SOLA Innovation: Digital Levels

Words: Jude Nosek

In 2021, SOLA introduced a new generation of digital levels at the World of Concrete. Although the show was not well-attended due to COVID-19, we were optimistic. We showcased both our SOLA and Keson brands. The standout for us were the SOLA digital levels—our LSB24D and LSB48D and their magnetic counterparts. Digital levels were not new, but our SOLA digital levels had something unique: Bluetooth technology, enabling them to link with a phone or any device running the free SOLA Measures app.

Initially, I was unsure of the impact the app would have on the attendees. Over the last three years, it has become apparent that masons, tilers, carpenters, pipe-benders, and fence installers, among others, are finding utility, innovation, and savings through these levels' features. We are hearing stories from users at every show we attend about how builders are solving problems and avoiding issues with these digital products.

I asked one framer, who returned in 2024 to buy more digital levels for his crew, what his favorite thing about the SOLA digital levels was. He told me he hasn’t had to climb stairs to check his son’s work in a year. When his son finishes a task, he turns on the app, his son walks the level around the room, and he can watch the measurements. The Bluetooth works at the same range as a set of headphones, making it easy for them. This story surprised me.

Another user, a concrete mason, told us about improving his relationship with his city’s inspector. Initially, the inspector was measuring ADA ramp angle compliance with a competitor’s digital level that wasn’t quite right. There was a dispute when the inspector’s 16-inch digital level showed the ramp out of spec. The builder sent a photo, taken earlier that week via the SOLA Measures App, showing his SOLA 48-inch digital level on the same ramp. The SOLA app captures the image along with time and date stamp information, showing the ramp in compliance. Over a cup of coffee, the builder and the inspector discussed the discrepancy and worked out a better system. Because the Bluetooth-enabled SOLA app captures, saves, and transmits the data required by the inspector, he was satisfied. The inspector has since upgraded to a longer digital level.

Since then, we have introduced other lengths, including a 72-inch version and a 10-inch version. We also offer a 3-inch magnetic unit, the Digital Go Smart. Embracing advancements in technology can improve the job site, relationships, and personal satisfaction in the work being done. Our role as tool manufacturers is to provide the best possible experience for the user.

What Are Digital Levels? Digital levels, also known as electronic levels or digital inclinometers, are similar to analog spirit levels but with integrated electronics in the form of an electronic tilt module. The reading is shown on the module’s digital display.

How Do They Work? Digital levels have an integrated electronic tilt module with a digital LCD display. Depending on the design, the module runs on a single-use or rechargeable battery. The measurement process corresponds to that of an analog spirit level. The measurement can be read from the built-in vial or via the digital display on the electronic module. They usually provide the option of displaying the reading in different units like percent, degrees, mm/m, or in/ft. Digital levels can be used in a normal position or for inverted measurements overhead.

Advantages of Digital Measurement Digital levels allow accurate readings off the display. This enables precise calculation of inclines, slopes, gradients, descents, and angles. The digital spirit level display can be illuminated, making it easy to read in dark conditions. Some models have a display that rotates for overhead measurements. Digital levels often have a wide range of functions, including acoustic signal routing via beeps, switchable reading orientation, or a hold function for storing and transferring angles. They ensure high accuracy and measurement tolerance. If they have IP protection, they are protected against dust and moisture and can withstand tough construction site conditions.

Accuracy of Digital Levels Digital levels achieve high accuracy for measurements, allowing precise alignment in horizontal and vertical planes and exact calculation of inclines, gradients, descents, and angles. Good digital levels have a deviation of less than 0.05° in the standard position (0° and 90°).

