Become Your Own Meteorologist with a Home Weather Station

Adrienne Donica
·9-min read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Popular Mechanics

If you’re a weather junkie by hobby or professional necessity, your house probably doesn’t feel complete without a home weather station. Its sensors pick up conditions right outside your door to provide a more detailed look into the whims of Mother Nature than your phone’s weather app or the local news can. And by recording data several times per minute, it afford you real-time insights should a storm come rolling in.

After thorough research and evaluation, we selected five home weather stations for a variety of uses and budgets. Read quick reviews of these recommended models below, then keep scrolling for our in-depth analysis of each along with advice on what to look for and how to get the best use out of your device.

The Features You Need

The most basic (and least expensive) weather stations track temperature and humidity outside and within your home using a thermometer and hygrometer. Along with that, they have clock and calendar functionalities and can alert you to certain weather conditions. Forecasting and historical data also come standard. More advanced systems can have all that, plus all or a selection of these: a rain gauge, an anemometer for measuring wind speed and direction, a barometer, and an actinometer for checking UV index and solar radiation.

The outdoor measuring instruments on these consumer gadgets are often housed in an all-in-one sensor suite that operates on battery or solar power. The data they record are transmitted by cable or wireless signal to a digital console, which has sensors to track the temperature and humidity inside. Cabled stations are slightly cheaper than their wireless counterparts, but most people prefer the set-up convenience that wireless models provide. A typical transmission range for wireless units maxes out around 350 feet.

The indoor consoles—which can run on AC power or batteries—can look rudimentary; some don’t have backlighting or even full-color displays. Luckily, many weather stations also send data to a compatible app or your home’s smart speaker so you can check stats from anywhere or ask Alexa to tell you the daily forecast as you pick out what to wear for the day.

Siting Your Home Weather Station

Selecting where to install your weather station’s sensor is one of the most important things you can do to ensure accurate data collection. For best results, find an unobstructed area in your lawn and secure the sensor between four and seven feet above the ground. This height is the sweet spot for temperature and rain gauge, though it’s well below the recommended 32.8 feet for an anemometer. Still, it’s usually a better choice than attaching your all-in-one sensor to an eave or elsewhere on your roof, where the materials can temper wind gusts, radiate heat, and create splashes during heavy rainfall. For similar reasons, avoid placing a sensor too close to trees, nearby buildings, other structures, or irrigation systems. You should also be mindful of where you place your indoor console, which houses its own sensors for tracking temperature and humidity. Keep it away from HVAC vents and damp spots, if possible.

How We Evaluated

To find the best home weather stations, we narrowed our focus to wireless models, which are more user-friendly than their cabled counterparts. Surveying the market led us to 15 popular models, and we excluded some that have been recently discontinued. For the remaining weather stations, we assessed their features, transmission ranges, compatibility with apps or smart home devices, and cost. Reviews from other publications (including Good Housekeeping, Wirecutter, CNET, and Lifewire) and customers provided insight into how easy each gadget was to set up and use, along with its accuracy and longevity. From nearly 22,800 user reviews on Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot, we calculated our Consumer Score, which is the percentage of people who rated the product at least four out of five stars. Five options impressed us enough to earn our recommendation. Read about them below.

—EXPERT PICK—

Netatmo Weather Station

Consumer Score: 78% of consumers give it 4 stars or more

Transmission range: Up to 328 ft. | Rain gauge: No | Anemometer: No (sold separately) | App compatible: Yes

You won’t find a sleeker weather station than the Netatmo, but the aluminum-bodied smart device has more than looks going for it. Its modern design, high level of accuracy, and ease of use earned it top accolades from Good Housekeeping and Wirecutter. The base model includes two sensors: a battery-operated outdoor tower that tracks temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure; and an AC-powered indoor one that goes beyond competitors to keep an eye on CO2 and sound levels. All these measurements were very accurate, according to reviewers. For a more complete picture outside your door, you’ll need to purchase the compatible rain gauge and anemometer, which will double your investment. However, the separate housing for each sensor lets you site them for optimal accuracy, unlike all-in-one systems. Reading measurements happens in the Netatmo Weather app or its website, not a typical countertop console like some people might prefer. Still, the intuitive app has easy-to-read graphics and charts of real-time and historical data, plus a seven-day forecast. You can also pair the Netatmo with Amazon and Apple smart speakers and request weather reports from Alexa or Siri. That makes it a no-brainer if you’re already riding the smart home wave (or want to be).

