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Choosing A Weather Station Guide

It can be difficult choosing a weather station, even after spending hours on the internet reading all the weather station reviews, recommendations and comparisons.   What is the best weather station?  Which weather station should I buy?  Which weather station is right for me?  What factors should I consider? 

If you have put in the time going through the various forums you will have found that by necessity most people’s reviews and recommendations are of stations they have owned, so it’s difficult to get the view of someone who is familiar with all the major brands.  We’ve been selling and servicing all the major brands of weather stations and weather instruments since 2004 so let us cut to the chase and give you the inside knowledge, as it is actually fairly simple. 

Desktop Weather Stations

First of all let’s address desktop stations (sometimes called temperature stations).  These are very basic stations designed for casual use and if they have an outdoor sensor it is at most a temperature and humidity sensor.  Typical weather variables measured are temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.  Most have clocks with alarms and some have a short range forecasting capability.  For desktop weather stations one brand is as good as another so select based on the look and feel you like and whether you want outdoor temperature/humidity and how the barometric pressure is displayed (some only show a forecast not the actual pressure number or trend).  The Aercus Instruments WS1173 is a fully featured desktop station that you will find here.

The rest of this article addresses Complete weather stations which are stations with the full array of outdoor sensors which includes wind and rain sensors.

Complete Wireless Weather Stations

At a consumer/commercial level there are two groups of stations, the mid-market weather stations and the higher spec weather stations.  The mid-market brands include:

  • Aercus Instruments
  • iRox
  • La Crosse
  • Oregon Scientific
  • TFA

In terms of the mid-market brands they all have much the same degree of accuracy, for example +/-1C for temperature and +/-5%RH for humidity.  We have also found them to be equally robust as each other, with fault rates not differing widely across the brands.  The most common fault is a loss of communication between the outdoor transmitter and indoor console.  More often than not this is setup related so when you buy from us (in addition to the manual) you also get a free 29 page guide to make sure you avoid these common mistakes.  However, if you’re going to get an out of the box fault with mid-market stations it is usually the outside transmitter.  Fortunately these are plug and play and as long as you have bought from a reputable dealer a replacement part can often be sent out fairly swiftly without the need to return the unit. 

The main higher spec brand that is priced economically is Davis.  There are other high spec brands but you tend to be moving into commercial/industrial territory which is reflected in price but not really reflected in additional functionality, accuracy or robustness for the typical user.  We’ll talk further about Davis stations later.

So given the similarity across the mid-market brands how do you decide which mid-market weather station to buy? 

Semi-Complete Wireless Weather Stations

First of all, in terms of functionality there is one big dividing line.  Most complete weather stations have built in data loggers and can connect to a PC/Mac for downloading/analysing the data and uploading to websites.  But there are a few Semi-Complete stations that have limited historic data functionality (typically limited to the last 24 hours and/or rolling maximums and minimums) and cannot be connected to a PC/Mac.  Some examples of these stations without significant data logging capability or PC/Mac connectability are the La Crosse WS1516 and the TFA Stratos. These are becoming less pupular as the price of Complete stations has come down in recent years.

Complete Wireless Weather Stations

Complete mid-market weather stations fall into two categories, those that connect to your PC/Mac and those that have recently appeared on the market that can send their data directly to the internet without needing to stay connected to a PC/Mac (by connecting directly to your modem/router).  The other distinguising characteristic to look for is that some include light/UV measurements and some don't.  Outside of these two things Complete mid-market stations all have very similar functionality and you can expect to measure all main weather variables:

  • Temperature (indoor/outdoor)
  • Humidity (indoor/outdoor)
  • Barometer
  • Wind
  • Rainfall
  • Date/time
  • Short range forecast
  • Software for connecting to PC

We have found them equally as reliable and accurate as each other and all are easy to install.  So our advice is to choose based on price, the look and feel of the stations and any minor variations between units.  We stock exclusively Aercus Instruments products as they offer the best value for money with the other mid-market brands having fallen behind in the last few years in terms of the features you get for your money.  The Aercus WS2083 is the start of their Complete station range and if you want a fully featured weather station with the largest built in data logger in its class (3 months data at 30 minute intervals) and the capability to connect to PC or Mac (additional software required for Mac) then the WS2083 is the best value station on the market today.  The WS2083 is the refresh of the older Aercus WS1093 touchscreen version but is otherwise identical.

The Aercus Instruments WS3083 is the next step up from the WS2083 and WS1093 and includes all their features plus UV and light measurements and is one of the most popular stations on the market today.

It’s rare these days but if you want the option of cabling the sensors the La Crosse WS2355 is your best choice.  You only really need to consider a cabled station if you think you will have strong interference at your site or need to go through concrete walls etc which will block a wireless signal.  Generally wireless signals can go through typical walls and roofs ok albeit with reduced range down to 20-40% of the maximum as a rule of thumb. 

If you want a station that can send its data directly to the internet so you can view it from anywhere using any internet capable device the Aercus Instruments WeatherRanger and the Aercus Instruments WeatherSleuth are the front runners.  The difference between the WeatherRanger and WeatherSleuth is that the WeatherRanger is one of the only stations around with a full colour TFT LCD console and the WeatherSleuth has no console at all (and a lower price as a result).  The WeatherRanger console connects wirelessly to your WiFi modem/router and the WeatherSleuth receiver plugs into your modem/router.  An example of someone who might prefer the WeatherSleuth is someone who wants to use their tablet or smart phone as the station's console instead of a dedicated console.  The WeatherRanger and WeatherSleuth are light years ahead of the competition in terms of the rich feature set you get for the price. 

No mid-market station comes with Mac compatible software unfortunately but WeatherSnoop is excellent Mac software compatible with the Aercus WS2083 and WS1093.  WeatherCat is also very popular Mac software that is compatible with the WS3083WS2083 and WS1093.  It is slightly more expensive than WeatherSnoop but is also richer in features.

To view our range of Complete Wireless Weather Stations click here.

Davis Weather Stations

So how do you decide whether to go with a mid-market station or a Davis station?  Here are the main things to consider:

  • Budget – Davis stations are more expensive than mid-market stations, typically 2-3 times once you incorporate the software/datalogger (see below)
  • Accuracy – Broadly, Davis stations are twice as accurate as mid-market stations e.g. temperature accuracy of +/-0.5C versus +/-1C for mid-market weather stations
  • Robustness – As a rule of thumb mid-market weather stations will last you 3-5 years before needing replacement parts (these are located outside after all) and Davis stations 7-10 years

The two main Davis stations are the Davis Vantage Vue and the Davis Vantage Pro2.  One thing to note with these Davis stations is that they do not come with built in data loggers nor do they come with software to connect to your PC or Mac.  For that you need the Davis WeatherLink software/data logger bundle.  The datalogger is also the piece which allows you to connect to your PC/Mac.

We hope this helps you with your weather station choice.  



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