How to Buy a Professional Weather Station
To learn more about how weather stations work and which one might be right for you, read on!
There are countless reasons to install a weather station in your home. Here are just a few:
You get personalized weather reports. If your smartphone app has ever shown “sunny skies” while rain is falling right outside your window, you’ve witnessed firsthand a reason to purchase a professional home weather station.
The weather forecast on your phone, radio or TV is typically generated from a few professional weather stations located in your general region (oftentimes found in places like airports). Depending on where you live, however, you might be 30 miles away (or even more) from the spots where the weather station is reporting conditions. Weather forecasts from the media provide a general idea of what conditions you’ll experience throughout the day, but a device that’s collecting and analyzing data in your own back yard will be much more precise for the conditions outside your window. For that, you need a professional home weather station.
It’s fun and educational. Maybe you're a weather buff (like we are!) and you can't get enough weather watching. Or maybe you have children and a weather station would be a great teaching tool. Perhaps you enjoy analytics and (between fantasy football leagues) you can try your hand at analyzing trends and predicting the big next storm. For this and many other reasons, a weather station can provide countless hours of enjoyment.
It can help you make informed decisions for a hobby or activity. No matter if you’re a gardener, fisherman, surfer or golfer, envionmental conditions play a role in what you do. Having reliable information at your fingertips can help you get the most out of your favorite activities.
You can monitor your home when you’re away. Depending on where you place your environmental sensors, a weather station can help you prevent food spoilage, mitigate mold, ensure ideal conditions for valuable collectables or minimize flood damage. And you can access this information from anywhere on a PC, smartphone or tablet.
Now that we know a bit about what a professional home weather station is and does, we can discuss the third question; how does a professional weather station work? We’ll start by describing the different components that make up a weather station.
The two primary components to a weather station are the wireless sensor and the weather station display. More advanced professional weather station systems may also feature a built-in PC connection or an internet bridge to upload data to a computer, tablet, smart phone and weather-related websites. Higher-end systems may also be expanded with add-on sensors that allow you to increase your coverage area to include indoor environmental monitoring for basements, attics, garages, etc. Here’s an overview of what each weather station component does:
Outdoor Wireless Sensors: These components, installed outdoors, collect weather data and wirelessly transmit the data to a weather station display and/or Internet bridge. A basic sensor unit will usually monitor temperature and humidity. A high-end sensor may also measure wind speed. A top-line sensor can feature temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and even measure rainfall.
AcuRite offers a full range of wireless sensors. These include our Wireless Temperature and Humidity Sensor, 3-in-1 Weather Sensor and 5-in-1 Weather Sensor.
Weather Station Display: This component includes wireless, monochrome digital screens (battery-operated) that may feature a backlight for nighttime viewing, or you may prefer an illuminated color LCD display that is powered by a standard wall outlet and can be placed in your kitchen, bedroom, office, etc. Its job is to receive and compute data from the wireless sensor and then display current and forecasted conditions. Weather station displays typically feature built-in sensors of their own, allowing them to measure indoor temperature, indoor humidity and barometric pressure (barometric pressure is vital in creating a weather forecast). The display screen features large, bold numbers so that you can get a complete view of indoor and outdoor conditions at a glance.
Some weather station displays offer a USB port that enables them to be connected to a computer. This allows for storage and analysis of historical records, as well as remote monitoring of your weather (via the Internet) on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can also upload your sensor data to websites like Weather Underground and see how your professional home weather station’s data compares to other home weather stations operating in your area. The PC connect feature provides the ability to configure the software to send email and/or text alerts for things like severe weather or a flooded basement…or any other type of condition you would like to stay notified about.
Select AcuRite weather station displays feature our exclusive AcuRite Connect capability, allowing for seamless access to weather data on a PC, browser, tablet, smartphone and on weather communities like Weather Underground.
Internet Bridge: This component can be used in parallel with a weather station display or as a stand-alone unit for reporting sensor data. Regardless, its function is to receive data from your wireless sensor(s) and upload it to the Internet straight through an Ethernet router. From there, the data is received by a cloud-based server. Once in the cloud, the data can be remotely viewed on a browser and/or smartphone app.
