solar vs battery operated weather station


Solar-Powered vs. Battery Operated Weather Station

Which is better, a battery operated weather station, or one that is solar-powered?  As a quick aside, it is common that a solar-powered weather station has backup batteries.  For the purposes of this article, assume we’re just talking about the main source of power for the weather sensors.  Before we answer the question of which is better, let’s first look at the reasons why each might be beneficial depending on your application and needs for the weather station.

Solar-Powered Weather Station

Solar-powered weather stations require sunlight in order to provide power to the sensors.  Not requiring constant battery changes is a big plus, especially if the batteries fail during a storm or the winter months when it’s cold and/or snowy.  This is even more apparent when the sensors are installed on a roof or other location high off the ground as should be the case if the home weather station has proper siting

Because back-up batteries are just that, a “back-up”, or in some cases recharged by the solar panel, they require infrequent replacement.  In addition to the time and effort required to change batteries, there is also a cost associated with buying the batteries.  An example of two of the best solar-powered weather stations are the Ambient Weather WS-2000 and Davis Vantage Vue.  

Ambient Weather WS-2000

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Davis Vantage Vue

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Both of these are a great solar-powered weather station in its own right.  The Ambient Weather WS-2000 has a total of 10 weather sensors, built-in wifi, and connects to the Weather Underground or Ambient’s own network very quickly and easily!  On the other hand, the Vantage Vue from Davis is a more “seasoned veteran” if you will.  It’s been available for a longer period of time and proven itself as a very robust solar-powered weather station that can transmit data farther than any other all-in-one model I’m aware of.  

Battery Operated Weather Station

A battery operated weather station has some benefits as well. For instance, there is no need with battery-powered sensors to align the solar panel for optimal sun exposure. Additionally, some regions of the world, or other locations that a weather station could be sited at, might not have sunlight a majority of the day. An example of this would be in Northern Alaska during the winter months when there is little to no daylight. Furthermore, on the whole, battery operated weather stations tend to be slightly less expensive than their solar-powered counterparts. An example of one of our favorite battery operated weather stations is the AcuRite Atlas, model 01007M.

AcuRite Atlas 01007M

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AcuRite does make a product that makes changing batteries a breeze. It’s called the Remote Battery Pack. It replaces the batteries in the weather sensor and has a 30ft wire to a weather-resistant battery pack that can be placed in a more convenient location on the ground level. I highly recommend this product with any AcuRite battery operated weather station, including the Atlas.

AcuRite remote battery pack 02052M

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Info on remote battery packs for AcuRite’s 5-in-1 weather stations can be found here.

Which is Better:  Battery Operated or Solar-Powered?

In this case, better is somewhat subjective.  Most applications would benefit more from a solar-powered weather station.  The convenience factor, especially when you’re using a weather station the most (during a storm), makes too much sense if it’s an option not to rely on batteries.  However, with products like the remote battery pack discussed above, the difference between the two is becoming closer.   Even so, there are applications where battery replacement is just too much of a hassle and isn’t realistic.  An example might be a vacation home where you have a weather station placed.  You’re not there to change the batteries, but you’d like to see the weather data before going on your next trip.  This is a case where a solar-powered weather station is far superior.

In summary, you can make a case for either technology.  More often than not, a solar-powered weather station is probably the better option.  As is the case most of the time, understanding your weather station needs, location, and application are the key to deciding which to buy.  If you’re looking for more guidance, we recommend looking at our best home weather station list.  It compares options that are both battery operated and solar-powered.

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