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All I Want For Christmas Is… A Weather Station!

Ithink most people in this part of the world are naturally interested in the weather, but it seems that over the last 10 or so years, that interest in weather and weather-related instruments for the home weather enthusiast has really increased.

When I first decided to start observing and recording the weather at home, about a dozen years ago, there were not a lot of choices for the home consumer. If you had a lot of money there were a handful of weather stations to choose from, but if your budget was more modest, there was not much you could get and what was available was not very good, especially if you wanted to go electronic. Today, that has all changed.

Each year in November I take a look at what is out there, and try to provide some insight into what you should look for if you want to buy yourself or someone you love a weather station. This year I thought I would take a different approach by offering some recommendations based on different cost levels. Before I get to this, I do have to point out that I have no affiliation with any manufacturer or company that sells these products. Also, I don’t get “freebies” to test out, so most of these recommendations are based on the manufacturer’s reputation, discussions with different users, and my own insight.

I do tend to use one web-site in particular, www.ambientweather.com, since it easily offers the most comprehensive assortment of weather hardware out there.

UNDER $50

To begin, let’s look at what you can get for under $50. As far as I was able to determine, you can’t get a reasonable full weather station for under $50, but you can get some really neat and useful instruments. The first of these would be a hand-held wind and temperature meter. There are several of these instruments available, and while at the high end they can be several hundred dollars, there are a few available in the $30-$40 range.

One of the handiest instruments you can get for under $50 would be a wireless, self-emptying rain gauge. Oregon Scientific, La Crosse Technology and Honeywell all produce several different types of rain gauges. While some are simply rain gauges with an indoor console for monitoring, others have thermometers included. Most of these are fairly reliable, but do require batteries.

$50 TO $200

In this range you now have full-blown weather stations available to you. While there are complete weather stations available for less than $100 I would look at the stations in the $100 to $200 range as the best place to start. One of the best ones that I see in this price range is Ambient Weather’s WS-1080 Wireless Home Weather Station with Data Logging. This weather station measures wind speed, wind direction, temperature and humidity (both inside and outside), rainfall and barometr ic pressure. What makes it a really good deal is that you can also connect the station to a computer, which will allow you to download the data and share your data online if you want to.

If a complete weather station is not what you’re looking for, another interesting instrument you can get in this price range is the General Tools DLAF8000 Anemometer, Hygrometer, Light Meter, Thermometer. If you are on the go or need readings from different places, this just might be the tool for you.

$200 AND UP

Our final category is pretty big; at the low end of this price range you will find a whole lot of complete weather stations available to you. A couple of good stations would be the Oregon Scientific WMR200A Wireless Solar Powered Professional Weather Station with UV. This station gives you all the weather data you’ll need and is equipped with a touch panel and captures over 10 weather measurements, from up to 300 feet away. The second station found at the lower end of this price range is the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station.

If you are looking to step up to a full-blown, all-the-bells- and-whistles weather station, then I would recommend the Davis Instruments Vantage Pro 2 Plus. This station has it all, including both solar and UV detectors. You can also add a large number of additional wireless sensors to the unit, including soil moisture and leaf wetness sensors. There are numerous different configurations for this unit, starting at $500 for the base unit, and going all the way up to around $1,700 for a Wi-Fi-enabled unit with all the extra sensors you can think of.

I wish I had more room to write about all the different offerings out there. As I pointed out earlier in the article, if you are really interested in weather instruments and you want to feel like you did when you were a kid going through the toy catalogues at Christmas, check out Ambient Weather – just make sure you set aside plenty of time!

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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