If you happen to be a builder, civil engineer, construction professional, or even a handy DIYer, then you probably already know about transit levels, also known as a builders level or dumpy level.
Surveyors use these excellent tools and building contractors to discover the contours in the land that they intend to use for their construction projects. These levels help locate the spots where the ground needs to be “leveled off” before a building project such as a house, a bridge, or well anything can be erected.
It should come as no surprise that there are a ton of transit levels that you can buy, so how do you choose the best transit level for your needs? Well, In these unbiased transit level reviews, I’ll take you through what I think is the best transit level for surveying so that you can get the best builders level for your money, reducing the risk of you purchasing something that just doesn’t cut it.
Best Transit Level Reviews
This is a fantastic measuring tool for those of you who are looking for something to handle agricultural, civil, and construction applications.
The Dewalt DW090PK builders level toolkit has a 20x zoom that you can see over 200 feet. It’s precise to 1/4 in for every 100 feet of distance.
You get a tripod that ensures a stable and durable base for leveling that’s fast and easy to install.
The level kit comes with a hardwearing aluminum tripod with quick-adjusting legs, a plumb bob, a strong 8-foot aluminum grade stick, as well as a durable case to keep the laser safe when not in use.
This will measure not only vertical lines, but this will also measure level and horizontal lines.
This builder’s level is accurate to a ¼” per every 100 feet, and its 360-degree horizontal circle with Vernier scale produces precise measurements of horizontal or level angles.
- Can measure both horizontal and verticle levels
- accurate to 1/4″ in
- 20x zoom
- I found none
This is easy to set up and easy to use transit level for leveling and vertical applications. You get a set of clamps and tangents, bring your level, and you quickly on target.
It includes 20x magnification, which ensures you get a clear image as far downfield as 200 feet. It has a three-screw leveling base, which has a 5/8″ x 11″ thread for quick and easy mounting to a tripod.
A handy feature is a built-in sunshade with a rubber eyepiece, and this ensures that you can complete your surveys accurately, even when the sun is high in the sky.
It comes with a rugged carry case that ensures your level is protected when not in use and a handy user manual.
- Long-distance visibility features an effective range of up to 200 feet
- Powerful 20X magnification
- Includes adjustment tools and a rugged and durable carrying case
- Weighs just 7.5 lbs and is easy to use and portable, too
- Questionable durability
- Limited applications
This siteline transit level from NWI is designed to be used on big construction and agricultural jobs. It has a 20x magnification, which means you get a clear and precise image over long distances even up to 200 feet away and more.
The accuracy is pretty standard at 1/4″ per every 100 feet of range. This is a very lightweight coming in at 13 pounds. Because of this, it’s incredibly portable.
The dimensions of this model at 11″ x 5.5″ x 7.5″.
This is a basic survey transit level kit that will fit most of your needs. This is why many builders consider this to be the transit level that’s an all in one.
- Includes rugged tripod and a 9-foot grade rod
- Packs powerful 20x (twenty power) magnification
- The effective working range is 200 feet
- Includes plumb bob, carrying case and User’s Manual
- Lacks durability
DeWalt as well known for producing quality tools and this DeWalt transit level is no exception. This is suited to all applications, whether DIY, construction, civil, or even agricultural.
This transit level is packed with loads of useful features, including a 20x magnification so you can see over 200 feet, an accuracy of 1/4″ for every 100 feet of range and a 360-degree horizontal circle with a Vernier scale that enables this to measure horizontal angles as well as vertical angles.
You also get a rugged aluminum tripod with a heavy-duty leveling base. Which is quick and easy to set up.
This is one of the best transit levels from a well-known brand, so you can be, rest assured that you are getting quality.
- 20X magnification that extends the range up to 200 feet
- Highly effective ¼” accuracy per 100 feet
- Transit capability enables you to determine vertical angles
- 360-degree horizontal circle with Vernier base lets you measure precise horizontal angles
- Includes protected leveling vial for job site durability
- Weighs more than 22 lbs., is bulky and hard to handle
- Lacks portability
This transit level from CST/Berger is extremely versatile, which is why it’s extremely popular with builders and civil engineers as well as construction professionals.
This is a transit level that can produce horizontal and vertical measurements, so you get level and plumb points. It has an effective range of 200 feet and an accuracy of ¼” for every 100 feet.
You can use this level from CST/Berger to not only level the ground but also establish pitch and set up your posts using vertical applications.
You also get a 15-minute horizontal circle so you can set and establish rough angles.
it’s brass leveling screws ensure a fast and easy setup, while also being durable. This is a level that’s been built to last and will serve your needs for years to come.
