Ryobi Self-Leveling Plumb/Cross Laser

If you're planing any amount of renovation or new construction work, this laser will help you work faster and more efficiently

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Ryobi Self-Leveling Plumb/Cross Laser



The Ryobi Self-Leveling Plumb/Cross Laser is part of Ryobi's Tek4 platform of electronic tools. As with all Tek4 tools, this device is powered by a 4V Tek4 battery.
 
Anyone involved in home building or renovation, whether professional or DIYer, knows (or at least should know) the importance of leveling - walls, partitions, doors, windows, cabinetry... all need to be square and level to function properly. The traditional tools - plumbs, spirit levels and framing squares - get the job done. High tech tools - like laser levels - help get the job done more easily and quickly.
 
Laser levels have been on the market for some time, and are a standard in the tool kit of many professional builders and trades people. However, they are less common among DIYers, primarily because of the cost factor. The new Ryobi RP4900 Self-Leveling Plumb/Cross Laser might just change that. A good quality laser level can easily set you back several hundred dollars. The RP4900, at an affordable $129, is a very good quality laser level that is super easy to set-up and use, and highly accurate (particularly at shorter distances). Of course, you don't have to be a builder to benefit from it. DIYers and home owners will find the RP4900 handy for a myriad of uses, from installing a fence to hanging paintings or drapery rods. No fiddling with chalk lines, levels, straight edges or squares.

Beam Projections

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Cross-line
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Horizontal
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Vertical
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Plumb
A laser level emits a beam of bright light against an opaque surface so that you can establish perfectly horizontal and vertical layout lines. It's a simple matter of click and point - there are no calculations to make, no dials to set. One of the big advantages of a laser beam is that it displays on top of the surface you are aiming it against. Chalk and pencil lines are obscured the minute you place anything up against them. This makes laying out drywall, tiles or paneling a snap. 
 
Common issues with laser levels are beams that are not particularly bright, beams that tend to become wide and blurry at longer distances, and beams that aren't overly accurate (particularly at longer distances).
 
The RP4900 projects four types of beams: cross-line, horizontal, vertical, and plumb dot (from the top and bottom of the unit to simulate a plumb bob). You 'cycle' through the beams by pressing the on/off/mode switch located on the top of the unit. The laser emits a bright red light that is about 1/8" wide. I was pleased with the wide angle of display - at fourteen feet you can expect a beam about thirty feet wide.
 
As you move further back from the display surface the beam tends to widen and become dimmer. In bright light the beam is noticeably less visible. I found it best, in most circumstances to turn off most of the bright overhead lights in the room in which I was working. You really notice the limitations of the laser level outdoors; in sunlight the beam is almost invisible (if you really need to use the unit outdoors you might find a laser detector helpful). The laser is accurate to within 1/8" at about fifteen feet. For the kind of work I would use the RP4900 for (cabinet installation, tiling and the like) this is quite adequate.


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Outer sleeve (L), inner console (R) 
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A latch allows for easy separation
The RP4900 consists of two parts - the inner console, which holds the battery and the laser mechanism, and an outer sleeve wrapped in a protective plastic jacket. A latch on the outer sleeve enables you to separate the two parts. By opening the latch you can adjust the height of the laser level; this also puts the laser into self-leveling mode. The laser automatically sets itself to level position, even if it isn't placed on a level surface. There is also a height adjustment screw that provides about 1" of fine height adjustment. The out-of-level indicator didn't work on the sample I tested. Basically this feature turns the laser beam off when the unit itself is tilted by more than 5 degrees.

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The laser mechanism
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Height adjustment screw
There is a tripod mount on the bottom of the unit, which, in my view, is indispensible. In most situations you need to position the laser level very close to the height you want the laser beam to appear. Remember, you only get about 1" of height adjustment on the unit. Fortunately, a camera tripod can be had for about $20. When laying out lines close to the floor you can get away with placing the unit on one or more 2 x 4 cutoffs.
 

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On/off/mode button
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Tripod mount
As with the other tools in the Tek4 line, the RP4000 is impact, dust and water resistant. This doesn't mean that you can toss the unit into your tool box when not using it. Store it in the accompanying carry case. When the unit is turned on, avoid staring into the laser aperture and be careful not to point the laser bean into anyone's eyes. The RP4000 comes with a battery and charger. You can expect about 25 hours of continuous runtime per charge. Even if you use it continuously for three or four hours a day, you'll still likely get through the work week before you need to re-charge the battery. Unless, of course, you forget to turn it off - the RP4000 doesn't have an auto power off feature. An oversight I think. However, there is a low battery indicator just above the on/off/mode button.

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Convenient carry case
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Tripod is essential
So, if you only need to level the occasional picture on a wall, the RP4000 isn't for you. But, if you're a DIYer or homeowner planning on doing any amount of home renovation, or if you're a tradesperson doing tiling, installing drywall, cabinetry, or the like, the RP4000 will help you work faster and more efficiently.

KEY FEATURES:

  • 2" x 2-3/4" x 4-5/8"
  • 12 ounces (with battery)
  • Up to 25 hours continuous run time per charge
  • Low battery indicator
  • Impact, dust, water resistant
  • Tripod mount
  • Automatic self-leveling
  • 1" of fine height adjustment
  • Horizontal line accuracy: +/- 1/8" at 15'
  • Vertical line accuracy: +/- 1/8" at 12'
  • Upper dot accuracy: +/- 1/4" at 9'
  • Lower dot accuracy: +/- 1/4" at 6'
  • 2 year warranty
  • Includes carry case, battery, charger, instruction sheet

Manufacturer:Ryobi Power Tools
Available From:Home Depot
Retail Price:$129.00
Model #:RP4000
Made In:USA
Carl Duguay, March 2010
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