—BEST VALUE—

AcuRite Iris Weather Station with AcuRite Access

Consumer Score: 86% of consumers give it 4 stars or more

Transmission range: Up to 330 ft. | Rain gauge: Yes | Anemometer: Yes | App compatible: Yes

AcuRite delivers premium features at a reasonable price in this bundle. The Iris’s sensors measure five main weather metrics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, and wind direction. The Access module, which needs an ethernet connection to operate, receives that data and sends it to your phone, tablet, and computer. (It’s also compatible with Amazon or Google smart speakers.) You’ll find a reliable connection between the two systems. Both are simple to install, and the AC-powered Access has a set of backup batteries to keep it online for 12 hours if the power goes out. The Iris is mostly accurate in its measurements. However, Wirecutter found the external temperature readings skewed a few degrees hot, despite the sensor’s internal fan that’s designed to improve the thermometer’s performance. We don’t think this is a deal breaker, unless accuracy is your primary concern. The AcuRite app has a real-time dashboard and alerts, but its best feature is the detailed historical data. You can easily pick a date to review or see long-term trends in graph form. Forgoing a standard display unit for the app only keeps the price in check, but if you eventually decide you want the extra hardware, the Iris works with all AcuRite consoles.

—HIGHLY ACCURATE—

Davis Instruments Vantage Vue

Consumer Score: 90% of consumers give it 4 stars or more

Transmission range: Up to 1,000 ft. | Rain gauge: Yes | Anemometer: Yes | App compatible: Yes

Davis Instruments is known for its reliable and durable weather stations, and the Vantage Vue is no exception. Before you can put it to use, however, you’ll need to assemble the all-in-one sensor and program the display, including entering your latitude, longitude, and elevation. It’s a more involved process than the other options on this list. The solar-powered sensor suite is well built and includes instruments that are sensitive enough to record exact measurements and slight changes that competitors might miss. A radiation shield surrounds the thermometer. Similar to an internal fan, this barrier decreases the likelihood that absorbed heat will skew the tallied data. The long transmission range is also a boon, allowing you to install the sensor in the best area for weather recording even if that means it’s 500 feet away from your house. Backup batteries in the sensor and the display prevent a string of cloudy days or power outages from interfering with real-time reporting. The high level of accuracy raises the price, and if you want to see measurements on your phone instead of the dated LCD display, you’ll need to purchase additional hardware to the tune of another $200. Even without it, this kind of investment only makes sense for serious hobbyists or anyone who relies on precise weather data. But for those folks, the Vantage Vue is a great choice.

—LARGE DISPLAY—

La Crosse Technology C85845-1

Consumer Score: 87% of consumers give it 4 stars or more

Transmission range: Up to 300 ft. | Rain gauge: No | Anemometer: No | App compatible: No

For a basic home weather station, choose the C85845-1 from La Crosse. The sensor only tracks temperature-related data, such as heat index, humidity, and dew point. That means no records on rainfall or wind, but these data are less crucial if you aren’t caring for a garden or farm. The weather station also doesn’t have the ability to connect to an app or your smart speaker. Instead, it boasts a full-color LCD screen housed in a 9-by-5.4-inch display, which is the largest here. The already bright screen has backlighting for nighttime use and other dark conditions. Both the console and the sensor are battery-operated, and an indicator on the display lets you know when it’s time to swap in a fresh set. The C85845-1 is as simple as home weather stations come, but its no-nonsense design means you won’t be spending a small fortune just to know what it feels like outside.

—BEST FOR DATA SHARING—

Ambient Weather WS-2902C

Consumer Score: 90% of consumers give it 4 stars or more

Transmission range: Up to 100 ft. | Rain gauge: Yes | Anemometer: Yes | App compatible: Yes

The WS-2902C is a direct competitor of AcuRite’s Iris bundle. Both devices are similarly priced and record a full slate of conditions, including rainfall and wind data. The WS-2902C goes beyond that to measure UV index and solar radiation, too. Other shared features include condition alerts, app compatibility, and integration with Alexa and Google smart speakers. Although the Iris was able to edge out the WS-2902C for our Best Value recommendation (on account of its longer transmission range and lower cost), this Ambient Weather model is still a good option, especially for urban or suburban use. The all-in-one sensor does require assembly, and you’ll want to have a small Phillips head screwdriver on hand for that. This Amazon best-seller is also a fine choice if you plan to contribute to a community weather station network. Like most other models on our list, the WS-2902C connects to Wunderground, but it’s the only one that’s also compatible with PWSWeather.

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