- Features both horizontal and vertical application capability
- Performs vertical (plumb) and horizontal (level) applications up to a distance of 200 feet
- Includes hard-shell carrying case for protection during transport
- Weighs just four pounds, so it’s lightweight and portable
- Settings are difficult to operate
- Minutes and seconds do not function well
- 1/4-in at 100-ft (6mm at 30m) leveling accuracy
- Up to 200-ft (60m) range
- Horizontal Circle- Graduated to single degrees and reads by Vernier direct to 1/4 degree (15 minutes)
This is a precision tool well suited for both home improvement use and large-scale surveyor jobs. It features a 22x optical magnification for clear, crisp images up to a distance of 200 feet (60 meters) away with an accuracy of ¼” for every 100 feet.
This transit level from David White LT6-900 has a horizontal circle with single-degree gradients with a horizontal lock and tangent screw for precise measurement control.
- Famous for precise measurement and movement control
- High 22x optical magnification to produce crisp images
- Transit level working effective range of up to 200 feet (6 mm per 30 m)
- The leveling accuracy rate is 0.25 inches per 100 feet
- Central, horizontal circle measures in single-degree gradients and reads by Vernier-direct (15 minutes); also uses locking mechanism for precise reading
- Vertical tangent or angle may produce inaccurate measurements
- Vernier gauge may loosen easily
- DURABLE: Features a durable design of plastic with overmold in key impact areas. Also includes all metal housing with IP54 protection making the Bosch GOL 32CK both dust and water resistant.
- SELF-LEVELING: The optical level is automatic and offers a self-leveling compensator and both horizontal vertical crass hairs and Stadia lines.
- POWERFUL: Provides extended viewing range with 32x magnification power and a large aperture for a working range of 400-feet.while also offering 1 16-inch accuracy at 100-feet ; Range:Up to 330-feet
This transit level from bosch not only has an optical zoom of up to 32x, meaning you can see a clear image of to 400 feet away. but it’s also incredibly accurate at ± 1/16 in. for every 100 ft.
This is a self-leveling automatic transit level, which as a self-leveling compensator, vertical and horizontal Stadia lines, and crosshairs.
You get a range of adjustment tools, aluminum leveling row, aluminum tripod, plumb bob, lens cap, and a hard carry case so you can keep this protected when not in use.
- Incredibly accurate at ± 1/16 in. for every 100 ft
- Self-leveling compensator
- vertical and horizontal leveling lines
- huge 32x lens
- It isn’t cheap, but I feel its wort hit if you need a huge distance of leveling
- TRANSIT LEVEL SYSTEM: This Builder’s transit level system is impeccably designed to help in measuring the height and elevation at construction or architectural project or jobsite.
- QUALITY CRAFTSMANSHIP: The lightweight transit level has a telescope with a leveling vial that is accessible to ±45-degree on a vertical arc. It also has graduations to single degrees that can be...
- USER-FRIENDLY: This transit level with telescope offers clear sighting as it has large leveling screws for convenient use. The horizontal tangent screw with a vertical lock that controls unwanted...
Johnson levels have appeared many times on this site because of how good they are, and this is no different. This is a very versatile builders level, which is perfect for the DIYer looking to level floors, patios, driveways, and foundations.
For professionals, It’s also useful for grading ditches, curbs, and streets. You’ll also set a fence perfectly level, and it’s great for any other type of construction.
The leveling screws are large, so easy to turn. it comes with a horizontal circle plus reads vernier straight to 15 minutes.
A sunshade to ensure great visibility even in direct sunlight across the entire 22x magnification range, and a vertical arc that reads 45-0-45 degrees.
You get in this kit an aluminum tripod, hard-shell transport case, instruction guidebook with warranty-card, and a 13′ aluminum ranks shaft with carrying bag.
- Very versatile, capable of handling many jobs
- 22x magnification
- Big screws for easy leveling
- Not as durable as I would like
What is a Transit Level?
If you need to level ground, then a transit level is necessary for identifying contours in the land and surface area that will be used for construction.
This is a tool that builders, architects, civil engineers, and everyday homeowners all use transit levels to measure their work.
This is an optical instrument (like a telescope) that has a built-in leveling tool and base. Construction workers use transit levels for surveying, building, and finalizing their construction and engineering plans.
Why You Need a Transit Level
If you have a plot of land that you need to be sure is level before a construction project, then a transit level is a tool that will identify sites on that land that will need to be evened out of “level off”.
This tool will check the grading, leveling, and turning angles. The reason you might need a transit level (in addition to your standard builders level) is that transit levels are much more accurate when taking vertical measurements. These are also known as plumbing or plumb measurements. Whereas a standard builders level will focus primarily on flat or horizontal measurements.
Benefits of Transit Levels
Their main advantage is that they prevent measurement errors in construction. This ensures that long term problems such as foundation damage are prevented.
