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Accuracy shootout: Handheld lidar scanners vs. handheld laser meters

Posted by Sean Higgins on 10/15/19 11:55 AM

If you generate a lot of 2D floor plans (since you're reading this, you probably do), a handheld lidar scanner like our PX-80 offers meaningful advantages over a handheld laser meter.

Handheld lidar scanners are much faster for capturing large assets, they record every possible measurement in your asset on a single walkthrough, they can save you money, and more. But not one of those benefits means anything if the tools aren't accurate enough for your business.

So, are these new tools accurate enough to add to your toolbox? Let's see.


On paper, the answer is yes:

  • A Bosch DLR130K laser meter has an accuracy of 15/16 inch, or 2.38 cm.
  • Our PX-80 handheld lidar scanner is built around a Velodyne VLP-16 lidar sensor, which claims an accuracy of 2-3 cm.

But we all know that official specifications are only half the story. They indicate what accuracy you can expect in perfectly controlled conditions, but most of us never take measurements in those conditions—we measure in the real world, where there are many factors that can affect the accuracy of the data we capture.

Field testing

That's why we recently performed a test to compare the accuracy of a Bosch DLR130K handheld laser meter against our PX-80 in the field.

Here's how we did it:

  1. Placed checkerboard targets around our office in the spots we planned to measure
  2. Carefully measured using the laser meter
  3. Captured the office using the PX-80
  4. Measure the same spots in the 3D data using our Retrace software

We gathered measurements for 10 different spots, and we found that the average real-world difference between these two tools was very minimal—about 1.02 cm. That difference is well within the margin of human error, and absolutely negligible for an application like floor-plan generation.

Click through to our resource portal to read the case study in full, see the point cloud for yourself, and access a variety of other educational materials that can help you make an informed decision.



A handheld 3D scanner offers increased speed, reduced cost, and a number of other benefits when compared to handheld laser meters. And it does all of this without sacrificing accuracy, making it a reliable addition to your floor-plan generation toolkit.

Topics: Accuracy