What makes the best personal weather station? Is it accuracy or durability? Does the price affect operational performance, and is the software that important? Understanding all the features that come with weather stations can be difficult for new amateur meteorologists.
To avoid having to stare in confusion at fancy words and technical specs, we’ve prepared a buying tutorial to guide you in your search for the best personal weather station.
We will discuss the different types, sensors, features, purposes, and their importance as well so that you will have a better understanding of what you’re spending your money on. Without giving too much away, let’s dive into the world of personal weather stations and forecasting.
Top Home Weather Stations
Weather Station Types
Weather stations come in many shapes and sizes and also come with a wide range of features. The designs include desktop stations, wireless stations, complete wireless stations, or semi-complete wireless stations. The differences are usually in terms of connectivity, data transmission, and installation.
However, there are two very important types of weather stations you should be aware off: home weather stations and portable weather stations. Sometimes they can be easily confused in terms of what they offer, so let’s clear the air on what sets them apart and which ones are best suited for you.
Home Weather Stations
These installations are what you’re looking for if you want multiple sensors and highly accurate data collection and forecasting. The best home weather stations tend to be a bit larger and require a very open area.
These stations come in basic, medium, and advanced formats; this means that you usually get 3, 5, or 10 sensors. In some cases, the design allows for additional sensors to be added to the unit.
Apart from multiple meteorological monitoring instruments a home weather station also comes with a console. An LCD screen is used to display all the readings and buttons are used to change the display settings or to set notifications.
Another feature that is exclusive to the best home weather stations is computer software integration. These are applications that allow you to generate forecasts for multiple days, compare graphs, and have a better understanding of how weather changes impact the environment.
If you’re looking for accuracy, durability, and variety, these are the ones to look at in detail.
Portable Weather Stations
These units are very compact and can be used to monitor interior or exterior weather conditions. For the most part, the sensor array is limited so you’re likely going to have access just to temperature and humidity readings. A portable weather station could be just what you need if you don’t need anything too fancy and simply want to know something such as the indoor temperature vs. the outdoor temperature.
Features to Consider When Buying a Weather Station
There are various reasons why you might want or need a weather station, maybe you want to monitor weather conditions in your area to make sure every barbecue goes as planned, or maybe you want to take better care of your crops.
Some people buy weather stations to monitor working conditions on a construction site or at an industrial plant. Some devices are able to predict drought patterns, landslide conditions, floods, or even contamination hazards.
Regardless of the reason, the best weather stations tend to be designed for a specific purpose. Because of this, the best station for a farmer is not necessarily the best model to use at a hydroelectric power plant.
You need to be sure about why you need it before you buy it. Some manufacturers will offer you a money-back guarantee, but is it really worth the hassle? It would be better and easier to just get the perfect weather station on your first try. Therefore, the most important step in buying a weather station might just be finding out what your own needs are first, and that will, in turn, make all subsequent steps easier.
The data interpretation features of the best weather stations are usually far more advanced and accurate than those found on simple home installations. Data interpretation is only as good as your data gathering and storing.
By this, we mean that it is best to look at a unit that allows you to store atmospheric conditions for more than just 24 hours. Accurate predictions are easier to make when you have access to information going back days, weeks, or months. To make this happen, you typically need to get special software, which any top-rated weather station should come with.
Graphs are a staple of visual representations when it comes to predicting trends. This also applies to the study of meteorology. It not only makes things more interesting but also easier to understand. By laying out data in easy to read formats, it becomes easier to predict future data.
Comparing data using graphs is usually done by using special software that comes with the best personal weather stations. This allows you to manipulate the information, track changes quicker, and make sense of what’s going on outside. They’re also super easy to use for the most part and they also allow you to make good use of a large monitor display instead of staring at a small console screen.
Highs and Lows Measurements
Generally, you only need current readings to know what’s happening outside. However, if you’re looking for pattern prediction or accurate forecasts, it’s generally recommended to have access to at least 25 or 30 days of data.
