A few weeks ago, I regaled you with my quest for a replacement to the venerable Oregon Scientific indoor/outdoor temperature monitor. It had become somewhat unreliable (the radio exterior sensor would lose contact many times a day with the base station), and the replacement with a La Crosse unit that so far seems vastly superior in its reliability (of course, it has been less than a month compared to the 13 or so years I had the Oregon Scientific hanging).
At that time, I did a little digging on more robust weather monitoring systems. Something that tracked humidity, barometric pressure, rainfall, temperature (and not impacted by radiative heat), wind direction and speed, in short a real weather station.
There are many options, from well known names like Oregon Scientific, La Crosse (both I know and trust), as well as a plethora of others. In the back of my mind was the concept of building a full featured weather station – there are many tutorials in the maker space – like this one for the Raspberry Pi, but it looks kludgey, and clearly, it would take a lot of effort to build, especially the rain gauge. Of course, there are more polished kits like this but reading the reviews, they say that it mostly works, but it is very flimsy, and what do you expect for the price.
Then I discovered the next level up, typified by this Acurite option, for a couple hundred, you get something that fives you a pretty useful weather station, and the ability to connect it to the outside world. There are literally dozens of similar units, all in price from slightly less than $200 up to $400 or so. They seem good, and the reviews seem mostly good (4+ stars), but then you discover the unbiased reviews. Poor accuracy, rain gauge is really awful, and reliability is questionable, as review after review complains that they have a knack of failing just past the warranty expiration date. Actually, Acurite, Davis, Oregon Scientific, and others of this class seem to have similar longevity issues.
But, if you keep searching, you find the next step up, the [Davis Pro Vantage 2] series. Clearly a cut above the hobbyist level, the quality of the sensors, the features offered, and the options that are available are immediately apparent from their site, and from the weather watcher forums. The Pro Vantage series are the gold class for the home, amateur, weather watcher.
Not only a stand alone unit, they have data interfaces for your computer, and play nicely with third parties so you can share your data with sites like Weather Underground, and others. You also have access to the data in raw formats so that you can create your own tracking applications and uses for the data. They have wired and wireless options, and the basic package of sensors is quite complete, including temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, anemometer, wind direction, and rainfall totals. You can add solar radiation gauge, soil wetness monitors, leaf wetness, and heaters for the rainfall gauge (if you live in a place that gets snow), and aspiration fans for your temperature gauge (to prevent inaccurate readings when the sun hits it).
It is clearly a strong contender, and from the weather forums, and watering holes on the internet, it is the preferred solution of weather geeks, world wide.
They have their weatherlink where you can connect and share your data, and view it on the iOS and android app, once you get it all connected.
But what if that isn’t enough?
Well, from browsing sites like Scientific Sales, you can stumble into the “Professional” weather instruments. Eye-popping price tags, and the expectation that you will do a lot of your own back haul monitoring. But it was cool to learn about the ultrasonic anemometer, more accurate, especially in low wind conditions, and cool, but yikes, is it pricey.
I am still weighing my options, but I suspect that I will fall in for the Davis Pro Vantage 2 system, and mount it in my back yard, connect it to the internet, and write a small web-app for this page for it. My inner geek is screaming to come out…