The internet has made it easy to search for and buy weather sensors and weather stations. Prices range across the spectrum, from very inexpensive to very expensive. But is it really necessary to buy expensive sensors?
The argument can be made that weather sensors are disposable items that can be replaced after they fail, with new and better sensors. There are many options for low cost weather stations on the market. But what is the difference?
There are several factors to consider with environmental sensors, component quality, accuracy and installation. First, properly mounted environmental sensors are not necessarily in easy access locations. They must be mounted in areas that are not subject to interference by nearby objects. For examples, wind shear around a building, or from nearby structures can adversely impact the accuracy of anemometers, rain gauges, and wind direction sensors. Temperature sensor accuracy can be impacted if not shielded properly, or if placed near a dark surface that absorbs sunlight. Once installed the time and effort required to replace sensors that fail prematurely is a lost opportunity cost.
Accuracy is important if sensors are integrated with building automation systems. Inaccurate sensors may impact occupant comfort, building energy efficiency, equipment life and or safety. If a sensor is inaccurate or provides readings that change sporadically, building heating and cooling systems may cycle excessively, using extra energy and causing premature wear on components. Building systems may not respond properly to changing weather conditions which may cause direct weather related problems such as freeze ups. Excessive heating or cooling may impact occupant comfort impacting customer or employee discomfort.
Component quality directly impacts the long term effectiveness of weather sensors. Low cost sensors may have decent signal quality, but exposure to extreme conditions will result in faster decay of sensor signal quality and premature breakdown of the sensor. Most low cost sensors do not use commercial grade components to save cost. What looks like a deal on the front end means a sacrifice in quality and more frequent replacement and
Products such as the Comptus A75-104 anemometer are designed and built to commercial specifications to ensure long term accurate reading of actual environmental conditions.
Do your research before buying weather sensors or weather stations. Take time to contact the manufacturer to verify sensor operation specifications and performance claims. If you can’t contact either the product manufacturer or a knowledgeable distribution partner directly, that is a clue the product may not be very good. A quality weather sensor manufacturer will be readily able to share key product specifications with you. You’ll be glad you made the effort.