What Is A Home Weather Station? – And Why You Would Need One
Most of us have a pretty good idea what a weather station is, especially when the term is used in association with weather forecasts. A home (personal) weather station on the other hand, is something few people are very familiar with.
Actually home weathers are not that dissimilar from their much bigger brothers used for national and regional forecasts.
Home weather stations are devices that use a multitude of sensors to measure and display the atmospheric conditions ( temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed etc.) in their immediate vicinity. Based on build-in algorithms and calculations, they are also able to make short-term localized weather forecasts.
Technically, a simple thermometer placed against the wall inside your house to measure the temperature, can be seen as a home weather station. On the opposite end of the scale you get a display console inside the home connected to an array of outside sensors measuring up to 5 different atmospheric conditions.
And off course you get a wide variety of weather station combinations in between these 2 extremes. You are really spoiled for 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 explain a lot more to you. 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.
How Does A Home Weather Station Work
In all honesty, there is not that big a difference between a home and professional national weather station and the way they function. The biggest difference is that one measures weather conditions on a micro scale (locally), while the other measures weather conditions on a macro scale (regional or national.). That is apart from the massive amount of resources available to 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 easy accessible to you. (It also contains one or more sensor for measuring conditions inside the house).
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 send 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 allow it to combine and interpret the various sensor readings. This in turn enables the unit to make a number of "predictions" and determinations based on these calculations.
The displays on the majority of the advanced systems are able to display a combination of the data the control unit receives from the various sensors, indoors and outdoors. (This include variables like temperature, wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure etc.) Apart from displaying current weather conditions, they are also able to display 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 Stations
If you are wondering why home weather stations are only able to forecast local weather over such a relative 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, normally your back garden. This means they can only measure weather conditions in one specific area over a period of time. In order to be able to forecast weather accurately over a number of days you need a much bigger picture, literally.
Regional and national weather stations have access to remote sensors hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away which makes it possible for them make long-term forecasts. This come 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 world's 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 buoys in the ocean, as well as additional data from remote weather stations and 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 10-15 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 place of work are very similar to your home conditions, having access to 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 station" situated at different locations on your property to provide you with even more accurate readings.
Nurseries and similar facilities who also 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 sport 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.
Last but not least, any weather enthusiast will love the addition of a home weather system for obvious reasons. Apart from having access to accurate real-time weather 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 record of. Even for someone who may not have been "bothered by the weather" in the past, it can suddenly become a very interesting 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 the installation of these home weather stations.
You will be surprised how interesting weather can actually get once you are able to have access to so much data of 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.
Feel free to leave me any comments, questions or suggestions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
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Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!