Weather stations for weather enthusiasts

clouds1As a keen weather watcher, you may have been recording weather conditions for some time now, perhaps with manual instruments, or you may be thinking about putting your interest into practice for the first time by buying an automatic weather station (AWS). Whatever your background, the Davis range of meteorological instruments has much to offer.

rainbowMany experienced weather observers will already be familiar with the Davis make of stations because of their established worldwide reputation amongst enthusiasts and professional meteorologists alike as the most affordable stations with any real claim to accuracy and reliability. In addition, Davis have a particular commitment to solid after-sales support for their products.

Older hands may be familiar with the Davis Weather Monitor II stations, which really established the Davis weather station credentials. Production of the WMII station was discontinued several years back and the more recent Davis Vantage Pro 2 range has surpassed the older models in many respects and is now the weather station of choice for serious private weather monitoring.

Davis stations are widely used for serious weather monitoring for scientific and official records, amongst many other applications, and are suitable for collecting data for submission to bodies such as the UK Met Office (via the WOW project) and the UK Climatological Observers Link.

Automatic vs manual weather monitoring

For anyone thinking of moving from older manual instruments to a more modern automated station here’s a brief comparison of automated vs manual weather monitoring:

  • An AWS provides an integrated system able to measure many weather parameters simultaneously. All Vantage Pro 2 stations can, as standard, measure: wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, pressure and rainfall. Additional sensors, including solar radiation intensity, are available as options.
  • Current readings from all installed sensors can be observed on the station console from indoors, at a glance and at any time, so providing much more detailed information about how the weather is changing through each day than is possible with manual measurement;
  • An AWS can measure parameters such as rainfall rate that are impracticable by manual methods;
  • Routine daily maintenance chores (eg emptying the rain gauge) are no longer necessary;
  • AWS stations can automatically record and store maximum and minimum values for a range of weather parameters through each day and keep track of total monthly and yearly rainfall;
  • A data logger and PC may be readily linked to the station so that all weather data is logged automatically and in detail, to create a permanent record of conditions at the site. It is also possible to generate summaries of logged data automatically, for example monthly summaries, to assist in maintaining a detailed archive of conditions.

Station features

The Vantage Pro 2 models are described in more detail in our Products section, but let’s highlight just a few of their operational features:

  • The stations are designed with class-leading accuracy specifications (summary), which Davis are happy to disclose, unlike certain other makers;
  • The units are designed for reliable operation over several years, and are supplied by us (in Europe) with a three year warranty;
  • Vantage Pro 2 models include an integral radiation shield (Stephenson screen) as standard so that air temperature readings can be made with good accuracy. There is also the option of specifying one of two fan-aspirated shields (FARS) for ultimate temperature accuracy (see picture): a special FARS shield that runs continuously; or a lower-cost, daytime-only FARS shield that is powered solely by a solar panel and which is available as a separate add-on kit suitable for upgrading a standard VP shield at any time;
  • The console data display is comprehensive and flexible:
    • Weather readings can each be displayed in the user’s choice of measurement units;
    • Wind speed and direction values are updated every 3 seconds and can therefore follow individual wind gusts;
    • Derived parameters such as dew point, wind chill, 10-minute mean wind speed etc are calculated automatically;

Remember also that the Davis stations are supplied with comprehensive manuals and are straightforward to install.

Data logging to a PC

Reading weather data from the weather station console represents a major advance on manual measurements, but linking the station to a PC via the Davis Weatherlink data logging option adds a completely new dimension to making the most of your weather observations. (The required PC specification is quite undemanding and an older, maybe discarded, PC will often suffice. The logger will continue storing data for an extended period even if no PC is connected.) Data logging opens the door to many sophisticated approaches to analysing and presenting the weather data in impressive graphic form, but the experienced weather observer may be especially interested in three features:

  • A permanent and fully detailed record of all observed weather data can be maintained, with observations every 1 minute throughout every single day if required (though we suggest that every 5 minutes is usually often enough). Using the powerful graphing and presentation tools in the software, data from a particular day potentially some years back can be called up and viewed in detail;
  • monthly2The Weatherlink software has a number of Report utilities that can automatically create monthly and yearly summaries of data, including highs and lows  and other statistics. (First 10 days of a monthly report is shown alongside in reduced form.) Additional software allows the data to be analysed in even more detail;
  • You can report your weather data live on the Internet as an automatic weather-reporting website, if you wish, and also submit the data to various international networks that collate live weather data such as Weather Underground.

Further details of the various options for logging and processing the weather data may be found on our Data Handling introductory page.

Recommended weather station models

The standard Vantage Pro 2 stations, either cabled or wireless, provide an excellent and professional quality system for automatic weather monitoring and are fully complete in themselves, unless you wish to add additional sensors for monitoring visible and UV solar intensity, soil moisture etc. The Weatherlink data logging package is a highly recommended option to make the most of your detailed observations.

For private weather enthusiasts we often have special offers running of bundles of a Davis VP2 station plus Weatherlink data logger and software pack – our current offers are usually posted prominently on our home page.

The latest Davis Vantage Vue stations are another option and offer an unbeatable value-for-money package for anyone seeking a straightforward introduction to automated weather observing. Remember though that the Vue stations are not expandable and that all their weather sensors are integrated into a single non-separable assembly, which is why most enthusiasts will prefer a VP2 station, unless budget is an overriding consideration.

Our scientifically qualified staff will be happy to talk to you in detail if you have questions about the technical capabilities of the Davis systems;