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Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

(OP)
We've been looking at purchasing a distance meter gizmo to use when we go to existing structures and need to do some quick field measuring.
Up until now we've used tape measures for column-to-column distances, vertical clearance heights to bottom of beams overhead, etc.

I've seen the units sold in your local home improvement stores (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) and these run about US$80 to$180 but we're not sure how reliable, durable, etc. they are.

Do any of you have any exposure to perhaps more higher-end devices that you could share?
We are looking for a unit that will do feet/inches primarily.

As far as price, we are probably looking for something under $500 but I'm not sure if that is reasonable or not. Even a good device at$200 would be ideal.

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RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

I have tried them: They are adequate for what they do, but WILL VARY strongly as they move around and hit different "targets" on the far wall.

How accurate do you need the results?

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

I have used them 15 years ago and they were great . My recommendation would be to ensure that they are good to use outside in bright sunlight.

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

I was just in Lowe's this Sunday, and there's a laser rangefinder with, I think, 113 ft range and 1/16" accuracy. Of course, since it's probably a very dinky beam width EVERY imperfection and undulation will result in a slightly different distance. There's something to be said for a fat footprint that comes from an ultrasonic measurement, but my own only goes to about 25 ft, since it's pretty old.

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RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

A firm of residential architects who I share office space with use them routinely for interior surveys when they are doing renovation work and there are no existing drawings. They are kind of the work horses for this application. They need to take dozens/hundreds of measurements in the space of a couple of hours, and i think they work quite well. They use Hilti PD42 laser range finder. I'm not sure about the exact specs on the device in respect to temperature sensitivity and that kind of thing, but they are at least good enough for an architecture project!

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

Most do this this, but you must confirm that the meter will display the distance from the front, from the middle (the 1/4 mounting bolt hole is sometimes NOT the measurement point) and the back end.

For length of an interior room, the meter must be up against the wall, reading to the far wall. Errors creep in when you are not perpendicular to the walls: the laaser is reading even a 2 or 3 degree angle to the wall will "large" by that factor since it is displaying the hypotenuse of the angle, not the perpendicular.

I tired, but found they were almost, but not quite, good enough for pipe fitting and field runs. Rough layout was good, estimates were OK, but not for final cuts.

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

My recommendation is the Hilti. We have an older model, but it would be comparable to the PD-I model on their website. For long distances or exterior shots it could be beneficial to have the optical viewfinder on the PD-E model. When you're taking long shots it can be difficult to see what the laser is hitting. Exterior shots are more difficult as well, only because it's hard to see the laser pointer in sunlight.

Our office also has a Bosch laser finder. I don't have any issues with the distance (I haven't used it for long distances), but there's a reason that the Hilti tape is always the first one checked out and the one people prefer to use.

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

Love my Leica disto

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

+1 for Leica. It's slimmer, lighter, and more accurate than the Bosch I had before.

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

Ditto on Leica Disto....accurate and durable

RE: Distance meter for measuring existing buildings

+1 again for Leica Disto series.

I once suggested it to a site manager (we were contractors working in a hydro power plant) to check overhead clearances, etc and pointed it out in McMaster-Carr. He thought it sounded nice so he bought one and proceeded to use it extensively in many ways more than we anticipated. It's accurate, reliable, and robust compared to cheaper solutions.

I once played with the Home Depot class products and they are not comparable.

David

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