Installing a home weather station is not difficult, as a matter of fact, by using one of the weather station installation kits you can be up and running in just a few minutes in many cases.
It’s all about getting your outdoor weather station sensors up in the air, where the weather is! This is particularly important for the wind sensors; the anemometer.
And you must do this safely!
Keep in mind…
…A well placed inexpensive home weather station will out perform a poorly placed station of any price.
Weather station placement is very important so the first thing you need to do is a site survey.
This is just a matter of looking around your property with eye toward giving your weather equipment the ideal exposure.
As you’ll see, almost nothing is “ideal”, but you can get pretty close!
Let’s dive in…
…Weather Station Siting is Everything
So what are your choices?
The roof of the house or garage is the most obvious and is the most common place most people install their weather sensors.
You can mount your weather station on the eave of the house. If your house has a gable roof this is an easy option.
On an existing fence. If you have a strong fence, mounting the weather station here could make sense.
Install the weather station on a stand alone pole or post. If you have enough room and you are free to put a post in the ground or a weather station stand anywhere you want, this is, as we’ll see later, often the best option.
If all of these options are open to you, consider yourself lucky! There are a few things to consider that might narrow your choices…
Home weather station mounting considerations
Each of the weather station sensors have an ideal place to be installed, but unfortunately what is good for one sensor is not so good for another.
- The wind speed sensor and wind direction sensor are sensitive to obstructions and turbulence. For most properties the roof of the house or garage is the best place to install the anemometer because you can elevate it to be higher than anything around it.
- The thermometer needs to be in free air away from heat sources like A/C units, water heaters, gas heaters, fireplaces, and dryer vents. The thermometer should not be close to things that get hot due to solar radiation like roads and paved driveways, roofs, concrete walls, and things like that. Objects with high thermal inertia, that is, objects that change temperature slower than the surrounding air, are usually the same things just mentioned, but also things like pools and ponds, and your house itself.
- The hygrometer will be thrown off by irrigated lawns, pools, or any other source of evaporation. This will also affect the temperature reading. These two sensors work together to come up with measurements like relative humidity and dew point. So if one sensor has bad data, the other sensor’s data will be off and the calculated figures will be junk.
- The rain gauge needs to be installed in the open to capture rainfall blowing in from any direction. It needs to be high enough off of the ground so that nothing splashes in, or sprinklers don’t affect it. Another thing to watch for is wind driven water from trees, shrubs, or anywhere there is water running off of something. Another issue is that movement out of level of the tipping bucket mechanism that measures the rain will throw the measure off. A tall swaying pole will not do; you may need guy wires.
- Of course your home weather station is going to require occasional maintenance. Batteries need to be replaced, leaves, blowing dust, bird poop, or critters that get into the rain gauge need to be cleaned out. Can this be done safely and without a huge hassle?
- You’ll have to keep the transmit range of the outdoor weather sensor in mind. Most of them have a maximum transmit range in the 300′ to 330′ range. Top of the line stations can transmit up to 1000′. Best results are had when the indoor receiver and outdoor transmitter are much closer than the maximum range. Ideally the two units can “see” each other line of sight, meaning no obstructions at all between them but for maybe a window. Having to transmit through shrubs, trees, walls, or anything at all will degrade the signal. Most home weather stations have a signal strength meter on the indoor display that will help in placement. Some home weather stations have a cabled version instead of the wireless types. I think the threat of a lightning strike on or near the station to be too great a risk. If you don’t have thunder and lightning where you live, move, your weather is too boring!
OK, did that narrow the choices? Most likely it did. So now what? Is this even possible?
Things that matter
Most of the popular home weather stations use an-all-in-one design for the outdoor sensor array, so a compromise is necessary.
To most people, the temperature accuracy is more important than the wind measurements. This is something only you can decide. If a roof mounting makes the most sense in your case, a possible compromise might be to mount the weather station on the side of the house that gets the prevailing winds in the summer. That way the wind is blowing past the weather sensors before it blows across the hot roof.
Another thing you can do, especially if your temperature readings are off, is to tweak the data on the indoor display. Most home weather stations have this feature. Place a good mercury thermometer in an ideal situation, the perfect place, and record the readings throughout the day and as much of the night as practical. Then try to adjust the reported values from the weather station to match the well placed thermometer.
If you are submitting your weather data to an online network, the weather community will be thankful for your efforts.
Davis Instruments has models with a detachable anemometer/ wind vane assembly that is still connected by a long cable. The wireless Davis units also have a transmit range of 1000 feet. The Davis solution goes a very long way in removing the compromise. But at a price$. If the compromise is unacceptable to you, this might be the way to go.
BLAH BLAH BLAH… Now some practical mounting solutions…
You’ll need some tools to install your weather station
Before we get into all of the best weather station mounting ideas, keep in mind that you will need some tools. Anything on your roof will require a ladder, so if you do not have one or if climbing on your roof makes you uncomfortable, just choose one of the ground mounting solutions.
