Maintaining home weather stations has gotten easier these days. One of the top considerations of the best selling weather station companies is ease of maintenance.
But even the top brands will require some attention from time to time. So hopefully you had thought about safely accessing your weather station when you put it up.
Every installation is unique and will come with advantages and drawbacks that only your experience and observations will uncover. Over time you’ll get a feel for the weather patterns in your area. If your weather data starts to look wrong, maybe it’s time for some maintenance.
In general though, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Some things that could make your specific maintenance issues different from other peoples:
- Proximity of trees. This could increase the maintenance due to leaves, seeds, or needles getting into the rain sensor. You would notice this when you can see it’s raining but little or nothing is registering on your display. Tree pollen and sap could also be a problem.
- Birds and bugs can be troublesome. Birds sometimes like to perch on a weather station and then crap on it or in it. They’ve also been known to break wind vanes and wind speed sensors. Bugs can get into almost anywhere. Keep an eye on the weather station and the data.
- Blowing dust can plug up the rain detector, and if it is fine enough, it can cause the bearings in the rotating parts to wear prematurely. This the main problem that I have out here in the Nevada desert – dirt and dust Everywhere!
- Decent amount of rain throughout the year. This might make cleaning off your weather station solar panel unnecessary. If you don’t have a problem with debris getting into the rain collector the rainfall should keep the sensor clean.
- If you live at high latitudes or if you have a lot of cloudy days you might find your battery life shortened. This is especially true of weather stations that use solar charged super capacitors to run the weather station in the daytime.
Note: One thing you may notice while keeping an eye on your weather station is that it turns a bit yellow with age. This is perfectly normal so you shouldn’t worry about it.
The most common weather station maintenance issues
All batteries eventually wear out. Your environment and the quality of the batteries make the most difference in battery life. I have found that lithium batteries far out perform all of the others. If your weather station can measure down to -40° F you can be sure it’s using lithium batteries. No other battery will work at all at that temperature.
So unless you have an old weather station that still uses solar charged alkaline batteries, you should seriously consider lithium batteries.
Acurite 5 in 1 weather stations use four AA lithium batteries, which is more battery power than their competition, and they claim they are good for 2 years. Acurite also has a battery extension kit that brings the battery installation down where you can reach it easily.
…Maintenance of the Rain Gauge
Second to battery replacement, an issue everyone has, comes the rain collector/ sensor getting full of crud. Some home weather stations have a screen or guard to keep things from getting all of the way inside. I know Davis is equipped this way.
With something to filter the bigger pieces of junk from entering the inside and gumming up the works, you may be able to get away with just removing the debris that was stopped.
Keep in mind that every time the rainfall sensor’s tipping buckets are rocked it will send that data to the display or receiver as if it really rained. This might happen if you have to take your weather station down, or if you just dump a bunch of water through the sensor to clean it out quick.
So, what do you do?
With the Acurite weather stations simply remove the batteries and no data will be sent.
With weather stations that have solar charged super capacitors, it’s not so easy.
You may have to get inventive
- You could be very careful and not let anything move. Good luck with that…
- You might take the outdoor sensor out of transmit range. If the TSA asks about the weather station in your luggage, you’re probably going too far…
- Maybe temporarily change the transmit channel on the receiver or the outdoor sensor, just remember to put it back where it was.
- Find a way to obstruct the radio signal from the sensor to the receiver. I can park my car in front of the indoor display/receiver and the signal is stopped.
- Or maybe you just don’t care… But If you are submitting your weather info to WeatherUnderground it will show up there — forever.
The next most common maintenance issue is the…
There is not much to do here but to keep it cleaned off. A little bit of dirt has a big effect on the output of the panel.
Some manufacturers suggest using soap and water, others say alcohol is the best thing. What I like are the anti-static electronic wipes, you can use them to clean your weather station, computer display, TV, phone, glasses, lots of things. They say you’re not to use them for personal hygiene..oh well…
Does your weather station have a fan?
If so, you should take a look at it and clean out anything that got pulled or crawled in. Check to see that it spins freely and quietly. If the fan doesn’t seem right even after cleaning things up, it may need replacing.
The fan is used to pull fresh air over the thermometer so you get a better idea of the air temperature and not the temperature of the sensor housing. If you see your temperature getting too high compared to nearby stations, check your fan.
Maintenance of the wind vane and anemometer
This involves keeping an eye on the wind vane and anemometer and looking for obvious damage from birds or branches. Also listen for noise from the anemometer when the wind blows; on some weather stations a little silicone spray helps.
Other weather station maintenance points to watch for
Home weather stations are prone to damage from falling branches and flying debris. Oh yeah, and birds. Take a look once in a while at your weather station and what is going on around it, maybe head off a problem before it happens.
Now that you have some home weather station experience…
If you’re at the stage of maintaining your weather station it must have been up far a while.
What have you noticed?
- How long did your batteries last? Now you know when you’ll need to change them next.
- Did anything else need attention?
- Is your installation still solid and stable?
- Is the sensor array still aligned North and South properly?
Are you still happy about where you installed your weather station?
Can you reach the outdoor sensors without risking life and limb?
- Are you happy with the signal strength from the sensors to the indoor display?
- Have you noticed anything strange about your weather measurements over the past year or so? If you see things like temperature spikes, not reporting wind from a certain direction, or reporting rainfall when it’s only windy out.
- How does your weather compare with other home weather stations in the area? This is easy to do if you’re using Weather Underground. If your data is way off from your neighbors, you may have a problem to address…. or they do!
Well there you have it
Every home weather station has the same sorts of maintenance issues. From batteries to birds and bugs, from dirt and leaves from trees to blowing dust and debris, everybody gets something. Ya just gotta do what ya gotta do…
Your situation is unique, enjoy it!
Have Fun! And Thanks..