Davis vs the Cheapest Station Makes

We’re often asked ‘Why pay a little extra for a Davis station, when there are some cheaper stations on the market that appear to offer comparable features?’ And, in a similar vein, why we don’t sell the cheapest brands when all we have to do is to call up the trade distributors to arrange a supply (which would be easy for us to do) and sit back while we make some extra sales.

The answer is, of course, that all weather stations are not equal, and the adage that you get what you pay for is as true in the context of weather stations as elsewhere. (Indeed, even the Davis brand is relatively inexpensive for a quality weather station compared to the high-end makes such as Vaisala, which can cost £5-10K or more.)The reason that Prodata Weather Systems has chosen to specialise in the Davis range at the more affordable end of the weather stations’ market, is not because we have any tie-in with Davis – this absolutely is not the case, we are a fully independent distributor. It is because we genuinely believe that the Davis range offers the best value for money in its sector of the market and we would prefer to avoid seeing yet more of the disappointment and disillusionment that many people experience just a few months after buying one of the cheaper brands of station. (You might be surprised at how many of our Davis customers had previously bought one of the cheap brands only to be seriously disappointed with the results, unfortunately experiencing at first hand just how much of a false economy this can prove.)

There are three principal reasons why Davis is the better choice: support, accuracy and durability:

  • Davis are a different type of company and offer solid after-sales support. The cheap brands are built down to a price in anonymous Far-Eastern factories, with often only a marketing organisation in Europe providing very limited after-sales support. In contrast, Davis stations are designed and assembled to US standards in California and the company has a particular commitment to comprehensive after-sales support both as the parent company and through selected dealers such as ourselves, dedicated to offering high-quality service. Davis has faith in its own products, which are sold by us in Europe with a three year  warranty on full stations and ISS’.
  • High accuracy – see our summary of the Davis specifications. The cheapest brands typically quote vague or implausible accuracy figures or, more often, don’t make their accuracy specifications available at all, preferring to publish resolution data, which is not the same thing at all and usually wildly optimistic as an indicator of accuracy. Davis, in contrast, produce a long and detailed document, available on request, that covers all the technical specifications of their weather products. Cheap stations also often struggle to measure wind gusts accurately because their readings update too infrequently and as a result seriously under-record maximum wind speeds. In contrast, Davis stations update their wind data as often as every 2.5 seconds and can therefore achieve maximum wind speed accuracy;
  • Durability – weather stations are designed to live outdoors. And yet many cheaper systems fail during violent storms or after a relatively short period of time, due to water ingress, lack of sensor durability, or poor consumer-grade electronics. The latest Davis Vantage Pro 2 range has been designed with as few external connectors as possible, with conformal coatings to protect the SIM boards from moisture ingress, and with a revised design of anemometer for long operating life.

And here are some further benefits that the Davis stations offer:

  • Choosing a Davis station is buying into a comprehensive range of over 150 weather products from a company specialising in meteorological instruments. Weather stations are a key product area for Davis, not simply one gadget to be churned out amongst scores of others;
  • Ease of installation: The Vantage Pro 2 and Vue ranges place all the main sensors in a single pre-configured unit, known as the Integrated Sensor Suite (the ISS), which makes it very simple to install – no more separate assembly of different sensors, and a minimum of wires to connect. And the Weatherlink software includes an easy set up wizard, making it simple to produce impressive graphics within minutes.
  • Customised software: Some cheaper systems will give only fixed displays of weather data and may only show data for the last day/week. The Davis Weatherlink software allow you to customise the charting display to show exactly what you want, and can go back in time minutes/days/weeks/months/ and even years.
  • Multiple alarms: The Davis systems can contain up to 70 alarms – far more than those in most competing stations. So you can set an alarm for pretty much any weather variable imaginable.
  • Flexibility: The Wireless Vantage Pro system can be configured to include a wide range of additional sensors and accessories, which means that you can continue to upgrade your system as your needs grow. For instance, many users add a solar sensor, or additional temperature sensors, or perhaps add an additional console so that they can view their weather displays in various locations.
  • Wireless range: Whilst the wireless transmitters offer fairly limited range, linking to a modem, or adding wireless repeater units can significantly increase the distance over which data can be transferred. And by linking to the internet, data can be transferred in seconds to anywhere on the planet! The Weatherlink software makes it easy to upload your data to the internet – examples can be seen here.