March 30, 2012

Sola Focus Vial 4' Level - Review

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So when you think "high-end level," you think, "Stabila." Right? Well, yeah, but as it turns out there is another player in the arena. We were contacted by Sola Levels last year and thought, "why not, we'll give anything a try." Honestly we had never heard of the brand and thought it was just another mid-range level vying for some market space. We got to talking to them and it wasn't long before we were convinced otherwise.

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Turns out that Sola, based in Austria, is a big name in the European market and they are just now making inroads in the states. Their 4' level, which they kindly sent to us, became our primary level during the framing phase of the renovation. And anyone who knows construction should understand what a critical item this is. There were a lot of people who used the level and we got feedback from just about all of them.

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First, there are a couple very good features on this level, most of which have to do with vial visibility. For starters, Sola has darkened the outer edges of the vial so the contrast is much greater. They've also magnified it slightly, and made the bubble tight to the lines. In addition, there is a slight glow to the vial. All of this adds up to a level that is much easier to read than our Stabila. We kind of rolled our eyes when we first read about these features but after spending time with the level, we learned that there is a lot of real function here. The level is also good at being, well, a level. The degree of error is identical to that of the mighty Stabila. The Sola is very durable and the edges are (obviously) nice and straight.

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Also Sola boasts a vial that is more stable than the Stabila. From what we understand, Stabila's vials are held in place with an epoxy which can (according to Sola) move in extreme temperatures, while the Sola vials are held in place by some sort of two part housing that is impervious to temperature change. Sola also sent us a cut-away level so you can see what we're talking about. The individual parts are labeled here.

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Everyone really liked the level and to a man they commented on the vial visibility. But even with all of this good, the level has a downside. The Sola comes with non-removable rubber end caps, which is fine, but they also taper off at the edges, rendering the level nearly useless as a true lay-out tool. We have no idea why it seems like Stabila is the only company that has the removable end caps. Seems like a no-brainer to us.

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But still, for leveling purposes, the Sola is impressive and we definitely recommend them.

We couldn't find the focus vial levels for sale online, but there is a selection of their regular levels at Amazon

Read More in: All Reviews | Levels

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at March 30, 2012 5:35 AM

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Recent Comments

Nick,

Do they really? We tried to pull them off but had no success. We'll try some more tomorrow.

Thanks.


Posted by: Tool Snob at April 2, 2012 9:02 PM

I own 3 sola levels and love them. The only thing I have to add to your review is the end caps do come off. They take a bit of work at first, and loosen up over time. I constantly am removing and replacing mine. They have held up well and are built to take abuse. I also haven't met anyone who doesn't like them.


Posted by: Nick at April 2, 2012 8:23 PM

Good to see you doing reviews again. And being that I'm in the market for a 4 ft level this is a very timely review. Thanks tool snob!


Posted by: Rob at March 30, 2012 8:14 AM
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