There are plenty of weather stations available to record and monitor the weather around your home. They start with simple temperature recorders which will transmit the outside temperature to an inside receiver, and grade through instruments that record humidity and air pressure, which allows them to create simple forecasts.
But the true weather stations will do all this, plus record rainfall, wind speed and wind direction. Many will also calculate simple weather measurements such as wind chill or dew point.
The simpler ones often include some useful additions such as an atomic clock, or phases of the moon, or icons which suggest how much clothing you will need to face the outside world in comfort.
But when you get right down to the basics, the ideal weather station for home use should be robust, have an adequate wireless transmission range to give you some flexibiblity in where you position both the sensors and receiver, and have good computer connectivity so you are able to store and process data over many months. You might even wish to put your weather station live on the internet.
Weather stations which will do some or all of this are readily available from large stores such as Walmart, and can easily be found on the net. They start in price from around $100.00, and most will work reasonably well for a time.
But the trouble with the cheaper home weather stations is that they are manufactured to a price, and require regular maintenance if they are to have any chance of lasting for much over a year. They include some fine introductory models which will allow you to find out just how much you really need to know what’s going on outside, night and day.
But once you decide to get serious, you’ll want the best, and until now the best home weather station for around $450 has been the Vantage Pro2, from Davis Instruments.
The Davis Vantage Vue Home Weather Station
Until now. Because that’s all changed with the release of the Davis Vantage Vue home weather station. And unlike many new products, this is not a bigger, better and more expensive version.
Because what Davis has done is keep all the specifications of the Vantage Pro2, including the fastest update times in this class, keep the easy connection to a PC, keep the 1000 ft signal transmission distance, and keep most of the functions accessible from the receiver, including the 22 most relevant alarms. They’ve redesigned the console and the sensor system, and made it much more simple to set up. They’ve done all that, and reduced the price by $200 dollars, although with the discounts available on both models on the net, this translates to around $140 on the discounted delivered price.
What’s gone is the ability to connect to the more specialized sensors available as options with the Vantage Pro2, and generally only relevant to large gardens, horticultural industries and some scientific users. The average home weather enthusiast won’t miss them. They’ve also reduced the number of alarms, and reduced the forecast period from 48 to 24 hours, plus a few other minor changes.
So in effect, Davis has produced a mini Vantage Pro2 which is even more competitive in the home weather station market.
I believe the Vantage Vue is now the standard setter in the home weather station market. If you can’t afford one as your next or first home weather station, put it on your Christmas wish list or start saving.
There are no obvious problems with the Vantage Vue, and Davis has a one year warranty and an experienced service section. I guess there could be some teething issues which may come to light in the next few months, as may be expected with a new model, but very little has changed form the Vantage Pro2.
The only other question relates to the compact sensor package – if it’s properly set up for wind and rain data, the temperature sensor may be exposed to direct sun. At worst this may give you slightly higher daytime temperatures, and it’s probably not a major problem for most users.
At this stage the Vantage Vue is slowly becoming available. As it becomes easier to find the price may drop even further, but expect something around $420 – $440 delivered. Amazon is worth checking out for the Vantage Vue, and there are quite a few available on eBay most days.Mail this post
If you live in the USA, and are interested in the weather, you have probably heard of CoCoRaHS, which is the short way of referring to the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network.
It is a community of volunteer precipitation recorders, now active in every US state. These public spirited people, many of whom are, or are rapidly becoming, weather buffs, record rain, hail and snow and send their information in to an interactive website each day.
Observers are also expected to report major precipitation events, as well as severe hailstorms. This information can be passed on to emergency services, and as warnings to people in affected areas.
Otherwise the information is compiled on a daily basis. Maps at national, state and county level are compiled and made available to interested people and organizations.
But aren’t there enough weather observers?
The US has its National Weather Service, with a widespread weather station network, supported by CWOP, the Citizens Weather Observer Program. CWOP acquires continuous real time weather data from thousands of home weather stations linked to home computers.
