a 5 m spirit level in your pocket!
  • The wall mount is a great idea. Compared with the Semlos 004-00247_SML, you can attach the level to a wall or other surface and adjust it from there. It’s easy to use as well.
  • It’s not just a laser level. If you flick the switch on the top, it becomes a laser pointer. It’s a handy feature to have on site when you need to show someone something out of reach.

Cons

  • Some users have complained that the level doesn’t attach to the wall mount securely enough. It’s only held on with magnets, which can be knocked too easily.
  • I’m not sure why the vials are so small? It would be much easier to get the lasers level if they were larger and more accurate. It’s a great laser let down by tiny analogue components.
  • If you want to attach the wall mount, you’ll need hang it off a screw. That means drilling a hole in the wall before you can check for level.
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Stabila 96-2-60 3 Vial 610mm Spirit Level Stabila 96-2-60 3 Vial 610mm Spirit Level

Best spirit level for quality

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
5
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Stabila 96-2-60 3 Vial 610mm Spirit Level Review

Specifications

  • Length: 600mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: No
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: Yes
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

With more than 130 years in the measuring game, Germany’s Stabila are the go-to brand for professional spirit levels. Found on building sites around the world, the 96-2-60 spirit level is an industry standard.

Measuring 61 cm long and made from lightweight extruded aluminium, this is a 3 vial spirit level that’s made in Germany to exacting standards. The vials are incredibly accurate and easy to read, and sit under the edge of the level for protection in the harsh environments it works in.

It’s extremely light and easy to hold with one hand when marking walls. What makes this job easier are the rubberised end caps. They help to stop slipping when marking out lines on a wall. You can also pull them off to get the end flush against a wall. It’s probably the best analogue spirit level you can get.

Pros

  • Trusted German engineering and an unbeatable quality control process makes Stabila the brand of choice for professionals. They make probably the best spirit levels available right now.
  • The 61 cm overall length is an ideal sweet spot in terms of usefulness. It’s short enough to fit in any tool kit, but still provides enough reach for most DIY projects.
  • The milled top and bottom surfaces make this an incredibly accurate measuring tool. You can use it as a reliable straightedge on site as well as a levelling tool.

Cons

  • Compared with the Bosch Professional 1600A016BN, it’s an expensive measuring device. The quality is excellent, but if you’re on a budget it just might not be affordable.
  • It’s an incredibly accurate level, but compared with the Bosch PLL 1 P laser level, you’re limited by the length of the tool. It certainly can’t work over 5 m.
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OX Tools OX-P024412 Pro Level 1200 mmOX Tools OX-P024412 Pro Level 1200 mm

Best spirit level with dual view feature

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
5
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OX Tools OX-P024412 Pro Level 1200 mm Review

Specifications

  • Length: 1,200mm
  • No. of Vials: 3
  • Magnetic: No
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: Yes
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

Australian firm OX Tools have been creating robust and clever bits of kit since 1974. Their hand tools are loved by DIYers and professionals equally, and the OX-P024412 Pro Level 1200mm won’t disappoint either group.

Decked out in OX Tools’s recognisable bright blue, this is a level that’s ideal for those big levelling jobs. Made from quality extruded aluminium, the 1200 mm length is more than enough for big building projects and has three vials for checking levels.

There’s a pair of rubberised handles cut out of the level itself, that make it easy to carry around and non-slip in any weather conditions. You get a pair of polypropylene end caps as well that should keep everything safe from the expected knocks and drops on site.

What sets this apart as one of the best long spirit levels available right now is the clever cut out. There’s a hole cut into the base of the level which means you can view the vial and bubble from two sides. It’s a handy feature you probably never knew you needed!

Pros

  • OX Tools are fast becoming a household name here in the UK. Compared with the Stabila 96-2-60 for build quality and accuracy, it’s not hard to see why.
  • The rubber endcaps help to protect the level from getting damaged if dropped from a height. OX Tools are built to be tough, and this level certainly upholds that reputation.
  • This spirit level uses small rubber feet on each corner to grip against a wall. Stopping a level from sliding about when marking lines is essential.
  • The dual view feature is incredibly useful for checking something is level from above. You can see immediately if something like a wall or shelf is off by the smallest amount.

