Best Weather Station:
Which Personal Weather Station to Buy in 2017

Weather stations at a glance

If you are like most people, you have likely experienced a situation when the weather forecast was nowhere near the reality. The weather app on your smartphone says “Sunny” while it’s pouring rain outside, or vice versa.

The two primary reasons for this are:
1. the monitoring equipment is installed on a certain distance from where you live (often at the airport)
2. the data you receive might have been updated a long time ago

How do you fix this? That’s where personal weather stations come in. We’ll help you choose the best weather station for your house or apartment in a few easy steps.

Friendly warning!
This is a really long article (4,400+ words on the last count!). To make it easier to navigate, you will find a handy Table of Contents below.

In a hurry? Here are the models we discuss below:
(Click to see the current price on Amazon)

Best Home Weather Station ACURITE 02032 PRO WEATHER STATION
Best Wireless ThermometerLA CROSSE TECHNOLOGY 308-1409WT-CBP
Best Basic Weather StationLA CROSSE TECHNOLOGY 308-1414B
Best Professional Weather StationDAVIS INSTRUMENTS VANTAGE PRO2 (WIRELESS)
Best Portable Weather StationKESTREL 3000

What is it?

image of a weather station with a screenA weather station is a set of weather measuring instruments. It either comes in one piece or as a set of several sensors. The most basic weather station will only show you the outdoor and indoor temperature, while more advanced models add humidity, pressure, wind direction and speed, as well as rain fall measurements into the mix. Some models even track UV and solar radiation.

Who is it for?

Campers, golfers, fisherman, sailors, farmers, gardeners or anyone, who wants to have reliable and up-to-date weather data at their fingertips

How much does it cost?

On average weather stations cost anywhere between 20 and 2,000 USD. If all you need are the temperature, pressure and humidity results, you should be able to find a good option in the <$50 range. Going to $100 and above gives you the rain fall and wind direction/speed measurements. Going even further usually adds rugged housing, solar panels (to avoid the need for batteries) and several other options, that weather buffs will find useful

What are the best weather stations out there?

It depends on your needs and budget. We have compiled a list of best weather stations for every scenario in our Top Picks section

HOW DO THEY COMPARE TO EACH OTHER?

We have compiled a huge Ultimate Weather Station Comparison Table just for this purpose

Weather Station Buying Guide

Choosing a weather station comes down to what your budget is and what kind of data you would like to get. Most weather stations will tell you the indoor and outdoor temperature, while more expensive ones will also track humidity, pressure and wind speed among other things.

If you’re not yet sure what kind of weather station is right for you, read our Weather station buying guide below

If you just need the recommendations, see our Top Picks section for our top recommendations

Step 1

What kind of data you need?

picture of a thermometerIf all you need to know is the indoor and outdoor temperature, then a simple $30-50 unit should do the trick. It usually comes with an outdoor unit that is best placed somewhere in the shade where it will be covered from the rain and snow. Placing the unit in the shade ensures you get more accurate temperature readings, since direct sun exposure can screw the data badly. The outdoor sensor then sends the data wirelessly to the main unit indoors.

A step up would be a station that also measures humidity and barometric pressure. With these two added in the mix, the weather station can now forecast the weather. Although we wouldn’t rely on this forecast (or, sadly, any other forecast) too much, the fact that the data is collected right from your backyard, means you get more accurate results and can compare with your usual forecast source for a better picture of the weather conditions.

picture of UV radiationFinally, the more expensive stations measure the wind speed & direction, as well as the rainfall. Some even calculate solar and UV radiation. You might even find weather stations equipped with cameras – these usually can be set up to take a picture every few minutes and will stitch a timelapse for you afterwards.

It’s also possible to get a weather station that has solar panels installed. It uses sun rays to power itself during the day, and collects energy into the built-in battery to use during the night or less sunny days.

Here’s the full list of most common sensors found in weather stations. The more sensors, the more expensive the station usually is:

  • temperature – indoor and outdoor
  • humidity – measures relative humidity
  • atmospheric pressure
  • rainfall – measures liquid precipitation over time
  • wind – measure speed and direction of the wind
  • solar and UV radiation – measure the amount of solar and ultraviolet radiation from the sun
  • dew point – considered to be a more accurate way to measure the moisture content in the air
Step 2

Wired or wireless

Some stations use a cable to connect the outdoor sensors with the indoor unit. Others rely on the wireless transmitters to do the job.

image of a wireless weather station

Wireless weather station

Wired connections are much more reliable and less susceptible to interference, though it comes with a price.
Laying the cable can be a long and painful process, so you might need to set aside at least a few hours to do that. Also, rodents love to chew on the cables, so make sure you plan where the cables will go. Finally, wired connections can attract a lightning strike, so make sure you know what you’re doing or get a licensed electrician to help you install everything.

