Over time, weather has become more predictable as we are able to use various sensors to take readings around the world, from air pressure to the ambient temperature. With knowledge about both pressure levels and temperature of the air, it’s possible to better understand weather systems along with weather patterns.
A weather station is a bunch of tools, gadgets and sensors that work together to provide a series of readings about what the weather conditions are. Not every home weather station has every sensor or gauge present, but there are quite a few that offer some common sensors to provide reasonably comprehensive weather readings.
Here are a few of the different parts of a weather station that helps it function and provide useful readings.
The thermometer is a temperature sensor that determines the current temperature level. With a weather station, this is usually an outdoor sensor (but sometimes people also use indoor ones too) to tell the current outdoor temperature.
Three Types of Temperature Sensor
Temperature sensors split out into three types:
- Thermistors – An active resistor that responds to temperature changes. It is produced using oxides (metallic) inside an epoxy solution, or sometimes glass. The level of resistance responds to temperature changes.
- Thermocouples – Two metals together delivering a measurable voltage that is altered when temperature adjusts upwards or downwards. It uses an electromagnetic system based on where the two metals are joined which helps the sensor to function correctly.
- PTD – Most often platinum or another metal, the resistance within the metal changes when the temperature does. The electrical response (resistance) only has to change slightly to signify a one-degree adjustment in local temperature.
The temperature sensor receives the readings and converts them to meaningful information that the weather station can use. Some units have more than one temperature sensor to take both indoor and outdoor measurements. The range is typically up to 100 feet. A few temperature sensors can be combined with a small solar panel to avoid the use of batteries. Outdoor sensors are often located into a case with radiation shielding.
A barometer sensor is utilized to take measurements of the pressure in the local atmosphere. This is also known as a barometric pressure reading.
This type of sensor for a weather station typically uses force and pressure to accurately measure the atmosphere by seeing how it responds to it. Either a metal or semiconductor detects the resistance electrically which indicates the pressure level. A voltage level is put out which later is converted over to a digital form for a weather station to use.
The humidity sensor is officially known as a hygrometer. Because humidity levels have a considerable impact on weather patterns – i.e. rainfall – it’s useful to measure humidity too. More than one hygrometer might be deployed in a weather station.
A hygrometer is usually located nearby or adjacent to the temperature sensor. It is a capacitor with a sensor that uses a metallic electrode and a polymer layer (dielectric). Tiny molecules from rain are absorbed and cause a reaction. The capacitor reacts with a modification of its capacitance and in changing provides data on humidity. Additionally, a dew point which some sophisticated weather stations report involves using readings about temperature and humidity to create that statistic.
The rain sensor is interchangeably called both a sensor and a gauge. A variety of different rain gauge designs are present with most weather station models.
One of the most popular involves a tipping bucket using an 8-inch collection for rainwater. It is capable of capturing just 0.01 inch of rain making it highly accurate. With the tipping bucket system, it tips up when precipitation is first detected. The gauge also has protective meshes to ward off small insects or outdoor debris getting into the bucket and affecting the measurement.
The anemometer doesn’t roll off the tongue but nevertheless it has an important function. It confirms both the wind direction in a given moment and the speed of the wind too.
The design of an anemometer for a weather station falls into three types:
- Sonic anemometer
- Propeller anemometer
- Anemometer (cup shape)
Ultrasonic waves are utilized to send wind information. The equipment is positioned like erect points directed towards the sky in a collection with a good spacing between them. When wind blows between two points, the ultrasonic waves change speed accordingly. These changes indicate wind speed and get noted. The anemometer then uses data collected from all points to determine wind direction and speed which is passed on to the weather station.
The propeller anemometer includes both a propeller and a weather vane. They combine to provide readings for wind direction and wind speed too. The wind vane picks up the wind and moves the propeller in the direction of the wind. In so doing, the readings are collected on wind speed through the propeller and direct from the weather vane. A voltage signal (analog) is created using the angle of azimuth which is later converted to digital. Propellers are four-blade designs that accurately confirm wind speed through the repeated blade rotation.
Anemometer (cup shape)
The cup shape anemometer usually has three cups to measure the wind. An extra vane confirms the direction too. The vane points in the opposite direction to the wind. A voltage signal (analog) relates to the angle of azimuth. Wind speed is calculated using the three cups which face towards the wind. Four-cup models tend to be less accurate compared to three-cup ones. The voltage relates to the wind speed based on rotation and cup size to create an accurate representation.
All these sensors work in combination to provide a comprehensive picture about current weather conditions and readings at a specific location. The better home weather stations have more sensors and gauges to provide a complete picture of the current weather in the area. And accuracy through better product quality, sensible design and proper installation puts the finishing touches on a home weather station.