Home Weather Stations – What They Are And Why You Would Need One
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what a weather station is, specifically those used by large weather bureaus. 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 weather variables at a specific location to determine current and feature atmospheric conditions. It is intended for domestic or personal use without requiring any meteorological expertise for setup or observations.
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 Vane / Windsock
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!