Wireless connections, on the other hand, are generally less reliable and can suffer from RF interference. They are also prone to signal loss if there’s an obstruction between the sensors and the indoor unit, or when the weather is particularly bad.
However, the ease of installation is unparalleled and you get a higher operational distance to work with.

Generally, we suggest taking a look at the wireless stations first, as they are much easier to setup and usually offer a reasonably good connection. Most modern weather stations are wireless.

Step 3

Internet connection

When you want to see real-time weather data, you can look at the screen of the indoor unit. But what if you’re not at home or would like to be able to see the data remotely? Or maybe you would like to broadcast the data to one of the weather websites, like Weather Underground? Or you just want to save the data on your PC for later review and analysis?

In that case, you have 2 options:

  • connect your weather station to your computer (usually via a USB cable running from the indoor unit to the computer). The data gets pulled from an outdoor sensor into the indoor unit and then into your PC. As long as the PC is on and connected to the internet, you should be able to view the data remotely
  • connect the station directly to the internet either via special data transmitting device or by connecting the station to your home WiFi network. This is usually a more expensive way since it requires purchasing a separate device to transmit the data. But if you don’t have a PC nearby or don’t want to have it running 24/7, but still want to access the data, this is your only option

After connecting your station to the PC or the internet, you can either use the software installed on your computer or feed the data into one of the weather websites like Weather Underground or CWOP (Citizen Weather Observer Program).

Step 4

Number of sensors

image of a wireless weather station displaying data from multiple sensors

Weather station displaying data from multiple sensors

Consider how many sensors you will need. Most weather stations come with 1 outdoor sensor and the indoor display/master unit. This allows you to know the temperature outside and inside the house. But what if you want more data?

Some stations come with several sensors, while others give you an option to add more sensors later.

Multiple sensors are good for when you want to monitor temperature and humidity in multiple rooms of your house – you could have a sensor in the living room, in a bedroom, in the attic and the basement (to ensure your pipes don’t freeze over, for example). They would all then send the data to a single display. Some people even put a sensor into the humidor or the wine room to make sure the temperature and humidity is just right.

Step 5

Display

Display is where you see all the data from your weather station. You will be looking at the screen quite a lot, so it makes sense to pay attention to the display quality.image of a weather station with a color display

A good display is:

  • easily readable from any angle
  • backlit, so that you can see it even in the dark room
  • has all the information available at a glance

Color or monochrome display?
Color display is not necessarily better – most professional weather stations come with a monochrome display, while you can easily find a color display on one of the mid-range products. It’s really up to which one you like best. We think having a backlit display is more important in most cases.

Some products come with different versions of displays, so make sure you check out the product listing before making a purchase.

Unfortunately, many otherwise great products have been plagued by a bad screen, that is either not easily readable from an angle, is low-contrast or lacks the backlight and is therefore unusable at night.

Some stations even come with multiple displays, so you can install one in the kitchen and the other in your office or living room, for example.

Step 6

Your budget

Generally, all personal weather stations fall into one of the three categories – Basic, Mid-Range and Professional.

image of a basic weather station

Basic weather station

The Basic range consists of stations that offer temperature readings and, occasionally, humidity and pressure measurements. These stations can offer forecasting functionality, but since it’s only based on the atmospheric pressure trend, it’s not usually very accurate. You’re unlikely to find stations that connect to your PC or the internet in that range. However, if all you need to know is the temperature outside and inside (plus maybe the relative humidity and atmospheric pressure), and you don’t mind that the readings might be a bit off, then Basic stations might be all you need. On the plus side, it won’t break the bank – most devices in the Basic lineup fall somewhere in the $20 and $50 range. There are lots of brands in this segment, with LaCrosse and AcuRite being the most prominent.

image of a mid-range weather station

Mid-range weather station

The Mid-Range weather stations usually come with more sensors installed. You can expect to get more accurate temperature, humidity and pressure results, as well as wind speed & direction and the rainfall gauge. Some stations in that range will also measure UV and solar radiation. Many will offer some way of connecting your station either to your PC or to the internet. Overall, the Mid-Range weather stations seem to tick all the boxes for most users, who want to get into weather tracking and need a bit more data than the Basic range stations can provide. Mid-Range stations usually cost between $50 and $300, with most being around $150-200. AcuRite and Ambient Weather offer lots of products in this price segment.

image of a professional weather station

Professional weather station

The Professional range is for those serious about tracking the weather who need the most accurate and reliable data. Devices in this range usually come with a variety of sensors (some are expandable via adding additional sensors, like soil moisture, etc.), have a rugged housing designed to withstand even the harshest of conditions and offer the highest refresh rates (data is sent from the outside unit as often as once every 2 seconds). Setting up a station like this might require more time and effort, but the results will be worth it. These stations will set you back $250 or more. Some of the well-known brands specializing in this segment are Davis Instruments and RainWise.

