Once in a while, when our clients see us measuring a real estate property, they were surprised that instead of a long tape measure in our hands, we have a tablet PC on one hand and a little gadget on another. Our little device – called a laser distance meter – does almost all the work of our tape measures. We do still carry tape measures around
though, because they are still quite handy once in a while for measuring small things, such as the width of a railing.
The Laser Distance meters we use at SeeVirtual are all Leica Disto models from Leica Geosystems, a Swiss company that produces precision instruments for surveying and geographical measurements (the company one of three companies licensed to use the Leica Brand, known more for the famous Leica Camera). The Disto line of products ranges from simple measuring devices with some basic functions – such as addition and subtraction – to models with a variety of complex functions – such as tilt sensors and digital pointfinders. One of the most common questions our clients ask about our measuring devices is “How accurate is it?” According to the manufacturer, the accuracy is ± 1/16, and that is definitely more accurate than a tape measure which can sag if it’s not placed directly on the floor with no obstruction. As for the measuring range, the device can measure up to 325 feet in distance, which is plenty for even the grandest of estate homes. Sometimes very helpful homeowners ask if there is anything they need to move to allow us to measure. In most cases, it is not necessary to move anything unless the whole wall is obstructed (by items such as draperies). As long as there are wall surfaces the size of a fist on both walls parallel to each other and no objects obstructing the path between them, we will be able to use the Disto and its functions to measure the distance between these two walls. The tilt sensor mentioned above is one of the functions that we find very useful for measuring that we cannot live without. The Disto’s tilt sensor basically measures the angle at which we aim our Disto. The device automatically calculates the horizontal distance from the tilted distance and the tilt angle (using Pythagoras’ Theorem) from the device to the other wall. This function is great when there are furniture blocking the wall, and the only exposed wall surfaces are above or below the horizontal plane where we hold our Disto. Therefore, next time you see us holding the device in a tilt, don’t be worried about the seemingly inaccurate method of measuring when you see us pointing the laser upward or downward because we probably have the tilt sensor turned on. If you are thinking of purchasing a laser measuring device to do some measuring of your own, we suggest you get a model that at least have the following functions or features: Add and subtract functions Reference point selection (to choose between measuring from front of device, or end of device) Multiple results display (to take multiple measurements consecutively) Unit changeability (ft, ft+in, m, etc.) Robust design (to help survive bangs on walls, against furniture) If you think you will be measuring often, you should consider the tilt sensor function as it will make measuring a lot easier with spaces that are furnished. Also, the tilt sensor can be useful in getting a rough approximation of the outdoor areas such as concrete patios and driveways just by pointing at the boundaries of these areas (you can always make precise measurements by setting up target plates at the boundaries also). Other functions, such as Min/Max are also available for models with the tilt sensor. This is another useful function that can measure and let you know what’s the farthest or closest distance you’ve measured, and it’s helpful when measuring distances that you are not able to aim with a stable hand (ie measuring with unusual postures when it is necessary). Our two newer models that we use everyday cost from $239 to $949 from specialty dealers. There are also a variety of other brands of laser distance meters out there that are easily accessible, such as this one. It has all the basic functions for taking simple measurements, and is an economical option from the Leica Disto.