Newbie's guide to buying first lasers

Newbie's Guide to Buying First Lasers

A common question for new people to the laser hobby is “What cheap laser should I buy first?” This little guide should help you figure out what laser you should buy to start out with, and it includes some of my favorite picks.

Before anything, here are a few tips.
1. Whatever you do, NEVER buy a laser off of eBay, they are usually scams!
2. Only buy lasers from trusted sites.
3. When you start getting into higher powers, goggles are a must! You have to remember these things aren’t little pointers anymore, one unlucky hit in the eye and you’re gonna get a nasty blind spot.
4. Usually, if it is cheap, it is low quality. The cheap lasers I recommend in this topic are proven to turn out good for their price, do not buy any other cheap laser unless it has been time proven to work.

“I want a cheap, super bright green laser that I can see the beam on!”
This is a common question asked, and my best recommendations for a cheap, bright green laser is the lightake 30mW Green Laser This is the best deal you will ever find for a new 30mW greenie, and it will be plenty bright for a first laser. At night the beam will be extremely bright, some nights you can even point the dot at clouds. And unlike what the description says, there is an IR filter in the laser, so there is no dangerous IR spewing out all over the place. This laser might even be able to pop balloons if you get one of the more powerful units. For $25, you can’t go wrong with this laser.

“I want a laser that burns!”
After getting a bright laser, everybody wants a burning laser next. For any reasonable price, most people usually just build their own burning lasers. If you want to get into building lasers, the cheapest price for high powered red laser diodes is here. Check out the Experiments and Modifications section of this forum, EVERYTHING you need to know is in there, read the topics in there before asking questions, it is 99% your question has already been answered. Also, make sure you use the “search” feature if you can’t find something. But if you don’t want to mess with building your own, you can always buy one for a bout twice as much as the parts. If you want to stay cheap without building you own, you can buy some homemade flashlights modified into burning lasers from members on here, or you can get the 200mW red pen style here. The 200mW red from LighTake is consistently putting out 150mW, some are even over 200mW, so for just over $50 this is a great deal.

“I want a burning green laser!”
When you have the money to buy a high powered green laser, whatever you do, do not waste it on a scam. There are a lot of scams out there that aren’t half of the advertised output, so make sure you buy from a well known company, don’t ever settle for a green laser that is cheap and hasn’t been proven to be good, most likely it will not put out near the advertised output. Also, stay away from eBay! The group buys on here are great, but if there are no current group buys get a high quality laser from a known company. If your looking for pen sized high powered greenies, check out Novalasers for the best prices on high quality pen sized units. For 150mW-500mW Handhelds, check out Optotronics and Laserglow.

Use common sense when you get your first laser, don’t shine them near your eyes, and use goggles when using the big lasers. Don’t shine them at cars, planes, or people on the street because you could get some unwanted attention. Be safe and have fun with your lasers!

Want to know what companies are trusted and which ones are bad? Here is a list with the companies that have been brought up the most in this forum.

Proven BAD laser companies:
spymodex- IR spewing pieces of junk.
warnlaser- IR spewing pieces of Junk.
thinklasers- Read this.
highlasers-Didn’t send out laser to tester. Doesn’t have a clue about what they are selling

Questionable Laser Companies (Read around the forum to see why these companies are here):
Wicked Lasers- Known to send out underpowered/bad units. There are a lot of bad stories about this companies, read about them in the forum.
TechLasers- Known to send out bad lasers, and avoids emails asking for returns.
Dragon Lasers- Known to have sent out underpowered lasers.
laserpointerking
boblasers
anewstone

Here are the companies that are proven to be the best:
Nova Lasers- Sells CNI pens and handhelds, known to send out units that are higher powered than advertised. Also, they occasionally throw in a free diffraction grating with orders. Great customer service.
Optotronics- Sells great handheld lasers at good prices. Sells 100mW-400mW greens, although the ones over 165mW are the most popular. Great customer service.
LaserGlow- Sells a wide variety of lasers, sells many colors of lasers, and handheld powers up to 600mW in green. Great customer service.

A lot of people on here have noticed an increasing amount of “What laser should I get that’s cheap??” topics popping up all over the place here, so I wrote this to help the new people to this hobby to pick out their first lasers. Feel free to post any ideas that you think I should add to this topic.

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