Wessel Wessels

Author Archives: Wessel Wessels

Lifelong weather enthusiast and researcher. Interested in all things weather-related, and how global climate and local weather interact. Owner of multiple home weather stations for almost two decades, but still learning and expanding his knowledge base every day. He is dedicated to sharing his expertise and knowledge to get more people involved and interested in both their local and global weather and how it interacts with climate on a worldwide scale. Love sharing my knowledge on home weather stations, how they work, and the many ways you can use them to your advantage. All in all, he is just a bit of weather nerd.

How To Install A Personal Weather Station – What To Remember And What To Avoid

How To Install A Personal Weather Station

Receiving & unpacking a new weather station is an exciting part of owning a weather station. However, there are a few very important things to consider when installing your home weather station.

Although the majority of quality home weather stations come packaged with a proper instructions manual, some universal principles and general guidelines apply to all weather station installations and are not always included in the device's documentation. In this article, we take a closer look at them.

The Different Parts Of A Personal/Home Weather Station

Home (personal) weather stations come in a variety of shapes and sizes and vary from a single all-in-one unit to a system consisting of several separate components.

Personal Weather Station

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the typical professional home weather station, which consists of 2 units.

The first unit is the base station (control unit), housing the "brain" and display of the weather station, with build-in sensors also forming part of the unit.

The second unit consists mainly of an array of sensors, housed inside or attached directly to the device. The bulk of atmospheric measurements and readings are performed by this second unit.  

The two units are connected to each other via either a fixed wired or wireless connection. (We will take a closer look at these two types of connections later on in this article.)

Positioning Your Sensors Correctly

The process of choosing the correct position for placing your weather station is called siting. Siting is probably the most important part of any weather station installation. It is the most significant part of ensuring the accuracy with which you will be able to measure all the different atmospheric conditions.

The two most important factors that should be taken into consideration for optimal siting is the height of the sensors as well as their distance from other objects. We will look at each one separately.

1) Distance

Distance is the first crucial factor that should be taken into consideration when setting up your weather station. There are two different distances that are of particular importance during the setup process.

The first one is the distance between the outside unit (containing the sensors) and surrounding objects. The second distance is the actual distance between the outside unit and the base station.

Distance Between Outside Unit And Surrounding Objects

The distance between the sensors and surrounding tall objects can influence your readings substantially. Especially variables like temperature, wind speed, and rainfall can be negatively affected by placing your unit too close to such an object like a house or tree.

Rain Shadow

Trees and walls can cover or throw a "rain shadow" over the unit, giving you a completely false rain gauge reading. The effect of a tree should be obvious, but the "rain shadow" deserves some further explanation.

Say, for instance, the wind is blowing from the house's direction while it is raining, with the rain gauge placed too close to the wall on the opposite side of the house. The wall causes a "rain shadow" where the wind blows the rain over the gauge, causing it to receive only a fraction of the actual rain.

The same applies to wind speed and direction. Large objects will not just influence the wind speed, but also cause the wind to twirl around, making it very difficult to get an accurate wind direction reading. As a result,  the anemometer and wind vane should also not be placed close to any tall or large structures.

At this point, you might be getting frustrated and start to wonder where you can actually put you weather sensors where it will NOT be influenced by something. You will be happy to know there is a rule of thumb to follow.

What you may not be so happy to know is that the rule of thumb follows a 4 X 1 rule. This simply means that the weather sensors should be placed four times the distance away from the height of the nearest structure. This means if the structure is 10 feet tall, the weather sensors have to be placed 40 feet away from it.

Yes, I know most of us don't have a backyard the size of a small field, so an open space furthest away from the structure is a good option. (There is a better option. Many weather station owners use their rooftops as a good solution to solve the problem. More on that later on in the next section.)

Distance Between The Base And Outside Unit

I briefly touched on the two ways the base unit and "sensor unit" can be connected to each other earlier in the article, wired and wireless. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Base Unit And Sensor

Wired connections have the advantage of having a constant connection, as well as not being influenced by the different obstacles and barriers that may influence a wireless signal.

The technical difficulties of actually laying a cable, especially if the two devices are several hundred feet apart, combined with the labor and costs involved, can make this a tricky and expensive exercise.