Highs and lows measurements, as well as the average for the total readings, can be displayed graphically and numerically on the best weather stations in an easy to read format. This makes it easier for inexperienced or amateur meteorologists to make sense of specific weather patterns and atmospheric changes.
The type of connection you get matters more than you think. For example, even the best wireless weather station can sometimes be unreliable. Wireless designs lose signal more often than not, so they aren’t necessarily the best choice. Of course, if you’re just looking for convenience, they may be for you.
Wired weather stations have less trouble with transmitting data. You also get a stable connection to a power supply and they’re usually mounted installations. That being said, dealing with all the extra cables tends to prolong the installation process.
The transmission distance is also very important. You want to get the most range you can for the best personal weather station in your budget. 300 feet transmission distance is usually considered good enough, although you should aim for more than that if you can.
Depending on the architecture of your house, garden design, and obstructions, having as much leeway as possible between the station, console, and power source is important, especially if you want to get alerts and notifications in the comfort of your home.
If you’re looking at any best-rated weather stations, you will notice that the power source works on multiple voltages. This may be high-end stuff but it’s what you should want in a weather station that you plan on using for years to come.
Of course, there are other ways of powering up a weather station. Size matters and if you want the best personal weather station on a tight budget, you might get away with AA batteries. Others will work on regular AC power.
Last but not least, you might also be interested in solar-powered weather stations. These models tend to have dual charging options so don’t worry about cloudy or winter days. You should still be able to plug in most of the best weather stations when the solar panels don’t provide enough juice.
Let’s get one thing straight. As complex as some of the best weather stations may be, it doesn’t mean you should need a degree to install them in your backyard or on your farm. You should always factor in the ease of installation before making a purchase.
As some units come with multiple instruments and tools, you may find yourself at times solving the puzzle. That’s not an ideal situation to be in if you’re new to meteorology and can seriously throw off the station’s readings. If you don’t install the machine correctly in the first place, you may compromise your readings from there on out, so it’s best to take the time to do it right.
Most weather stations tend to update the information every 30 seconds or so and some of them may even take minutes to display changes. If you’re looking for real-time information, that’s not enough. That type of information lag may have a negative impact once you get hit with sudden hail.
The best weather stations, even those designed for residential use, are capable of updating the information ever 2 or 3 seconds. Wind speed and direction, humidity, temperature, and more are updated frequently.
Information regarding less variable atmospheric conditions might be updated a bit slower, every 10 or 15 seconds. Of course, on some installations, you will be able to customize the refresh rate to your liking. However, for real-time information display, 30 seconds or minutes just won’t cut it.
Forecast Generation and Display
It takes more than analyzing changes in barometric pressure to give an accurate forecast. Although many weather stations rely on this process, the best weather stations will take more than barometric factors into account.
These stations use humidity, wind speed, rainfall, location (latitude and longitude) and more to make weather predictions. Not even the best-rated weather station can give you a perfect forecast; however, by using multiple measuring instruments, it will be able to provide a highly accurate result. When it comes to making an accurate forecast, the more information the better.
The display is almost as important as the number of features the weather station has. A large display is able to fit all the data gathered in such a way that it doesn’t become confusing. Also, larger displays are more easily customizable as they come with multiple keys and settings for you to play with. Although it sounds counterintuitive, if you want to learn to read weather data more simply, you’re going to need to learn to understand more information.
Not everyone is going to need 10 or more sensors on a personal weather station. In countries or states that have decent weather conditions all year round, there’s not much to monitor. However, if you’re passionate about meteorology or you’re just overly cautious, it doesn’t hurt to get as many sensors as possible and perhaps even a solar radiation sensor (pyranometer).
The elevation is another crucial aspect to consider when buying a personal weather station. It’s important on a small scale, as in how high up from the ground it has to be in order to provide accurate temperature changes. Even some of the best weather stations are thrown off when placed on asphalt or concrete as they take higher readings due to the heat emanating from the surface.