Cons

  • Some users have complained that the plastic windows can fog up on cold mornings. It’s probably better suited for indoor work.
  • Several users have complained about the quality of the packaging the level is shipped in. For a precision levelling device, you could expect more protective packaging.
  • A 1200 mm spirit level is ideal for big projects, but don’t expect it to fit in your toolbox. Compared with the 25 cm STANLEY 0-43-609 it’s an absolute monster!
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Trend DAF/8 Digital Angle Finder and LevelTrend DAF/8 Digital Angle Finder and Level

Best digital level and angle finder

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
5
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Trend DAF/8 Digital Angle Finder and Level Review

Specifications

  • Length: 200mm
  • No. of Vials: 1
  • Magnetic: No
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: No
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: Yes

Trend are probably best known for their routers, but they also make an impressive range of hand tools and accessories. The DAF/8 digital angle finder is an ingenious bit of kit that combines two essential woodworking tools in one.

Starting with the construction, this level has a solid feeling aluminium body and large LCD screen that displays the current angle. The fold out ruler can measure up to 220 mm or 8”, depending on the side you read.

The spirit level only has one vial, but it makes up for it by being able to find angles between and 220°. You can even remove the locking knob and extend the range up to 360° with an accuracy of 0.15°. The digital angle finder allows you to hold a measurement or even zero the scale, allowing you to calculate difference in angle without resorting to doing calculations in your head.

Pros

  • I really like the cut out 90° angle finder in the end of the ruler section. It’s a common angle, so having a standalone reference is ideal for things like picture framing or box making.
  • Tightening the locking knob means you can hold any angle tightly. You can then use this angle for marking out cuts, or even as a saw guide with a bit of practise.
  • The accuracy of this digital level is impressive. It can split all the way down to a tenth of a degree. If you’re doing fine measurements, this is a must.
  • I also like the 45° quadrant indicator. It shows up on the LCD screen like pieces of pie and helps to visualise angles. The display flips through 180° when in ABS mode as well.

Cons

  • It’s a shame that there aren’t more vials on this spirit level. Compared with the Stabila 96-2-60, you can’t take easy vertical measurements. You’ll need more levels in your toolbox.
  • Several users have complained about how difficult it is to get into the battery compartment. Swapping out the CR2 battery is a pain to do.
  • You need to be careful when locking off the angle. The digital angle finder is incredibly sensitive and can be knocked out of alignment when tightening the knob.
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Milwaukee 4932459597 Magnetic Pocket LevelMilwaukee 4932459597 Magnetic Pocket Level

Best pocket level

Build Quality
Accuracy
Value For Money
Overall
4.3333333333333
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Milwaukee 4932459597 Magnetic Pocket Level Review

Specifications

  • Length: 78mm
  • No. of Vials: 1
  • Magnetic: Yes
  • Laser: No
  • Shock Absorbent End Caps: No
  • Hanging / Hand Holes: No

One of the big power tool brands out there, the big red Milwaukee brand can be seen in the hands of DIYers and professional tradespeople all over the place. The 4932459597 Magnetic Pocket Level is probably the best quick reference level you can get. it’s tiny but still manages to be accurate.

Measuring just 78 mm across, it’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and weighing just 140 g, it’s not going to slow you down at all. It’s just as useful thrown into a tool kit for when you need it. Made from cast aluminium, it’s stable and very solid with a milled bottom to make sure it’s flat.

Even though it’s small, the vial is big enough to be easily read and you can use it to measure any angle from to 90°. Milwaukee have included a rotating dial that allows you to set individual angles, or popular ones like 45° or 22.5°.