The network is extensive, but it has many gaps. Official weather stations are well scattered, and computer compatible home weather stations are costly and not all that common.
And weather can vary dramatically over small distances. Changes in landscape and topography, and the erratic distribution of small but powerful thunderstorms means that the high tech weather station network can still miss significant and dangerous weather events. This was graphically illustrated during the disastrous 1998 Fort Collins floods in Colorado, where emergency services were unable to cope with very heavy local rainfall.
The CoCoRaHS network grew from the Fort Collins event, where a need was seen for more weather observers, equipped with cheap but reliable equipment and a computer to transmit the data to a central base. It has many private and business sponsors, the main one being NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So what’s involved?
Very little. The CoCoRaHS organization is only interested in precipitation – rain, snow and hail - and all that is needed is an accurate rain gauge, a snow board, and a hail pack. You can find out more about the latter two, which can be made at home, at the CoCoRaHS website.
The rain gauge is a 4″ diameter dual cylinder. It consists of a large outer cylinder, a small inner one, and a gathering funnel. It is big enough to record many inches of rain without the need of emptying.
Other than the willingness to record the amount of rain in the gauge each day, and log into the CoCoRaHS website each day to report your data, very little is required of observers.
Who uses the information?
Apart from the obvious organizations such as NOAA, the NWS, and emergency services, the information is also used by town planners, farmers and agricultural organizations, insurance assessors and even health authorities concerned with such things as malaria risks.
The information is also available to anyone who visits the CoCoRaHS website.
So why am I telling you this?
If you are reading these pages, you have access to a computer and are most likely interested in observing the weather. Provided you live in the USA, you are already a qualified to become a CoCoRAHS observer, and you can join by signing up at the CoCoRaHS website .
The CoCoRaHS people will provide all the training you need, and are also a very good source of general weather information. Even if you own a home weather station, you will only be required to report rainfall recorded in your cylindrical rain gauge – your results need to be consistent with everyone else’s.
That’s not such a bad thing – it’s always good to be able to check your digitally recorded rainfall against the standard raingauge method, and the CoCoRaHS system also adds ways of recording snowfall and hail to your arsenal of weather observing equipment. So far there is no easy way of recording snowfall, hailstone size, and hailstorm duration digitally.
So if your are already a weather observer, why not link up with CoCoRAHS and help expand their coverage. If you already have a computer compatible home weather station, give some thought to joining the CWOP network too.
And if you are already a CoCoRaHS observer, you will be able to use these pages and those of the sister site Home Weather Stations Guide to help you decide whether to add a wireless home weather station to your precipitation measuring equipment.
There’s plenty to choose from and it’s not all that expensive. Amazon offers a wide range at very competitive prices.
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La Crosse’s range of fully functional home weather stations has undergone a complete upgrade over the last two or three years.
Data transmission, sensor reliability and computer compatibility all improved, and the price has dropped.
While not yet to the standard of the Davis Vantage Pro2, the La Crosse range now provides reasonably affordable, complete weather stations which should provide years of trouble free operation. All weather stations included in La Crosse’s range of Professional Weather Centers provide complete records of temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind strength and direction.
At the time of writing, there are five models in the range, plus the mysterious WS-550U-S touch screen model, which was perhaps released a little prematurely.
The range includes two nearly identical computer compatible models – the WS-2316U and WS-2317U – and three rather similar cheaper models which cannot be linked with a PC but are more than capable of providing all the information you need.
You can read about these fully functional home weather stations at Home Weather Stations Guide, or find detailed reviews at the sister site Home Weather Station Reviews. Short reviews of these weather stations are currently being added to this blog.
Apart from recording all components of the outside weather, they all record air pressure and provide a basic weather forecast, specifically for the area surrounding your home.
There’s little difference between the computer compatible models, but of the other three, the WS-1516U-IT appears the best value.
