With the boom of mobile apps across the globe, checking weather news and meteorological reports has become convenient and easier. But, meteorological reports given by these apps often contain inconsistencies, as they get their information from weather stations located miles away from your area code. That’s why purchasing a personal weather station is the most ideal way of getting accurate data about your locality’s weather conditions.
A personal weather station is a small device used to collect data from the environment, using different sensors. The collected data is then used to gauge the current climatic conditions and predict future weather conditions. To get hyper-local weather information, technologically sophisticated weather stations that are easy to set up and use have been developed, and go for $150 to $2500 depending on their accuracy and quality. our another review best indoor outdoor thermometer.
This article will give 360 degrees insight of the personal weather stations, and everything you need to know about them before purchasing one.
Maintenance Guidelines of a Personal Weather Station
A good quality personal weather station should provide you with trouble-free performance for years. However, routine inspection and timely maintenance retains its accuracy and extends its lifespan, thus giving you value for your money. Outlined below are the local maintenance guidelines for the various weather station sensors.
Solar radiation is the most important sensor to maintain, as it is a key parameter of calculating ET. Its glass dome and white sensing surface must be kept clean and free from dust, dirt, bird droppings, and debris. The debris or dirt on the sensor should be removed first, and the white sensing surface cleaned using damp clothing.
While cleaning the solar radiation sensor, you should ensure the sensor is facing towards the sky by examining its bull’s eye level located on the mounting plate. If the sensor is not leveled, you should adjust the leveling screws on the plate using a hex key and screwdriver. This sensor should be examined weekly for optimum performance.
Rain Gauge Sensor
Maintaining a rain gauge involves ensuring its gauge level is leveled and the collection funnel free from debris or dirt. Check the level using the carpenter’s level located across the collection funnel opening. In case the gauge is not leveled, you will need to adjust it to the correct position.
Collection funnel needs regular cleaning, as insects, dirt, and turf clippings often clogs it, preventing water from reaching the weather station’s recording mechanism. The collection funnel is detachable giving way for extensive cleaning if necessary. When attaching the collection funnel, ensure that it is seated properly against the gauge’s base and is level.
Inspect the rain gauge sensor weekly because it is more prone to damage than other sensors. In case your rain gauge sensor keeps being faulty due to bird droppings, you could install a deterrent around its funnel rim to prevent their landing.
Temperature and humidity sensor
Temperature and humidity sensor maintenance is complex and should be assigned to trained and skilled technicians. But, the lifespan of these sensors can be extended by regularly cleaning the accumulated debris and dirt in the weather station’s radiation shield. The sprinklers level should also be regularly inspected and adjusted to prevent the radiation shield from coming into direct contact with water.
Temperature and humidity sensors should be checked on a monthly basis, as they are not prone to damage. In case your sensor has accumulated dust, consider removing its shielding and gently brushing off its mesh using a dry and soft toothbrush.
Wind Speed Sensor
The most appropriate time to inspect your wind speed sensor is in the morning, as that is when there are slow and light winds. The wind speed sensor cups must be regularly cleaned both in their interior and exterior using damp clothing or the index finger. If the cups don’t spin freely, consider loosening the set screw.
Dirty sensor bearings fail to rotate at slow wind thus giving erroneous wind speed data. To avoid this, you should clean the dirty bearings occasionally using a wet cloth, for optimum performance. In case you clean the bearings and the problem persists, the bearings might be faulty and will need replacement.
Replacing the sensor bearings should be done by a trained and skilled technician as it requires wind speed sensor knowhow. Wind sensor maintenance should be done quarterly, as it is are damage resistant.
Although personal weather stations records accurate data due to their digital sensors, they often drift from their initial values, thus giving misleading data. Regular recalibration of temperature, wind speed, and rain gauge readings of the weather stations is therefore important, to improve their accuracy levels. Recalibrating your weather station should be easy, as all you need to do is follow the user manual instructions.
To diagnose whether your personal weather station is faulty, consider comparing its readings with other stations. You could use the official NWS reporting station or other weather stations as your reference point to recalibrate your weather station. However, you need to tread carefully when choosing the weather station to reference your station with, as they might also be faulty.
Check the siting
During the maintenance process, you should always check whether your personal weather station is siting in an optimal position for the accuracy of your data. The ideal siting of a personal weather station is on a leveled ground that is open and free from any obstruction. The ground must be a representative of the surrounding areas to avoid distorting the data.
