Factors To Consider When Making Your Purchase
Weather Variables - This is the most important factor when purchasing commercial weather stations because the type of weather measurements (variables) you wish to monitor will determine if you should be looking for a basic personal weather station (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure) or a complete professional weather station (wind, rain, and more). You should also consider how a unit's indoor console displays this data.
Cost - How much you are willing or can afford to pay for your weather station is a factor that will impact all of the factors that remain. In general, the more money you can invest in a personal weather station the better it is. However, comparing specifications is definitely worthwhile because the old adage "you get what you pay for" is not necessarily true in all cases.
Installation Issues - The site where you intend to install your personal weather station needs to be evaluated, taking into consideration the distance from the indoor display console to where the sensors have to be located. For cabled weather stations, the length of the cable that comes with the unit will determine the maximum distance. Some manufacturers do offer extension cables for their cabled weather stations. Wireless home weather stations have a maximum "unobstructed" or "line of sight" range rating, which is diminished by the type and number of building materials the signal must penetrate. A rule-of-thumb for a typical installation is one half to one third the distance of the unobstructed range rating. Possible sources of interference should also be taken into consideration with the installation of wireless weather stations. The altitude where your weather station is going to be installed can also be an issue, and you should be aware that many weather stations are limited to operating at 6,000 feet or below with regard to accurate barometer readings.
Accuracy, Resolution and Range - These three factors are of primary importance when selecting the best weather stations. Accuracy is how close the displayed measurement reading is to the true measurement value (e.g. ±1°F for temperature). Resolution is the smallest increment that the unit is capable of measuring and displaying (e.g. 0.1°F for temperature). Range is the minimum and maximum limits the unit is capable of measuring within (e.g. -40°F to +150°F for temperature).
Update Interval - This is the rate at which the personal weather station updates the display. Update intervals can vary significantly between units, from as often at once per second to as little as once every three minutes or even longer. Watching the wind data change every three minutes during a variably windy day, or likewise the rain data during a heavy rainfall, could limit the enjoyment you receive from your weather station.
Weather Forecasting - If available, many commercial weather stations base their forecast on the barometric pressure trend (rising or falling), which is not as accurate as taking other variables into account. The more sophisticated professional weather stations takes into account not only barometric pressure, but also wind, rainfall, temperature humidity, and even the latitude and longitude of the station, resulting in a much more accurate forecast.
Historical Data - Most basic weather stations and the less expensive complete weather stations display current data and very little in the way of historical data, perhaps the high and low readings for a period of time (often between manual resets). Weather stations that feature barometric pressure often include a graphic display of the trend for the past 24 hours. More extensive historical data retention is usually only available in a high-end professional weather station. For example, the Davis Vantage Pro2 series can display the highs and lows (and/or totals or averages) for nearly every weather variable for the last 24 hours, days, months, or years!
Computer Interface - If you are interested in connecting your weather station to a computer you will most likely need to purchase a complete weather station, and not all of those come with that capability or option. With computer weather equipment (interface and software), you can record and graphically display weather variables at an interval that's typically user selectable. Depending on the software you can make forecasts, graph weather trends, post data on the internet, or even send email alerts. Some manufacturers include a "data logger," which has a built-in memory to store weather data for later retrieval. This allows you the flexibility of not having your computer on software running at all times.
Weather Station Review - There is a lot of information available on the internet about specific models of weather stations. We suggest you perform a search for some reviews on the models you're considering.
All content on the WeatherShack Education Center is Copyright 2002-2016 WeatherShack.com. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of WeatherShack.com. For permission, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.