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5 Reasons Why You Need to Monitor Concrete Conditions to Avoid Concrete Cracking (2020)

5 Reasons Why You Need to Monitor Concrete Conditions to Avoid Concrete Cracking (2020)

What is Cracked Concrete?

Concrete is one of the most durable products that you can use around your house. However, this statement only remains valid IF you use it properly. Seeing wide or narrow concrete cracking can be troublesome, but you can avoid it by directly paying attention to minor details. 

Concrete cracking happens mostly due to temperature change, uneven loads, thawing, or freezing. You might start to witness wide or narrow (hairline) cracks on concrete, commonly known as concrete cracking.

In this post, you will learn more details about what Concrete Cracking is, why it happens and what measures you need to take to prevent it. You will also find out a weather instrument that will help you with solving the problem.

Apart from the reasons mentioned above, concrete cracking might also happen because of:

  • shrinkage
  • chemical reactions
  • constructional movement
  • evaporation rate 
  • other reasons. 

Common types of concrete cracks

common concrete crack

The most common type of concrete cracks are:

  1. Concrete Cracks by Plastic Shrinkage
  2. Settling Concrete Cracks  
  3. Concrete Cracks due to Load
  4. Heavy Concrete Cracks 
  5. Expansion Concrete Cracks

Why does Concrete Cracking Take Place?

No matter if you see concrete cracks in floors, concrete cracks in the driveway, concrete cracks in walls, or concrete cracks in patio – you can control concrete cracking by paying attention to the below-mentioned reasons.  

Reason #01: Water Excess in the Mix

excess water in concrete mix

Water can be the main force of shrinkage in concrete. 

Concrete does not require much water to prepare its mix for installation. However, many times excess water added to the concrete results in the evaporation of mixing water during the drying phase. 

Concrete can shrink up to ½ inch per 100 feet, which is why it is necessary to limit water in the concrete mix. The forces in the concrete mix are so strong that they leave cracks in it. 

Try to avoid adding excess water in concrete to avoid cracks in it. 

Reason #02: Rapid Concrete Drying 

You might witness plastic shrinkage cracks if the concrete dries up very quickly. It is because the concrete is not able to gain enough tensile strength that leads to cracking. So, we can say that another reason for concrete cracks is its rapid drying. To further understand it, you must know that concrete dries out due to a reaction that takes place in it. 

You need to add an adequate amount of water to concrete. The reaction that takes place transforms the concrete from liquid to solid-state. 

Concrete drying can go on for days, but you need to make sure that you have added enough water in the concrete mixture to cure the slab. If the concrete dries out before time, you can witness concrete cracking. 

Reason #03: Wrong Strength Concrete Poured In 

Cracks on a concrete slab might also be due to pouring wrong concrete strength on the slab. If you are using a ready mix concrete, then you must confirm concrete strength from the supplier. 

Concrete comes in various strengths, and you must know which strength you are pouring in. If you put in improper concrete strength, then the cracks are imminent. 

Reason #04: Lack of Concrete Joints

concrete joints

One way to protect cracks in the concrete slabs is by placing the concrete joints in the slab. However, if there are not enough concrete joints, then concrete cracking occurs. It is placing concrete joints in the slab that protects concrete from random cracking; you should do this at predetermined locations. 

Reason #05: Pouring Concrete on Frozen Ground

Never pour concrete on frozen ground! 

There are many reasons for it. First of all, the frozen ground only settles upon thawing. Hence, the concrete cracks can occur. Also, when the ground is cold, the concrete might not set as rapidly as it does. The surface sets in, but the inside of the concrete may remain soft.

Methods to Prevent Concrete Cracking

concrete cracking

If you are witnessing cracks in the concrete, do not worry – you can fix it. 

The concrete cracks are unbearable, especially when they are ruining your house’s look. Concrete cracks in fountain, driveway, or anywhere else can catch anybody’s attention, so try to get rid of them as fast as you can. 

There are many ways to prevent concrete cracking. We start by providing a solution to the reasons mentioned above. To summarize, the main reasons for concrete cracking are:

  1. Water Excess in the Mix
  2. Rapid Concrete Drying 
  3. Wrong Strength of Concrete Poured
  4. Lack of Concrete Joints
  5. Pouring Concrete on Frozen Ground

If you are facing concrete cracks, then try to mitigate the five issues listed above.

