What is a spirit level's sensitivity?

The sensitivity of the vial determines how quickly the bubble moves when one end of the spirit level is lifted.

What is a spirit level's sensitivity?

For craftsmen different tasks call for different degrees of precision. This is why professionals often have more than one spirit level, to get different rates of vial sensitivity. A spirit level with standard sensitivity is easy to work with and often good enough. But more demanding tasks call for a spirit level with higher sensitivity.

The vial shape

Higher and lower sensitivity is achieved by changing the shape of the vial. If we take a closer look at a vial we can see that it has a barrel-shaped inner contour. Within the barrel-shape the air bubble searches for the highest point. Had the vial been a straight tube, with no curve, it would have been impossible to level.

Less curve, faster reaction

The curve of the vial can be looked upon as a sector of a bigger circle. The radius of that circle determines how curved the vial is, and therefore how sensitive it is.

A larger radius means that the bubble can move more easily and reacts to smaller movements.

Which sensitivity do you need?

Sensitivity is measured in mm per meter. The rate is based on a spirit level 1 meter long, and how high one end of the level must be lifted for the bubble to move 2 mm.

Ten times as sensitive

The standard for most spirit levels on the market is a sensitivity of 10 mm/meter, the equivalent of a 200 mm radius. Hultafors also offers spirit levels five and ten times as sensitive than standard.

Mounting a door frame is a task that calls for a spirit level with higher sensitivity. For example Hultafors MST or Hultafors Libella 2000.

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