What is a weather station?

A weather station is a device that collects data on the weather and environment using sensors. They can predict the weather and display current conditions outside. Recent years have seen digital stations getting smaller, smarter and cheaper. Now they are a popular home gadget and used by all sorts of people, from farmers and meteorologists, to walkers and of course, gardeners, for whom they are a great bit of kit and a bit like a baby monitor for your plants.

A typical digital station comes with one or more sensors that are placed outside, and a display unit that is portable or left inside. The sensors can be wired or wireless. As well as forecasts based on air pressure, a digital weather station will generally be able to indicate temperature both indoors and out, but many are able to sense and display a lot more.

Analogue weather stations are often traditional, clock-like instruments. Like their digital counterparts, they can predict and display the current conditions, though perhaps in not as much detail. But what they lack in features they make up for in decorative appeal.

What do they measure?

Weather station sensors usually include at least a thermometer to take temperature readings and a barometer to measure atmospheric pressure. Other sensors can measure rain, wind, humidity and more.

Thermometer: A thermometer measures temperature. Some weather stations can measure temperature indoors and out, record highs and lows, show temperature trends, and even predict short-term temperature ranges.
Hygrometer: A hygrometer measures relative humidity; the quantity or percentage of water vapor in the air.
Barometer: A barometer measures atmospheric pressure and can help to forecast weather based on pressure changes. It is arguably the most important feature of a weather station, and may be the only feature of some models.
Anemometer: An anemometer measures wind speed.
Weather Vane: A weather vane, or wind vane, measures wind direction.
Rain Gauge: A rain gauge measures rainfall or liquid precipitation. Some weather stations include alerts to notify you when a rain event has begun, or of potential flood conditions.

Forecasting

In addition to current conditions, a weather station may be able to predict future weather and warn of approaching storms, notifying you when a rain event has begun, or of potential flood conditions. They may also allow you to create an alarm according to set parameters which is extremely useful if you grow plants, or fruit and veg.

Higher-end digital weather stations enable you to monitor a variety of conditions through advanced features that draw on data from several sensors and produce accurate forecasts. Some even come with instruments that measure soil and water temperature, ultraviolet light and soil moisture.

The wireless devices are easy to handle, portable and their sensors can be positioned almost anywhere – at the end of your garden, or even further provided there are no obstructions in the way. Prices go up the more features and capabilities a weather station has, but you can get a decent one for as little as £20.

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