Method #01: Stop Pouring in Excess Water in the Concrete Mix 

You must confirm from your contractor how much water he poured in the concrete mix. Make sure to hire a reliable contractor who knows these things very well.

Method #02: Concrete Curing 

Curing is one of the methods to stop your concrete mix from rapid drying. This method helps in retaining the concrete’s moisture to let it have enough strength. It also helps in delaying shrinkage in the concrete. Here is how you can cure concrete in simple ways. 

  • You can cure concrete with the help of mist, flooded, or ponded spray. These help with preventing mix water evaporation. 
  • You can cover concrete with wet burlap, sand, canvas, or straw. Make sure the covering is damp at all times during curing. 
  • You can also place plastic film seal or waterproof paper on hard concrete to help it resist cracking. Plastic films might cause discoloration, so place them wisely.
  • You can make a proper chemical application as soon as the concrete is done. Make sure to contact your flooring contractor before doing it as the process can affect the adherence effect of your flooring. 

Method #03: Contact Your Supplier in regards to Concrete Strength 

concrete strength checking

Contact local state concrete associations to get your hands on the first-hand knowledge about concrete strength. Once you have it, make sure to communicate it with your contractor. Hire a reliable contractor to avoid these issues. 

Method #04: Place Enough Control Joints

worker pouring concrete

Having enough control joints in concrete allows movements due to temperature changes inside the concrete. It would help if you decided where you place the control joints in the concrete. Note that concrete cracks might still take place, but these will be in straight lines rather than randomly.

The joints should be the same as the slab and should be about 2-3 times (in feet) of the concrete thickness in inches. Also, cut the joints as much as 25% of the slab depth. You can use grooving tools to cut joints in fresh concrete; whereas, a saw might be a better option to cut joints when the concrete is hard. 

Method #05: Place Concrete on Compact Ground

Here comes another essential method to help you place the concrete slab without any cracks. One cannot wait for the hot weather to install the concrete, so what can we do? Soil thawing. No matter if you have to install concrete in cold weather, you can do so but with many precautions. 

As beginners, many people don’t know that there is a base below slab that plays a critical role in installing the concrete. This base acts as a foundation and is called the ‘soil support system.’ When the soil is cold, the concrete takes more time to harden. 

hand in the snow

Pouring concrete on a cold soil looks time-saving, but it can cost you a lot of money and efforts in the future. It’s better to take necessary measures now, then taking them in the future. Here is how you can thaw the ground.

  • Hydronic Heaters: It uses a pump to run heating fluid through rubber tubes. The whole tube structure is laid out on the surface to be thawed. Although it is a good method, it does not give proper insulation against heat and takes much time to set up.
  • Heated Enclosures: A heated enclosure is built over the surface to be thawed. This method is used with other thawing methods. One downfall of this method is that it can start heating the surroundings as well instead of focus on the surface.
  • Drilling Holes: Many times, contractors dig in holes into the ground and fill it with hot water or steam. It takes a lot of effort and excess of water on the pour site, which can slow down the thawing process. 
  • Fire: Propane torches or fire can be used on the pour site; however, it might not give enough heat to the thawing surface. Also, this method is not safe in winter. 
  • Insulation: Placing an insulating blanket might also help thaw the ground through geothermal forces. This method is sufficiently efficient, but not be helpful in extreme weather conditions. 
  • Heated Ground Thaw Blanket: Thawing ground through electrically powered heating is the best method. It gives proper insulation, provides sufficient heat to the ground, and is safe in cold weather. 
Pro Tip: Even though the prevention mentioned above methods are effective, what if you wouldn’t have to do any of this work and still avoid concrete cracking? Well, it is possible – thanks to the Kestrel 5200 or Kestrel Concrete Pro Jobsite Weather Kit.


Kestrel 5200 is the best product for construction use. It helps in calculating the rate of evaporation through the built-in American Concrete Institute Evaporation Rate nomograph that measures the condition of the pout site. All you have to do is enter the temperature; then, the device displays all the necessary information required to install an adequate concrete mixture on the location.

You can easily prevent cracks from happening on the concrete slab. Apart from that, the device also measures:

  • Air Density
  • Humidity Ratio
  • Heat Stress Index, and much more. 

So, besides an essential tool that helps you avoiding concrete cracks, you’ll also have a complete pocket weather station.

