Home weather station advice / experiences

I’m thinking of getting my wife a home weather station for Christmas. She had a wireless outside thermometer that stopped working last year, and would like another one. She’s also often interested in rainfall amounts. Looking around, they have ones that do both those, and also have windspeed and other sensors, for added fun.

Anyone have any experience with these? Any brand recommendations? Many of the parts appear to be plastic, and I’m worried they will turn very brittle in a year.

Looking at the La Crosse Techjnology website, these are sort of what I’m thinking. The $250 ones have PC software, and the under $200 ones just have the indoor display. Does anyone know if the PC needs to be on and connected continuously to collect the data as a function of time, or does the unit store the data, and the software can be run now and then to offload the data?

For those, it seems like the thermometer sensor needs to be mounted on the side of the house. Won’t that affect its reading, especially in winter?

There’s also AmbientWeather, which has a lot of product on Amazon. I just started looking, so there are probably other brands to consider.

Yes, mounting a temperature sensor on the side of the house would likely artificially boost readings. You should be able to place it far enough away to get accurate readings.

Based on my own experience with a weather station that stopped working, I’d check out consumer ratings with any system carefully.

Yes, the temperature sensor is designed to be mounted away from your house, on a pole, the side of a tree, etc. The wind sensor will require such a mount as well, frequently you can put them both on the same pole.

The temperature sensor in the LaCrosse system you linked has a radiation shield, which means it will not heat up as much in direct sunlight. The more expensive systems actually have a solar-powered fan that keeps air moving through the sensor - the cheaper systems do not have a radiation shield at all and will read high unless mounted in a shady spot. These are to be avoided.

The real problem with these consumer-grade weather stations is reliability. I paid about $200 for a Honeywell unit for my parents a few years ago, and it was great at first, but over the course of about 2 years all the sensors had stopped working in one way or another (yes, we did replace the batteries, that was not it). Additionally, none of the sensors were especially accurate (the indoor and outdoor temperature sensors were off by a few 4 degrees when I compared them inside the house). For $200, this was not satisfactory.

I would suggest looking around on http://www.wxforum.net/ , which is (what else) a forum for weather and weather equipment enthusiasts. They should give you a sense of what brands to avoid.

After the experience with my parents, and reading similar stories from other people, I don’t think the $200 systems are worth the money. I think the minimum you have to spend for a decent-quality system is about $400.

EDIT: Davis (davisnet.com) seems to have a good reputation. Their entry-level system costs $395. Perhaps you can find it on sale, refurbished, etc.? http://www.vantagevue.com/products/product.asp?pnum=06250 Conveniently, all the sensors are integrated into a single unit.

Thanks. Absolute, that What Weather Station Should I Buy? forum at wxforum.net looks perfect. A quick skim, they do seem to agree that Davis is better quality.

Davis is good but beware you’ll have to spend more for a computer connection, I believe you have to buy a couple of things for around $100 each… I think the Vantage Vue may not be capable of a computer connection and you may have to go with the more expensive Vantage Pro, but I can’t really remember.

The thing about the cheaper stations is that they aren’t as reliable, accurate or sophisticated. I have one because I don’t have a good place to put a Davis but the interior and exterior temperature readings are both 10 degrees off during the day, and during a 60mph gust front it measured winds at 36 because it only takes wind readings every 45 seconds.