One of the best features of Pro level weather stations is the fact that often the sensors are separate and can be installed in different locations. This is very important for the data accuracy, because while a rain sensor should be positioned in the open space, where it can accurately measure the amount of precipitation, a temperature sensor is ideally positioned in the shade protected from direct weather elements, otherwise the temperature readings are likely to be higher than actual. The anemometer (the wind sensor) is also frequently placed higher than the other sensors.

Mid-Range stations usually combine rain gauge and temperature sensor (as well as all other sensors) in one outdoor unit. To avoid false temperature readings they usually use a special housing around the temperature sensor designed to minimize the influence of direct sunlight and/or using a small fan inside the outdoor unit that circulates the air around the temperature sensor. While this does help to minimize false readings, the separate sensor placement is still the best way to consistently get the most accurate readings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Weather Stations

While most weather stations claim the range up to 300 feet, this is usually a line-of-sight range in perfect weather conditions. In most cases the effective range will be around a third of that, i.e. about 100 feet. The less obstacles you have between the outside and indoor unit, the better the connection will be. Metal constructions, ground and thick walls are the signal’s worst enemy.
Outside sensors are designed to withstand the low temperatures. Most batteries, on the other hand, are not. If it does get cold where you live (-4ºF/-20ºC), consider swapping the alkaline batteries for lithium ones, which are much better at coping with the low temps.
If you only have a temperature/humidity sensor, make sure:

  • it’s not in the direct sunlight
  • it’s located away from the heat sources – roof, chimneys, pavements, asphalt, air cons, etc.
  • it’s at least 5 feet away from the grass
  • if you absolutely have to install the unit in the direct sunlight, consider using the radiation shield. It will help offset the heat

If you have a 5-in-1 (or similar) type of sensor that includes rain gauge and anemometer:

  • install it away from the heat (see above) and humidity sources (pools, spas, etc.). Also, make sure there are no sprinkler heads right next to the unit
  • make sure there are no obstructions above the sensor (for accurate rainfall measurements) and as little obstructions as possible around the sensor (for accurate wind speed and direction measurements)
  • install the sensors as high as possible for more accurate wind measurements (the gold standard is 33 feet, but that’s not plausible for most installations). At least 5 feet is required, try to go for 10-11 feet, if possible
  • if your unit comes with solar panels, make sure they are facing South to ensure they get the most sunlight (North for those living in the Southern hemisphere)
Yes, many weather stations will allow you to connect multiple sensors. This is useful when you want to track temperature and humidity in several rooms of your house or have several sensors installed outside. The display will either have a button to switch between different sensors or will show the data from all the sensors at he same time.
Weather forecasts are created based on the number of metrics collected by specialized reporting agencies. While your personal weather station is likely much less complicated than the ones used at those agencies, it has one distinct advantage – it’s right there in your backyard.
Most forecasts are based on the barometric pressure. Put simply, if the pressure goes down, the weather will likely worsen. Sudden drop in barometric pressure usually means a storm is coming.
Air pressure going up, on the other hand, usually means the weather will get better.
While professional weather stations will also use the temperature, humidity, wind speed and rainfall measurements when predicting the weather, the barometric pressure alone is the most popular (and pretty good) indicator of where the weather is going in the next few hours.
Lightning strikes can be unpredictable, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Using the wireless station (where the data from the outside sensor is sent to the indoor unit via RF, instead of a cable) and grounding the pole is a good idea to minimize the risk.

Our Top Picks

Now that you know what to look for when choosing a weather station, here are our top choices. Since everyone’s requirements and budgets are different, we have compiled different lists – for Basic, Mid-Range and Professional personal weather stations, as well as our separate picks for the portable and super-simple ones.

Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable and easy-to-use weather station, that will measure most important weather metrics and won’t break the bank, we recommend the AcuRite 02032 Pro Weather Station

Super-simple (wireless thermometer): La Crosse Technology 308-1409WT-CBP

Basic range: La Crosse Technology 308-1414B

Mid-Range: AcuRite 02032 Pro Weather Station

Professional range: Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 Weather Station

Best portable weather station Kestrel 3000

The best weather station for personal use

AcuRite 02032 Pro Weather Station

a picture of the best weather station AcuRite 02032

 

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With the 5-in-1 sensor, a bright color LCD display and the ability to connect the station to a PC, the 02032 is a great value for the money

Why did we choose AcuRite 02032?