In case you mount your weather station on a pole, ensure it is sturdy and strong to avoid tilting which could affect its data readings. In addition, ensure that your weather station is not surrounded by factors that might affect its readings like chimneys, slanted roofs, or air vents among others for optimum data collection. Occasionally examine the condition of your weather station to check whether some of its parts are broken or some screws are missing and replace or repair it immediately.
Personal Weather Station Siting Instructions
Correctly siting your personal weather station can be challenging due to the changing sub-urban and urban surroundings. Thus, recording perfect readings may not be possible but you must work towards being as close as possible to the set standards. Generally, avoiding obstructions and placing your personal weather station in an open space will give accurate and unbiased data.
Outlined below are the instructions you must adhere to when siting your personal weather station.
- Temperature and Humidity Sensor
For optimal collection of data, temperature and humidity sensors must be placed on an open level ground, ideally 10 meters in diameter. The ground surface must be covered with short natural vegetation which is a representative of the surrounding area for optimum accuracy. Also, mount your temperature and humidity sensors in ventilated areas that are shielded from thermal radiation.
Your sensors should sit at least 1.25 to 2 meters above the ground and should be placed at a horizontal distance, two times the height of the nearest obstruction, or 30 meters away from paved areas. For instance, if the nearest building is 20 feet, you must place the sensors 40 feet away from it. Avoid placing your weather station on rocks, steep slopes, dark-colored surfaces, high vegetation, swamps, or roofs.
Temperature and humidity sensors are best sited in shaded environment that is out of reach from direct sunlight. If you don’t have an appropriate shaded area to mount your weather station, consider building a manmade shade like a shiny tin lid that is painted black at the back. Also keep the sensors away from any heat source such as air vents, air conditioners, or chimneys among others.
- Anemometer Sensors
Mount your anemometer sensor 10 feet above the ground and at a horizontal distance, at least 10 times the height of the nearest obstruction. In case you mount your anemometer sensor at the side of the mast other than its top, you should place the sensor horizontally, extending 3 times the mast’s diameter. For instance, if the weather station is mounted of a 4 inch pole, the boom must be extended 12 inches away.
Anemometer and wind vane sensors are best sited in high altitude areas free from any vegetation or buildings, to allow free flow of air. If you plan to mount the sensors on a chimney or a building place them as clear as possible to prevent them from the venturi effect.
- Rain Gauge Sensor
Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) recommends that the rain gauge sensor should be mounted 4 to 6 feet above the ground to avoid splash back. The sensors should also be placed at a horizontal distance, four times the height of the nearby obstruction. The ground surface that the sensor is mounted on should be leveled and away from horizontal surfaces to prevent snow buildup.
Rain gauge sensors work optimally when located in flat and open areas where they is free flow of rainfall. Also, the sensors should be placed on strong and sturdy poles that won’t lean even on strong winds, to avoid tilting which can affect its readings. Do not mount your rain gauge sensor on the leeward side for optimal data collection.
In case you have a personal weather station that has an all-in-one sensor suite, you should compromise between anemometer’s 33 feet ideal height and 4 to 6 feet temperature, rain gauge, and humidity sensor ideal height. The ideal option is to go with 10 feet height or above. Mounting your all-in-one sensor suite very high will make cleaning its funnel from debris, dirt, and bird droppings a hard nut to crack, thus affecting its data readings.
Buying Considerations of a Personal Weather Station
Weather stations come in different types, shapes, and prices and are designed to cater for different customer needs. Unfortunately, the quality and cost of the weather stations often have a close correlation as high quality weather stations retail at higher prices that lower quality. However, besides the cost, there is a host of buying considerations that you must consider before making your purchase as outlined below.
- Type of the weather station
Personal weather stations mainly come in two types namely; wired and wireless weather stations. The wired weather station’s console and sensors are connected by a wire while the wireless weather station doesn’t. The wired weather station tends to have more accuracy and is easy to use and install.
The wireless weather station, on the other hand, has simple installation requirements as no fixing or drilling of wires is needed. The station also has wide internet capabilities and is easily portable, but often have transmission and battery issues. When picking your weather station choose one that fits your preferences and needs.
- Ease of installation and use
A personal weather station is made up of very many components which complicate the installation process. This forces you to dig deeper into your pockets to hire a skilled technician to install the weather station at your home. This should however not be the case; you need a weather station that is easy to use and read to avoid paying the additional costs.
As stated earlier, wireless weather stations are easier to install and use, but, there are wireless weather stations that are easy to set up too. Pick a weather station that is already assembled and ready to mount to save your time and energy of installing.
- Transmission Range
The transmission range is a key feature of any personal weather station as it determines its functionality. Majority of the weather stations have a transmission distance of 300 feet or 1000 feet, but some comes with wireless repeaters that enables you to extend their transmission range. A weather station with a high transmission range will send real-time weather alerts to far distances, thus enabling you to stay safe.
