This article was originally published in 2018. We updated it March of 2020 to include cleaning tips for new products.
I welcome the first day of spring with my spring cleaning tasks around the house, which includes my backyard weather station maintenance! Especially after winter storms with strong winds and heavy rainfall, I like to go take a peek at the status of my weather station. I check to see if the anemometer made it through the winter unharmed with no cracks and can spin freely, and I also make sure the rain bucket is clear of leaves, bugs and spiders, and even bird poo!
Is your rain gauge reporting 0 inches of rain when it has been raining all day? If so, your rain gauge may be clogged! It is recommended to rinse it out a few times with warm, soapy water to remove all the gunk inside.
To eliminate any erroneous rainfall measurements to your My AcuRite dashboard, just simply remove the batteries from the weather station before cleaning out the system (or the rain gauge if you have the stand alone unit). Without the batteries, the unit will not transmit any data to the Access so erroneous rainfall data will not transfer to your My AcuRite dashboard or graphs.
Make sure your wind speed and direction measurements are accurate by ensuring your cup anemometer and wind vane are able to spin freely. Dirt or dust can get in and disrupt the bearings, and you can fix this by cleaning the sensor with warm water. Actually, ice can freeze the anemometer from spinning freely, so also make sure to check the station after winter storms!
If any parts are cracked or broken, or not spinning freely, you can order new wind cups or wind vane for your 5-in-1 directly from AcuRite for very reasonable prices! If there was major damage this winter, then you may want to order a new wind cup assembly or upgrade to the Pro version.
The anemometer on the Atlas requires different parts than the 5-in-1. Check all available Atlas replacement parts if any parts are broken, or if you just want to add a new feature like lightning sensor or wind extension!
Your solar panels must be cleaned regularly to maintain highest functionality possible. When the photovoltaics are dirty or dusty, the station is not receiving maximum power available. Warm water and soap will do the trick. Also, for highest efficiency the solar panel should face due south in the northern hemisphere (north in the southern hemisphere).
Our Advice? Clean the entire unit, whether you have a 5-in-1 or an Atlas!
Simply clean off the entire unit using a rag and warm soapy water. This will clear bugs, spiders, and spider webs away from any inlet areas in the solar radiation shield for more realistic temperature and humidity measurements. It is recommended to clean your weather station at least twice a year, so you'll likely hear from me again in the fall reminding you to go clean your weather station!
With the additional sensors on the Atlas, you can start to track the longer days. Watch the light intensity and hours of daylight increase as we approach summer, and watch the UV Index so you can stay ahead of potential sunburns!
Bonus Tip! Optional Solar Radiation Shield
When outside temperature and humidity sensors are placed in direct sunlight, they perform best with a radiation shield. By shading the sensor from the sun, it reports more accurate temperature and humidity readings by measuring the free-flow of ambient air. The same goes for our lightning sensor, which also measures temperature and humidity. Inspect and clean the radiation shield regularly; it’s a great place for bugs, spiders, and cobwebs to hide. Or maybe it’s time for a new one! At such a low-cost, it’s easy to replace it every couple of years.
Good luck and happy spring!