AcuRite 02032 comes with a 5-in-1 wireless sensor which measures outside temperature, humidity (including dew point), wind speed and direction (plus wind chill), as well as rainfall. The display has a USB port for connecting the unit to the PC, so that you can analyze the data or broadcast it to Weather Underground or other online weather services.

PROS:

  • tracks most important metrics, including wind chill and dew point
  • connects to the PC for data offload and analysis
  • self-calibrating forecast functionality (takes 14 days to adjust to your local conditions)

CONS:

  • some users report that the display’s backlight tends to raise the reported indoor temperature by a few degrees
  • the screen can be hard to see from certain angles
  • this is a 5-in-1 sensor set, so there’s bound to be some discrepancy in the results

OVERALL:

Serious weather geeks might want to look elsewhere (Davis Instruments is a good option), but for all others AcuRite 02032 is a perfect first step weather station for anyone willing to learn more about the weather or to start tracking the local conditions. It’s not the most accurate or rugged station out there, but for the price it is hard to beat.

OTHER GOOD OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Ambient Weather WS-0900-IP (it does not have a display, but it does connect to the internet, so that you can see your data on Wundeground. It also has a separate temperature sensor, meaning you can be much more flexible at positioning it),

Ambient Weather WS-1001-WiFi (a more expensive model that also connects to the internet and comes with a large display. We just wish it was a bit cheaper)

The best wireless thermometer

La Crosse Technology 308-1409WT-CBP

a picture of the best wireless outdoor thermometer LaCrosse 308
 

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If all you need is to see the outside and inside temperature on a single screen, then LaCrosse is a great choice. It also shows the daily hi and low records, as well as the current time

Why did we choose La Crosse 308-1409WT-CBP?

La Crosse’s wireless thermometer is easy to use and reliable enough to withstand even the harshest conditions. The design is simple and it comes in white and black colors to fit most interiors. We liked the large display and very reasonable battery life.

PROS:

  • large easy-to-read display
  • tracks daily temperature records

CONS:

  • the display is not backlit
  • we wish it also tracked the humidity

OVERALL:

For the price, you can’t go wrong with this La Crosse wireless thermometer. If you pay attention to the right outdoor sensor placement, you will get reliable real-time temperature readings on a large easy-to-read display.

The best Basic weather station

La Crosse Technology 308-1414B

the picture of the best basic home weather station - la crosse model 308 1414b

 

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A step up from a simple wireless thermometer, La Crosse 308-1414B (we really wish they came up with better names for their products) sports a color screen, indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity sensors, as well as animated on-screen forecast.

Why did we choose La Crosse 308-1414B?

We loved this model’s design, the fact that it can be easily wall-mountable (and all the controls are on top of the device for easy access) and the big and bright screen. It measures indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, tracks barometric pressure (though it doesn’t tell you what it is – instead it’s used for the forecasting functionality) and even shows you the heat index and the dew point. The indoor station has a battery backup to keep it running even during the power outage.

PROS:

  • clear easy-to-read display with variable brightness settings
  • shows the dew point and tracks the temperature and pressure trends
  • can run either from the batteries or from the AC power adapter

CONS:

  • display viewing angles could be better
  • the outside sensor might be damaged by strong rains, it’s best to place it somewhere in the shelter

OVERALL:

If you don’t need rainfall and wind weather metrics, but want to get a local weather snapshot, this La Crosse’s model will deliver it all in quite an attractive package. Ability to see the dew point and track the pressure change allow you to get an idea what is feels like outside and where the weather is headed.

OTHER GOOD OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

AcuRite 02027A1 (you might like it’s display more. It also shows the barometric pressure and the hi and low temperature records. Oh, and the moon phase too)

La Crosse S88907 (very similar to the 308-1414B model, this unit comes with a vertical display)

The best PRO weather station

Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 (Wireless)

a picture of the best professional weather station - davis instruments vantage pro 2
 

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Serious weather buffs will love the highly customizable Davis Vantage Pro 2. The ability to add extra sensors, rugged design and the 1000 feet wireless range make this weather station stand out among it’s peers

Why did we choose Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2?

Vantage Pro2 offers above-average wireless range and allows you to add extra sensors as you progress in your hobby (optional sensors include UV and solar radiation, as well as extra temperature and humidity sensors). The detachable anemometer can be installed separately from the other sensors to comply with the “33-feet height” standard.  The station comes with the solar panel which energizes the station during the day and stores the energy in the battery to be used at night or during overcast days.