Wireless connections are becoming the standard for most mid-range to high-end home weather stations. The ability to place the sensors anywhere outside the home and seamlessly communicate with the base station without the need for cables or any additional installations makes them very appealing to most home users.

Usually, the maximum distance between the two devices is claimed to be around 300 feet in general. Normal barriers and obstructions like concrete walls or metal and roofing materials bring this distance down to a more realistic 100 feet. Some barriers and other factors (like electronic and radio interference) can cause a loss of connection between the two devices. To any professional relying on a constant, reliable flow of data, this can be a big problem.

2) Height

The second crucial factor during siting for determining the accuracy of your sensors' readings, is your unit's actual physical height above the ground.

The first reason for this is to get an accurate humidity reading. Especially when placed in the back garden or any area that contains plants, grass, or even bodies of water, the accuracy of the hygrometer may be severely influenced. The amount of humidity that plants and bodies of water add to the atmosphere, must never be underestimated.

Another variable that can also be influenced by the surface below the sensors is the temperature. Whether the sensor unit is installed on the ground or on a roof, the surface of each still absorbs and reflects/radiates a lot of the heat from the sun back into the surrounding atmosphere.

As a result, when the sensors are placed too close to the surface, the accuracy of the thermometer will not be able to give an accurate reading. (The reflected/radiated heat from the ground below will add to the atmospheric temperature that is picked up by the thermometer.)

Luckily you don't have to get completely despondent here, as the solution to this problem is not that hard. You just need to ensure that the sensor array is approximately 6 feet above the surface below. This height is sufficient to make the influence of any surrounding objects and surfaces negligible.

Most quality weather systems come standard with brackets to fit the sensor unit (usually to fit around a standard pole). You will be able to source an appropriate pole from many of these manufacturers. You can even save money by purchasing a long enough galvanized pole (to prevent rust) from your local hardware store.

(Remember to take note of the width or type of pole/surface your weather sensor array's brackets will make use of before buying any accessories. Your personal weather station's documentation should be able to supply you with this information.)

Final Recommendations

By now, you should have a pretty clear idea of how to set up your home weather station, what to look out for, and how your surroundings can affect your sensors' readings.

In summary, remember the 4 X 1 rule for distance, and the 6 feet rule for height.

sensors roof

Recommendation: As I already pointed out, most of us don't have a big enough backyard to place the sensor far enough away from any obstruction. Placing the sensor unit on your roof or fixed to its side on a pole about 6 feet clear of the bottom of the roof will give you the best possible readings for all atmospheric conditions.

Please note! This is clearly a potentially dangerous exercise, so have a professional installer do it for you if you are not fully confident and able to do this safely on your own. 

Remember that you have to replace the batteries approximately every two years, so make sure the sensor unit is still reachable to replace them, as well as doing the occasional maintenance.

The one last point I quickly want to touch on is the positioning of the thermometer. In general, the temperature should be measured in the shade with plenty of circulation present. As a result, the thermometer should not be placed in direct sunlight.

Luckily, most quality weather stations come standard with the thermometer placed within an isolation shield to protect it from direct sunlight. (Some even have a small fan for air circulation.) As a result, I don't want to go into more detail and confuse you even further with "thermometer protection."

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now understand how crucial the placement of your personal weather station is, as well as how exactly surrounding objects and surfaces can influence the readings of the different sensors that form part of your system.

Luckily, choosing the right placement is not really rocket science, especially if you follow the few simple guidelines laid out in this article. Weather systems have come a long way over the years and have many built-in capabilities that allow it to get the most accurate readings, despite their surroundings. But you can always help it to get even more accurate readings.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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Home Weather Stations – What They Are And Why You Would Need One

What Is A Home Weather Station

Most of us have a pretty good idea of what a weather station is, especially when mentioned during weather forecasts. A home weather station, though, remains somewhat of a novelty.

Actually, home weathers are not dissimilar from their much bigger brothers used for national and regional forecasts.

What Is A Home Weather Station?

A home weather station is a compact meteorological device designed to measure different atmospheric variables at a specific location to determine current and feature weather conditions. It is designed for domestic or personal use that does not require specific meteorological expertise.

Indoor Sensor

It uses at least one or more sensors to measure and display atmospheric conditions (temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed, etc.) in their immediate vicinity. Based on build-in algorithms and calculations, most of these devices are also able to make short-term localized weather forecasts.

