Review Ambient Weather WS-1002-WIFI OBSERVER

Ambient Weather was born in the internet age and it shows.While many of the other home weather station manufacturers are retrofitting their weather equipment to connect to the internet, Ambient has been doing this from the beginning. So if you are bit of a nerd, and more specifically a weather nerd, you’ll really enjoy Ambient Weather products.


Another nice thing about Ambient is that they are always looking for ways to improve their products and the WS-1002-WIFI is one of their newest improved models. The WS-1000, and the WS-1001 have proven to be excellent and very popular personal weather stations and the newly released WS-1002-WIFI looks to be the best yet.

As with it’s predecessors, the WS-1002-WIFI Observer consists of an integrated 7 sensor outdoor array and a 3 sensor indoor unit, both of which send their data wirelessly to an indoor desktop display. The display console in turn transmits the weather measurements to your wireless router.

One of the new improvements has been to the outdoor sensor’s charging circuit. The solar panel now charges a supercapacitor, (which is a kind of battery/capacitor hybrid), and the batteries are used to keep the supercapacitor charged at night if needed. The advantage is you can now use lithium batteries which work much better in freezing cold conditions than alkaline rechargeable batteries, and lithium batteries won’t leak and ruin the sensor like the alkalines.

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This video is of a slightly earlier model but the indoor display and operation is identical:

The outdoor all-in-one integrated wireless sensor array picks up the usual five measurements plus two more* usually only found on far more expensive weather stations.

 

 

Sensor Range Resolution Units Accuracy
Temperature -40 to140°F 0.1°F ± 2°F
Humidity 10 to 99% 1% ± 5%
Wind Speed 0 to 100 mph 0.1 mph ± 2.2 mph or 10% (whichever is greater)
Wind Direction 0 – 360º ± 1º
Rainfall 0 to 394 in. 0.01 in ± 10%
Solar Radiation* 0 to 400,000 Lux 1 Lux ± 15%
UV* 0 to 15 1 ± 1

The outdoor wireless transmitter has a range of about 300′ max. People are reporting getting a good signal into their house at 250′. Your mileage may vary… The display has a signal strength meter so you should be able to tell if the location you have in mind is good before you do a permanent installation.

From the indoor sensor, the thermo-hygrometer, you get:

 

 

Sensor Range Resolution units Accuracy
Indoor temperature 32 to 140 °F 0.1°F ± 2°F
Indoor humidity 10 to 99% 1% ± 5%
Barometric Pressure 8.85 to 32.50 inHg 0.01 inHg ± 0.08 inHg (within range of 27.13 to 32.50 inHg)

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The battery powered thermo-hygrometer is about the size of a deck of cards and be placed almost anywhere providing it’s indoors and within about 80′ of the display.

In my experience, the thermo-hygrometer function is usually integrated with the display unit. I’m not sure why Ambient did it this way. One benefit would be that you could put it in another room and see the temperature there but the read out is pretty small.

Anyway, the display, called the Observer, is quite nice looking and is very functional. the use of a TFT LCD display results in a nice crisp readout. Several people mentioned how easy it was to read and also that you could see it well at an angle.The back light brightness is manually adjustable or can be set to change automatically by the time of day.

All of the weather info from the sensors can be tweaked on the display to make up from any initial inaccuracy or a skewed reading due to placement.

An SD card slot is provided allowing you to save data and to perform firmware updates. The display has almost 4mb of memory.

You can also select metric readings if you prefer. Historical graphs, high/low readings and alarm settings, and more are all at your finger tips.

If you are something of a techie you will have fun setting up the display console to hook up with your WIFI router and from there to AmbientWeather.net and WeatherUnderground. Once the wifi is setup,is done, software is available to enable the display console functions to be adjusted on your computer. Also, after getting online, the time on the display is set automatically through a NIST.gov time server.

Ambient’s owners manual present an illustrated and step by step instructions guiding you through the whole setup process. Lots of people remark about how easy Ambient made it to setup. So, grab a beer and work your way through it.

What are people saying

As of this writing 87% of buyers gave the WS-1002 4 stars and up; not bad!

Many, many comments about how quick and easy it is to set up. The folks who had cause to contact the Ambient help desk or the warranty dept. report a positive experience.

The people who’s warranty had run out, or those who keep having the same problem over and over didn’t fare so well.

One drawback brought up a few times was that the display console has no battery back up. So, when your power goes out, the display shuts down and no data is recorded.  The solution is an uninterruptible power supply. (UPS)  Maybe the fix will be the ws-1003?  The upside is that when the power comes back on, the unit comes back up and continues working without any resetting or anything.

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Conclusion

This is a solid personal weather station from a company with a solid reputation. The WS-1002-WIFI Observer is a lot of weather station for home fun and education. This is a great deal that includes 7 sensors instead of the usual 5.

If this is too much weather station for you, check out my home weather station review of the new internet based WS-1401-Observer.