What Sets SOLA Digital Levels Apart SOLA’s Big Red Digital and electronic spirit levels are precision instruments with an integrated electronic tilt module and Bluetooth interface. They have ultra-accurate tilt modules and built-in, patented Focus vials with a measuring tolerance of ≤ 0.0003 in./in. (0.3 mm/m, 0.017°) in the standard position and ≤ 0.0005 in./in. (0.5 mm/m, 0.029°) in an inverted position. Readings can be displayed in degrees, percent, mm/m, or in/ft. Using the hold function, readings can be "frozen" on the display, and the abs/inc function allows for zero-setting in any position. The display automatically rotates for inverted measurements and is permanently illuminated. SOLA’s digital levels have switchable acoustic signal routing and are dust-tight and protected against water jets (IP65). They come in 10, 24, 48, and 72-inch lengths and a magnetic version (Big RedM Digital). The Bluetooth interface allows the levels to be used with the free SOLA Measures app, offering additional functions like remote readings and managing and documenting readings through a user-friendly app compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Big Red Digital Levels with Bluetooth Digital Measurement of Inclinations and Angles The Big Red Digital is ideal for measuring inclinations, slopes, and angles quickly and precisely. These digital levels are highly precise with an integrated electronic inclinometer module and Bluetooth, interfacing with the free SOLA Measures app. They are sturdy and easy to use.

Pro Tool Innovation Award Winner 2021 SOLA received the Pro Tool Innovation Award 2021 for the Big Red Digital levels in the hand tools category. The judges commented on the backlit screen, automatic screen rotation, audio cues, and Bluetooth connectivity of the Big Red Digital levels.

Highlights ● Measuring tolerance standard position ≤ 0.0003 in./in. (0.3 mm/m, 0.017°), inverted position ≤ 0.0005 in./in. (0.5 mm/m, 0.029°) ● Measurement tolerance of Solatronic module: 0.05° at 0° and 90°/0.10° between 1° and 89° ● Adjustable inclination display in °, in/ft, %, mm/m ● Hold function for storing measurements and transferring angles ● Digital display rotates automatically in inverted positions ● Permanently backlit display ● Acoustic signal guide ● Patented SOLA Focus vials for Big Red 24" Digital, Big Red 48" Digital, and Big Red 72" Digital ● Protection class IP65: dustproof and protected against water jets ● Bluetooth interface for use with SOLA Measures app

Using the Big Red Digital Level The key feature of the Big Red Digital is the integrated electronic inclinometer module (Solatronic module). The measurement results can be displayed in degrees (°), in/ft (decimal or fractional), percent (%), or mm/m. Using the "hold" function allows measurements to be saved for later use and angles to be transferred easily.

Optimal Readability for Inverted Measurements The digital display automatically rotates on the module for inverted measurements. This is particularly helpful and ensures clear readings even under poor visibility conditions.

Acoustic Signal Guide For unfavorable angles and difficult-to-view areas, the acoustic signal guide can be activated. As the digital level approaches standard positions (0° and 90°), the signal’s frequency increases. This frees up both hands to assemble furniture, for example.

SOLA Focus Vial The Big Red Digital variations are fitted with the patented SOLA Focus vial, which has an integrated magnification lens and high contrast, ensuring faster measurements and better results. The vial fluid is antistatic and highly light-resistant.

Bluetooth and the SOLA Measures App The Bluetooth interface pairs the Big Red digital spirit levels with the free SOLA Measures app, enabling real-time data transfer and control via smartphone. Measurements are recorded with date and time and can include notes, photos, and videos. The user-friendly app, available for iOS and Android, allows easy management and documentation of measured values.

MANAGING AND DOCUMENTING MEASURED VALUES Real-time data such as the date, time and location are automatically recorded for each measurement in the app’s measured value memory. You also have the option of adding notes, photos, or videos to the measured values. One useful tool contained in the app is the photo-overlay export. This lets you photograph the actual working or measuring site using your smartphone, where the real-time data such as measurement, date, and time are displayed and saved directly on the photo. The measured values including all key data can be easily and quickly shared with your team at any time. Perfect for confirming ADA compliance and documentation guidelines.

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