Technically, a simple analog thermometer placed against the wall inside your house to measure the temperature can be considered a home weather station. On the opposite end of the scale, you get a display console inside the home connected to an outside sensor array measuring up to 5 different atmospheric conditions.

And off-course, you get a wide variety of weather station combinations in between these two extremes. You are really spoiled for choice here. (From highly functional to simply decorative.)

It may be all good and well knowing what a home weather station is, but knowing exactly how it works will help to understand it better.

This includes why it can be so invaluable to a growing number of users and why enthusiasts (or weather nuts like me) get so excited about it and turn it into a full-time hobby. 

List Of Weather Elements Measured By Home Weather Stations

The following list highlights some of the critical weather elements that are used in an increasing number of home weather stations to increase their versatility and accuracy. It shows the atmospheric variable first, followed by the type of instrument used to measure it.

Weather Element

Instrument Sensor

Temperature

Thermometer

Atmospheric Pressure

Barometer

Humidity

Hygrometer

Wind Speed

Anemometer

Wind Direction

Weather Vane / Windsock

Rainfall

Rain Gauge

Light Intensity

Light Sensor

UV Index

UV Sensor


How Does A Home Weather Station Work

In all honesty, there is not that big a difference between a home weather station and the professional ones used by weather services.

The biggest difference is that one measures weather conditions at a local level, while the other is used to help measure weather conditions at a regional or national level. 

(This is apart from the quality and variety of instruments available on a professional station compared to a home system.) 

Control Unit

A typical home weather system consists of two components. The control unit houses the "brain" and display of the system and is placed somewhere inside the house where it is easily accessible to you. (It also contains one or more sensors for measuring conditions inside the home).

The second unit is normally a single component with multiple sensors build into or attached to it. It is placed outside in a position and height where it can get the most accurate atmospheric readings.

All the data measured by the different sensors is sent back to the control unit inside the house at set intervals, normally measured in seconds.

An intricate set of algorithms and calculations build into the controller allows it to combine and interpret the various sensor readings. In turn, this enables the unit to make several "predictions" and determinations based on these calculations.

The displays on the majority of the advanced systems can display a combination of the data the control unit receives from the various sensors, indoors and outdoors. (These include variables like temperature, wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.) 

Apart from displaying current weather conditions, home weather stations are also able to show a 12-24 hour local weather forecast, based on the data they received from sensors and the algorithms/calculations based on this data.

These forecasts home weather stations are able to make can be surprisingly accurate (if set up correctly). Advances in technology over recent years, combined with a continuing increase in/ understanding of weather conditions, is making this possible.

Difference Between Home And Professional Regional Weather Systems

If you are wondering why home weather stations are limited to only forecast local weather over such a relatively short period of time, it has all to do with the limitations of its sensors. It is also one of the ways in which home weather stations differ from large professional regional & national systems.

The sensors of home systems are located in one area, typically your back garden. It means they can only measure weather conditions in one location over a certain period. To be able to forecast the weather conditions accurately over several days, you literally need a much broader view.

weather satellite

Regional and national weather services have access to multiple remote sensors hundreds (and thousands) of miles away, which makes it possible for them to make long-term forecasts.

It comes in the form of satellites, a network of remote weather stations scattered over a large area, weather balloons, and even weather buoys located throughout our oceans.

Satellites are able to pick up weather systems hundreds of miles away from a certain location, the speed at which it travels, and even the amount of humidity within these systems.

Combined with changes in water temperature monitored by ocean buoys (and additional data from remote weather stations & weather balloons), national and regional forecasts can be made for any large area over a number of days with astonishing accuracy.

In other words, big regional and national weather stations simply have a MUCH bigger reach than home weather systems, that allow them to make these extended forecasts. It's not a reflection of the quality and accuracy of home weather stations in any way. They simply "can't see far enough" to make these forecasts.

How You Can Benefit From A Home (Personal) Weather System

It should become clear by now how anyone can benefit from a home weather system, but there are some instances where such a weather station can be much more beneficial to some than to others.

Living in an area that does not receive local weather reports (or very inconsistent ones) can be very frustrating for professionals working within roughly 15-25 miles from home. Regional forecasts are too broad to give you a clear picture of your local weather.

(You can read more about the difference between local and regional weather in this article.) 

