Oh boy, I love innovation… Especially when it transforms practical tools we already use and suprises us with dramatic improvements.
One tool that demonstrates this beautifully is the ever-present and reliable tape measure.
I’m pretty sure just about everyone has had an opportunity to put a tape measure to good use. There’s nothing to it, right? You just stretch it, place the start of the tape on one end and look at the measurement on the other. Easy peasy. Until it isn’t, so much…
Tape Measures Still Have Their Limitations
Tape measures can actually turn out to be a little less than easy. When you’re taking long measurements and there’s no stable point to hook the tape measure to, and you need to have someone else to hold it for you so the tape stays put and you can actually take a measurement.
Let’s take it a step further. How about measuring the ceiling for light installations? You need a ladder for that… right? And we know how scary a really extended tape measure can be when you are trying to retract it! Not on my face!!!
And then there’s the issue with obstacles. A tape measure is unusable if there are obstacles, like furniture or posts, blocking the path from the starting point to the end of the measurement.
Laser Tape Measuring is In
A laser tape measure (or laser distance meter) is an innovation to the old tape measure done right. It doesn’t remove the basic functions of a useful measuring tool, instead it eliminates some of the tape measure’s limitations. And then it adds some features that make measuring easier. Now that’s what I call true innovation!
How Does A Laser Distance Meter Work?
A Laser Distance Meter (LDM) or a Laser Tape Measure basically measures a distance between two points. It uses a pulse of light to a target and then calculates the distance by the length of time the reflection takes to return.
Since it uses light, it removes the limitations of the physical tape of an old school tape measure and gives you these advantages:
- Measure long distances without a second person, as long as the laser can reach the end point. And how about this? You can do it with one hand.
- Measure ceilings or other high places without ladders. (I’ll teach you how to do this further down the page.)
- Measure through tight spaces. As long as there is a way for the laser to travel to the target, then you can still measure accurately. So stairwells and small obstacles are not a problem.
Laser Tape Measuring Like a Boss
Maybe you have the ennoLogic eD560L Laser Distance Meter already and you have yet to maximize its full potential. Or maybe you’re considering a Laser Tape Measure but want to understand what it really can do – Wait… are you serious? You haven’t got it yet?
Okay, okay! I forgive you!
Either way, let’s help you get the most out of your ennoLogic Laser Tape Measure or future Laser Tape Measure. 🤪
We’ll start at the beginning, seems like a logical place…
How to Use Your Laser Tape Measure
To turn it on press the MEAS key. Hold down the CLR key to turn it off. It will also turn off automatically if idle for 3 minutes.
Setting Up for Measurement
Before you start measuring, check the measurement unit setting. Otherwise, your measurements will seem way off.
Select your preferred unit of measurement by pressing the Unit key to cycle through the LDM’s measurement options of meters-feet-inches. Each time you press the Unit key the next unit is displayed. So, first meters, then feet and finally, inches. You can even change the units in between or after measuring, so no worries!
Next, you’ll want to identify from which part of the LDM the measurement will start. Press the Reference key to switch between measuring from the back edge and front edge of the LDM. The default reference is the back edge. Using the back edge setting means the distance meter’s length will be part of the measurement.
You might need to turn the backlight on in when working in dark areas. Do this by pressing and holding the same Reference key.
Ready to measure? Press the MEAS key to turn the meter on, press the MEAS key again to trigger the measurement. The measurement will be the distance from the reference edge to the red laser dot.
You can use this for any basic distance measurement, for example the distance to a wall.
Continuous Measurement and Maximum/Minimum Value
To put the meter into continuous measurement mode, hold down the MEAS key until you hear the beeper. Now you can use the meter to scan an area or corner. While you’re scanning, the meter will also record the maximum and minimum values.
The continuous measurement mode allows you to determine the maximum or minimum distance such as the measurement of a diagonal distance (maximum value) or vertical distance (minimum value) of a room.
The secondary display area will show the maximum and minimum values and the main display area will show the real-time measurement value.
Press the MEAS or CLR key to cancel continuous measurement scanning.
Adding and Subtracting Multiple Distance Measurements
There are situations where you’ll want to add or subtract multiple measurements. For example, if you’re standing in a room and want to measure the distance between two opposing walls. You would face the first wall and take your first measurement, and then turn around to face the other wall and take your second measurement. If you do this using the Addition function of the meter it will add these two numbers for you to give you the total distance from one wall to the other.
To use the Addition function, measure the first distance, then press the “+” (ADD) key, and take your second measurement by pressing the MEAS key again. The result will appear as the large number at the bottom of the display. The individual measurements you took will show as smaller numbers above.
