A Great Family Project: Home Weather Stations

By: Kelly Gillis

Did you like science class when you were a kid? I did -- I LOVED it! Every and any class -- and all my class projects. It has left me with a lasting love of the subject -- especially the subject of Meteorology, the science of weather patterns and forecasting.

So I am so pleased when I turn the pages of my science and hobbyist catalogs and see the fine equipment that is being made today - it incorporates technology way beyond anything I could have imagined as a boy! I decided to sit down and write this article to help you understand what you might need if you too wanted to set up a home weather station.

There are 2 ways to approach this: You can either construct a shelter and place your weather detection equipment inside it, which will require you to go outside to take readings, or you can set up a home weather station that will allow you to get readings while you are inside.

If you go with the former approach, you will need to make sure that the entire unit of each instrument can be safely located out-of-doors (not all can). You will also need to construct a weather station - a kind of a vented structure - in which you can place all the instruments. Then you will need to go outside daily and take your readings. This is the old-fashioned method, and is still preferred by some.

On the other hand you can purchase equipment for your home weather station that has an indoor and an outdoor component. The indoor component contains the dials and screens and other components that give you the reading - the rest stays outside, connected by a cable (or via a wireless transmission) to your inside display instrumentation.

Basic Metrologic equipment will enable you to record temperatures, rainfall, barometric pressure, wind direction and speed, and humidity. If you wish, you can purchase integrated weather station panels, which will provide you with a set of equipment and a panel which will provide a 'weather dashboard' - very popular with the backyard forecasting set.

As your skill and knowledge grow, you can invest in more advanced instrumentation, such as a thermo-hygrometer (it measures humidity and temperature, giving you a 'heat index'), or a baro-hygrometer (which measures humidity and barometric pressure). Most home weather forecasters find that the wireless equipment is easier to install and maintain, but the downside is that they cost a lot more than the hard-wired equipment. In addition, there are some die-hard fans of the old equipment that feel that the hard-wired models give a more accurate reading, but that is disputed by others.

One final note - this equipment is generally not cheap to buy, so if you are buying it for your kids make sure that they are really interested in the subject and are willing to keep at it. If you think that ther is the chance that they might lose interest, it would be better for them to make their own crude (but fully functional) equipment at first. By the way, having a home weather station is a great family activity - maintaining the equipment as well as taking the daily readings. I wish you happy forecasting!

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Author: Kelly Gillis wants you to enjoy your backyard. To learn about solar water fountains and small backyard ponds visit her site.
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