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Factors to Consider When Buying a Weather Station

When deciding what model weather station to buy, there are a number of factors that must be considered. The most important of these will be expanded upon in this article.

Cost is easily one of the most important factors as the budget you as the buyer are working with is directly related to the quality of the weather station you will be able to buy, although there are some very reasonably priced units available that perform very well. While there are many other important determinants, it stands to reason that those willing to spend more will get more out of their product.

The weather variables themselves are also very important. The kinds of information you are trying to collect will play a great part in determining what type of weather station you will want to purchase, obviously. If you are looking to collect basic data like temperature, humidity, and air pressure, a basic model personal weather station will probably be best for you. If you are interested in observing more advanced weather conditions like rainfall, wind speed, and ultraviolet radiation, a professional weather station might better suit you.

Higher quality weather stations will have instruments with greater range, greater resolution, and increased accuracy. The range of an instrument is the limits that it can measure within. For example, a thermometer might be able to gauge the temperature when it is between -30 and 50°C. Resolution is a measure of how fine the detail of data collected is. It is assessed by the smallest increment that a particular instrument is able measure. For a thermometer this might be 0.1°C. Accuracy is the degree to which the displayed data emulates the actual value of the data that is meant to be collected. For example, a weather station may have a thermometer that is accurate within 1°C and report that it is 27° when it is actually 28°.

Before you buy a weather station, you have to put a great deal of thought into where you will put it, its site of installation. If you plan to buy a cabled station, consider the distance the indoor display console will be from the weather sensors. Different units will come with cables of different lengths. If the station you have your eye on does not have a cable long enough for your preferred installation site, hopefully an extension cord is available for purchase. The sensors of the more expensive wireless weather stations will most likely be able to be placed farther from the display console, but the range is not infinite. There is a maximum unobstructed range, with the actual effective range being about a half to a third of that, based on the number and type of building materials obstructing the signal. Radio interference will decrease the effective range as well. The altitude of the installation site must also be considered carefully as weather stations have a maximum altitude, past which point the accuracy of the readings cannot be guaranteed.

The update interval is the interval pre-set by the manufacturer at which the display console is updated with the latest data. This interval may be the same for every instrument or different for each one. It can also vary a lot. Some weather stations may have an update interval of every second and others may have one of every five minutes. If it is important to you that information is frequently collected and presented to you, this is a factor you will want to give some close consideration.

Weather stations are capable of weather forecasting. Commercial weather stations often use the trend of atmospheric pressure to predict what future weather will be like. A more advanced weather station can take into account other variables as well, such as wind speed, humidity, and sometimes even the global positioning of the unit. It is completely up to the buyer how accurate you want your station’s weather forecasting capabilities to be.

Some weather stations have the option of computer interfacing, which is very useful. However, the more basic ones will not be capable of this. If you are looking for a station that can connect to a computer, you will want to buy a complete electronic weather station. And even then, you would have to make sure that it has this functionality as not all do. If you do purchase one that does, you will be able to use your computer to interact with the station as if it was an indoor display console that can do a number of things a standard display console cannot, including forecasting, graphing trends, posting data online, and sending email alerts. A data logger might also be available with the package, which would allow the system to store data for later retrieval so the computer software is not required to be constantly running.

Most weather stations present very little historical weather data, meaning information about past weather.  A basic weather station may show a data trend for the past 24 hours, but if you want one that will give you the highs and lows for each weather variable for a more substantial amount of time into the past, you will want to buy a complete weather station.  There are some very affordable complete stations made by Aercus Instruments which can log up to 3 month’s data at half hourly intervals and the Davis Vantage Pro2 series, for instance, is able to display the highs, lows, totals, and averages of almost every weather variable for the last 24 years.  Again, the importance of this factor is very subjective and completely up to the buyer.

ABOUT MONAX

Monax Test and Weather are your specialist weather station and environmental monitoring experts. We have been selling and supporting our products since 2004 and pride ourselves on matching the right product to your needs and providing full after-sales support. We believe our relationship with you starts well before you buy and goes as long as you need us. Shop with Monax and know you’re getting the right product.