December 8


How Accurate Are Home Weather Stations?


By William Chutney

Published: December 8, 2021

It’s fair to say that not all home weather stations are equal. They come in many different product brands, price points and model specifications. Some have sensors that are easily fooled or can give a misreading when getting overly hot in the sun or from radiation. Others are better quality but can be positioned poorly and deliver inaccurate readings for this reason too.

Let’s look in more detail at a few factors that can cause home weather stations to be more (or less) accurate. To read our reviews of what the best home weather stations are click on the link.

Avoid Low-Quality Models

One of the worst mistakes that a consumer can do is pick up a cheap no-brand or cheap foreign imported home weather station. While the price tag is usually the main attraction, these models aren’t likely to give the homeowner the quality of manufacturing and accuracy of readings that they’re hoping for.

Models must be situated outdoors, so they have to withstand all kinds of weather conditions, survive and still produce the necessary readings. When cutting corners on price, quality is sacrificed along with it. This can lead to using inferior casing materials and the lowest quality electronics to keep costs down.

The result is readings that are frequently incorrect by a significant margin making them unreliable. At that point, the economy buyer is stuck with an inferior product that’s not fit for purpose and struggles to get a refund after they’ve used it; or sucks it up and buys a more expensive model the second time round. It’s a painful outcome either way.

The Speed and Accuracy of Weather Readings

With the better models, look for readings that get checked more frequently. It’s one of the better signs to look for with a quality brand and decent model.

The readings for rainfall, wind and temperature levels don’t usually have the same frequency. For instance, a reading for wind might occur every 2-4 seconds while an external temperature reading is often taken even 10-15 seconds. For rainfall sensors, they tend to capture levels every 30 seconds or less often.

As you’ll note, the measurements are taken several times each minute. They’re not 5, 10 or 15 minutes apart and this is important. These days, people rely on up-to-the-minute weather reports and consider infrequently reported data as having no value.

Accurate Sensors and the Radiation Shield

The case supporting or covering the sensors is typically made from some kind of plastic. With economy models, the plastic is flimsy and less durable. The better models also have fan cooling to avoid overheating which likely will cause a future misreading.

One cause for concern is radiation levels which can affect readings for humidity and outside temperatures too. A radiation shield is useful to ward off temperature irregularities due to the product housing causing a spike in the temperature inside the casing. Some weather stations models come with a radiation shield built into the design or one can be purchased separately; the former option is preferable.

Positioning the sensors in the shade helps to get more accurate readings too.

How to Position a Weather Station

To get better readings that can be relied upon, it’s necessary to follow the equipment’s installation instructions to the letter.

The main thing to be aware of with installations is that the weather station should have a clear line of sight without obstructions. The tricky thing is that it should also not be positioned where the sun is hitting it all day as this will cause the station to heat up and create sensor accuracy issues.

With the humidity and temperature sensors, they do well about 5-6 feet from ground level. Either they need radiation shielding which comes with the model or to be positioned in the shade.

For the rain sensor equipment, this needs to avoid any obstruction blocking rain water (rain can move vertically or almost completely horizontally in a strong storm) to get good readings. It also needs to be high enough off the ground to not pick up any rain splashes hitting the ground and rebounding onto the gauge. This would indicate more rainfall than is actually true.

Home weather stations are extremely accurate when using proper equipment and installing it correctly. Cutting corners works against the homeowner wanting to create their own weather station and is not recommended for people serious about weather readings.

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