Thursday, December 23, 2010

Selecting a Home Weather Station

My parents live in a windy area near the beach in Southern California.   With a prevailing 12mph wind, there is a reasonable possibility that a small wind generator  to reduce their energy bills makes sense.

My father would like to make the case to the city council and needs to collect weather data.   His requirements are

-Solar powered, wireless sensor array for wind, rain, temperature, and barometric pressure
-Indoor real time data console with a trend display
-Computer interface from the console which enables long term archiving of data for analysis

I've compared all the major manufacturers (Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, LaCrosse Technology).   Choices are very limited for a solar powered sensor array with computer interfacing. You'll find a great discussion at the Weathertracker website.  

What did I ultimately buy him?

1.  Davis Instruments Vantage Vue  $395.00  (a new, updated, modern product that is easy to install and maintain)

2.  Davis Instruments WeatherlinkIP $295.00 (a direct to web interface)

The computer interfacing question was challenging.   Davis Instruments offers 3 options

a. Windows based USB interface - simple, easy to install, and includes full featured software for Windows 2000/XP/7.

b.  Windows based Serial interface - can also be used via a serial to USB adapter with Mac OSX but can be problematic.   If the OS changes, there is a chance the Serial or USB drivers will not work.

c.  A Cloud/web-based option  - data is uploaded via IP from the console to a data management application and publicly available website hosted by Davis Instruments.  Data can be downloaded and archived directly from the website - no direct computer interfacing or drivers are needed.  It works on any operating system and browser.

I chose the Cloud option.   Thus my father will be tracking the clouds in the Cloud!   I've temporarily installed it in Wellesley and you can follow the weather at my home via Weather Underground.
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