Pros

  • The bottom of the level has been milled into a “V” groove. That means it can sit snugly against curved surfaces without wobbling about.
  • There are strong rare earth magnets embedded into the base of the spirit level. It makes it stick to metal surfaces well. It’s strong enough to hang upside down as well!
  • It’s a brilliant little tool for setting precise angles. Simply dial in the angle you want, then lift one end of the workpiece until the bubble is in the middle.

Cons

  • This is a really small level. Compared with the Bosch PLL 1 P it’s tiny. It’s not going to provide enough accuracy over distances, so it’ll always be a backup levelling tool.
  • The lock off dial is protected on most sides by the body of the level. This keeps it safe but makes it difficult to turn. If you’re changing angles a lot, it’ll get annoying.
  • Some users have complained that the angles on the dial don’t quite match up with the white arrow on the body. If this is the case, your measurements will be off by a fraction of a degree.
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Things to Know Before Buying a Spirit Level

Spirit levels are typically made from durable polypropylene or reinforced aluminium. Longer spirit levels are often used on site and tend to be made from aluminium with reinforced ribs to stand up to every day wear and tear. Aluminium spirit levels often have a powder coating to protect them from corrosion and make them easy to clean.

Smaller spirit levels tend to be made from durable plastics which make them lightweight and robust.

Many spirit levels have shock resistant end caps that help protect the level if it gets dropped or knocked. These also help to hold the spirit level against surfaces to make one handed use easier. The end caps are often removable to allow flush fitting. Some companies manufacture replacement end caps.

Spirit levels may have a milled surface to facilitate a true line and a groove in the bottom to allow levelling on pipes or other curved surfaces.

To ensure that the bubbles are easy to read, some spirit levels have magnified centre vials. Others use mirrors to ensure that you can read the level from a variety of angles. Some spirit levels have LED lights to illuminate the bubbles in dimly lit locations.

Vials

Longer spirit levels usually have three vials, two for horizontal levelling and one for vertical. The two horizontal vials help you to achieve a more accurate result over longer distances.

Smaller models have two vials, one for vertical and one for horizontal levelling, whilst pocket levels like tend to have just the one vial for both vertical and horizontal use. These small spirit levels are ideal for levelling plugs and sockets.

The vials are the most important element of your spirit level.

Additional Features

Spirit levels often come with some additional features to make them useful in a range of scenarios. These include the following…

Integrated Steel Ruler

An integrated steel ruler makes it easy to measure, level and mark up in one simple step. Look for one that is clear and easy to read.

Magnets

Some spirit levels include magnets for attaching to pipework, back boxes, appliances and the like. These are a great feature as they enable you to work hands-free.

Integrated Laser

To enhance your levelling operation, some levels also include a simple laser feature for projecting a red line onto a wall in front of you. This is particularly handy if you want to hang long items such as shelves or curtains poles.

Usage

A spirit level is an essential measuring tool for every home even if you just want to hang a picture. Using a spirit level allows you to achieve a perfect line when assembling pictures, shelves, cabinets and curtain poles.

Spirit levels are also an essential tool in garden landscaping for attaining level patios and decks, fences and features.

Of course, the spirit level is also essential for many tradesmen, from bricklayers to electricians to plumbers and window fitters.

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Spirit Level FAQ's

How do I use a spirit level?

Spirit levels contain one or more vials that are filled with a coloured liquid that contains an air bubble. The vial features two markings or guidelines on its outer surface. When the bubble is positioned between the markings you know you are level.

To mark a horizontal level place the spirit level against the surface and adjust it up or down until the bubble is between the two guidelines. You now have your level.

If you are hanging a shelf with brackets, place the spirit level on the shelf surface and position the shelf where you want it on the wall. Using the spirit level, ensure the shelf is level and mark where the bottom of the shelf will sit.

Next, hold one of the brackets up against this line. Place the spirit level on top of the shelf bracket to ensure it is level. Place a pencil into the screw holes of the bracket to mark the wall. Do the same for the other screw holes and then repeat for the other bracket or brackets. You now have all your drill holes marked for fixing the brackets and accurately aligning the shelf.

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