Wireless Weather Station Set Up
It is in your best interest to put in the time now on proper set up of your weather station so that you will not have to spend more time fixing problems in the future. There are three interconnecting factors that are crucial to the performance of your weather station.
The first factor is the placement of the weather sensors, which is extremely important. This determines the accuracy and reliability of the data they record and report. The second is the communication between the sensors and the receivers. Interference needs to be eliminated to allow information to be transmitted. The third factor is the placement of the display unit, which should be in a spot where it is convenient for you to use it. If you plan to link it with a computer or other device you should consider this when you are choosing a place for the unit.
Location of the Receiver/Display Console
The ideal location for your weather sensors is a place in your yard that is easy to reach, but out of the way of everyday activity. There should be nothing in between this location and the room in which the receiver is installed. The receiver should also be placed in an area that is removed from normal activities, like in a study. To minimise the amount of obstructions between the receiver and sensors, position the receiver near an outside wall.
If you are going to connect to a computer the obvious location to site the receiver in is the room that you keep your computer in. If this location just happens to be appropriate in regards to the sites of the weather sensors outside, then you are very fortunate.
If this is not the case, then, most likely, it is best to consider the location of the weather sensors before the location of the receiver.
The Ideal Places for Weather Sensors
The first thing you should consider when choosing a place for your weather sensors is how far they are from the receiver. The transmitting range can vary greatly between device and this range will be reduced by about 7-10 meters every time the signal has to pass through a wall. In most situations where a home weather station is installed, signals can be transmitted from the sensors to the receiver with no problem, but you should still take note of the limitations as they may pose a problem.
Different types of weather sensors have different ideal sites of installation. Your home weather station should be able to accommodate this, whether it is wireless or uses cables to connect multiple sensors, such as wind and rainfall, to the same transmitter.
One of the most important things to remember about siting particular kinds of weather sensors involves temperature recorders. To report accurate data, they must not receive direct sunlight or sunlight that has been strongly reflected off nearby surfaces. The light will not only heat up the sensor, causing it to yield higher readings than it should be, it can even damage them. Wind and rain sensors are the opposite of temperature sensors in that they report the most accurate data when they are placed away from sheltering buildings or trees that may block the wind or rain.
Rain gauges should be sited so that their lips are the highest point in the area. Placing one slightly above a post or wall is a good idea.
Keep in mind that while these recommendations should be closely followed, some compromise is fine and is even expected.
Here are a few tips:
- If you are located in the northern hemisphere, you can site your temperature sensors on north-facing walls slightly below the eaves. This will provide shelter from the rain, while still having the sensor low enough that its readings are not affected by heat emanating from the roof. If you are in the southern hemisphere, site your temperature sensors on a south-facing wall.
- If you do decide to install your temperature sensor in this position, it might be a good idea to install the wind and rainfall sensors on the nearby roof, if it is not pitched too steeply.
- Wind and rainfall sensors can also be mounted at the top of out-of-the-way posts in a yard. In this case, the temperature sensor can be sited on the shady side of the post, slightly lower than the others. You may need to provide some shielding of direct sunlight for the temperature sensor. Additionally, the shielding can be enhanced to support better ventilation.
- Mounting these sensors on a roof will most likely be the best choice if your yard is in some way unsuitable. When the proper measures are taken, like shielding temperature sensors from sunlight, the roof is an excellent location for the sensors to be exposed to the weather and collect accurate data about it.
Although roof mounting mostly eliminates the problem of signal fade, it raises a couple of new problems. For one, the unit must be mounted securely from the beginning. And secondly, accessibility to the rain gauge is more difficult. The rain gauge needs to be cleaned regularly and so should not be sited somewhere that is too difficult for you to access.
- If you’re serious you could consider using a Stevenson screen to shield your weather sensors. Most research and official weather stations use them. They can be expensive, but are fairly easy to assemble and very useful. Your wind and rainfall sensors could be mounted on top of it.
A Stevenson screen is basically a slatted box with legs. The sides are made of slotted boards with covers over the slots and there is a gap between the sides and the roof, which is doubled. You will find many plans for home made versions by searching Google etc. However, this piece of equipment is not always necessary. A simple shield for your temperature sensor might be enough.
Location of the Receiver
When you have finished finding places to install your sensors, you have done most of the work. In most cases, the best possible location for the receiver is near the outside wall closest to the weather sensors outside.
Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to install the receiver properly. Ensure that all of the sensors are capable of close-range communication with the receiver, then check that communication is still possible when you remove the sensors to whatever sites you chose for them. If there are complications, try to orient the receiver differently or position it somewhere else.
When all of this has been taken care of, you have only to fix the sensors in their final positions, turn your home weather station on, and sit back contentedly.
A Few Final Thoughts
It is wise to put some thought into how your weather sensors will be oriented as well as how easy they will be to access. For sensors powered by solar energy, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on battery backup, orientation, and precharging. Also, make sure the compartments that house the batteries can be opened easily.
Again, most problems people experience with their weather stations originate from improper set up. Putting the time in now to do it the right way can save you a great deal of future grief.