The elevation is also important in terms of geographical location. The best personal weather station for the suburbs probably won’t do much for your cabin at the top of the mountain.
The increased pressure in high elevation areas will demand that very specific weather station designs are used. That is if you want to have accurate readings. Last but not least, the elevation can also impact the transmission distance so you might want to take that into account as well when looking at the best weather stations online.
If you want to accurately track specific weather patterns, then you need some sort of notification system. The best personal weather stations can provide you with multiple alarms that either has a default automatic feature or can be customized to fit your needs.
The alarms on the best weather stations can notify you on your computer or your smartphone and in some cases even on your personal robot, like Alexa. That way you’re quickly apprised of changes in wind conditions, rainfall, barometric changes, atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and even solar radiation levels.
The accuracy of personal weather stations depends largely on the quality of the measuring instruments. However, in high-end weather stations, software applications are also important in determining the accuracy of the weather forecast.
Having a computer interface is usually something you only get from the very best weather stations. The data logging software is tailored for weather monitoring and pattern prediction.
Using this type of software may also allow you to store information over a long period of time and compare weather conditions going back months.
Another reason why a computer interface may interest you is the ability to share your forecast. You can do this on social media or supply the information you gathered to other local weather stations. Most meteorology enthusiasts tend to favor only the best personal weather station that also happens to include a computer interface.
Not all gadgets get better the more expensive they are. However, when it comes to buying the best personal weather station, the costlier the installation, the more features it generally has. The cost also directly impacts the accuracy of the measuring instruments as well as the data interpretation features.
The good news is that the best weather stations can last you for many years so if you’re making a long-term investment, splurging on a high-end installation is not such a bad idea. If you’re going to spend the money, you may as well get a weather station that lasts.
Getting a good warranty is very important even if you’re buying the absolute best personal weather station for your needs. Although these installations tend to be quite durable you never know when they might get damaged by extreme weather conditions. It is meant to sit through all the elements after all.
Unless you’re at home all year round, there’s no way to guarantee the protection of your weather station. Considering that the best weather stations don’t come cheap, and you want to make sure you won’t have to buy a new one anytime soon.
Weather Station Reviews
Ambient Weather WS-2902C WiFi OSPREY Solar Powered WirelessWeather Station
If you’re looking for the best weather station with wireless connectivity, you have to take a look at Ambient Weather WS-2902C station. This unit is compact, durable, and has compatibility with smartphones and with Amazon Alexa.
The 2902C can be used to measure rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, UV intensity, humidity, and changes in wind speed and direction. Using the console, you can also do calculations to determine the dew point, heat index, as well as the windchill.
Transmitting the data is simple and fast. The screen has a very good resolution for this price range and it is well sectioned off to display specific information. What’s cool is that you can have access to accurate weather forecasts from home for when you’re on a trip or just coming back from a trip. For some meteorologists, simplicity in reading and storing data is paramount, and this station has you covered in that regard. This machine also sends reports every 14 seconds! This is a much higher frequency than many other weather stations.
The WS-2902C has supports an option for eight WH31 thermo-hygrometer sensors WH31P temperature probes as well as one indoor and one outdoor Air Quality sensor PM2.5. Unfortunately, the information is not able to be displayed on the console itself and cannot be calibrated. The data is sent to Ambientweather.net.
As far as durability is concerned, the WS-2902C handles better than it looks although it might need some extra protection during the winter.
Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 Weather Station
This is one of the best personal weather stations on the market. Davis Instruments is known for delivering highly durable and accurate weather monitoring devices. The Vantage Pro2 is no exception and due to its popularity, it is the manufacturer’s flagship weather station for residential use.
The installation is straightforward and there are plenty of options to expand with. In its basic form, the weather station includes wi-fi connection, an advanced rain gauge, thermometer with radiation shielding, a barometer, radiation sensor, and wind sensors for tracking changes in speed and direction.
