Keson Partners With Sola To Bring Focus Vial Level Tech To North America – Honest Quick Review

In September 2018, Keson partnered with Sola to bring high quality and affordable levels, featuring SOLA’s FOCUS vial technology, to North America. Recently I was contacted by them to cover the new partnership and offer my opinion on some of their levels. As a full disclosure, Keson and Sola were kind enough to send me a few product samples of their levels to test out at no cost to me and as always I will provide my honest unbiased feedback. I am not paid or swayed in any way to give a positive review.

A quick background of Keson and SOLA. They are both family-owned, third generation businesses currently led by the grandsons of the company founders.  SOLA started in 1949 with a leveling tool invented on the roof of the Scheyer family home in Goetzis, Austria.  Keson started in 1968 in the basement of the Nosek family home in Berwyn, Illinois.  Both companies offer measuring and marking tools, offer complementary product lines, and share very similar values. Earlier last year, the Nosek and Scheyer families joined together to form a new company – Keson LLC. With a combined 120 years of market experience, the Keson and SOLA alliance builds upon Keson’s U.S. manufacturing, existing distribution network and strong relationships by adding SOLA’s European manufacturing expertise, precision-engineering and industry-leading technology.

Now united, Keson LLC is launching a two-brand strategy that is said to deliver superior durability, unmatched accuracy and a better user experience:

  • The SOLA branded levels will be positioned at the high-end of the market and will be the best-of-the-best, just as SOLA levels have been in Europe and around the world for the last 70 years.
  • The Keson branded levels will be positioned as the best of the mid-tier levels, backed by SOLA technology and the reputation Keson has built over the last 50 years.

The most notable feature among the new levels is Sola’s Focus Vial technology that brings some pretty good features. First off the vials are said to offer better contrast. This is done by adding green tint to the outer sides of the vial. At first I thought the color of the vials itself was contrasty but didn’t do anything else. A closer look shows that the bubble edges are more defined with added green to the left and right edges of the bubble which makes it more contrasty and stand out more from the fluid more easily. Is it a huge difference in my opinion, no but depending on the background behind the dial, it may help see the bubble a bit better.

As part of the name of the Focus vials, they offer a bit of magnification at a certain point which makes the vial easier to see since it’s magnified. It doesn’t actually help “focus” what is seen as it’s always in focus but the magnification helps.

Next on the list is break resistant acrylic material used on the vials. They are said to offer resistance to deformation or breakage and the acrylic is also said to be highly UV resistant. Their patented ultrasonic welding of the vials is said to ensure no leaks. I wasn’t able to test their claims of break resistance but they do offer a limited lifetime warranty to back up their claim in case they ever do break.

Their vial fluid is also said to be better at preventing bubbling in the case of shock or in other words, drops or impacts. My experience with them backs up their claims as I tested their levels with repeated impacts and while the bubble still separates into two or more bubbles when there’s an impact, the bubbles merge together back to one very quickly. They claim it’s due to special fluid used. I also noticed their vials have a slight curve to them which I believe is what makes the bubbles merge together quickly. Whether it’s due to a special fluid or the curvature of the vials or both, great to see the bubble merges quickly back to one right away.

The last feature on the list is a pretty good idea in my opinion and that is that the Focus Vials have glow in the dark backing. I accidentally spotted this when I took them outside and then brought them inside where it was dark and the vials were glowing. Pretty neat feature especially when in low light to help with visibility. The downside of any glow in the dark material is that it requires light to begin with to make it glow in the dark and once the light source is gone, they glow but quickly loses it’s glow as it fades away. Either way, great feature to have when it works. I also liked that the glow in the dark backing offers a nice white’ish background for better vial visibility when looking at the vials top down. When looking at the vials from side to side, they are see through all the way meaning they don’t offer that bright white background and at this angle the glow in the dark feature doesn’t work as it’s glow is only visible from the top down perspective.

As mentioned at the outset they sent me over a few levels with a 24″ Sola Box level and Sola Go! Magnetic pocket level and a Keson 9.75″ Plastic Squared level and Keson Go! Magnetic pocket level. The build quality on all the levels was excellent and vial level accuracy was spot on and the same as my trusty Empire levels. One thing to note on all the vials is that all the vials are not the same. With the Sola branded levels being their top tier brand with the Keson being the mid tier brand, I noticed the Sola branded levels have the larger vials.

Also only the top mounted vials have the glow in the dark backing and this is present on both brands. The vials on the sides do not have any glow in the dark backing so keep that in mind. Also when it comes to the top mounted vials, the Sola brand has a rounded vial casing while the Keson use a squared “cube” casing. The Go! Magnetic levels are essentially the same pocket level between the two brands with very little difference. The main difference being the above mentioned brand dial difference along with a plastic casing that sounds slightly sturdier on the Sola which leads me to believe they are using different plastics. Otherwise the two are nearly identical.

The Sola 24″ box level is very nice aluminum box level. It has a good hefty weight to it making it feel solid and I like the rubberized end caps to protect the box level from impact. The end caps have small feet tabs in the backside so you can place the level on it’s back so as to not scratch delicate surfaces or to act as a non-slip feet. The bottom of the level features 6 magnets for a solid magnetic hold.

The new Sola and Keson branded levels are available for sale in the USA and look to be a great addition to the market. The Sola Focus vial technology will no doubt shake up the level market and make things more competitive.

Sola Levels

Keson Levels

Free 2 day shipping – Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Tool Craze does not sell this product or any product on the Tool Craze website. Tool Craze does not handle the sale of any item in any way. If you purchase something through a post on the Tool Craze site, Tool Craze may get a small share of the sale. Please refer to the About section for more info.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x