On The Level: Keson and SOLA: How to identify a high quality level


Words: Michael Scherrer 

Since 1949, precision has been SOLA’s passion and the spirit level our core competence. 

As technology has developed and improved over time, so have our spirit levels. 

So how do you recognize high-quality spirit levels- the kind that are used by masons? It all starts with the vial. 

The vial is a key component of a high precision spirit level and, one could argue, the most important part of a spirit level. The vial is essential for a level’s precision, handling, and overall quality, especially for industries such as masonry where so much can depend on a level surface. 

The space between the air bubble and the markings on the edge of the vial are crucial. If the space is too narrow or too far apart, an accurate reading is not possible. If the vial’s fluid isn’t dyed, the bubble is harder to read correctly. The results can be an inaccurate measurement which can cost you time and materials. 

Easier, faster reading with the patented SOLA FOCUS vial. 

A standard ring vial is normally what you would expect to see on your spirit level. Working closely with professional masons who use levels dozens of times a day, we experimented with more modern graphic techniques and took advantage of our precise printing technology. 

SOLA FOCUS vials have no rings. Instead of thin, low-contrast rings, we introduced large, vivid green markings to delineate the “out of level” areas. The green “out of level” guidelines reflect on the bubble edges increasing contrast, so much so that the FOCUS vial contrast is 4x higher than the average ring vial. This enhanced contrast improves the readability of the vial and quickens a mason’s progress on the job site. 

4x higher contrast than the average ring vial. 

We make our FOCUS vial with an increased magnification of +20% to +60% so bubble movement is more visible. The “level” and “out of level” areas are more distinct because, with its green-tinted edges, the bubble is more distinct.  

All of this means that reading errors are reduced – even from a distance. You can see FOCUS vials easier because they are magnified. You can read FOCUS vials easier because the critical areas have greater contrast. With FOCUS vials, masons can work more accurately, confidently and quickly. 

If your work area isn’t well lit, the increased contrast helps. You may have seen levels with a battery-operated light around the vial, and this would help you when working in a darker space. At SOLA, we did something different. Our FOCUS vials have a light-reflecting background that enables you to use the spirit level even when it gets gloomy. 

All casings are not equal. They might look similar at first glance, but the design and how the vial are mounted are different from one brand to another. You will want to be on the lookout for one that will protect the vial’s fluid and air bubble. SOLA vials are surrounded by a thick acrylic casing, and the special form and the overall sturdiness of the casing ensure that the vial is not likely to break, even if it’s dropped or knocked during use. 


The FOCUS vial prevents bubble splitting in case of shock. 

The vial fluid is typically made up of alcohol or oil. This is why they are called spirit levels. This liquid is what helps the air bubble move freely in the casing to give you your measurement.  

Did you know that electric currents can pose a challenge to the accuracy of your level? In high-quality spirit levels, the air bubble won’t react to electricity, which is helpful if you are working at the same time as the electrician team. You can be certain that your level is reading correctly.  

There are multiple benefits from the vial fluid. Make sure to look for high quality spirit levels with these benefits: 

  1. Anti-static protection which makes for a more efficient work process. 
  2. UV Resistance of the vial fluid, meaning the fluid won’t fade over time so you can go longer without replacing your level. 
  3. Extreme conditions: look for a level that can withstand extreme conditions. Some levels will have a guarantee that there will be consistent bubble movement between certain temperatures, so you can use the spirit level in the most adverse environments.  

SOLA Focus vials are equipped with these benefits. Our high-quality spirit levels guarantee a consistent bubble movement between -4° to 140° Fahrenheit. 

Additionally, the strictly guarded fluid composition prevents bubble splitting in case of shock. What does this mean? After an impact, the air bubble won’t separate into two or more tinier bubbles, so you won’t be stuck waiting for the bubble to assemble again, saving you time and frustration. 


When you go to choose your next level, be sure to choose one with a vial that is durable, easy-to-use, shock resistant, accurate and that will work no matter the environment.  

If you want all of these features in one level, check out our Big Red spirit level line. Available in several sizes, these exceptional levels will help masons get the job done right the first time. 

SOLA BIG RED. Better, faster and more accurate reading through the patented FOCUS vials. 

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