Should You Buy a Personal Weather Station?

Home weather stations are popular but do you really need one?

Personal weather stations can provide a lot of benefits. Whether you just want to know your local conditions so you can plan your day, or you’re interested in getting into weather as a hobby, a personal weather station can be tremendously useful.

Basic stations are great if all you need is the temperature and humidity, while more complicated personal weather stations can provide you with tons of data to sift through, and even provide weather forecasts that are personalized to your exact location. 

What Is a Personal Weather Station?

A personal weather station is a set of instruments and sensors that you can install at your home to receive accurate and timely information about the weather. These home weather stations can provide information about temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall, and more. Instead of relying on a weather app or the news to tell you the conditions at the nearest airport, you can actually see the conditions at your house.

Some personal weather stations consist of a single unit that includes an entire sensor suite, and others consist of several different sensor units that can be placed in different locations.

For example, a home weather station might consist of one sensor unit that measures wind speed, another sensor unit that measures temperature, and a third that measures rainfall, so that each sensor can be placed in a different location. Other weather stations include all of these sensors, and more, built into a single sensor housing.

Personal weather stations typically transmit information wirelessly from the sensors to either a dedicated console or to a base station that connects to the internet. When a personal weather station includes a dedicated console, you can check that console to see information from each sensor.

If the weather station has a base station that connects to the internet, you can usually check information from the sensors through an app on your phone or tablet, or a website.

In addition to current and past information from the sensors, some personal weather stations are also capable of providing a personalized, local forecast. The simplest weather stations typically provide basic information, like letting you know that it’s likely to rain within the next 24 hours. More advanced personal weather stations use data from their sensors, combined with algorithms and information from the National Weather Service, to provide a forecast that’s accurate for your exact location instead of generalized for a much larger area like other forecasts.

Some personal weather stations can also send data to crowdsourced weather projects like Weather Underground to help improve local forecasts.

How Much Does a Personal Weather Station Cost?

Personal weather stations vary in price from about $25 for the most basic options to about $500 for the most expensive hobbyist setups. Higher-end weather stations can cost in excess of $1,000, and some systems allow you to add multiple extra sensors, which adds to the total expense. Unless you have a specific need to monitor the conditions over a large plot of land, or some other accuracy or reliability requirements, you probably don’t need one of those higher-end systems.

At the entry level, personal weather stations in the $25 to $50 range usually don’t provide a lot of information. These systems typically include a temperature sensor and a humidity sensor at the absolute minimum, and the console or display unit is usually also capable of providing the indoor temperature. At the higher end of that scale, some also include a barometric pressure sensor.

More expensive entry-level weather stations in the $50 to $100 range often include a basic anemometer to tell wind speed, and may or may not include a wind vane to tell wind direction. Some of these will also include a sensor to measure rainfall.

The most affordable complete weather stations fall into the $100 to $150 range. In that price range, you can find personal weather stations that measure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and rainfall, all in one package.

Beyond that, more expensive personal weather stations typically include more accurate and reliable sensors, but they measure the same basic conditions. 

Davis Instruments Vantage Vue 6250
Davis Instruments Vantage Vue 6250. Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

What Is the Best Weather Station to Buy for Home Use?

The best weather station for home use is one that measures temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and rainfall. Something like the Ambient Weather WS-2902 is a good option, because it includes all of the essential sensors, runs off solar power, and has Wi-Fi connectivity.

If you have more room in your budget, the Davis Vantage Vue isn’t as user friendly and doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity out of the box, but it’s extremely accurate. The WeatherFlow Tempest is another great option that includes advanced sensors, Wi-Fi connectivity, and AI-powered forecasts, if you want to dig a little deeper into weather as a hobby.

If you’re new to personal weather stations and not completely sold on the idea yet, then it’s fine to go with a budget unit that covers the basic bases.

Is a Home Weather Station Worth It?

Everyone’s life is impacted by the weather every day, and a one size fits all weather app doesn’t always get the job done. 

The biggest benefit of having a home weather station at your disposal is you can see the current conditions, in your exact location, any time you want. The temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation numbers you see on the news or a weather app are usually from weather instruments miles away from you, so they aren’t always personally relevant.

Weather stations capable of providing a localized forecast based on actual readings are even more useful. Even low-end weather stations can give you a heads up if there’s a storm inbound, but some higher-end ones are capable of providing forecasts which are often more accurate than the local news.

Whether or not you need to spend $500 on a high end setup is ultimately down to personal choice, but everyone can benefit from owning a home weather station.

FAQ
  • Where is the best place to mount my personal weather station?

    When setting up your personal weather station, try to find a spot in an open area, free from obstructions and at least 5 feet from the ground. Ideal locations include a flag pole, a fence, or a free-standing post. Look to the user manual for tips on the best positioning to account for wind, rain, and humidity.

  • How do I edit a personal weather station on Weather Underground?

    Visit www.wunderground.com/personal-weather-stations/mypws to view your list of weather stations. Click the station's name to view history or Settings (gear icon) beside the station you'd like to edit and select Edit. If you've moved, you must set up your weather station again to receive a new unique ID for the station.

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