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All In One Weather Station: For Better or Worse?
All-in-one weather station sensor suites are very convenient and are great for most home weather station applications. They require minimum effort for locating, mounting, and installing the weather instruments. If you’re looking for superior accuracy however, this may not be your best option. The fundamental reason for this is the fact that you cannot separate the thermometer and rain gauge from the anemometer.
Each sensor in the suite has an optimal siting location. See our complete weather station installation guide for more details.
According to the National Weather Service’s Coop Network, the optimal siting for an outdoor thermometer is approximately five feet off the ground. It is recommended that it not be mounted in direct sunlight unless a radiation shield is used. In addition, it should be mounted above a natural, level surface and not pavement. This ensures you receive accurate air temperatures at the surface, which is the standard we use.
Similarly, a rain gauge’s optimal location is 5 feet above ground level, grass specifically. This is the recommendation according to CWOP’s Official Guide. Of course, there can be no obstructions above or nearby that might block any of the rainfall from finding the gauge. With this, it is plausible for the thermometer and the rain gauge to be mounted together.
By contrast however, wind measurements for both speed and direction have a different elevation requirement. It is recommended that an anemometer be sited approximately 33 feet (10 meters) above level, open terrain as stated by the World Meteorological Organization. Additionally, mounting should be at least 10 times higher than any nearby obstructions.
As you can see, the siting recommendations for these weather instruments don’t really lend itself to an all-in-one integrated sensor suite. This is one reason why the Davis Vantage Pro2 is so popular. It allows for up to 40 feet between the thermometer and anemometer with the supplied cable. The convenience of the all-in-one sensors is overshadowed by the reduction in accuracy. Lucky for most of us, an all in one weather station is plenty accurate. Ultimately, for most enthusiasts, it’s just not an issue. However, for many professionals it’s not quite accurate enough when it counts. Should this deter a novice from buying an all-in-one weather station? Absolutely not! It’s just something to keep in mind next time you’re in the market for a new weather station.