View Full Version : Want to buy a Weather Station.....need help.
01-09-2011, 08:38 PM
I have about 250$ to spend on a Weather Station. Don't know where to satrt. Any suggestions? I want to put it on top of the house.
01-09-2011, 11:36 PM
Choosing which device you want and need is something that you are going to have to make on your since the range of weather devices out there is wide and varied now and days. At least you have step one nailed down - the price you are looking for. Weather stations vary from simple $15 temperature sensors to upwards of $1500+ if you are looking at the top of the end Davis wifi unit or alternatives. So now that you have a price range nailed down, the next thing to start considering is what you want to measure. All of them do temperature followed by the additions of a hygrometer to provide you with RH and possible dew point. Then as you move up in price range, a barometer usually will find its way into the mix to provide you with pressure followed by an anemometer (wind speed), wind vane (direction), and/or a rain gauge. Then depending on your interest and needs, you can look for ones that measure solar radiation, UV index, leaf wetness, soil moisture and temperature, water temperature, and possibly even precipitation type among other things.
Once you decide what you want (or for some units, what you want to start with before expanding with additional add-ons) the next thing is to look at how you want it connected: wirelessly, wifi (larger wireless range usually), or cabeled. My personal preference if you are going low end is to go wired since wireless can have issues with batteries over time I have found in the field. But again, this will be a preference for yourself and where you plan on putting it.
An additional thing to look at is how it displays the data. Most will provide you with a screen to see things on but if you want it to feed into your computer, that is something to look at. If you want it to stream to a website (like wundergound) that is something to look at. If its for a NOAA COOP partnership, you are going to have to get something approved by their standards. If you want to store the data, you going to have to see if that is possible through their software or a third parties software. How is it powered? Solar, cabeled, batteries, etc. Do you have to mount it or is it all included in the kit? How far is the wireless range or how long are the cables that connect it? What do other consumers think of it? You can usually check this on amazon ratings or on other websites.
So once you have your station preferences narrowed down, the next thing to look for is that "sweet spot" for weather recording. You mentioned a roof. Now, in some instances, a person's roof is their only option but if you have other options, a roof should be your last choice. For wind speed/direction, ideally you want to put the sensor over flat terrain, a distance of at least ten times the height of the nearby structures, vegetation or other obstacles (fences for instance). Now, unless you are at a airport, a mountain peak, a ranch/farm, a desert or just own a lot of property, this probably won't happen but you want to put it as far from objects as possible. And the height is ideal. The AASC says 2.0 meters +/- 1 meter is good enough but ideally and to be the most accurate, the AASC, WMO and EPA all recommend or require 10.0 meters (33 feet) off a surface. So if you have to mount it on the roof, mount it at least 10 meters above the highest pitch to avoid turbulence or acceleration that your roof will cause. But keep in mind that if something breaks, the batteries die, it comes loose, etc, especially in the winter, you will be climbing up onto your ice and snow covered roof to work on the instruments and if they are 10 meters above it, yikes. And you are also creating a lightning rod or possible roof leakage if you don't mount it properly. And as far as lightning goes, depending on what you go with, make sure to ground it to avoid electric damage to your house.
For temp/RH sensors, these should be in a ventilated shack but if not, do the best you can (the northern side of a house can work sometimes) and mount it at least 2M above a surface (ideally 3 meters). They should be no closer than four times the height of the closest obscurations height, at least 30 meters away from large paved areas, over a level surface, with ideally low, level grass below it. Make sure there isn't any neighboring heat sources (chimney, camp fire, bbq, dryer vent, etc), high vegetation, swamps or areas that collect water, snow drift prone areas, metal structures or asphalt shingles since these radiate heat bad in summer months (try roofing a house to see what I mean). But another bad thing with roof mounts is soot from chimneys or heating oil exhaust can affect sensors over time and will either require more frequent cleaning or replacement.
As far as precipitation goes, the regulations are similar in that the tipping bucket should be no closer than four times the height of surrounding objects. It should be parallel with the surface its mounted at, open to the sky as much as possible and above a level surface that won't get splash-in or snow drifting. A typical standard height is 1 meter roughly. But again picking on the roof mount, when you have to clean the unit of dust, bugs and occasional dead rodents or birds, you will have to climb up and empty it. In the summer, this can be frequent since you always want to check it before a storm to make sure it is clean of debris or possible dew or sprinkler water that may have accumulated over the time since the last storm.
