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Weather gift ideas for the holidays

Might a shiny new weather station under the tree be the perfect gift?

Believe it or not, it’s that time of the year again – winter, but we’re not going to talk about that. By “that time of the year,” what I mean is, that it’s time for us to take a look at the various weather gift ideas that are out there for the upcoming holiday season.

Over the years it has actually become harder to come up with weather-related gift ideas, because there just seems to be more companies producing weather-related instruments. More options should mean more competition, which should translate into more choices and better prices, and while this is true, I am finding it difficult to keep up with all the different brands and options that are available.

Don’t forget, I don’t have some giant budget, or the “pull” to get samples of all the different weather stations and weather instruments that are available to do hands-on reviews. Instead I must dig through web page after web page, reading up on all the different instruments, pour through the reviews trying to determine real reviews from fake ones, and then compile and summarize it for you. Personally, I think it would be quicker, OK maybe not quicker, but it would definitely be easier if I was able to check out each weather instrument directly!

For this year’s review of holiday weather instruments, I decided to concentrate on weather stations, starting with simple stations and working up to the most encompassing stations. I also made sure to just include weather stations that were relatively easy to find either in Canadian stores or that are available online from sites that ship to Canada.

We’ll begin with the simple weather station. These are weather stations that have a simple inside display along with an outdoor temperature sensor. For ease of discussion I am only going to look at wireless stations, which are thankfully the majority of stations out there. I personally usually have a couple of these simple stations kicking around, and truth be told, I usually buy them from Canadian Tire on sale. After all, Canadian Tire can have some of the best sales.

My go-to simple weather station is the La Crosse Wireless Temperature Station that regularly sells for about $30, but often goes on sale for around $10. They redesigned this station a couple of years ago, making the outdoor sensor bigger so it can take AA batteries. Since this switch I have found them much more reliable and longer lasting. If all you are looking for is outside temperature readings, then this is the way to go. La Crosse also makes stations that have fancier indoor displays, but for the most part, you are paying more to get a nicer display of the outdoor temperature.

Moving up to the next level are weather stations that provide outdoor temperature, humidity and wind speed. La Crosse and AcuRite both make some fairly affordable offerings at this level. While I have had some dealings with La Crosse and find them fairly reliable, the one dealing I have had with AcuRite was not as positive. My parents received an AcuRite mini weather station for Christmas last year and I was in charge of setting it up at the lake. The station worked as advertised, but the display had some problems displaying some of the data in some areas and the unit acted like a bright night light at night, and came with no way of dimming it. Once again, you can find some great deals on these stations, especially the AcuRite ones. Just remember, if it is $120 regular and you pay $40, don’t get overly disappointed if something goes wrong.

Next up are the medium- to higher-end units. While these might be more difficult to find at a local store, you’ll likely find them easily online. If you remember back to previous years, I often say to check out Ambientweather.com for lots of good weather gift ideas. Well, feel free to do so, but it no longer ships to Canada, though you can find some of its stuff on Amazon. It started to sell its own branded weather stations that on paper look pretty good. For example, the Ambient Weather Wi-Fi weather station collects temperature, humidity, wind speed, rainfall, solar radiation and UV and from this can also calculate dew point and wind values. The station is able to connect through Wi-Fi in your home and then upload the data to the Ambient Weather network that will then allow you to access your data through a web page or through an app on your phone. You can also download the data if you wish to analyze it further. Heck, you can even access your weather data through Alexa, or so they claim. You can find these stations for around $350.

Finally, we have the top-end weather stations. This honour, in my books and in most of the reviews, goes to Davis weather instruments. There are two different stations available, the Davis Vantage Vue and the Davis Vantage Pro 2. The Vantage Vue station has all the outdoor sensors bundled into one sensor suite that allows for easy installation, while the Pro 2 separates the wind sensor from the temperature and rainfall allowing for a little more control over their placement. These Davis stations are well built, reliable, and in different configurations will allow you to connect your stations directly to your computer or directly to your network. Both have their advantages. The Davis stations are the most expensive, with all the bells and whistles pushing the price upwards of $750 to $1,000. But to have a station that simply just works day after day, year after year, well — it’s priceless.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

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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