Any weather station installation involving using lag bolts will require a portable drill and some drill bits. If drilling into your house is not acceptable, mount your weather station on the ground or use one of the chimney or vent mounts described below.
All weather station installations will need at least a screwdriver, an adjustable wrench, and a level that you can use to make sure your weather station mast is straight up and down. Many home weather stations have a bubble level built into the top of the outdoor sensor. The top!!! How can anybody see the top of their weather station after it’s installed? Maybe it’s the thought that counts…
And one last thing; you’ll need a compass to align the weather vane to point north and the solar panel to face south. After you get the weather sensor installed but before you snug up the bottom of your installation, turn the mast so the wind sensor is aimed north.
Installing weather stations on the roof
I have some experience here due to my ham radio hobby. I have so many things sticking up in the air my wife calls it our ‘Beam me up Scotty Ranch’. She is very patient with me, so far…
While the roof is not the best place for the thermometer, it’s often your best choice.
The object is to get something up high and cause no damage, or at least as little as possible.
Your chimney, eaves, and maybe your vent pipes are your best bets.
Use Weather Station Mounting Brackets, Tripods, and Masts…
Mounting a weather station on your chimney.
Your chimney, if your not using your fireplace, offers you a very stable base to mount a weather station on.
The top of the chimney extends above the peak of the roof, so if you mount the weather sensor 5 feet or so above the chimney you should be fine. There are installation kits made just for this purpose. Many people use TV antenna installation kits. Both work the same, actually, they are the same. These kits have a flat flexible band of metal that goes around the chimney and the ends are cinched together at a pipe holder. There are at least two of these straps; an upper and a lower.
You will have to buy the mounting pipe separately. 3/4 inch galvanized steel pipe fits the Acurite brand sensors fine. the outside diameter of the pipe is 1 inch and it is fairly stiff so if you don’t get to wild with the elevation, the wind won’t bend it too much.
What I use a lot is the 1.25 inch top-rail pipe for chain link fences. These pipes are available at most hardware stores, and if the pipe is too long, maybe they’ll cut it for you.
Mounting a weather station sensor on the eaves.
Mounting anything on the eaves of your house is going to involve drilling holes for lag bolts. The holes are very easy to fix if you decide to remove the installation, so this is a good choice.
If you have a gable roof, your in luck. There are installation kits made for just this purpose. Once again, your going to have to buy a mast separately. A length of 1.25 inch top rail pipe is a good, fairly stiff mount. Keep in mind that the mast doesn’t have to fit the weather station directly; a short stub that fits the weather sensor can be clamped to what ever you are using for a mast.
Another option for mounting your equipment on the eaves is the common satellite dish mount. You may even have one already, just throw the dish away and install your weather station on it instead!
The satellite mount gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of placement. It doesn’t matter which way the roof line is going, as long as you can install the pipe vertically, your good. If your mount is low you will have to use a longer mast to clear the peak of the roof. This may require guys to stabilize the weather sensor. There’s a kit for that. Also available is a heavy duty version of the satellite mount that comes with reinforcing brackets to help with side to side movement.
This kind of mount will require a mast that either fits snugly inside of the mounting pipe or can be clamped or bolted to the outside. From what I can tell there is no standard size on these mounts. So it’s off to the hardware store…
Make sure the wood that you are attaching the mount to is in good shape. Pre-drilling the holes for the lag bolts will make your job much easier. The lags should be long enough to go through the wood, any more is a waste. Fatter lags are better and washers are a good idea. The drill size should be about the same as the size or slightly smaller than the lag minus the threads. Hold the drill along the lag and make sure you can see all of the threads down to the shank as you look past the drill.
Mount the weather station on a sturdy roof vent pipe.
This an easy and non damaging weather station mounting solution. First thing; make sure the vent pipe is very sturdy and well supported. Take a look at the vent from inside the attic if you can. Maybe you can reinforce the vent from the attic side.
Don’t use water heater or furnace vents. You’ll get tropical weather every time you take a shower…
As for mounting your weather station this way, you have some options:
- Slip a bigger pipe over the vent and mount on the side of that. Keep the top open.
- Clamp a mast directly on the side of the vent.
- Buy a vent pipe installation kit. Yep, they make ’em.
- Attach a satellite dish mount onto the vent with u-bolts. ( I’ve done this; works well)
Try to use a vent that is high on the roof to keep your mast length reasonable.
Mount the weather station on the roof with a tripod.
If you have a flat roof, great, there’s a kit for that. It’s a tripod with a flat frame on the bottom to put bricks, concrete blocks, or sandbags; anything heavy enough to keep it in place. A very easy weather station mounting solution.