This ensures that there aren’t any unexpected bills in the long run stemming from foundation problems.
Other benefits include:
- Optimal magnification allowing you to see further
- determine the necessary grading and vertical angles
- Ensuring accuracy for turning angles
- Enables you to choose your working range
- Helps with alignment and plumb checking during construction jobs
Different Types of Transit Levels
Automatic – This is also known as a “self-leveling”, the purpose of a self-leveling transit level is to remain accurate and level regardless of ground vibration. Automatic transit levels can withstand environmental changes and rough handling.
While traditional models use what’s called a graduated leveling vial that produces an ever so slightly off results due to environmental factors such as ground vibration, temperature changes.
Automatic levels use compensators that stabilize the line of sight. This is why automatic levels are an excellent choice for structural frameworks like foundations and floors when working on large-scale and difficult terrain.
Speed Line – This is a type of transit level that works well for rough angle turning as well as fine-tuning measurements. These levels will include clamps or tangents that stabilize the tool, ensuring easy setup.
Some models even include vertical arcs that work in conjunction with horizontal circles to ensure angles are measured accurately.
Universal – This is the kind of transit level you’ll see often used, these are designed for use on any type of horizontal or vertical sighting. Such as localized building projects, extensive surveying, or agricultural jobs.
When to Use Transit Levels
The best time to use transit levels is when you need to determine straight lines and accurate measurements at the start of a significant construction or surveying job.
A transit level will ensure the exact distance for the surface or target height over a visible line of the project. While some people believe that you can just use global positioning systems (GPS) for surveying or forestry projects. Transit levels are necessary for measuring the grade or slope in any hands-on construction or engineering task.
How to Use Transit Levels
Firstly you need to ensure that the base has been set up on a stable surface. Line the transit level’s telescope over the leveling screws until you find your base positioning.
Next, you need to rotate your telescope 90 degrees until the instrument reads center.
Once you’ve established a baseline, move the Instrument through 360 degrees (each in 90-degree increments) to begin leveling.
Different brands will have additional features, so make sure to check the user manual for their specific details.
Best Practices for Transit Levels
Operation – Using a transit level is rather straight forward and safe. Mose brands will recommend that you wear gloves and to find a stable ground surface before you begin using one.
Safety – Keep your transit level in an identifiable case to prevent any damage from occurring on a construction site.
Storage – The vast majority of transit levels come with a hard carry case for secure storage between uses. These cases are, in my opinion, essential to ensure that your instrument is protected from damage, which is likely to occur in a rough construction site. So make sure to store the tool in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight when not in use.
Builder’s Level versus Transit Level
How do you know which is best builders levels vs transit level for your specific needs?
A transit level is a telescope with a built-in level that is mounted onto a tripod. Its primary use is for surveying for building or construction.
Transit levels differ from the more commonly used builders level because they enable you to take incredibly accurate vertical measurements.
A builder’s level is perfect for taking horizontal measurements. A builder’s level is very well suited for a wide range of construction projects, whether large or small.
Both builders and transit levels share many of the same features. The critical difference is that a builders level can be used to establish horizontal angles in a 360-degree circle and is much more portable and flexible than a transit level. But it can only produce horizontal or level angles.
A transit level, on the other hand, is much less flexible and can only provide verticle or plumb angles, and that’s it.
Once you’ve worked out what type of angle your need vertical or horizontal, then you can decide which is the right level for you.
If you need a builders level, then you can’t go wrong with one of the best self-leveling line laser levels to buy (# best levels) though if you are in direct sunlight, then you will want to check out the best green laser levels (#).
Builder’s Level vs Transit Level: Which one to choose?
The question of “Do you need a Builder’s Level or a Transit Level?”, well, that depends entirely on your needs, each has its limitations, and you should make your decision solely on your needs.
If you need a level to establish horizontal or level angles, then I suggest you get a builders level (# best laser level)
If you need a level to establish plumb or verticle angles, then you need a transit level.
It’s that simple.
Best Transit Level Comparison Chart
|DeWalt DW090PK 20X||200||1/4||20x||Builders|
|NWI NSLP500B Siteline||200||1/4||20x||Transit|
|DEWALT DW092PK 20X||200||1/4||20x||Builders|
|David White LT6-900 Meridian 22X Transit Level||200||1/4||22x||Transit|
|Bosch GOL 32CK||400||1/16||32x||Builders|
|Johnson Level & Tool 40-6912 22X||200||1/4||22x||Transit|
All builders and transit levels are straightforward to set up, read, and use.
So pick one that meets all your needs. Hopefully, my unbiased transit level reviews have helped you purchase the best transit level for your needs.
If you have any questions or feel I’ve missed a transit level that should be on this list, please let me know in the comments section below.