The laser distance meter and other measurement tools
Since I often have to do field measurements, I have started using a Hilti laser distance meter. In the past I used long and short measuring tapes and often a helper when measuring large structures. I have found that using a laser measurer eliminates the need for a helper. The laser distance meter is also much safer in that you can stay on the ground and shoot the laser beam up to to the high object you want to measure, rather than climbing up and hanging measuring tapes from high places.
In the past I had to have a customers maintenance crew operate a cherry picker or high lift table to get me up to the item that needs to be measured. The laser distance measure often eliminates the need for that.
Laser distance measurement cant accomplish everything I need but it does help a lot. Circular objects like large diameter hvac ducts are still difficult to measure when they are high up but at least I can get on either side of the duct and shoot the laser from a known reference point and subtract the laser measurement device distances form the known distance to get my duct diameter. I also use this technique to measure things like storage tanks and round bins although the good old measurement tape often works best in these situations.
The laser distance meter I use is the Hilti PD-30. There are fancier models available but I have talked to a few people who own those models and they tell me they hardly ever use the extra fancy features. In the dusty and dirty places I often measure in, I can see how it would be difficult to use extra buttons and detailed calculations. I am happy that my meter records the last 3 measurements I measured so I can get down from where I am measuring and write the figures down, checking against known distances where I can.
Now that laser measuring devices have become more popular, lightly used and demonstrator models have become available on auction sites like EBay. Be sure to check out the vendors feedback ratings if you are interested in any of the models shown below. I have also attached listings for brand new devices so price comparisons can be made.
The device shown below is a Trimble HD-150 laser distance meter with much the same features as the hilti. Please check out the link for more information on this product.
This is the Stabila LE100 laser distance measuring tool. Designed for the professional contractor, estimator, realtor, service person or architect. Accurately measure distances several hundred feet away. Besides distance measuring and tracking, additional functions include calculating square feet (area), cubic feet (volume) and pythagoras functions. Professional quality and highly accurate tool saves time and money and comes with carrying pouch for belt and a hard shell carrying case.
Disto Classic laser mesurement system. Made by Leica, this swiss made laser measurer is rugged, compact and packed with features. The Disto allows you to download measurement point to your laptop or PDA.
There is software available which will actually build drawings out of these measured points. Leica was one of the first manufacturers of hand held leaser measuring tools.
High presicision Disto laser meaurement sytem from Disto. This system would suit the needs of a professional surveyor or for distance measuring at athletic events.
Leica puts out a wide range of accessories for their laser devices
Black & Decker Ultrasonic distance measurement device for home use. These devices are not
quite as accurate as the laser models and dont function as well in large spaces. They are very perfectly useful
for most home measurement tasks however. If you have high ceilings or measurements to do in stairwells, these units can help you
measure at floor level and stay safe by not having to carry measuring tapes high up on stepladders.