PROS:

  • Pro2 has been redesigned to improve rainfall and other sensors
  • highly accurate data
  • includes 24-48 forecast ticker
  • detachable anemometer
  • can be equipped with optional radiation 24-hour fan (handy for warmer climates)

CONS:

  • antique console design might be a turn-off for some
  • a separate (expensive) data lagger is needed to connect the station to the PC or internet

OVERALL:

While not cheap, Davis Vantage Pro2 is a reliable instrument for a serious weather buff. The ability to customize the station later by adding extra sensors will appeal to serious hobbyists.

OTHER GOOD OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Davis Instruments Vantage Vue (a yonger brother to Pro2, Vue is not customizable and has all the sensors in one unit. It also will only forecast the next 12 hours compared to 24-48 with the Pro2. If that is not crucial for you, you might want to take a closer look at the Vue)

The best portable weather station

Kestrel 3000

a picture of the best portable weather station - Kestrel 3000

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When you need to know all the crucial weather conditions on the go

Why did we choose Kestrel 3000?

Kestrel devices get rave reviews for the ease of use and the accuracy. The 3000 measures wind speed, max wind gust, average wind speed, temperature, wind chill, humidity, heat index and dew point. Its waterproof and drop-proof design makes it a good choice for any conditions you might find yourself in

PROS:

  • large backlit LCD screen
  • rugged design
  • easily replaceable repeller

CONS:

  • price, though you do get what you pay for

OVERALL:

Kestrel 3000 is a highly accurate and sturdy portable weather station that easily fits in your pocket. If you can afford the price, you won’t be disappointed

OTHER OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Kestrel 3500 (an upgraded version of 3000 comes with the barometric pressure sensor among other updates),

Holdpeak HP-866B (a super budget-friendly handheld weather station)

Best Weather Stations compared

  • Price
  • Display
    Is the display color or monochrome? Is it backlit?
  • Connection
    COnnection between the sensor(s) and the station
  • Transmission Distance
    Maximum advertised distance between the sensor and the station. Keep in mind this number is usually in ideal conditions
  • Temperature   (indoor/outdoor)
    Indoor and outdoor temperature metrics
  • Humidity
    Relative humidity
  • Pressure
    Atmospheric pressure
  • Rainfall
    Raingauge for measuring liquid precipitation
  • Wind speed & direction
    The wind sensor measures wind speed and direction
  • UV radiation
    Measures the amount of UV radiation from the sun
  • Solar radiation
    Measures the amount of solar radiation from the sun
  • Forecasts
    Does it have forecasting functionality?
  • Sensors
    The number of outside sensors the station comes with
  • Camera
    Built-in camera
  • Internet Publishing
    Can the station push the data to the online service like Weather Underground or CWOP?
  • Solar Powered
    Can the station be solar powered?
  • Other features
  • Comments
  • LA CROSSE TECHNOLOGY 308-1414B
  • lacrosse30814_150x150
  • Color, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 300 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity)
  • atomic clock
  • does not show pressure, but shows pressure tendency instead
  • AcuRite 01512
  • acurite01512_150x150
  • Color, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 330 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall)

  • (it has a solar panel, but it's only used to power the fan that keeps the temperature sensor from overheating)
  • wind chill
  • AcuRite 02032
  • acurite02032_150x150
  • color, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 330 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall)
  • Ambient Weather WS-0900-IP
  • ambient900_150x150
  • No display. Use your smartphone, tablet or a PC to access the data
  • Wireless
  • Up to 300 feet
  • 2 (temperature&humidity + wind&rain)
  • this model does not have a display, so you will need to use a PC, a tablet or your smartphone to view the data. It does, however, transmit the data to the internet
  • Ambient Weather WS-1400-IP
  • ambient1400_150x150
  • No display. Use your smartphone, tablet or a PC to access the data
  • Wireless
  • Up to 300 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall, UV, solar radiation)
  • this model does not have a display, so you will need to use a PC, a tablet or your smartphone to view the data. It does, however, transmit the data to the internet
  • Ambient Weather WS-1001-WIFI OBSERVER
  • ambient1001_150x150
  • color, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 300 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall, UV, solar radiation)
  • Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue
  • davisvue_150x150
  • monochrome, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 1000 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall)
  • Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 (wireless)
  • davisvantagepro2_150x150
  • monochrome, backlit
  • Wireless
  • Up to 1000 feet
  • 1 (temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, rainfall)
  • Accepts additional sensors and has a detachable anemometer for more flexibility with installation. Updates data every 2.5 seconds