The advancement of technology have enabled us to predict the weather conditions at a specific period. One of these technologies that you can privately own is a home weather station. Weather stations have become essential to both public and private industrial establishments due to their ability to predict weather.
There are many applications where you might find weather stations helpful in your home. For whatever purpose you may have in mind, you should choose your weather station carefully and make sure that you know how it works to maximize the features of your weather station.
Parts of a Home Weather Station
It’s imperative to know that home weather stations are battery-operated devices which are designed to collect and record data on the weather conditions in its environment. They can’t change the weather but only tell you what can happen next in your area.
To know how these devices work, you first need to determine its parts. Depending on the brand and manufacturer of your weather station, they contain around five parts.
- Thermometer that measures ambient temperature.
- Barometer that measures the air atmospheric pressure.
- Hygrometer that measures ambient humidity level.
- Anemometer that measures the wind speed and wind direction.
- Rain gauge that measures the amount of rainfall.
These five parts are usually integrated into your weather station and some cheaper devices only include a few of them. Understanding how weather stations work is basically understanding how each part works. In line with this, you’ll then know how to manage and take care of your weather station to keep it in good condition.
Thermometer Working Principle
The thermometer is the most basic part of a weather station and determines the current ambient temperature. It comprises of temperature sensors that send information to the display of the device and gives you a reading, in degrees Celsius (oC) or degrees Fahrenheit (oF). Most thermometers have a range of 30 meters (100 feet), and some weather devices have two thermometers for outside and inside.
There are three types of temperature sensors that weather stations can use.
- Thermistors. This can be called as thermal resistors, or by its combined name. These sensors contain encapsulated metal oxides as resistors that has thermal resistance. The changes in resistance are recorded by the device and interprets it to make a temperature reading based on that change.
- Thermocouples. These sensors comprise of two metals that form electrical junctions or makes electricity flow through them. These create small temperature-based voltages and is recorded to make a reading on the temperature. The temperature reading is based on the voltage that’s created between the two metals which decreases when temperature decreases and vice versa.
- Resistance Thermometers. These sensors are also called Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) and measures resistance as a basis of temperature reading. The main difference between RTD and thermistors are the materials used as RTD uses pure metals, such as platinum, nickel or copper. However, RTDs are more accurate in temperatures more than 130oC (266oF), which is why most weather stations use thermistors instead of RTD.
Barometer Working Principle
Barometers are devices that measure the atmospheric pressure of the ambient air in a small area. These devices are used to determine how bad the weather can get in your area. Lower pressure means it’s most likely that rain and strong winds are coming your way.
Barometers in weather stations use electronic pressure sensors that create electrical signals when a strain on the sensors are detected. These strains are then interpreted to the pressure value, which you can then read on the display. Make sure to read the manual, so you don’t interchange the barometric reading with other readings.
Hygrometer Working Principle
Hygrometers measure the humidity level in your area and they’re usually placed near the thermometers. Specifically, they measure the relative humidity which is the percentage of water vapor (gaseous form of water) in the air. Higher relative humidity means that the air is almost full of water vapor and about to precipitate, which is the third stage in the water cycle.
Digital hygrometers use capacitive sensors or capacitors, which has moisture absorbent materials attached to it. Capacitors change their values of capacitance based on the dryness or wetness of the materials. These changes are then recorded and interpreted as humidity level readings on your display.
Anemometer Working Principle
Basically, anemometers only measure the wind speed, but most weather stations integrate wind vanes to the anemometers to determine wind direction. Some weather stations don’t include a digital display for your anemometers, and you have to determine the danger of a certain wind speed yourself.
There are three types of anemometers that weather stations can use.
- Cup Anemometer and Wind Vane. Most cup anemometers have three cup-like structures that catch the air, while some have four. These cups are positioned at a certain angle with respect to the center to make sure that it catches air easily and make it spin. The spin creates a voltage in its center with some motion sensors to determine the speed of the spin and make a reading. The wind vane can be simply an arrow that has its front just a little farther from the center than its back to make sure that it’s pointing at the direction of the wind.
- Propeller Anemometers. Propeller anemometers function the same with cup anemometers but use propellers instead of cups. A motion sensor is set up to determine the speed of the spin, and a vane is used for the direction of the wind.
- Sonic Anemometers. Sonic anemometers use at least two antennas that create sonic waves between its antennas. The wind blows through the sonic waves and causes a disturbance. This disturbance is recorded and interpreted for a reading in your device.
Rain Gauge Working Principle
Rain gauges are devices that measure the amount of rainfall in a particular area at a specific period of time. Some weather stations don’t include this device, and most of them differ in the technologies used. There are two ways that rainfall is measured.
- Tipping Bucket. This is the simplest and most common way of measuring rainfall. It’s simply a bucket used to contain around 8 inches of rainfall. The bucket is balanced, at first and it tips over after a certain value is reached, then sends a signal to the device to notify you. The value can be preset depending on the device.
- Rain Sensors. Rain sensors are electronic sensors that are activated by the first sign of rainfall. You can modify your setup to be activated after a preset amount of time, such as covering the sensor with a small cup and it only activates after the cup is filled and water overflows to the sensor. The activation can be as simple as a light or a sound to notify you.
The Bottom Line
Features of home weather stations vary greatly from one manufacturer to another. It’s best to read the manuals first, and research about the product before buying or using it. There might be features that are more complex than others that are too complicated for you to understand. You might end up damaging the device than using it for your benefit.