But most houses have pitched roofs so screwing the tripod down through the shingles is necessary. This is not ideal but if your situation requires this kind of mounting, go for it.
There are plenty of TV antenna and weather station mounting tripods available. Setting them up is fairly easy, just straddle the ridge peak of the roof so the tripod is straight up and level, then screw or bolt it down. There are tar pads, sometimes called pitch pads, that are placed between the tripod feet and the roof that the lag screws go through. This is a good solution to prevent leaks.
If you can mount the tripod out on a gable overhang any leaking may be seen and the damage minimal. If this is mounted on the windward side of the house it will help minimize the heat from the roof affecting the temperature sensor. Most TV and satellite dish installations are done this way.
Mount your weather station mast on the side of the house.
There are several ways of mounting your weather station on the side of your house. Once again, through demand from TV antenna installers, kits are available. These are stand offs that bolt to the side of the house that provide a way to hold a mast away from the house enough to get past the eaves, hopefully. The stand offs should be lag bolted to the studs of the wall framing and be installed exactly vertical. Install one to the wall, and use a piece of pipe to plumb up the other bracket.
Another way is to use a satellite mount on the wall for the bottom end of the mast and attaching the mast to the eaves for stability. This is unlikely to result in a vertical installation, so some improvising will be required.
Here is kind of a hybrid ground/ roof mount: attach the mast to a pipe or something solid on the ground and again, attach the mast to the eave for stability. Drop a plumb bob from the point on the eave you want to hook to and drive a stake or pipe into the ground at the bottom. This should result in a strong and vertical weather station installation.
Ground mounting a home weather station.
If you have the option of mounting your home weather station out in the clear, away from houses, trees, roads, and such your weather information will be more accurate. This seldom happens, so pick the best spot on your property you can for a weather station and put it there.
Now that you have your best location picked out, it’s time to decide; a weather station mounting kit, or a post or pole in the ground.
Mounting a weather station to a wood post or a metal pole.
If you choose to put a pole in the ground make sure you dig deep enough to get below your frost line. Otherwise your pole or post will get pushed around and heave when the ground freezes and it will not be vertical anymore.
Using concrete in the hole is optional, I find that digging deep enough and packing the dirt down as you refill the hole to work just as well.
If you use a wooden post, make sure it is treated against termites and rot. Don’t use “peeler cores”, they will warp and twist, Even if they are treated, they seem to rot anyway. I use a lot of treated lodgepole pine for fences and they work great. Treated 4×4 posts or larger would be fine.
To connect the mast to the post, get some pipe clamps that fit your mast and lag bolt the mast to to the post making sure it i s vertical. The advantage here is you can loosen the clamps and align your weather station wind vane to the compass. What I usually do is drill through the masts and screw it directly to the wood. That way I can always take it down and put it back in exactly the same place. Take your pick…
Do you have an existing fence nearby? If it is good and solid, use it as a base to attach your mast to. If you put a metal pipe in the ground or if you can attach the mast to a chain link fence post, using the house vent pipe mount would give you a solid installation.
Mount your home weather station on a tripod.
This would have to be the fastest and easiest way to mount a weather station. By using the platform style of tripod, you’ll need to level a piece of ground about 36 inches square, place the tripod, throw some heavy weights on the bottom and you’re done. Well almost done; adding a couple of feet of mast will most likely be necessary.
If you decide on the regular tripod, the ground will have to be leveled about yard square and the tripod is staked to the ground with the additional stake kit. These are 2 foot long stakes so they should be OK. And again, the higher the mast the better.
Install you home weather station with the worst expected weather in mind.
There are stories of personal weather stations making it through hurricanes. Obviously the installations of those stations were rock solid. Also keep in mind that the Acurite and Ambient weather stations register up to about 100mph, and the Davis stations are good to 180- 200 mph. My highest recorded speed was 93 mph and my pole mounted unit made it through just fine.
“Official” weather station installation guidelines.
- !00 feet from any road or driveway.
- Anemometer 33 feet up and at least 7 feet above the trees!!
- Temperature/ humidity sensor 5 feet above average ground.
- Rain gauge should be twice the hight of the nearest obstruction away and 2 feet up.
Good luck with all of that! A rule of thumb for the anemometer installation is to keep it 4X the distance of the difference in height of the nearest obstruction. This would usually be your house. So if your house is 20 feet tall and the anemometer is 10 feet up, the difference is 10 feet. X4 puts you 40 feet away from the house (or whatever wind obstruction is close).
Be very careful on ladders
Don’t get on the roof in bad weather.
Stay away from power lines and be aware of where the mast may fall.
Wired weather stations can be a lightning hazard inside your house. Go wireless.
Many of these weather station mounting ideas will work for you, just pick one and do it. You’ll be done before you know it and I’m sure you will find your new home weather station fun, educational, and very addictive.
I hope something here was of help to you, and thank you for reading.