You can also get a Kestrel Concrete Pro Jobsite Weather Kit that includes Kestrel 5200 with LiNK, rotating vane mount, protective hard carrying case, and portable mini tripod & extension rod. 

Kestrel Concrete Pro Jobsite Weather Kit

Having everything in your hands gives you the necessary measurements to prevent concrete cracks pretty quickly. The kit is lightweight and does not take much space. With the LiNK technology in the device, you can get all the readings on your mobile phone. You can also set up customizable alerts on your phone for any changes in the weather condition. 

Instead of fixing the cracks, try preventing it with professional help. 

 

How to Fix Concrete Cracks 

Cracks can either be very big or narrow, so if you see any – do not worry; you can fix it! 

A “caulk-style concrete repair compound can fix hairline cracks. Such as cracks in a concrete slab.” On the other hand, if there are large cracks in the wall, then you can stick to the “epoxy injection kit” to fix it. 

How to Fix a Crack in Concrete Driveway

avoid concrete cracking

Follow these simple steps: 

  • Hairline cracks in the concrete can be treated with a “caulk-style concrete repair compound.” These compounds are the best to use for narrow cracks as it is affordable and easy to use. You can buy them from any home improvement store. 
  1. Take a wire brush and clean out any debris in the loose concrete area. 
  2. Clean out any remaining dust particles in the crack through vacuum or sweep. 
  3. Fill the crack with epoxy concrete crack repair
  4. Smooth out the surface through a putty knife and cure the surface for about 4-6 hours. 

How to Repair Concrete Walls with Cracks

If you are witnessing wide cracks in the wall, then you can quickly fix them by following this simple technique. 

  • The epoxy for repairing concrete cracks is the perfect solution for wide cracks. Buy 2-part epoxy that comes with a nozzle to fill the cracks. 
  1. Take a wire brush and clean all the debris from the area. Use a blow-dry to clean all the residual debris in and around the crack.
  2. In the next step, attach the 10d nails in the crack within 12-inch distance. 
  3. Once the ports are attached, remove the nails from the crack. Do this before pouring epoxy in the crack. 
  4. Take the 2-part epoxy and spread it over the crack & injection ports’ bases. 
  5. Wait 6 hours. Fixing requires about 4-6 hours before filling the injection ports. 
  6. Use a saw to cut out the injection ports’ necks after 5 days. Patch the cuts after cutting the neck. 

These are some of the most popular fixes that you can try with wide and narrow cracks. So, do not forget to use them if none of the prevention methods work for concrete cracks.  

Repair Products for Concrete Cracking 

Once you know how to fix the cracks, the next thing you should know about the products to fill the cracks. Here are the top 5 top filler for concrete cracks. 

PC Concrete Double Action Epoxy Adhesive for Crack Repair 

PC Concrete Double Action Epoxy Adhesive

Are you looking for the best crack fillers? The epoxy adhesive is the best option for you. PC Concrete is a famous name in the industry, which is why you can trust this brand without any problem. Also, this crack filler works fine even with massive cracks. Don’t worry about the cracks opening up again or losing their durability.

Top Features:
  • Best to fill vertical cracks in the concrete
  • It has shown proven results on damp site
  • The best product for both indoor and outdoor cracks
  • The concrete crack repair takes about four hours to fix the cracks

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • The adhesive is the best moisture resistant

  • Natural expansion or contraction do not affect it

Cons
  • It is an expensive product

  • It takes much time to squeeze out the adhesive from the tube

This adhesive is the best for vertical application, so do not try it on horizontal cracks. Also, if the crack is in a fountain or any other wet area, then consider this adhesive to do the job correctly.

Check Today’s Price on Amazon

Red-Devil Concrete Patch (Pre-mixed Formula)

One of the best products to repair concrete cracks is the amazing Red Devil Concrete Patch. This product is surprisingly good for holes or cracks, and it is easy to use.

Red-Devil Concrete Patch
Top Features:
  • Easy to use 
  • Has a concrete texture
  • Water-based

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No shrinkage is seen after drying

  • Easy to clean up

  • Ready to use

Cons
  • Not ideal for driveways

  • Might not be the perfect option for very large cracks

Red Devil 0644 Pre-Mix Concrete Patch comes ready-to-use. So, anyone can use easily use it without any issues.

