What would you do, if you had a laser distance meter to measure distance, instead of a regular measuring tape or wheel?
The Fluke 416D and 411D laser distance meters measure distance to a target up to 60 m (200 ft) away using the unit's laser spot, and can do a quick calculation of area (square feet/meters) and volume. Accuracy is up to 1.5 mm (1/16 in).
Fluke asked users for ideas on how to use a laser distance meter, and got back quite a few. We've collected 101 of the best.
- Provide accurate estimates for bidding out work (HVAC, electrical, cable, maintenance). Measure distances, area, and/or volume.
- Measure height or width of buildings¹ and other objects, by triangulation if needed.
- Verify CAD drawings for asbuilts and design drawings.
- Determine how square a room or object really is, or whether the sides are completely parallel.
- Lay out parking lots.
- Verify that new construction satisfies usage requirements.
- Determine footprint of equipment or office cubicles to be installed, to aid in layout.
- Create as-built building dimensions where no blueprints are provided.
- Calculate total internal floor space/volume of a room or building.
- Measure distances over areas where obstacles in the way disallow the use of measuring tapes or wheels
- Measure distances on roof¹ to quote on crane lift needed for rooftop equipment replacement.
- Measure ceiling height to determine equipment needed for access.
- Quickly calculate length of wire rope needed for cranes.
- Set up collision detection for cranes without pulling tape and using two people and two aerial lifts.
- Measure spans on runways for cranes.
- Measure distances (including ceiling heights) to install emergency lighting, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers to code.
- Determine accurate room dimensions to ensure correct chemical concentration for Clean Agent Fire Suppression system.
- Measure distances from machines for safety equipment (fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc.).
- Measure water levels in fire suppression tanks.
- Use in setting up floor supports in large communication rooms.
- Measure room dimensions to calculate how much paint is needed.
- Measure room dimensions to calculate how much floor covering is needed.
- Measure height for appropriate ladder selection.
- Document location of standing water or leaks found with a thermal (IR) imager or infrared thermometer.
- Measure distances for linear length of wire or cable runs.
- Measure distances for linear feet/meters of conduit needed for new installations.
- Measure height of high voltage lines to meet clearance requirements.
- Calculate total length needed in setting up wire assemblies and harnesses.
- Measure distances to calculate voltage drops (in power supply).
- Measure depth, distance of underground conduit.¹
- Determine length of wire available on hand.
- Measure distances of underground cable¹ from various landmarks or obstacles/ known hazards.
- When locating underground cable with a transmitter/sensor tool combo, trace down cable and shoot back with distance meter.¹
- Locate underground cable faults¹ using the A-frame method. Tell the exact distance of fault from starting point without tape measure or trundle wheel.
- Measure distances to objects within hard-to-reach drop ceilings to determine overhead cable runs, line of sight.
- Measure ceiling height and square feet/meters to determine rod lengths for drop ceiling installation and lighting fixtures.
- Measure distance under subfloors or structures for networking or other cable installations.
- Measure distances from power system devices (transformers, etc.) for electrical safety/arc flash protection and power studies.
- Measure disconnect placement for spas and pools.
- Measure distances between electrical service poles.
- Ascertain distance around walls for proper receptacle placement per code.
- Decide where to place power drops/connections to the power supply in manufacturing floor layouts.
- Measure electrical room square feet/meters for regulation verification.
Industrial Maintenance: Conveyors
- Determine conveyor belt length (for/at installation).
- Calculate conveyor belt capacity, based on length.
Industrial Maintenance: Layout
- Measure distance between machines to estimate heat loading.
- Determine equipment ventilation requirements (mass air flow).
Industrial Maintenance: Tanks
- Check tank level² and verify accuracy of tank level transmitters.
- Measure water level at power plant water intake.
Industrial Maintenance: Other
- Check calibration of automated product shuttle distance sensors.
- Align large welding fixtures.
- Determine the volume of industrial ovens used in powder coating, etc.
- Measure roof height¹ to determine flue lengths.
- Calculate duct lengths for static pressure drop on long runs.
- Determine rise or drop over distance, for pipe drainage.
- Measure distances for duct runs for installation or replacement.
- Determine room volume for cooling, air flow/ exchange requirements, sizing equipment.
- Determine duct run type (size, for volume requirements).
- Size ducts for traversals.
- Measure distances for air handler spacing.
- Determine distance between pumps and distance the pump needs to push liquid, to determine pump and/or motor size.
- Determine distance for pump lines and piping runs, especially when measuring pipe lengths behind existing walls.
- Measure distances between tower drives for water pressure calculations in irrigation.
- Measure the size of a yard to figure out sprinkler heads required.
- Measure condensation lines for installation/repair.
- Find horizontal lengths (overhead) for determining rain gutter¹ length.
- Measure distances from roads¹ and property lines to comply with local building codes.
- Determine amounts of structural materials (studs, plywood) needed for construction.
- Determine insulation requirements (volume needed).
- Determine offsets needed for septic systems.¹
- Determine trench, hole depth.¹
- Determine amount of sheetrock to cover surfaces.
- Find center point of ceiling and other key locations for fan/lighting installation.
- Determine light/lumen requirements based on ceiling height, compared to elevations of suspended lighting fixtures.
- Determine the number of power supplies needed in temporary LED lighting applications.
- Determine distance from power supplies for LED and low-voltage lighting and other electronic loads.
- Determine length to access light fixtures in high ceilings for maintenance.
- Determine network equipment spacing in communication rooms.
- Measure reach and distance between wireless network elements for IT installation technicians.
- Estimate guy-cable lengths for cell towers.¹
- Set earth grounds for cell tower; measure distance from ground when conducting earth-ground 3-pole fall of potential tests and soil resistivity tests.¹
- Determine safe distance from microwave transmitters on cell towers.¹
- Measure height of equipment on utility poles in surveying for cell tower sites.¹
- Measure heights of lines and brackets on transmission towers for maintenance.¹
- Measure roof width and peak height¹ to calculate roof pitch in estimating output of solar panels.
- Determine roof area¹ for solar panel size estimates.
- Document location of shading analysis¹ for ground-mounted PV (photo voltaic) array.
- Calibrate on-board distance, parking, and warning systems.
- Set up a stopping distance course for training/demonstration and brake tests.
- Check for vehicle oversize load clearances.
Video, audio, photography, and theatre
- Measure distances for camera lens selection, focus and zoom settings.
- Figure length for video and camera cable compensation calculations.
- Measure height of video projector and screen for calculation of lumens and for pixel per inch/quality of projection.
- When evaluating a room or new system design, calculate viewing angles, and audio-based predicted coverage maps.
- Measure the height of a lighting pipe to raise theatrical lighting trusses to specific heights above the stage or the seats.
- Verify source-to-image distances when servicing X-ray equipment.
- Verify discrete medical equipment distance requirements are met when systems are installed.
- Check distance from objects for setting thermal imager ranges and determining distance to spot accuracy on infrared thermometers.
- Determine distance between surveillance cameras and subjects to get desired coverage.
- Measure from a target to the optical micrometer mounted on an alignment telescope for setups in a calibration lab.
- Continuously measure automated moving equipment to verify correct location.
Download this article in pdf format.
¹ Laser measurement outdoors can be compromised by direct sunlight.
² Do not use laser measurement tools in the proximity of flammable materials.