Especially if the weather at your workplace is very similar to your home conditions, having access to a home station can be invaluable for planning your day.

wine farm

Many farms and big plantations are already benefiting from the use of home weather stations. Spread out over a relatively large area, they rely on local weather conditions to plan anything from irrigation to the ideal time for planting seeds, to mention just a few. 

Many of the more advanced home systems can also receive data from more than one remote station. This allows you to have more than one sensor array situated at different locations on your property to provide you with even more accurate readings.

Nurseries and similar facilities that rely heavily on local weather to plan their activities (like irrigation) can also use a home weather system to their advantage and help with their planning and scheduling.

Large outdoor venues like stadiums and sports centers who need to know how weather conditions will change over a short period of time at their specific location will find such a weather station installed invaluable for short-term planning and event scheduling.

Finally, any weather enthusiast will love the addition of a home weather system for obvious reasons. Apart from having access to accurate real-time data, modern weather stations also store up to a year of meteorological data that can be downloaded to a computer. 

As a result, weather patterns and tendencies can be determined and keep a record of. Even for someone who may not have been "bothered by the weather" in the past, it can suddenly become a fascinating subject.

Conclusion

After this post, you should have a very clear idea of what a weather station is, how exactly it functions, and how it differs from bigger regional and national weather stations.

You will also have a better understanding of what institutions and individuals can benefit from installing these home weather stations.

You will be surprised how interesting the weather can get once you are able to have access to so much data about your local weather conditions.

You know the saying, "The more you know, the more interesting it gets"? This is especially true with home weather systems. You may just surprise yourself.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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What Is The Difference Between Local And Regional Weather, And How Does It Affect You

Difference Between Local And Regional Weather

It's fair to say that every single one of us has been more than annoyed with our weather service's forecaster on more than one occasion. And much of it is due to the difference between local & regional weather.

wet man

The weather forecast predicts "sunny conditions, with a light south-easterly breeze with high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit." Great! You dress accordingly, light and comfortable, and head off to work 12 miles away...

As you jump out of your car in the drizzling rain and run for your office to try and make it before getting completely soaked, you mumble a few "choice words" towards the weather forecaster whose advice you took the previous night while a shiver runs through you from the surprisingly chilly gust of wind also hitting you. What light breeze and sunny conditions!?

Sounds familiar? You just experience one aspect of the difference between local and regional weather. What may sound just as familiar is talking to your spouse/partner later the day, who just happens to work 15 miles away from home, but at the opposite side of town.

cafe outside

As you complain and describe your miserable morning, spending more than an hour getting dry and still cold, you are more than a little surprised to hear that he/she is having lunch with a few work colleagues outside at their local coffee shop, since its "such a nice day"...

This scenario takes place across the world every single day and in many cities and rural towns, so please don't feel alone. The weather gods and forecasters are not out to get you, I promise. The question, though, is, was the weather forecast wrong? Probably not, and I will explain why in a moment.

Let's just get a few technicalities out of the way that will help you better understand everything as I continue helping you make sense of this everyday occurrence. Let's start with the term "weather" and what it is:

Weather can be summed up as a description of atmospheric conditions in a certain area over a fairly short period of time. This includes variables like humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, and air movement (wind.) Local weather is the atmospheric conditions in your immediate vicinity, while regional weather covers a much larger region like a county or state.

In other words, it simply tells you how hot or cold, rainy or sunny, and windy it is or going to be in a certain area over a short period of time. This is something we all know and considered common sense. Having said that, the weather is a lot more complex and volatile, and especially difficult to forecast over a small, localized area. (As the scenario described at the start of this article clearly showed and we all experienced .)

The Difference Between Local And Regional Weather

Regional weather can be summed up as the atmospheric conditions in a certain area at a specific period in time. Local weather is the atmospheric conditions in your immediate vicinity, like a small town or suburb, while regional weather covers a much larger region like a county or state.

Now we can have a closer look at the difference between local and regional weather.

Regional Weather

Regional weather is normally focused on a specific region within a country. For example, looking at the weather of Northern California is a good example of regional weather.

regional weather

Although much more targeted than the overall weather condition of any country, it still covers a fairly broad area, sometimes spanning a few hundred miles. (And it's within this broad area that so many local variations in the weather can occur. More on that shortly.)

