Measuring For Security Installation Guide

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 07, 2018

Accurate measurement is a fundamental skill, yet many installers do not know how to do it.

Using these tools are a key skill needed for security install work:

  • Tape Measures
  • Architectural Scales
  • Laser Distance Finders
  • Measuring Wheels
  • Estimating Using Common Features

In this report, we cover the tools used for installation measurement and how to accurately use them.

Measuring Tapes Examined

One of the most basic tools use in security installation are tape measures. While most know the basics of how to use and read the tape, junior installers who do not are often afraid to ask! We cover the basics below:

Reading Tape Scales

The graduated lines on a tape tell you everything.  In terms of significance, each minor mark signifies a portion of a major line unit, and each major mark is labeled with a number showing total length to the end of the tape.

Taking measurements involves placing the end of the tape at the point to be measured, and then 'reading' how much length has been reeled out to measure total distance. 

For countries using feet-inch units, notice how each line represents at least 1/16" of an inch, with graduations eventually stacking to show 1/8", 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and so on. The image below labels the graduations between all labeled inch marks:

The length of minor lines usually are varying lengths for easy recognition. Once the basic segment breakdown is learned, measurements can be made in seconds based on familiarity with the standard tape mark lengths.

Metric lengths can be measured with tapes as well, typically in centimeters:

Usually, tapes themselves are bright yellow with dark contrasting numbers for easy visibility. Some numbers may be color coded to common lengths for quick checks, for example, red marks every 16" for checking stud spacing commonly on 16" centers.

Applications Using Tape Measures

Because of their portability, tape measures are useful for most install tasks. Especially for hanging cameras and cabling work, tapes are easy to carry, compact to use, and useful for measuring length up to about 100 feet.

However, longer measurements take larger tape wheels, and growing beyond 25 feet may make using tapes unwieldy. Other options are therefore typically used for such applications.

Tape ******* ****

********* ** ****** *** hundreds ** **** ******* brands *** ******** *********, and **** ********** ************ comes ***** **** ******** to ***** ********* *****. The ***** **** ****** to ******** ********** (**: 25' - **' *******) run ***** $** - $25 **** ***** ******** stores, *** **** ********** have ******** ***** ** their *********.

**** '********' ********

*** **** ****** *********** issue ***** ***** ** the ***** ** ****** 'standout' ** '*****-****' *****, where ** ******** **** bends ** ***** ***** its *** ******, ****** precise ********* ** *** tape's *** ********* ** gauge ******.

*** **** ******, '********' length ** ******** ****** on **** ******** **** longer ******* ***** **** useful, ********* ****** ** - ** ****. **** *** example**** ***** ******** * 10 **** ********, ***** ** ****** short *** ****** ** frustrate **** ***** ******** install ****:

*** ***** ** *** tape ******* *** **** 'standout' ** ********, **** 1/2" ****** ****** ******* standout ******* **** */*" or * */*" ***** tapes.  *******, ******* ***** of *** **** **** increases ******* ******.

*** ******* *** *** installer ****** ** ***** the **** **** ***** will **** ** ****** in ***-****** ********* ********** up ** ***** ** feet ** ****. 

************* Scales ********

*** **** **** ****** for ******** ********** ** how ** ********* ********** on * *********, ********** those *** ********* *******, into * ****-**** **** scale ***********. ** ********** or ***** *** ********* in ** ***, *** process ** ******* **** easy ** ** **** software. *******, ** * set ** ***** ****** drawings *** *** **** thing *********, * *********** ruler ****** * '*****' is ******.

Reading ************* ******

** **** *****, * single ***** **** ******* up ** ** ********* ruled *****, **** **** side ************* ** ****** reproduced ******* ******. *** example, * *** ** blueprints *** ** ******* such **** */* **** of ****** ****** ** paper ********** * **** of ******** ******. ******** are ****** **** ** fit ** ****** ** paper, *** ***** *************** correct ** ********** **** wall *******, ****** *********, or ********** ***** *** all ********** ***********.

** ***** ** ******* the *****, *** ** similar ** * ***** with *** ********* ** 'zero' ******** ****** ** the ****, *** * full ***** *** ** lines ***** ** *** left. **** ** **** so ********* ***** ****** units *** ** **** fast, *** *** ***** lengths *** **** *** irregular ******* ** *** end ** *** ***********.