However, the higher the transmission range a weather station has, the more it will cost you to buy one. Consider buying a weather station with maximum transmission range possible that is within your budget. Buying a weather station with a high transmission range at a higher price is worth it, as it will give you a return on investment.
- Weather conditions reported
Majority of weather stations report basic climatic conditions like barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation, temperature, and wind speed among others. However, there are high quality stations that offer additional information like solar and UV radiation, soil temperature, transpiration, leaf wetness, apparent temperature, and moisture evaporation among others.
Thus, different weather stations have different capabilities that you must consider when picking on the right one to purchase. Sadly, the price and the functionality of weather stations go hand in hand, which underlines why stations that offer additional information cost more than those that record basic weather conditions. What is important is buying a weather station that fulfills your personal needs.
- Updating frequency
The updating frequency is the speed that a weather station’s sensors use to transmit the collected data to the console for analysis and display. Majority of the weather stations update dynamic climatic conditions such as wind direction and speed every 2 to 4 seconds while other weather conditions in every 10 to 15 seconds. A high updating frequency is particularly important, as it enables you to get instantaneous updates on the weather conditions thus enabling you to stay safe and sound.
Consider buying a weather station that has a higher updating frequency, so that you can be updated when a storm or hurricane hits. Unfortunately, in case you want a weather station with the highest updating frequency, you will have to dig deeper into your pockets because they retail at high prices but they are worth it.
- Display resolution
Normal weather stations display their weather forecast data on digital screens using icons. Many stations feature numerous keys and icons that shows different weather condition reports once they are pressed. The stations with ample icon option are easier to navigate.
Weather station’s digital screens differ on their resolution; with the high quality stations having high resolution screens while the low quality ones having low resolution. The display resolution of a weather station determines its ease or difficulty of use as well as its accuracy. A weather station with a higher resolution display is easier to use when compared to one with a poor resolution digital screen.
Some personal weather stations come with reading software that is installed in a computer for easy and convenient viewing. The more the display of a weather station is clear, the more you will be able to accurately read its measurement readings. Thus, when purchasing your weather station, consider buying one with a high resolution display that is within your budget.
Benefits of Owning a Personal Weather Station
Investing your hard earned money on a personal weather station is a good investment as it assures you of a return on investment. The device enables you to keep track of the weather conditions in your locality to keep your family and property safe. Here are the benefits that owning a weather station bring on the table and why you should own one.
- Their data is shareable
Majority of the personal weather stations can easily function on multiple electronic devices at the same time due to technological advancements. This makes it easy and convenient to share weather updates with your family or friends instantly. A weather station comes in handy, in areas prone to extreme weather conditions, as you can easily share critical weather information to avert injuries or deaths.
- Sends you real-time alerts
Weather conditions change drastically over a short time, particularly in areas prone to hurricanes and storms. Luckily, personal weather stations can be calibrated to send real-time weather alerts to your phone or personal computer. These weather stations act as bad weather conditions alarms, which go a long way in helping you to keep your family, friends, or properties safe and sound.
- Records accurate readings
In case the meteorological department is located far away from your home, their weather forecast report may not rhyme with that of your locality, due to the difference in distance. This often leads to faulty weather forecast reports that might throw your plans into disarray. Once you buy a personal weather station, the device will record the accurate data in your area thus providing you accurate readings which you can rely on.
- Ease of use and installation
Personal weather stations are designed to be efficient, straightforward, and easy to use and install. This in turn enables you to not only save your time and energy but also avoid paying additional installation costs. The wireless weather station is particularly very easy to use, as it gives accurate and the most important information that you need.
- Enables you to maintain your home
Weather elements are particularly ruthless and can cause serious damage to your home or property, especially when they attack when you least expect them to. This in turn forces you to dig deeper into your pocket for repair, maintenance, and labor costs, thus throwing your financial health into a coma. A personal weather station will inform you on the impending harsh weather conditions, so that you can protect your home in advance.
Being informed on the impending weather conditions on a daily basis is beneficial, especially if you live in an area that is prone to harsh weather conditions like storms and hurricanes. An accurate and high quality personal weather station enables you to remain updated on the weather conditions in your locality, prepare for the impending harsh climatic conditions, and keep your family safe. Keep in mind that the weather station you buy, how you maintain it, and where you site the device will play a big role in your safety and that or your family.
Do not rush in making decisions, take your time to process what your needs are, the best location to mount your station, and learn the basic maintenance guidelines before purchasing one.