Does Air Turbulence have an effect on Laser Levels?

The main enemy of accurate alignments for laser levels especially over distance is air turbulence. The different temperature gradients between the laser and the target or the receiver causes an effect that is consistent with air turbulence.

It is these temperature gradients that cause “noise” or “jump “in the readings and this is especially exaggerated in high temperatures. Humidity and dust have a small degree of influence; however, this is nowhere near as pronounced as the effect of temperature gradient. The effect is similar to the shimmer seen on a bitumen road on a summers day.

Wind, especially around the unit can also cause complications.

The typical temperature gradient can cause the display to fluctuate by +/- 0.2mm/10m in poor conditions, and these fluctuations are caused by the laser beam going through a number of different temperature gradients which has the effect of bending or refracting the beam before it hits the target. There is no easy solution to overcoming this phenomenon, however there may be a couple of minor tweaks that can be done in certain circumstances to overcome the worst of the condition.

These include keeping the laser and the target protected from wind or air turbulence that may be effect air temperature and the other is not setting the laser up on a hot surface such as bitumen or concrete.

Lasers that can be effected include longer range rotary and grade lasers and pipe lasers.