****** **** ******** ****** are ***** **** *** ruler, ** **** *** scale ** ******* ****** to *** *** *********** measure:

 

******* *** ******* ***** to *** ** ******** printed ** *** ******* to ** ********, ** the ***** ***** ** main **** *******, **** the ******* *****:

*** ***** *****, **** *** ** **** ********** For ******** ******** ***** *** ** *** scaled ******** ** ********** to ****** **********:

Architectural ***** ****

********* ****** *** **** expensive **** ****** ******, with***** ****** ****** **** ~$10-$****** ******** ** ******* supply ******. ******* ****** are *** ********** **** for ****** ************ ****, usually ********** ***** ****** to *** ** **** one ** ********* *** many *****.

Laser ******** ******* ********

*** ********* ****** **** a **** ******* *** be ****** ****, ***** distance ******* *** ******, and ***** *** ** used ** * ****** installer **** '***** & shoot' ****.

Using *** ******* ***** ******** *******

*** ****** ** ********* for **** ******** ******* are ******: *** **** it ***** ***** ** travel *** ** **** to ********* ********. *** longer ** ***** *** a ***** ** ****** off ** * ****** target *** ****** ** the ******* *****, *** farther **** *** ****** is *******.

***** ******** *******, ** '************' *** ********, ******* powered ******* **** *** this ********* ** ******* distance. ***** ***** **** a *** ***** ***** matched ** * ********* collector **** ******** ****** amounts ** ********* *****. A **** ******* ***** measures **** **** **** thousands ** ***** ** a ******, *** *** time ***** ** ********* to **** ** * distance ******* ** *** meter's *******.

Laser ******** ****** ************* *****

**** ** * ***** video **** ********** **** tool *** ***** ***** operation. ***** ***** ********* may **** **** **** to ****, *** ******** below ** ****** ** most ***** ** *** category:

 

Common ********

***** * **** ******* of ****** *****, ******** common ** **** ***** can **** ** ***** in *** ******* *****:

******** **** ******** *********** distance (lengths ********* ***' *** common), **** ************, ****** capacity, *** ********* ********** all ********* ***** ****. However, *** **** ******** installers *** *****, **** inexpensive ****** *** **********.

Applications ***** ***** ******** *******

******* ** ***** *********** and **** *****, ***** distance ******* *** ****** for **** ******* ***** and ********** ***** ******* more **** **'. *** single ****** ********* ***** them **** ** *** and ****** ************ *****, and ** **** ***** using **** ******** ***** are ****** ** ******.

*******, *** ***** ********** between ***** ***** *** tape ******** ** ****** cost *** **** *** batteries. ******* ** ***** factors, *********, ***-********** ***** are **** ****** *** significantly **** *********.

Laser ******** ****** ****

** *******, ***** ******** finders *** ******* ~$** - $*** ****, **** greater ******* ***** ********** prices. ***** *** *******, but ***** ******** *** exposure ** ***** ** chemicals *** ******* ******* life *** *** ***** installer *********** **** ** the ******* *** **** expensive **** ********.

Laser ******** ****** ********

*** ******* ********* ****** with ***** ******** ******* include:

**** ** *** ** bright ********: *** **** ****** ********* of ***** ***** ******** finders *** **** ******* the '***** ***' *** be ********* ** ******** lit *****. ***** *** ambient ********** *** ************ do *** ****** *** accuracy ** *** ****, it ** **** ** lose *** *** ******** in ******** ******* *****. A ******* ** ***** exist ** **** ****** this *******, ********* '***** *********** glasses' that **** *** *** appear **** ******* ** sunlight.

**** ** *** ** extreme *********: ***** **** **********, ************ locating * '***** ***' at ******* ******* *** be *********. *** ******** of *** ***** *** is ***** */*" ** less, *** **** ******** of **** ** *** be **** ********* ** locate. **** '**** ***' distance ******* ******* * *****-** camera **** **** ** **** with ****. **** ***** may *** ** ********* a '******', **** ** demonstrate ** *** *****, that ****** ******** * dark, **** ******** ****** to ****** * **** from ** *** *****.

********, **** *** ****** accuracy: ******* ************* ********** *** affect **** ***********. *** example, **** ********** **** divergence (********* **** ********) over ******** *** *** distort *** ****** ** beam ******. ***** **** distortion *** ** ** extremely ****** ******,**** * small ****** *********** *** result ** * *********** distance *****. ********, **** humidity (*** ******** ** moisture ** *** ***) not **** **** *** naked *** *** ********* contains ****** ***** ***** to ********* ***** *****. The **** ******** ** take ** ******* ***** errors *** ** **** the **** ****** *** apply *** ***** **** within *********** ********** ******* by *** ************.

