Weather for us Brits is a big part of our daily lives - not surprising since our weather can be often so unpredictable. Many of us too are fascinated by the weather, its unpredictability, its variability from year to year, and with global warming entering into the equation and making weather more extreme, it is only going to get all the more wild and interesting. That is why more and more of us are getting into monitoring our local weather not only to make better decisions in our own personal lives but also to keep track of how our weather is changing over time. One of the weather monitoring tools that is within almost everyone's budgetary reach is the wireless home weather station, which usually consists of a central display unit with one or more wireless sensors sited around and outside the home. Of course, as with all electronic gadgets these days, the humble weather station exists in a plethora of different makes and models, each sporting a range of different features, making the choosing of the best weather station for the home a difficult and confusing task. That's why here at Approach Labs, we have taken the time to look into the variety of features that different home weather stations offer, and to compare the popular ones that are available to consumers here in the UK to help you decide what's the best wireless weather station to buy for your particular home.
The Wireless Weather Station for the UK Home
There are two main types of home weather stations that are available to consumers in the UK. The first, less expensive option, referred to here as the basic weather station, consists of a main base station display which is wirelessly connected to between 1 and 3 small sensors. The sensors usually only measure temperature and humidity at the various locations around the home where each is installed, but they have the advantage of allowing the monitoring of several different locations simultaneously. Of course, one of the sensors can be placed outside the home allowing for the monitoring of these rudimentary parameters of the local weather.
The second more advanced type of home weather station resembles a more professional device and usually consists of a main central display unit wirelessly connected to a large sensor suite containing an array of different sensors assembled together into a single unit. The sensor suite is normally attached externally to the home and usually provides more detailed weather information such as from wind and rain gauges.
Choosing which type of weather station to buy will depend not only on price (advanced weather stations with wind and rain gauges typically being more expensive than the basic type) but also on what data you would like the device to collect and the features that the different types of weather station offer.
What to look for in a Wireless Home Weather Station
As alluded to above, one of the first decisions to make when choosing a weather station for home use is to decide which of the two weather station types is more appropriate to one's needs, the basic device or the more advanced type. Do you want a device that simultaneously keeps track of temperature and humidity at several locations around the home while at the same time providing some rudimentary weather monitoring and forecasting capabilities? Or do you want to primarily keep track of prevailing local weather conditions while at the same time providing some limited temperature and humidity monitoring inside the home? If your requirements fit the former type then the basic weather station is the type to go for while If you are more interested in local weather patterns, then the advanced weather station is likely to be more suitable.
Once you've made your decision as to your primary objective for your new home weather station and you've decided on the type of weather station that better fits your needs, then the specific features of the individual devices within the chosen category need to be examined. There are number of features to watch out for when purchasing a home weather station, of which most if not all are listed below and examined in more detail further down the page.
Features found on weather stations for the home
Indoor / outdoor temperature & humidity
Almost all home weather stations, both basic and advanced, will provide temperature and humidity readings in the immediate surroundings of the central unit or display. Basic weather stations will also have one or more separate sensors that wirelessly send back temperature and humidity data from other indoor locations around the home. One of these small sensor units is commonly installed outside the home to provide outdoor temperature and humidity data, however this usually has to be placed within a more sheltered area as they are usually either not fully waterproof and/or their temperature readings are easily affected by direct sunlight. With advanced weather stations, outdoor temperature and humidity data is also wirelessly communicated back to the central unit but this time usually from a single main sensor suite. The sensor suite usually houses several different types of sensors including those for temperature and humidity, however, unlike with basic weather stations, these sensors are specifically designed to be exposed to the elements so are usually properly shielded from both rain and sun.
The majority of home weather stations available to the consumer today measure local barometric pressure and usually provide raw air pressure data in some form on the display. Since trends in barometric pressure also provide a good estimation of what the weather will be like over the coming hours, air pressure monitoring is usually the parameter that is used to provide rudimentary weather forecasting on the home weather station.
The rain gauge is the preserve of advanced weather stations and will usually measure both the amount of rain that has fallen in the past as well as calculate how fast it is falling in the present.
Wind speed & wind direction
As with the rain gauge, the wind speed and wind direction sensor is usually only found on the sensor suite of advanced weather stations, and not on the basic type of device.
Mains electrical power
Another important feature of weather stations to watch out for is the mechanism used to power the central display unit as well as the sensors. More often than not, remote sensors are powered using standard batteries, although on the sensor suites of some advanced weather stations, solar power is used to keep rechargeable batteries topped up. The central display unit is most often powered by standard batteries but often also possesses the option to run from mains electricity. This can be an important specification for some weather stations as certain features on some devices, such as the night display light, can be unreasonably power hungry for its use with batteries.
One of the features that is so often overlooked when choosing a weather station is whether the central display unit can be easily mounted on to a wall as opposed to having it sit on a desk or other flat surface. This wall-mounting feature is most often accommodated by the presence of a mounting hole moulded into the back of the device providing a rudimentary mechanism for attaching it to the wall. The home weather station also has to possess a slim-enough profile in order to look reasonable when wall-mounted, and if it is to be powered from mains electricity, then the position of the DC power jack needs to be such that it does not get in the way when the unit is hanging against the wall.
Ability to connect to a computer
Some (more expensive) weather stations have the ability to connect to a computer in order to download saved weather data to either the computer for storage and/or the Internet for more public consumption. This feature can be facilitated either via a wired USB connection or via a wireless Wi-Fi connection, and is a must-have for anyone who wants to keep track of local weather patterns over the long term.
Some advanced home weather stations are also capable of measuring the amount of light hitting the sensor suite providing a record of light intensity from day to day. In contrast, basic weather stations do not possess this capability.
UV index is a measure of the amount of UV radiation hitting the sensor. This can provide important sun exposure information particularly for people who spend a lot of time outdoors and want to avoid going out when the sun is at its most damaging. The UV index sensor is usually only found on advanced weather stations.
Bedside alarm clock function
Many weather stations for the home have also been designed to double as bedside alarm clocks, thus blurring the lines between an alarm clock and a home weather station.
Basic Wireless Weather Stations Available in the UK
Advanced Wireless Weather Stations Available in the UK
-- information not provided by manufacturer