Total Station Vs Theodolite

Surveyors have played an important role in engineering history, from the construction of the Egyptian pyramids to the construction of today’s massive skyscrapers.

Precision measurements are required for a surveyor to properly perform his or her job, and this is accomplished through the use of specialised equipment.


While the theodolite has long been a reliable tool in the surveyor’s toolbox, the total station is gaining in popularity. Here’s a comparison of the two devices, as well as the differences that distinguish them aka Difference between Theodolite and Total station.

Land surveying instruments such as the theodolite and total station are used to obtain information about the plot being considered for construction (buildings, bridges, roads, highways, dams, etc.)


Total Station Vs Theodolite

A theodolite is a telescope with two axes, one vertical and one horizontal. As long as the operator knows how to use the theodolite and understands basic trigonometry, the angle of each axis can be measured with reasonable precision. Two people are required to use a theodolite to measure and align the angles.

A theodolite is a device that measures angles (horizontal and vertical) to the degree (newer models can measure angles in fractions of a degree in seconds). A telescope is typically mounted on two rotating discs or dials ( marked with degrees from 0 to 360 ). For angle measurements, the telescope can be rotated both horizontally and vertically.

Electronic Theodolite Vs Total Station

Electronic Theodolite Vs Total Station – On the other hand, a total station is a multipurpose surveying instrument that uses electronic distance measurement (EDM). They have a high level of precision in measuring distances, angles, and elevations. The data collected by a total station can be easily viewed and analysed by connecting it to a computer via a USB port.

Theodolites can only measure angles, have a minimum range of less than a kilometre, and are less precise than total stations, but they are also less expensive. We now have electronic theodolites, which are an improvement over traditional theodolites.

The total station, on the other hand, can measure more than just angles. They have a range of about 1 km and are extremely accurate. When compared to theodolites, they are obviously more expensive.

A total station’s programming includes the use of a theodolites, which measures angles and uses an electronic distance metre. Because of their digital integration and more consistent precision, total stations are usually preferred over theodolites.

They can also be purchased with robotic capabilities, reducing the number of operators required to just one. Total stations (both robotic and non-robotic) are more expensive than theodolites, and they require more training to operate. These are the differences between a total station and a theodolite.

Total Station Vs Theodolite
Total Station Vs Theodolite Images
Theodolite Vs. Total Station

Digital Theodolite Vs Total Station – They are both surveying tools; theodolites measure horizontal and vertical angles and are excellent for making alignments, through angles, or bearings; you can also delimit a property poligon with a theodolite fairly easily, especially now that you have digital theodolites, which also measure distance; and if you add an auto level or a digital auto level, you can calculate elevations for various activities such as elevation curves, cut and fil, and so on.

However, if you want to perform both tasks with the same instrument, you can use a total station, which calculates distance, angles, and elevations from a known point.

Robotic total stations perform the same tasks as a traditional total station, but with fewer personnel, and RTK rovers are precise in measuring elevation and positioning quickly.


Er. Md. Shahin Akhter

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Md Shahin Akhter is a Civil Engineer from MIT and has more than 5 years of experience in Civil Engineering and Construction Department. Md Shahin Akhter is Civil Engineer in Nagar Parishad (Municipal Council), Supaul. He is Webmaster and Founder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website.