AcuRite’s AcuLink™ Internet Bridge comes equipped with a built-in barometer. This is because barometric pressure is a vital reading when forecasting weather. So, as the AcuLink bridge uploads data from your wireless sensors to the internet, it also senses and uploads barometric pressure. When the AcuLink cloud server receives this data, it can compute reliable weather forecasts.
Add-On Sensors: Depending on what professional home weather station you choose, you may have the ability to expand the system with add-on sensors.
One advantage of this is that you can simultaneously monitor multiple locations in and around your home. Examples may include a music room, basement, garage, crawlspace or greenhouse.
Or, perhaps you have a specific need. This may be maintaining water temperature in a fish tank, keeping an eye on humidity in a reptile cage, or monitoring soil temperature in your garden.
AcuRite offers a variety of add-on sensors. In addition to the ability to purchase additional Wireless Temperature and Humidity Sensor, we offer Room Monitors, Rain Gauges, Water Detectors (great for warning of basement flooding), Liquid & Soil Temperature Sensors (great for gardening, fish tanks and pools), Spot Check Temperature & Humidity Sensors, additional Temperature and Humidity Sensors and more.
Now that we know what a professional weather station is and generally how it works, we can address the question of which weather station is right for you? It’s not a straightforward answer. Here are some factors which may play a role in your purchase decision:
• Your level of DIY savviness
• Available installation points in/around your home
• The need to simultaneously monitor conditions in multiple locations
• How you plan to use the weather data
• The quality of the forecasts required to suit your needs
Budget: AcuRite’s selection of weather stations start at $34.99 MSRP for a basic “weather forecaster” that measures indoor and outdoor temperature and barometric pressure. AcuRite’s top-of-the line model sells for $285.95 MSRP. It’s a fully-featured, Internet-connected “weather environment system” that takes readings in multiple locations in and around your home and sends alerts via email and text. It includes a weather station display, and also works through AcuRite’s smartphone app and computer software. It measures temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and more. It costs more than the basic model, but does a lot more too.
DIY Savviness: Are you the type who would prefer to hang a sensor on a nail, install a battery and call it done? Or are you naturally inclined to want to custom build a 33-foot (10-meter) tall perch for your 5-in-1 weather sensor unit, perfectly adjusted to meet Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) standards? In other words, do you want “plug and play” installation or are you comfortable constructing and configuring a more feature rich, but complex system?
Available Installation Points In/Around a Home: Optimal, “no compromise” professional home weather station installation requires a wide berth around your sensor, free from obstructions that can distort or interfere with data collection. For example, accurate wind and rain readings will be much easier to acquire living on a farm than it would be from a garden apartment in the city. If you live in a dense urban area, a basic weather forecaster utilizing an AcuRite Temperature and Humidity Sensor may be all that’s feasible to install. If you’re out in the country, have access to a rooftop, or a big yard, an AcuRite 3-in-1 or 5-in-1 Sensor powering a higher-end professional weather station can be more easily installed and operated.
The Need to Simultaneously Monitor Conditions in Multiple Locations: Different professional home weather stations offer varying degrees of expandability. Are you a gardener who also happens to have a wine cellar and a collection of expensive artwork? You’ll want a weather station that can simultaneously monitor all three locations. Or are you an artist, living in a studio apartment downtown? AcuRite’s Humidity Monitor would suit your environmental monitoring needs perfectly.
How You Plan to use the Weather Data: A basic weather station can reliably tell you if you should pack an umbrella or stash a sweater in your backpack before heading to work. Therefore, if you simply need a weather station to help you plan your day, you can get a great product for the cost of a nice dinner.
If you’re serious about gardening, hunting, fishing, boating, skiing or surfing, however, you may need a bit more data. If you’re like one of these folks, you’ll probably want access to information that could include wind direction and speed, humidity, rainfall and temperature. And you’ll also want a device that can analyze this data and then provide you with meaningful, reliable weather forecasts.
The Quality of the Forecasts Required: A professional home weather station can provide very reliable forecasts, suitable for day-to-day activities and weekend recreation. If your activity is extremely sensitive to weather, you can achieve an even higher level of forecasting accuracy by choosing a professional weather station system with a PC connection or an Internet Bridge. This allows you to compare your weather station’s readings and predictions with other weather stations in your immediate area.
Now that you have an overview, this handy guide will steer you toward the AcuRite Weather Station that will best suit your needs.