And you can keep going with this. Keep pressing the “+” (ADD) and MEAS keys to keep adding measurements. Need to subtract a measurement? There is a Subtraction function that works the same way. Simply press the “-” (SUBTRACT) key, then take the measurement you want to subtract from your total.
You can use the Addition and Subtraction functions interchangeably as you continue measuring.
Press the CLR key to cancel the operation. Press the CLR key again to exit Addition or Subtraction mode.
… and there is more! With a laser tape measure, it’s not just about distance, now you can measure area and volume too!
To measure areas, press the Area/Volume key once. You will see the icon. Press the MEAS key to measure the first distance (e.g. length). Press the MEAS key again to measure the second distance (e.g. width).
The meter will do the hard work for you and give you the calculated area based on your previous two measurements. Your traditional tape measure can’t do that!
Area measurement is most useful for floor layout, carpeting and other floor covering measurements, and similar applications.
Now let’s go 3D. To measure volume, press the Area/Volume key twice and the Icon will be displayed. Press the MEAS key to measure the first distance (length), once more for the second distance (width), and again for the third (height). The meter will calculate the volume and display it in cubic meters, cubic feet, or cubic inches depending on your selected measurement unit.
Volume measurement is useful for HVAC coverage computation, ventilation requirements, or measurement of large volumes of water (pools, aquariums etc.).
Both area and volume measurements allow for addition and subtraction of subsequent area and volume measurements. Another awesome gift for you from the measuring gods!
Want to measure the height of a wall without a ladder? Or the height of a building without getting on the roof? Here is the answer for otherwise impossible measuring situations. Let the laser do the climbing for you!
This mode calculates measurements indirectly by taking advantage of the Pythagorean Theorem. The Pythagorean Theorem states that for a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
Enough of the technical stuff! Only Math whiz’s got this in school, but don’t worry – you’ll get the hang of it by following the instructions below.
Indirect Measurement Method 1
The measurement of distance using the sides of a triangle requires two measurements. Press the Indirect Measurement key once and the icon will be displayed, with the hypotenuse flashing.
Follow the prompt of the flashing icon and press the MEAS key to measure the hypotenuse (“a” in the diagram). The triangle icon will now change and one of the right-angle edges of the triangle will flash (“b” in the diagram). Press the MEAS key again to measure the distance that represents this edge.
(Note: when measuring the right-angle edge of the triangle, keep the instrument as horizontal as possible.)
After these two measurements have been completed, the Pythagorean calculation is performed automatically. If the measurement results meet the requirements of the Pythagorean Theorem (the distance of the hypotenuse is longer than the distance of the right-angle edges), the calculated length
of the third triangle side (“x” in the diagram) will be displayed as the large number at the bottom of the screen.
The measurement values of the hypotenuse and right-angle edges will be displayed as smaller numbers above.
Indirect Measurement Method 2
Press the Indirect Measurement key twice and the icon will be displayed.
Follow the prompt of the flashing icon. Press the MEAS key once to measure the hypotenuse of the first triangle (pointing upward).
Press the MEAS key again to measure the common right-angle side of the two triangles. Keep the instrument as horizontal as possible.
Press the MEAS key a third time to measure the hypotenuse of the second triangle (pointing downward).
If the measurement result meets the requirements of the Pythagorean Theorem, the calculated height “x” will be displayed as the large number at the bottom of the screen. The individual measurement values of the hypotenuse and right-angle sides (a, b, and c) will be displayed as smaller numbers above.
Indirect Measurement Method 3
This method is used to measure the distance between a reference point and the top end of the height of a triangle. Not sure what that means? Let’s say you’re standing outside and you want to measure the height of a second story window from its bottom edge to its top edge. This third method lets you do that.
To use it, press the Indirect Measurement key three times and the icon will be displayed.
Follow the prompt of the flashing icon to measure the following three triangle sides:
Press the MEAS key once to measure the hypotenuse of the first triangle.
Press the MEAS key again to measure the common side of the
Press the MEAS key a third time to measure the shared right-angle side of the two triangles.
If the measurement result meets the requirements of the Pythagorean Theorem, the calculated height “x” will be displayed as the large number at the bottom of the screen.
The individual measurement values of the triangle sides will be displayed as smaller numbers above.
(Note: when measurements are made in the Pythagorean mode, the length of the right-angle side must be less than that of the hypotenuse. Otherwise, the instrument will display a “calculation error” (Er.dE).)
Also, when using Pythagorean mode, ensure that all measurements are made from the same starting point. When measuring right-angle sides of triangles, make sure the right-angle side is perpendicular to the measured surface.
Reviewing Historical Data
Did you take an important measurement and forget to write it down? The ennoLogic laser distance meter stores the 20 most recent measurements taken. And it even keeps them after you turn it off – how cool is that!