All are good value and are not overpriced. They aren’t quite the best available for home use – the more expensive Davis Vantage Pro2 sets the standard there – but should provide all the weather information you need from around your home.
You can get good comparative information and an idea of price here:- La Crosse Weather Stations .Mail this post
La Crosse Technology has an impressive catalog of products related to time and weather. But the flagships of the range are undoubtedly their wireless based home weather stations.
Wireless, as applied to home weather stations, simply means that information on various aspects of the weather, such as temperature, rainfall or wind speed, are recorded outside and transmitted by radio to a receiver console inside your home. In the old days you would have to rig up cables to transmit the data.
So what does La Crosse have to offer in Home Weather Stations?
The La Crosse home weather station range has shown a lot of improvement over the last two or three years, with improvements in sensors, transmission range and general reliability.
The La Crosse range extends from simple temperature recorders to fully functional weather centers recording temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and wind direction. The best of them can be linked directly to your computer – you can go online and send your home weather details to the world.
La Crosse also produce the Weather Channel range of home weather stations, and together with the range produced by Oregon Scientific, provide an affordable selection of weather stations ideal for newcomers to weather recording, or those with more experience but a limited budget.
La Crosse home weather stations represent well priced, effective weather equipment. You can find unbiased information about the best of their product at Home Weather Stations Guide, while more detailed reviews are being added to the sister site Home Weather Station Reviews.
There you will also find information on home weather stations from Davis Instruments, based around the Vantage Pro2. The Vantage Pro2 represents the next step up from the La Crosse range, although I’m sure La Crosse has plans to close the gap. The main differences are in transmission range, frequency of data transmission, reliability, greater range of functions and the facility to add on additional sensors to form a total microclimate management system. But they come at a price which puts them out of the range of most first time buyers of home weather stations.
So think of La Crosse or Weather Channel home weather stations if you are planning to give home weather recording a try, or if you only want temperature or rainfall information. But maybe add a Davis Vantage Pro2 to your wishlist.
You can get an idea of most of the La Crosse Home Weather Station range Here .Mail this post
Home Weather Stations come in many varieties, ranging from basic temperature recorders to robust assemblies of recorders designed to provide data to official weather forecasters and emergency workers, or to provide reliable information from remote locations where maintenance is difficult.
Around the middle of this range is the latest weather station from Davis Instruments, the Vantage Pro2. This accurate and reliable home weather station sets the standard for the group.
Features of the Davis Vantage Pro2
Its strengths lie in its transmission range of 1000 ft (300m), speedy update of data, reliability of equipment and precision of its readings.
Apart from the basic suite of recordings – temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and wind direction, the Vantage Pro2 can be upgraded to monitor ultraviolet levels, solar radiation, soil and water temperature, soil moisture and leaf wetness, invaluable to owners of large gardens or small agricultural businesses.
It is also fully computer compatible, allowing continuous recording of data, accessibility from outside the area, setting up of an online weather station, and even control of automatic irrigation systems. A full range of warnings can be set up to provide timely advice of approaching storms, strong winds, extreme temperatures and much more.
Is the Davis Vantage Pro2 the Best Home Weather Station for You?
This all places the Davis Vantage Pro2 firmly in the field of small agri-businesses, dedicated gardeners, and weather enthusiasts who demand accurate and uninterrupted weather information.
And it is this group who make up the majority of the Vantage Pro2 buyers.
But it is not the home weather station for everyone, although it may figure in the dreams and long term wishes of any keen weather observer. For while the cost of a basic Vantage Pro2 is excellent value for what is contained in the instrument, it is not cheap – between $US400.00 – $500.00 from good discount outlets, not including computer software.
There is no need to spend that sort of money if you are just beginning to take an interest in remote weather recording around your home – there are plenty of home weather stations available at between a quarter and half of the price of a Davis Vantage Pro2.
