Taking Your Leveling To the Next Level – Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level

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bosch rotary laser

What's This?This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Whether you’re a contractor or an ambitious do-it-yourselfer, there are times when you need a consistent level line spanning a large area. From laying forms for a foundation pour, to establishing grade on a less-than-level property, a consistent elevation to work from helps you achieve the pro results worthy of cracking open a celebratory sudsy beverage at the end of the day. This leveling task was historically left to string levels, water levels and transit levels – but now we have lasers! The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level may be an ideal, cost effective rotary laser level option for your construction leveling needs. Join us as we dive into a couple tasks with it and explore if it might be a fit for your tool arsenal.

The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level kit we’ll be reviewing today gets you started with just about everything you need to determine level (and plumb), whether you’re working inside at modest distances or outside at distances up to 400′ from the rotary laser level. This particular Bosch rotary laser level can be used in either an upright or side position. When laid on its side the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser will rotate to create a vertical plumb line rather than a horizontal level line. When in its more typical upright position, the tool creates a horizontal level line and also shoots a plumb laser dot directly above the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser level.

bosch-grl800-20hv-rotary-laser
All the goodies included with the Bosch GRL800-20HV kit (plus you get a carrying case for all but the tripod and grade rod). Image: Bosch

Before we dive into the use and functionality of the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level, let’s give you a quick rundown of what is included in the kit:

  • GRL800-20hv self-leveling rotary laser
  • LR 30 laser receiver with bracket
  • BT152 aluminum tripod
  • GR 8 C 8 ft. grade rod
  • WM 24 wall mount
  • Red laser glasses (note these are NOT safety glasses – they are for enhancing visibility of the laser
  • Red target card
  • (2) D batteries
  • (1) 9-Volt battery
  • Carrying case
bosch-grl800-20hv-rotary-laser
A peek inside the carrying case.

The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level is So Independent It Levels Itself

Finding level yourself is so 20th century. Forget staring a bubbles. One handy feature of the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level is that it automatically zero’s in level (or plumb) when you first power it up. The caveat to this is that you need to place the tool in a relatively level position to begin with. If you set the Bosch rotary laser level down at more than the max five degrees it can self-level in, you’ll be met with a stopped motor, flashing laser and a leveling indicator with a solid red LED. These not so subtle cues let you know you have disappointed the GRL-800 with your placement and need to try harder to find a more suitable level surface.

bosch-grl800-20hv-rotary-laser
A look at the key functions and components of this Bosch rotary laser. Image: Bosch

Mounting Options – Where to Stick This Thing

In a perfect world, it’s best to install the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level in a central location relative to the measurement points you plan to use. If you situate it close to one point and far from another, your longer distance measurement will be less accurate. Unless you have the impressive power of levitation / telekinesis, the most likely and convenient way to install the tool is with a construction tripod. With the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level kit, you’re in luck because it comes with the tripod.

bosch rotary laser installation
The GRL800 rotary laser from Bosch installs easily on the included tripod – making positioning a snap.
bosch rotary laser on tripod
A look at the Bosch rotary laser installed on the tripod, along with the grade rod in its fully collapsed position).

The included tripod is compact, light-weight and has a small strap to keep the legs from flying around during transport. Thankfully, the tripod uses levers (rather than twist locks), which means you can adjust the length of any given leg in mere seconds. The legs also have a broad range of motion letting you create a nice wide base, or a taller setup in more confined spaces. A hook lets you run a plumb bob below the mounting point if you want to go old school while still using the latest laser tech. If you apply a solid amount of pressure to one of the locked legs, the leg will slide. While I’d like to see a more robust lock, it would take a pretty heavy weight (far heavier than the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level) to cause the legs to compress.

The kit also includes a WM24 Wall Mount. While that may sound like something you’ll want to screw onto a wall’s 2×4, it’s actually intended to mount from a suspended ceiling (along the top of a wall). If you’re working with suspended ceilings, this accessory is invaluable. If you’re not, you’re not likely to ever use it, unless you fashion a couple nails / hooks to suspend it from.

Pro Tip: Once you have your level situated in an open area, create a bit of a barricade around your tripod / laser. This reduces the likelihood that you or a coworker will stumble into it, whack it with a swinging 2×4 or crash into it with a Bobcat.

bosch rotary laser
Once you have your Bosch rotary laser mounted on the tripod, it’s not a bad idea to create a barrier around the tripod to thwart any careless crew members.