I could go on about other down about other sensor standards but given the $250 limit, odds are your unit will only involve these elements more or less. But let me provide a few other pointers to consider. If you are going cabled, consider putting the wires in PVC pipe to avoid damage from elements or animals. If going wireless, remember that these aren't miracle workers so look for the best line of site location. Hills, several walls, vegetation, or other structures (separate garage for example) can cut the ranges down considerably. Remember again that the anemometer pole is essentially a new lightning rod, so ground it. Be careful of electronic interference if going wireless especially if in an urban neighborhood. And if you are stuck putting it on the roof, be careful up there.
If any additional help ask away. I or others on here can surely help you out. Good luck and keep us posted.
I bought this one about 5 years ago and couldn't be happier with it. At $120 I figured it would give out in a year or two but, still going strong. Once I had to shoot a little silicone spray in the anemometer. Like Ryan said, the choice is very personal but for entry level, I think it's great.
01-10-2011, 07:13 PM
I think it might be worth it to experiment with something like Rich posted. With proper placement you may get results as good as something that cost 5 times as much.
I've had several Davis systems over the years and if I had another good site that is what I would put in. I live in a neighborhood now with no chance of getting good wind readings so I bought a basic Oregon Scientific temp sensor with barometer.
I'd do everything you can to avoid putting the temperature suite on top of the roof. You'll be disappointed with the results. Same with the wind sensor. That needs to be as high as possible off the roof and even then you may not like what you get. Obviously you aren't going to have a perfect location, but do everything you can to get the sensors into ideal spots.
01-21-2011, 01:32 PM
I saw some really nice hand held models on Amazon.com . I think they start at $40. What is the purpose? do you want to stay up with the weather or do you want to become an amateur weather man? Good luck on your quest.
01-24-2011, 11:24 AM
I'm very happy with my Davis Vantage Vue that I got in September or so. I have it mounted in an OK location on the house... the best I could get in town. The console has the datalogger attachment and uploads to Wunderground.com on rapid fire every 30 seconds or so. As far as I can tell the station trends very nicely with other local stations, the only thing that is off a little is wind speed because it's sheltered by the house a little bit. I did once have a problem with icing on the anemometer, snow/ice collect in the rain catch, and build high enough to catch the wind cups. But after a day or two of sun it clears up nicely. Other than that, not too bad at all...
02-03-2011, 11:09 PM
Thanks everyone. To be honest, I'm a little more confused now. Reall starting to question the roof idea, and if not......don't know where to put it. I'll keep you updated.
02-19-2011, 04:51 PM
Anybody have the Oregon Scientific WMR200?
Looks like it gives you the option to mount everything separate.
02-20-2011, 07:58 PM
Anybody have the Oregon Scientific WMR200?
Looks like it gives you the option to mount everything separate.
I had the WMR200 for about a day... I had lots of trouble getting the rain gauge to stay connected to the base. The touch screen was hard to operate at best as well. The update time on the wind wasn't the greatest either. Overall I wasn't happy with the quality of the construction, or how it connected to the PC.
Here's a nice comparison site (http://ambientweather.wikispaces.com/Weather+Station+Comparison+Guide) that lists the features, etc.
02-20-2011, 09:43 PM
Thanks, I had a feeling the price seemed too good compared to a Davis. The last thing I want to deal with is constant connection issues.
02-21-2011, 12:47 PM
Oregon Scientific doesn't make a terrible product... but I feel they have areas to improve upon, especially for the price they want for their stuff. LaCrosse Technology is the same way. I had one of their stations at one point... definitely not the best. The buttons practically needed a hammer to work correctly... there was no battery inside, so if the power went out or you had to move the unit, you had to reset all settings and the date, etc.
If you want a quality station, in my opinion Davis has a couple that are on the low end of the pricing, but are still extremely high quality and well supported. By low end of the pricing I mean $300 or so... but if you look at stations from Columbia, WeatherHawk and RainWise you'll see the price difference is pretty clear.
My station reports to Wunderground every 30 seconds, archives all data and backs it up online. It also runs on a UPS system along with the PC and router so I'm pretty much always uploading data unless there is an extended outage, at which point it uploads when the PC/internet is back up. It's nice to see the trending on the Davis console, Hi/Low, etc which is difficult to use on the other brands.
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