Which weather station is best?
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to current and future weather conditions. While a weather app or a dedicated TV channel might provide very basic information at a glance, many people depend on more advanced information they’ll only get with their own weather station, such as relative humidity or changes in air pressure.
A weather station uses sensors and calibrated instruments to transmit real-time weather information to a base unit for display. Users can check an LCD screen and find out everything from air temperature to wind speed to ground moisture before making decisions on clothing, protective gear, or outdoor plans.
Some weather stations are designed more for amateur meteorologists who treat weather as a science, while others provide the essential information for casual observers. Ease of installation and maintenance can vary widely from model to model.
We have taken a fresh look at our own weather station recommendations and have created a new shortlist of worthwhile contenders. Our top pick is still the Vantage Vue from Davis Instruments, but there are two new additions to the list, as well.
3 best weather stations
1. Davis Instruments’ 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station: With an impressive 1,000-yard wireless range and top-quality sensors, the Vantage Vue from Davis Instruments retains its top spot.
2. La Crosse Technology’s Wireless Weather Station: Another newcomer, this affordable wireless model features a large LCD display and a 330-foot sensor range for basic weather information.
3. Ambient Weather WS-2902 WiFi Smart Weather Station: New to our list this year, this model offers essential and accurate information at a glance.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before investing in a weather station
While many people may have electronic thermometers mounted on a wall or sitting on a desktop, these devices cannot provide the in-depth and real-time data a true weather station can. The key ingredients of a quality weather station are sensors and instruments. The more information it can collect from more indoor and outdoor locations, the more useful it will be for users.
Basic instrumentation for a weather station generally includes an anemometer for measuring wind speed, a hydrometer to measure moisture levels in the ground or air, a barometer for determining air pressure, and a thermometer to read ambient air temperatures. Some entry-level models may only offer a few of these options, while higher-end weather stations offer expansion packs with even more instrumentation and sensors.
In order to relay all of this information to the base, weather-station sensors either use a hardwired system or a wireless system. There are advantages and disadvantages to either option, however. A hardwired system can be more challenging to install, but the data has less chance of being corrupted between the sensor and the base. A wireless system has a much larger range, but the RF (radio frequency) signal is not always reliable.
Accuracy is also a major consideration when comparing weather stations. Some systems can be calibrated to match the readings of local authoritative sources, such as TV meteorology reports or weather-service data. Others can be affected by location or exposure to the elements. For some users, readability of the display screen is also an important factor when deciding between models.
A basic weather station with a limited number of sensors can be found on store shelves for around $100, but scientific-grade models favored by amateur meteorologists can easily cost $300 or more.
Weather station FAQ
Q. Is a basic weather station very accurate? I don’t need to know the exact air temperature or humidity level.
A. Entry-level and mid-range weather stations can have some accuracy issues to consider. You may notice some differences between a TV meteorologist’s readings and your station’s reading simply because of the location and quality of the sensors. You should still be able to rely on those readings to make clothing or lawn-hydration decisions, however.
Q. I have an advanced sprinkler system in my yard. Can I sync a weather station with it to start it automatically?
A. If you have a sprinkler system that uses smart technology, you can activate it remotely after consulting your weather station’s hygrometer. You won’t be able to make the process completely automatic, however, and you probably wouldn’t want to. Nobody wants a sprinkler system going off during a family cookout.
In-depth reviews for best weather stations
Best of the best
Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station
What we like: Updates advanced data in real time. Sensors are nearly professional grade. 1000-foot wireless signal range. LCD display is easy to read and interpret.
What we dislike: On the expensive side. Some complaints about inaccurate sensor readings.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Best bang for your buck
La Crosse Technology Wireless Weather Station
What we like: Extra-large LCD display. Easy setup for first-time users. Tracks daily minimum and maximum temperatures. 330-foot wireless range, up to three remote sensors.
What we dislike: Sensors can wear out quickly, some are not waterproof. Wireless connection is variable.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Ambient Weather WS-2902 WiFi Smart Weather Station
What we like: In addition to measuring the speed and the direction of wind, it also measures temperature, weather and solar radiation.
What we dislike: It is pole mounted.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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