Meteorologists (weather forecasters) make use of a huge amount of data gathered from numerous sensors on the ground, in the air, and from space.

Various different data (temperature, humidity, air pressure, etc.) is collected from a network of weather stations spread out throughout the region. This is combined with satellite images showing weather systems hours or even days away. Data is even collected from devices such as weather balloons send up to collect very specific data in the lower and upper atmosphere.

All this data, combined with looking at a logged history of weather patterns and tendencies over the years, allow meteorologists to make very accurate regional forecasts. (Using satellite images that show weather systems still days away allows meteorologists to even provide us with the 3-5 day weather forecasts we often see during forecasts.  This is not as accurate a 24-hour forecast, though, due to the continuously changing nature of weather systems.)

And please take note, we are referring to regional, NOT local weather here. 

Local Weather

Local weather is normally focused on a "small location" like a city or town and surrounding areas. For example, Los Angeles and its immediate surroundings are one example of a "small location."

local weather

Local meteorologists make use of the same data that their regional colleagues use. Additionally though, they also make use of sensors located in the immediate vicinity, normally from weather stations located at places like the local airport. Using a combination of regional and locally obtained data, they are able to make a much more accurate forecast for your specific area.  

This can be very helpful, as within a big weather system, like a cold front spanning more than a hundred miles and moving very slowly, there may be pockets of warm and sunny conditions that can influence a smaller area within the bigger system. This can cause a specific city or town to experience sunny conditions, while the bigger surrounding region is experiencing the expected cold and wet conditions of the cold front.

(You should now be able to better understand why scenarios like the one described in this article introduction occur.)  

The term "local weather" has started to become a bit vaguer lately, as some local forecasters are trying to be even more specific, realizing that weather conditions can vary substantially, even in a fairly localized area.

As a result, some local radio stations and Weather Apps can focus on specific areas within a city or town. In Los Angeles, for example, some "experts" can focus on the weather in Northridge or South Los Angeles.

They may make use of personal/home weather stations (or network of weather stations) situated in their area and combine that with the official local forecast to make a more specific forecast of their own. 

Modern personal/home weather stations have become much more accurate during recent years, enabling users to make fairly accurate 12-24 hour forecasts. (If installed and interpreted correctly, which is often not the case.)

As you can see for yourself by now, local weather forecasts can be a mixed blessing. 

What Does This Mean For You?

Now that you have a clear idea of what exactly the difference between local and regional weather is, you may still be wondering how this influences you more directly.

Let me first point out that not all weather forecasts are created equally. Whether you use a weather app on your smartphone, read the forecast on your laptop, or get your forecast from a radio or television broadcast - make sure you vet and test each one over time to test its accuracy and reliability.

Naturally, if your daily movements are in and around your city or town, paying attention to your local weather forecast is important. Similarly, if you tend to travel within a broader region on a daily or weekly basis, keeping an eye on the regional weather should be a priority for you.

Useful Tip: Getting a local and regional weather forecast from different credible sources is always a very good idea to get the best possible picture of what to expect, especially if weather conditions are important to you.

Now, you can get even more specific, especially for the weather enthusiasts among you. (Or if you are a bit of a weather nerd like yours truly.) As personal/home weather systems are much more accurate and affordable than in the past, many users opt to install their own systems to monitor the weather in their immediate vicinity.

Combined with the data you get from general local forecasts, you are able to get a much better indication of weather conditions over the next 24 hours at your location. This may seem like a bit of overkill for you but can turn out to be a valuable investment and an interesting hobby.

This is especially useful for people living in remote areas, farms, nurseries, and other places where up-to-date weather information at their specific location is of the utmost importance.

(I will cover home weather systems and their uses in detail on this site, so make sure you check back regularly to see what is new. You may just realize how interesting the weather actually is and may just get hooked!) 

Conclusion

An there you have the two different types of weather explained in more detail to help you better understand how each one influence you.

In summary, regional weather covers a large area with many fluctuations within it but tends to be very accurate. Local weather targets a more specific location which can benefit anyone who needs more information about their immediate vicinity but can be more unreliable due to sudden small weather changes within the larger system (as well as slightly less comprehensive and accurate measuring equipment.)

So next the weather forecaster gets it wrong and you are soaked in rain, rather then basking in sunshine, don't be too hard on him/her. It's not always as easy as it looks!

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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