A personal home weather station (PWS) is a group of instrument that you can assemble to acquire accurate weather data within you current location. The weather data is collection by a group of sensors called – ISS (Integrated Sensor Suite). After collecting all the variables the ISS transmits the information to a indoor console. The console than displays all of the information on a convenient readout display
A typical home weather station has the following sensors:
- Thermometer for temperature readings
- Barometer for measuring the pressure in the atmosphere
- Rain gauge to measure precipitation
- Anemometer for the wind direction and speed
- Humidity sensor to measure relative humidity
Weather stations range from simple one sensor devices to multisensory devices with soil temperature and radiation sensor.
What to look for when choosing one
With so many different models on the market and so many different prices options, it might feel like an impossible task to choose the right one. So we are going to outline a couple of important features and then you have to decide which one is more important to you.
Remember the more money you spend the more reliable and accurate are the weather instruments are, and less money you spend, you are leaning toward residential type devices with less accuracy and sensors.
Temperature and humidity sensors are housed inside. This shield protects these two sensors from the direct sunlight and thus enable them to give more precise measurements. Some PWS have a fan aspirator inside the shield; this can prevents hot air bubbles to disrupt the sensor’s work.
Look for: Large radiation shields; If possible chose the one that has fan.
Wind measuring sensor (anemometer)
There are two types of anemometers propeller and spinning cups and there is not much of a difference which one you’ll get. But because anemometers can cache ice in cold humid weather, try to choose a black colored sensor to reduce the time the ice stays on.
The accuracy is the most important feature to look for when deciding what type to get. When choosing your weather instrument check out the specification and look for accuracy range of ± 5% or better.
Look for: Black color; Accuracy in the range of ± 5% or better.
Precipitation (rain gauge)
Rain gauge is for measuring rain fall or liquid precipitation. In general the tech behind the rain gauge is fairly simple – the rain water fills up one side of the double- sided bucket (tipping bucket) and when the volume reaches certain point the gravity causes the bucket to tilt and drain, in the same time the other side lifts up and the second bucker start to fill.
Here a good rule is to avoid small buckets – the wider and taller the bucket – the more accurate the measurement will be. Avoid shallow funnels because in heavy rainfall it may fill and start to overflow. Another problem with the shallow funnels is the – “splash out” – heavy raindrops will hits the funnel and escape the collection area.
Another important feature of the rain gauge is the data resolution. This is the volume of rain the tipping bucket has to collect before it pivots to the side. Look for one-hundredth of an inch (0.01) when checking the device specification.
Look for: Big funnels; Data resolution of 0.01′
Humidity and Dewpoint
Weather stations measures dewpoint based on temperature and relative humidity. However some sensors on the market a prone to errors with restricted operation rage.
Look for: PWS with Relative Humidity in the rage of 0-100%, with data resolution of at least 1%, and accuracy rating ±3%.
*For more understanding dewpoint and relative humidity check out this article
If you don’t want to extend bunch of cables the wireless technology can take care of it. Most home weather measuring devices are equipped or exclusively transmit their data trough Wi-Fi.
Look for: Longer range of transmission. Around 250 feet is good starting point.
The on-board solar power system means minimal power maintenance trips after installation. The panel gives energy to the sensor unit during the course of the day and the power capacitor provides the power at night time.
Look for: Larger solar panel.
Indoor Display Console
The digital console is the device that provides readouts of the weather variables being collected. Depending on the model, the console will give all kinds of information like – historic weather data, highest wind gusts, forecast, atomic time and many others. If you want to store the data on your PC or publish it online some of the consoles have that interface.
Most of the weather stations include their barometric pressure inside the console unit. The consoles constantly check the barometric pressure, they then use the collected data to show you what the weather is doing be. Most of the displays present the forecast with easy to follow graphic symbols such as clouds and rain.
Pressure tendency arrow
The arrow indicates the current barometric trend, measured over the last couple hours. It is updated on some period of time depending on the model and brand.
Barometric pressure changes with local weather. This arrow is good indicator of what the weather is going to be in the next few hours. Rising pressure means fair weather while falling pressure means poor weather.
The graph will give you historic data from the station’s sensors. Useful feature if you don’t want to connect to a computer but want to check your historic data in more convenient way.
Rain, rainfall rate
Rain rate the intensity of rainfall. It is measured by calculating the amount of rain that falls into the bucket per unit of time. On the console the rain rate is displayed as either inches per hour (in/hr.) or millimeters per hour (mm/hr.).
The solar radiation number on the display console is a measurment of the amount of solar radiation colliding with solar radiation sensor at any given time, The unit that measures this interaction is expressed in Watts/.
Some of the more high-end devices have this reading. You will need a sensor to have this reading on your console.
UV (ultra violet light)
This will display changing levels of UV radiation. If you have backyard and you are doing a sunbaths this can alert of situations where exposures to the sun is particularly unacceptable. The UV radiation readout requires the UV radiation sensor.
This reading gives you information of how hot the air actually “feels”. It is a calculation between temperature and relative humidity. When the humidity is higher the temperature you “feel” is lower than the actual air temperature. When there are more water droplets in the air i.e. higher humidity the apparent temperature will be higher.
This measures how the wind speed will affect your perception of the air temp. The faster the wind the higher the wind chill effect, the colder you get.
The console weather forecast is generated based on set of variables reported by your sensor suite. The data variables taken into account are – barometric reading & trend, wind speed & direction, rainfall, temperature, humidity, latitude & longitude, and time of year. Most of the weather devices use forecast icons to present the predicted weather for the next 24 hours.
Represents the current Moon phase of the based on your current Hemisphere.
Atomic clock, day, date
Some console receivers are equipped with RCC atomic clock which is synced with National Institute of Standard and Technologies that makes sure the clock is always accurate as possible.
Sunrise and sunset times for your latitude & longitude
The console uses the current time and date combined with your latitude and longitude to calculate the sunrise and sunset.