Measurement ****** ********

*** ********* ********* ******** hundreds ** **** ** meters ** **** ****** irregular *****, ******* ******** lengths *** ** *********. Especially **** ***** ************, a ***** *** **** method ** ********* ***** areas ** *********. ********* Wheels *** **** *** this ***** ***********:

 measuring wheel man

Using *** ******* *********** ******

*** ****** ** ********* wheels ** ******: **** the ***** *******, ** integrated ******* ***** ***** of *** ***** ******** the ***** ************* *******. While **** ******, *** method ** ******** *** accurate. *********, ********** ********* work ** *** **** principal, *** ******* *** displayed *********** ** ***** similar, **** ******** ****** in *** ****** ** feet ** ******.

*** ******** ******* ** typically ******* ** *** hub ** *** *****, but **** ******** ****** may **** * ****** ******* display. *** **** ** distance ******** ****** **** hundreds (***.*) ** **** of ********* (*****) ** feet/meters. ******* ****** *** fixed ** ******* ****** feet ** ****** ** the *******.

Measurement ***** ****

**** **** ****** ******* **** than $**, ********* ****** are ******* **** **** distance **** ******** ** ******* dependent ********* **** ***** ******** finders.

Measurement ***** *********

*******, ***** ****** *** easy *** *********** ** use, *** **** **** have *********:

"***** ****": * ****** *********** ** measuring ****** ** **** wheel ******* **** *** ground **** ** ********** at *** ***** ******* of '****-********' ** '***** skip' **** *** ************ change *** ******** ********.

***-****** *****: *** **** '***** * to ***** *' ************, a ******** **** **** be ******. ***** *** wheel ******* *** ******** actually ********, ** *** path ** ***-****** ** wanders, ******** ******** *** be **********. **** ****** is ** ******* ******* to ***** ************ **** when ******** ********* *****, wire ****, ** ***** of **** ************.

***** *******: *****, ******, *****, *** non-paved ******** *** **** wheel *********** *********. *** only ** *** ******* mentioned ***** **** **** play, *** ***** ****** can ****** ***** ** damaged **** ********* ***** surfaces.

******* *** *******: *********, *** ******* for *** ***** ** placed ** ** **** the ****** ** *** unit, **** ********* *** operator ** **** **** and/or **** ** *** the ******* ***********.

****: ***** *** **** to **** ********, ***** wheel **** *** **** down ** ***** *** measurement, ********* *** ***** slowly **** *** ********* wheel, ****** ** * more ****-********* ******* **** using * ***** ******** finder.

Estimating ***** ****** ********

********* ********* *** ** accurately ******** ***** ** tools ** ***. ****** building ********, ***** ***** with ******** ********** ** spacings, *** **** ********* distance **** ** ** measurement ***** *** *********.

****** ******** ****** *** measurement *******:

  • ******* **** *****
  • ****** *******
  • ***** ******
  • **** ******
  • **** **** *******

********* ** *** ********, the ********** *** ************ pattern ** ********* ******* a ******* ** ************ dimensions.  *** *******, ***** surveillance ** ***** ********* onto ******** **** ******* ceilings. **** ***** ********** a ******** *********, **** the * * * foot ***** ** *** example ******* *****: 

***** ***** ***** **** dimensions, *** ****** ** tiles *** ** ******* and ********** ** *** standard **** ********* ** get * ***** ******** estimate ** *** ****** space. ** *** ******* picture, *** ***** *** useful *** ******* ***** are * **** ******* light ********, *** **** is ~** **** ** width, *** ** **.

**** *** ******* ****** of ************ ************, ** some ***** ******* *****, joists, ** ********** ***** joints *** ** **** even ** ****** ** later ******. *******, ***** mindful ** ***** ******** during ******* ****-***** ** prebid ***** *** ** helpful *** ********** ***** measurements **** ** ***** at ***.

Comments (8)

Estimators buddy for plotted plans

Set it and forget it.  Roll this on plans for reading distances.

 

That's interesting.  I don't have experience using a tool like that, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work well.  I'm sure performance is similar to a measuring wheel, in terms of things like wheel skips and surface dust making readings difficult sometimes.

We'll be buying one to do a short test with.  Thanks!

Almost every estimator I’ve known has them.  They are especially useful estimating conduit because you can roll the expected path in a single sweep. 

I used to have my own Scale Master. I don't actually know how I worked without it! A whole lot of measuring with a scale ruler, I guess.

Sometimes distances can be accurately measured using no tools at all.

Eyeballing and guesstimation are essential “Tools of the Trunk” ;)

essential “Tools of the Trunk”

Don't forget AR options that are coming soon.

 

Some fun stuff about tape measures that a lot of people don't know.

Every tape measure body has a measurement on it to indicate the length of the body.  This is so you can run it up hard against a wall and still get an accurate measurement.

The metal hook that's always loose?  Designed to be that way!  The tape measure doesn't go all the way to zero.  That movement of the hook is designed so that you can accurately measure from the inside or outside edge.

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