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Switching up my personal weather station

You know which way the wind blows when the old anemometer starts grinding down

Ambient Weather’s WS-5000 Ultrasonic Professional Smart Weather Station and Thermo Hygrometer.

As I write this, a large portion of central North America is in the middle of a cold snap that looks to be one of the more significant ones in the last 20 or so years. I will do a full analysis once it’s over, but I do have to mention a couple of things. First, just like a couple of weeks of warm weather does not mean global warming, neither do a couple of weeks of cold weather mean global cooling — yet I have already seen commentary using this cold snap as proof that there is no such thing as global warming. Once again, this comes from short-sightedness and a glaring lack of global perspective. If you want to take a short-sighted view of it, two weeks of cold does not wipe out the two months of warmth we saw in December and January. The second point is, why does the argument that the current warming is not human caused but rather natural make people feel better? If it is human caused, we can take measures to minimize it; if it is natural, well, I guess all we can do is hope it cools down and does not just keep on getting warmer.

Some of you might know that I have had a personal weather station since 1998. My first station was a Davis Weather Monitor 2, which lasted about nine years when it was damaged in a break-in and had to be replaced. I dug deep into my pockets and bought a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station, complete with all the bells and whistles. The idea was to eventually upgrade it further by adding in soil temperature, soil moisture and leaf wetness. Well, costs of those upgrades never made it to the top of the “needs” list at my place, but overall, it was a good weather station, until just recently.

If you have ever checked out my weather website (bezte.ca/weather) you might have noticed a couple of things. First, the website is looking old and dated. It works, and I just have not found something exciting to make me want to change it. Second, my wind speeds have been slowing down, especially when it gets cold. I went outside the other day when it was windy and about -32 C and while the cups were spinning, they were going slow and you could hear rubbing or grinding — time for a new anemometer. So off to the internet I go. The part for a quick cheap fix is only available for the newer model — OK, how much to replace it? About $200! That seemed a little steep for me.

Thinking about this, with all the advancements made in electronics, the cost of weather stations should have gone down significantly. If I tried to replace all the parts of my stations separately, which I might have to start doing since it is getting old, it would be well over $1,000. To buy a new identical station would also be well over $1,000. Really? The cost of the station is still about the same as it was 17 years ago, considering inflation. Also there have been no new significant upgrades to the station. Little design tweaks here and there; heck, it still uses the same boring display. Where is the colour display, for goodness sake?

Shopping

Off I go once again on to the internet to see what else is available. I looked at some of the La Crosse weather stations and decided they would be too much of a drop from my current station. I then went to check out one of my favourite weather station websites from years past to see what it was offering.

Now, to be honest, I have been checking out ambientweather.com periodically over the years, and I did notice that several years ago it began to offer its own branded personal weather stations. My station was still working fine, so I did not dig too deep into these offerings. This time around, looking at its top offering for weather stations, I became intrigued; you could almost say… excited.

The weather station from Ambient that piqued my interest was the Ambient Weather WS-5000 Ultrasonic Professional Smart Weather Station and Thermo Hygrometer. The first thing that caught my eye was that this weather station had everything my current weather stations has, but is only US$300. It includes indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity, barometer, rainfall, solar, UV, wind direction and wind speed. The wind speed is interesting, as it does not use the traditional spinning cups but instead uses an ultrasonic wind sensor — the same technology that has been slowly replacing wind sensors in the professional world.

Maybe the reason this station appealed to me was because my current wind cups are no longer working correctly, or maybe it is the cost. I think it is a bit of both, plus the fact that I can add an additional temperature and humidity sensor, soil moisture sensor, and even a lightning detector for less than $100. Oh, it also comes with a nice colour display, can connect directly to my Wi-Fi, and has what looks to be nice cloud-based web service.

The only question I have is just how long it will last. At about one-third the cost of an equivalent Davis station, five to eight years would be good, but of course longer would be better.

Over the next little while I will take you on my journey with this new station, right from my discussions with customer service before buying, all the way through how well it works over the next year or so. I placed my order on Feb. 8, so hopefully it will not take too long to show up. Oh, I should probably mention, I paid for this station on my own — it is in no way sponsored by anyone.

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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