They won’t have the same accuracy or fast update speed, the transmission distance between sensors and receiver will be much less, and unless they are well maintained and you get a good one will probably not last as long. You will probably not be able to link them to your computer, although if you pay a little more that is also possible. Many of these, including those produced by Thermor/Bios, La Crosse and Oregon, are fine instruments and will handle all your basic requirements while you find out just how important weather monitoring is in your life.
So if you are new to home weather stations, and don’t want to spend too much first up, focus on the less expensive models. The Davis Vantage Pro2, or a future model, will always be there when it’s time for an upgrade.
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Davis Instruments only make three home weather stations, and two of them have been around for quite a while. But specialization has its advantages, and the Davis Vantage Pro2 sets the standard for quality and reasonable affordability in home weather stations.
The Vantage Pro2, in its basic form, includes temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind sensors (direction and speed), connected by wireless to an attractively designed console/receiver which you can locate at any convenient place in your home.
Resolution and update intervals are class leaders, and the 1000 foot (300m) transmission range gives you great flexibility in positioning the sensors.
The console is easily linked to your computer, allowing you to store huge amounts of weather information, go live on the internet as your own weather station, or control automated watering systems.
But unless you are an experienced or committed weather observer, the Davis Vantage Pro2 might not be the home weather station for you. Although great discounts are available, it will cost you around US$400 – 500, which may be extravagant for your first home weather station – other brands such as La Crosse and Oregon provide several good models at cheaper prices.
The Vantage Pro2 has a number of options which extend its range of functions, particularly for gardening and horticultural uses, and it is also available with cable connections.
And the other Davis home weather stations? There is the Weather Wizard III, a cheaper cable connected instrument, and the Perception II, for those such as motor sport participants who only need temperature, humidity and air pressure information.
You can find out more about the full range of Davis Weather Stations at the Davis website, and a general review at Home Weather Stations Guide. For a detailed review of the Vantage Pro2, visit the big brother of this blog at Home Weather Station Reviews.Mail this post
In the not so distant past, it was difficult and expensive to monitor the weather around your home. Digital equipment was non existent or expensive, and automatic recording almost impossible. Even official weather stations relied on volunteers observing and recording data once or twice a day and phoning it through to the national weather service.
It took quite some determination to be a serious weather observer. As an example, my father owned a barometer which sat on an inside bookcase, a wet and dry bulb thermometer located on an outside verandah, and a rain gauge screwed to the fence. It would have been a labour of love to record weather data several times each day, so he took a more pragmatic approach and only took careful interest in the weather during storms and rainy periods.
Now it’s so much easier.
Whether you want to check the outside temperature to help make a decision on what to wear, or whether you want a fully functional digital weather station that transmits data to the internet in real time while monitoring your irrigation system, it’s all possible with today’s home weather stations.
Home weather stations can also be extremely useful when severe weather is around – it’s not hard to turn yourself into a pretty accurate forecaster, and that little bit of advanced warning about approaching storms, winds, heavy rain or any number of weather threats may give you just enough time to prepare yourself, your family and your property.
Home weather stations are not particularly expensive either. You can get a reliable home weather station, which will record indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind speed and direction for somewhere around $US100.00. Temperature and temperature – humidity stations are much cheaper. More robust units, or those with faster data transmittal, will cost more, but are worth it in the longer term.
Many of the less expensive wireless weather stations (so called because they use radio to transmit data from the outside sensors to the inside console) also double as atomic clocks, and many provide a basic weather forecast.But with a bit of experience you should be able to outdo them as a forecaster.
These pages and related websites will provide you with up to date information on just what home weather stations can do, how to interpret the information they provide, and which are the best brands and models.
But for more detailed information, together with heaps of related information on weather and weather services, visit Home Weather Stations Guide.
In the meantime, here is a short video covering the basics of setting up a home weather station and linking it to the internet. The weather station is the very versatile and reliable Davis Vantage Pro2, and the video also includes information on selecting and linking a weather webcam to the data upload.
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