The anemometer cable is 40 feet long which means you have more freedom in terms of placement. The console has a decently large screen with a fully digital display. The computer interface is not part of the deal, but it is available to purchase separately if you want access to graph comparisons and data uploading.
The Vantage Pro2 is perhaps the best wireless weather station today as it comes with a very high price to quality ratio. If you are value-conscious and looking for the best bang for your buck, this might be the perfect weather station for you.
Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue Weather Station
The Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue is a more budget-friendly solution but it still makes a strong case for the best personal weather station. It uses a wide array of sensors to collect and display atmospheric changes for the amateur meteorologist.
The installation is simple and the 6250 Vantage Vue quickly becomes your window into the interior and exterior environmental conditions. For interior use, the station tracks humidity and indoor temperature.
When using the external sensors, you’re able to get information
on temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, and rainfall. Although it looks rather small the design is durable and pretty much what you would expect from a Davis Instruments product.
The housing is corrosion-resistant. Multiple components are
painted black to attract sunlight during the winter and help with the
defrosting process. Overall, this is hands-down one of the best weather stations for residential use and it won’t break the bank.
The Netatmo Weather Station monitors indoor and outdoor conditions. The design is quite different than anything else on the market, but it’s hard to say if this is just a nice feature or an actual improvement. Because when it comes to weather stations, most people want function over form.
The update frequency is very high and you have the ability to check the data directly from your smartphone. However, the unique design is not very durable, but it is classy which means it will blend in well in with a modern décor. It probably looks even better in a smart house. So if you want your weather station looking sleek and blending into your aesthetic, this may be the one for you.
This model is also compatible with Amazon Alexa which opens up a whole new way of setting up alerts and notifications no matter where you are in the house. There is also an option to generate 7-day forecasts with decent accuracy.
Another cool feature is that it allows you to monitor and track other Netatmo stations through your phone as well. So if you want to know the weather conditions all across your city or even your country, this could be the weather station you are looking for.
While it’s not as accurate as some of the best weather stations
in the high-end department, this compact unit can certainly do more than meets the eye. And on top of all that, it’s quite budget-friendly as far as the best personal weather stations are concerned.
AcuRite 02064 Weather Station
AcuRite has a notoriety for providing user-friendly weather products as well as precision accuracy. One of the best selling weather stations on the market is the AcuRite model 02064. This weather sensor provides relevant and up-to-date information.
This weather station measures 5 weather aspects: wind direction and speed, humidity, rain, and temperature. The weather condition data is collected from a sensor right outside the home. It works for temperatures as low as -40° and communicates a signal as far as 330 feet away.
Model 02064 allows you to check the information online by connecting the station display to the PC user’s program alerts. The information can also be viewed from any web browser. Another option is monitoring the weather remotely using the “My AcuRite” app.
The weather station also provides access to Weather Underground, where users can also share their data with other online weather communities. This is highly useful if you want highly accurate weather conditions across the world.
The AcuRite sensors record data at 12-minute intervals and the data is collated and labeled into clear columns. It is easy to set-up and use. It comes with a digital display, weather sensor, power adapter, USB cable, and mounting hardware. The sensor will need to be mounted to a pole outside your home. This device does not come with backup batteries.
The AcuRite model 02064 weather station may be a little expensive for some users but it is known for its forecast reliability. Many also appreciate the helpful, knowledgeable customer service that AcuRite provides.
Whether you need extensive meteorological information for optimizing crop productivity or just a few parameters to make the most out of your camping trip, a weather station is the best tool for the job.
As with anything, the weather station that is best for you will depend on what you want to get from it. Do you have a deep interest in meteorology and a knack for forecasting weather statistics? Or do you just want to know if it will be nice enough to walk to work? The initial decision of what you require from a weather station will simplify the whole process for you.