To review the stored values simply press the Historical Data key. Then press the + or – keys to go through them.
Things to Note
Now that you’re familiar with the meter’s features, let’s cover a few pro-tips to help you get the most out of your laser tape measure:
- This meter can accurately measure distances up to 60 meters (197 feet).
- When measuring longer distances, particularly outdoors, it’s possible that the laser signal can get “lost” in the ambient light, especially in sunny conditions. Also, in such conditions it can be harder to see the laser dot. There are several ways to solve this:
- Turn on the ‘Outdoor Signal Enhanced Mode’. To do this, turn on the meter, then press and hold the Historical Data key. Browse through the options by pressing the MEAS key until you arrive at the od.oFF option. Turn this option on by pressing the + key, you should see the display change to od.on. Press the CLR key to exit and return to operating mode. The device should now display an ‘od’ indicator at the top of the screen. Take your measurement with this setting enabled for improved outdoor performance.
- Place a visible marker at the target. You could use a colored sticker, duct tape, or even a sticky note to mark your target. You could even use an inexpensive reflective laser target plate specifically designed for laser distance meters and laser levels.
Other Noteworthy Tips:
- For best results when taking laser distance measurements you need to be able to see the laser dot on the target. It helps if the target is opaque. If the target is transparent or translucent (glass etc.) then you may need to use a target plate or any of the other options mentioned above.
- Get familiar with the + and – keys. They come in handy when you’re measuring the area of hard to access or irregular spaces. You can split the area you’re measuring into several different sections and then combine them to get your total area.
- Taking good care of the lens at the top of the meter will ensure the accuracy of your measurements. Just like any other optical equipment, dust will degrade the quality of the LDM’s measurement. Clean the lens as you would a camera lens. The best tool to use is a lens pen which has a brush and smudge remover in one.
- Get creative when you encounter obstacles while measuring. The indirect measurement option gives you the flexibility to work around objects in your path. For example, you want to measure the distance from one wall to another but there is a large piece of furniture in the way. Assuming that the floor is level, you can measure the wall-to-wall distance indirectly by measuring the distance from the first wall at the floor level to the second wall at the ceiling level (hypotenuse of the right triangle). Then measure the height from floor to ceiling (one of the legs of the right triangle) to get your result, the distance between the two walls (the other leg of the right triangle). Your laser distance meter will calculate this automatically in the indirect measurement mode.
Professional Use of the Laser Distance Meter
Laser distance meters are popular with real estate agents, contractors, electricians, plumbers – pretty much anyone involved in real estate, home improvement and residential or commercial construction. It’s easy to see why. Now it’s possible for one person to quickly and accurately measure just about any space or distance, saving time and money.
Surveying, Real Estate and Remodeling
Remodeling contractors, real estate agents, and surveyors all save time by switching to a laser tape measure.
Where, in the past, complex measuring jobs required two people and ladders, professionals can now work alone and take all the necessary measurements in a fraction of the time. This allows them to serve more clients and be more efficient.
- Measuring building dimensions
- Verifying blueprints vs. actual
- Laying out parking lots
Electricians find the LDM useful for measuring in tight spaces (sub-flooring, attics, crawlspaces and other structures) where they have to estimate the length of cables to be installed. Existing cables and other obstructions no longer present a problem. And guess what?! They don’t have to squeeze themselves into those tight spaces to take the measurements anymore!
- Measuring the height of high voltage lines to check for proper clearance
- Measuring distances to calculate voltage drops (in power supply)
- Determining the length of cable available on-hand
- Determining the exact distance of underground cable breaks
- Measuring for the correct placement of lighting fixtures
Engineering and Field Safety
Laser Tape Measuring has become the primary choice for civil engineers and other large-scale project managers because of the multiple uses this tool provides for them.
Cranes are indispensable to modern construction. However, their size introduces a significant safety risk which must be managed. Safety precautions, accessory selection, and crane height adjustments rely on accurate measurements.
The laser distance meter eliminates the additional resources otherwise necessary when a manual tape measure is used. Previously, aerial lifts and multiple people were required to take accurate measurements of the proper collision detection settings for the crane.
- Easy verification of actual output vs. blueprint
- Verification of usage requirements
- Proper location and distance of emergency lights, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers
- Measure water levels in fire suppression tanks
- Measure height for appropriate ladder selection
- Determine correct conveyor length and size
- Determine equipment ventilation requirements
A Practical Tape Measure Replacement
The uses of the laser tape measure are endless. The list includes applications in plumbing, automotive, film and theater production, IT, firefighting, biomed hazard management, and other special applications.
Anything a tape measure can do, a laser distance meter can do better. So if you don’t have one yet, you might want to consider adding one to your toolbox.