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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Wide range of features
Unimpressive build quality
Outdated display technology
The Ambient Weather WS-2902A is a feature-rich weather station at an affordable price point, but it suffers from lower build quality.
On paper, the Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey weather system seems like the perfect budget alternative to much pricier weather stations. Its features include a multitude of sensors, from rainfall and wind speed to solar radiation, and it’s capable of connecting wirelessly to a wide range of services and devices.
For anyone wanting to save a few dollars, the WS-2902A could be an amazing value proposition. We tested this weather station to see how it actually performs, and what corners were cut to achieve that budget price.
Like almost all weathers stations of its kind, this model from Ambient Weather is comprised of two parts: an outdoor sensor array, and a separate “base station” screen that displays the data.
It’s easy to see the inspiration for the WS-2902A Osprey’s name—the white-and-black wing shape of the sensor array certainly resembles its feathered namesake. And its appearance stands out from the bulbous grey design typical of other weather stations.
Unfortunately, its interesting aesthetics do not translate to build quality, especially in terms of materials. The plastic feels very cheap and not very durable. This is especially apparent in the wind speed, wind direction, and rainfall sensors. They seem very flimsy, and the material has an annoying way of picking up every stray particle of dirt.
Plus, any dirt that does get on it is very difficult to remove and sticks to the plastic like glue. Once the sensor array is mounted, precipitation should keep it clean, but depending upon the conditions in your area we expect it to accumulate dust and other debris during dry spells.
The plastic feels very cheap and not very durable.
The rest of the body is slightly better-constructed in terms of materials, though this isn’t saying much. We were concerned by the lack of apparent seals on the battery door, and around other removable components—this creates the distinct possibility of moisture penetrating the interior of the sensor array. Fortunately, we did not encounter issues with this during our testing in rainy weather.
Another concern is the placement of the solar panel. It is located in the center of the station and lies flat on top. The issue is that this flat positioning is not ideal for maximum efficiency of energy-gathering. Other weather stations place their solar panels on an angled, south-facing surface, but the WS-2902A has no such south-facing slope. The weather station is backed up by non-rechargeable batteries, so it doesn’t rely solely on the sun for power. However, we would not expect those batteries to last as long as those in weather stations with more efficiently-placed solar panels.
The base station is built of sturdier materials and can either be wall-mounted or set on a flat surface on two fold-out legs. These legs are rather small and thin, but they seem to do an adequate job of supporting the base station.
The most glaring flaw in the base station is the loud beep it emits when you press any of the buttons. It is ridiculously loud and makes operating the station an annoying experience for you and anyone else in the room.
Despite these flaws, the WS-2902A system is certainly better-looking than many of its competitors. It is a pity that its excellent appearance is not backed up by better materials and construction.
The WS-2902A is something of a build-it-yourself kit—it comes partly disassembled and requires tools to put together. A wrench is included, but not the necessary Phillips-head screwdriver. It also doesn’t come with any of the required batteries.
Assembly involves attaching the weather vane, anemometer, and rainfall collector to the sensor array using a few tiny screws that must be tightened down. The rainfall collector slots into place without any screws, but we found this to be one of the more frustrating parts of the assembly process since it did not lock down very tightly.
You also have to install two AA batteries (not included) and can opt to attach the weather array to a pole (also not included) using the included metal brackets. Depending on where you want to mount it, you may find it necessary to buy additional hardware.
Once you get the outdoor sensors put together, the base station display is easy to set up. It requires either AAA batteries or the included power adapter. Simply turn it on and set the date, time, and units of measurement. Then you can connect the station to your Wi-Fi network and log into Weather Underground or Ambient Weather’s website and applications, and set up connections to your smart home system if you wish.
The base station’s display is somewhat disappointing. Viewing angles are abysmal, and the versatility of what can be displayed is limited by the outdated technology used. We were rarely able to see it clearly from across the room, and had to move closer and into the right field of view in order to read the screen. Under ideal viewing conditions, it is reasonably clear and legible, but in general, we found this to be a major flaw with the WS-2902A.
Fortunately, the WS-2902A has Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can view the station's data remotely on a mobile device or home computer using the Ambient Weather Network. By bypassing the poor quality screen, you gain access to the same quality experience available on much more expensive Ambient Weather weather stations.
In our testing we found the WS-2902A to be quite accurate, though perhaps not quite as reliable as more expensive systems. Overall, it did a remarkably good job of reporting indoor and outdoor conditions, especially for such an inexpensive system.
Placing the sensors in the proper location is vital to getting accurate statistics from any weather station. This is true of both the outdoor sensor array and the indoor base station.
It did a remarkably good job of reporting indoor and outdoor conditions, especially for such an inexpensive system.
The WS-2902A can be connected via Wi-Fi to your computer or mobile devices where your weather data can be shared and accessed remotely with AmbientWeather, the brand’s own data-monitoring network. You can also make use of the free app and computer software to chart weather patterns on graphs or export weather data for analysis in other software.
Additionally, you can connect the WS-2902A to a smart hub (it’s comaptible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT) for alerts and updates.
This range of compatible services is where the most potential practical use can be had from a weather station. Services like the Ambient Weather Network can help you better predict the conditions at your location, which can improve the efficiency of your watering schedule (for those with green thumbs), or just help you stay a little more prepared if you live in an area with tumultuous weather.
In the case of Weather Underground, which is another compatible service, owning a connected weather station allows you to participate in crowdsourced weather reporting.
The price of the WS-2902A varies quite a bit online—it can generally be found for $130 to $170 depending on the retailer. At the low end of that range, this station gives you a lot of value for your money.
Despite its problems, the WS-2902A delivers connectivity and remote-monitoring features that are competitive with more expensive weather stations. Where it falls short is build quality, so one thing to consider is potential longevity. In the long term, you may find that a more durable system with a higher price tag could end up costing less.
Delivers connectivity and remote-monitoring features that are competitive with more expensive weather stations.
The WS-2902A faces stiff competition from the AcuRite 01036M Wireless Weather Station, which tends to sell in the same price range. The Acurite is easier to set up and definitely has superior build quality, but it lacks Wi-Fi connectivity and the convenient features that come with it. Also, the WS-2902A has a UV/solar radiation sensor, which the 01036M lacks.
Ambient Weather’s own WS-1002-WiFi is a much more expensive system (in the $300 range) that improves over the WS-2902A in terms of its build quality and display. It’s also much more robust, and the display is a modern LCD that is bright, has excellent viewing angles, and can display a much wider range of data. It is also easier to set up and is more accurate than the WS-2902A.
Lots of features for the money, but a pretty flimsy build.
The Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey offers a lot of bang for your buck, including Wi-Fi connectivity, compatibility with voice assistants, and integration with user-friendly data-monitoring platforms. But all of this comes at the cost of durability and ease of use. For those with patience, it offers a ton of features at an affordable price point.