Monitoring Disturbances with your Bosch Rotary Laser Level

While I would like to tell all you Star Wars fans that this warns you when there is a disturbance in the force, that’s not quite what this is. The disturbance monitor is an optional setting. With the default setting (off), if your laser gets jostled by your careless co-worker, the rotation will pause briefly, the auto-level will re-establish itself and then the laser will begin rotation again. The problem is, if you’re relying on that very specific laser position as an ongoing reference point, there’s no guarantee the new level line is lined up with the level line pre laser-jostling.

bosch laser disturbance
The disturbance monitor is the button below the red power button. You can also see the easily removable battery tray in this shot.

Once you fire up the laser and have your laser line set, pressing the disturbance monitor button activates this safeguard. After 30 seconds, the disturbance monitor is in effect. If your careless coworker jostles the laser now, the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level will verbally chastise him or her in a brutal public shaming. Or, the LED light on the disturbance monitor button will flash, the rotating will be disabled and the laser will begin flashing. That’s your cue to make sure when you fire the Bosch rotary laser back up, that’s it’s inline with your original level line. It’s also your cue for you to publicly shame your coworker for disregarding your laser barricade and messing with your level.

Laser a la Mode? Selecting the Right Operating Mode for Your Bosch Rotary Laser

Note: this tool does not include ice cream. The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level has three primary modes: Rotational, Line Operation, and Point Operation. Let’s chat a little about each.

Rotational

As you might expect from a rotary laser level, this is the mode most frequently used on this type of laser. When powered up, the tool defaults to the middle of three rotational speeds, at 300 RPM. Pressing the circular icon on the button to the left of the power button cycles through the other two settings at 150 and 600 RPM. The fastest setting is recommended for when using the receiver (more on that shortly). The slower settings are recommended when trying to visualize the laser directly.

bosch rotary laser
Here we are in the rotational mode, checking grade level with the LR30 Receiver.

Line Operation

For even greater visibility than the slowest rotational setting, you can enter line operation if you’re only focused on a specific area (not a full 360 degrees). The button to the right of the power button enables you to switch how wide the aperture opens. In either setting, the laser wiggles back and forth to create a more visible, albeit it relatively short line. Pressing the Line Operation button again will then get you into point operation mode.

Point Operation

In point operation, you are no longer looking at a line, you are instead viewing a laser dot. In this mode you’ll have one dot on your ceiling (from the vertical laser) and one dot 90 degrees out marking your level elevation. You can manually rotate the laser head to get the dot where you need it. This is the most visible option of the three operational modes.

Adjust Your Visibility Expectations

bosch grl800 20hv rotary laser
Even at this relatively short distance, the laser is very hard or even impossible to see outdoors / in bright light (thus the use of the receiver).

Although there are some rotary construction laser levels that shoot out a highly visible green beam, visibility is not the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level’s strong suit. Indoors, and in relatively low light scenarios, the Bosch rotary laser casts a line that can be readily visualized at most typical indoor distances. For extremely long indoor settings (40+ feet) and indoor settings that are brightly lit, it can be very hard to view the laser line (even with the included laser viewing glasses – which ironically turn everything red). If you’re working outdoors, you’ll find the laser line impossible to discern at distances as short as even ten feet in bright sunlight. However, don’t despair. The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level has another trick up its sleeve to use a line that might be invisible to the naked eye.

Like a Quarterback, The Bosch GRL800-20HV Prefers to Work with a Receiver

bosch LR30 laser receiver
A closeup of the Bosch LR30 laser receiver. Buttons top to bottom are: Sound (beeping) On/Off
Accuracy Setting Fine/Coarse
Power Button
bosch lr30 on grade rod
The clamp attached to the LR30 has a single dial enabling you to easily clamp/unclamp it from the grade rod (which varies in width depending on what section you are clamping to).
LR30 magnets
If you’re installing a suspended ceiling, the two magnets on the top of the LR30 will come in handy.

This particular Bosch rotary laser level kit includes the LR30 laser receiver. The LR30 is a little gizmo designed to be mounted to the 8′ extendable grade rod (also known as the measuring stick). One minor annoyance of the Bosch LR30 is that to insert or remove the battery (9v), you have to remove the mounting bracket. Since both Bosch and Home Fixated strongly recommend removing the batteries when not in use, having to remove and reattach the bracket each time is a chore.

bosch lr30 led lights
The LR30 thankfully has indicator lights on the front AND back of the unit. The back lights help tremendously by keep you out of the laser beam you are trying to reference.
LR30
The LR 30 runs off a 9v battery. You’ll need to remove the bracket for the LR30 anytime you need access to the battery compartment though.

There are LED indicators on both the front and back of receiver, which make zeroing in on your laser level easier since you can do it from the back side of the receiver (and not stand in a position blocking the laser beam you’re trying to zero in on). Indented lines on either side of receiver make it clear where to mark your level lines.

LR30 notches
One cutout notch on each side of the LR30 correspond to the level line, making it easy to transcribe marks when needed.

Aside from the battery cover / bracket issue mentioned above, we’d like to see a dedicated power light indicator. At times it was a little confusing to determine if the receiver was turned on or off. We also found the beeping which fluctuates between intermittent to constant when you zero in on your level line to get annoying. Thankfully you can switch the sound on and off entirely. I personally would prefer the tone to kick on only once you are locked onto the level height.

level
When you’re working with the grade rod, an accurate laser won’t help you much if you are holding your grade rod at 30 degrees. This level helps you keep the grade rod plumb and your measurements tight.
Bosch LR30 from the rear
A view from the back of the LR30 laser receiver showing how it clamps to the grade rod.

Using the receiver is pretty straight forward. Beeping (if enabled) and an LED above and below the center point, will intermittently activate when you are nearing the laser level line. Once you’re on level, the center LED will glow solid. The difference between too high and too low is very tight and it is sometimes tricky to line up the receiver, but that also hopefully speaks to how precise it is. The LR30 Receiver defaults to “fine” accuracy (accuracy plus or minus 1/16″). Pressing the middle button on the receiver sets it to “coarse” which was more helpful when doing general grading measurements vs precise markings (accuracy to plus or minus 1/8″ on the coarse setting). 

LR30 leveled
This is what you want to see – the center blue LED lit up to indicate you’re right on the money.

The Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser In Action

tripod
Although the tripod does not fit in the case – you’ll definitely want it to accompany this tool.

I recently was involved in a real estate transaction that involved a deed restriction on a property. This restriction limited what could be built on the property to protect a neighboring property’s view. It specified how high anything could be built. This critical height was determined from a specific point on the neighboring property. In other words, we couldn’t simply stick a measuring tape in the air to determine the height restriction on different parts of the property. This was a great opportunity to put this Bosch rotary laser level to the test.

bosch-grl800-20hv-rotary-laser
Here the Bosch GRL800-20HV rotary laser is installed on the tripod and just barely clearing the fence in the background – creating a laser “ceiling” to be measured from the property on the downhill side below the fence line.

For this application, I mounted the Bosch GRL800-20HV to its tripod at the height limit designed to protect that property’s view. The rotating laser now created an invisible ceiling that matched the height restriction. I then mounted the LR30 receiver near the top of the grade rod. By raising the rod into the air until the tone locked on, I was able to move around the lot and get various measurements on how high something could be built in multiple areas. Although annoying, the optional beeping setting on the receiver was vital on this job since I could not easily see the LED indicator lights well above my head. Because the lot was sloped, the restriction might allow a nine foot limit in one area and a 14 foot limit in other areas. Trying to quickly determine these differences without a tool like the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level would have been very difficult.

top soil
Some of the topsoil I was mixing in to the yard to help amend the soil and get to a nice, slightly sloping grade away from the house.

In a more conventional application, I also used the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level to establish consistent grade levels and adjusting for slope in an open yard. I again set the Bosch rotary laser on its tripod and then used the receiver and grade rod to refine and adjust the grade. It’s worth pointing out that when using a tried and true transit level, this type of task would normally be a two person job. The Bosch rotary laser can be used easily with one person, and it lets you continue to be anti-social (eg. work in peace), or it can free up some of your crew to work on other tasks. This efficiency makes solo projects possible and if you’re running a crew, it means greater efficiency.

Batteries, Runtime & More

bosch-grl800-20hv-rotary-laser
Store your batteries OUTSIDE your tools to avoid the anguish of battery acid destroying your tools. Bosch includes a handy nook for each battery in the case. If you want to be extra safe – store them enclosed in a ziploc baggie.

Bosch thoughtfully includes a 9V battery (for the receiver) and two D cell batteries for the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level. Bosch estimates 50 hours of runtime, although that will likely vary depending on which mode(s) you are operating in. It’s worth reiterating that you should store both the receiver’s and the rotary laser’s batteries separately in the storage case. Bosch thoughtfully includes nooks designed just for the batteries. Should your batteries spring a leak, they’re less likely to ruin your fancy new laser. As I mentioned in a prior Bosch Green Laser review, I had another laser destroying from leaking battery acid. I recommend going to high quality leak resistant batteries as well as removing them from the level and receiver.

Is It Time to Rotate Your Fixed Laser to a Rotational Laser Level?

Whether this tool is right for you depends on your intended use. If you are laying out tile, installing wainscoting, aligning wall decor, etc., then a fixed laser level like the Bosch GLL40 or Bosch GLL100 will likely work great for you. For more involved construction tasks, outdoor projects and for jobs with longer distance spans, a rotary laser level like the Bosch GRL800-20HV Rotary Laser Level is the only way to go. At just under $500 it’s also at a price point accessible to most pros and the more enthusiastic DIY’ers. Happy leveling!

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I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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