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Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Concrete Patch and Repair

Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Concrete Patch and Repair

Another great product to hide cracks is the Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Concrete Patch and Repair. It is one of the best products to get rid of ugly cracks on driveways, walls, or other places. This adhesive does not take much time to prepare. You can get rid of cracks pretty quickly with this instant solution.

Top Features:
  • Safe to use 
  • Comes in 24oz container
  • Only takes 8 hours to cure
  • Also, repair cracks on masonry

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Fast curing

  • Affordable product

  • Bearable odor

  • No shrinkage upon weather changes

Cons
  • Leaves a glossy texture on the surface

  • Works best for indoors only

It is one of the best products to repair cracks, but keep in mind that it might not work with the cracks in the driveway, fountain, or other outdoor areas. Although it is not very expensive, you can use this product for all the cracks around your house.

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Sashco 16210 Slab Concrete Crack Repair Sealant 

Sashco 16210 Slab Concrete Crack Repair Sealant 

There might be a lot of concrete crack fill options, but only a few are the best ones. If you want to repair concrete cracks without any hassle, then get the Sashco crack repair sealant today. This crack repair sealant helps in closing cracks and stopping them from absorbing the moisture. 

Top Features:
  • Gives grayish concrete finish 
  • Has watery texture
  • Made of acrylic latex 
  • Can repair up to 3-inch-wide cracks

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Easily blend with concrete

  • The flexible material and does not break off upon changing weather conditions

  • It is also suitable for indoor use

  • Ideal to be used in places with heavy vehicular traffic

Cons
  • Should not be applied during the wet season

  • Takes up to 3 days for curing and drying

Even though it is an expensive option and some might find it difficult to wait for 2 days for it to dry, but if you can compromise on these two flaws, then this is the best product that you can invest.

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EZR-Hairline Crack Sealer 

EZR-Hairline Crack Sealer 

Are you looking for a crack filler for the hairline cracks? EZR Hairline Crack Sealer is at your service. Please do not underestimate the hairline cracks as it can go deep and absorb the moisture that can ultimately damage the surface of the concrete. If you see a hairline crack, then fill in concrete cracks with this crack sealer and get rid of them easily.

Top Features:
  • Can be used anywhere in the house
  • It consists of pinpoint top to fill cracks easily
  • It dries very quickly and is sun resistant 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is extremely thin and suitable for tiny cracks as well

  • Gives a clear finish

  • Can be used on asphalt, porcelain, and other surfaces as well

Cons
  • It is not highly durable

  • Customers complain about missing pinpoint top

This adhesive is the best for hairline cracks, but not more than that. If you see any wide cracks in your house, then this crack sealer might not be the best for you.

Check Today’s Price on Amazon

Conclusion 

Concrete cracks are not the ideal situation, and nobody likes to see their floor, driveway, fountain, or walls opened up in an ugly way. However, if this ever happens, do not worry. There are many products along with methods and fixes that you can try to get rid of concrete cracks. 

I hope this article helps you find a solution related to concrete cracks. Try the fixes mentioned above and enjoy crack free flooring for the rest of your life!

Autumn Weather Phenomena

Autumn Weather Phenomena

It is easy to understand why many people would list autumn weather as their favorite time of the year. Although by outward appearance, Nature seems to simply be preparing for the big sleep of winter, there is a lot going on during the autumn months.

In agricultural communities, autumn is the season of harvest.

The crops have been tended since planting in the spring, irrigated and cultivated through the long, hot summer, and it is finally time to enjoy the fruits of those long months of labor. Many of the great fall festivals, like Oktoberfest in its many forms and the American Traditional Thanksgiving Feast, are harvest celebrations.

On the sporting front, all those summer evenings spent cheering for your favorite baseball club eventually climax in the Fall Classic of the World Series, and Football stretches from the sweaty, dehydrating workouts of training camp in the late summer, through the autumn weekends, and will have its dramatic wrap-up during the first cold of the early winter. For outdoor sportsmen, the wildlife who gave birth has had all winter to grow healthy on the abundant plant growth through the summer months and is now at its fattest and healthiest stage of the year. Most deer species go into the rut during this time of year when the healthiest males are best equipped to pass their genes to the next generation. This time of year while the whole game animal population is at its peak of health when hunters go into the woods, hoping to harvest a freezer full of meat for the lean months ahead.

What Causes Fall?

Autumn Weather Phenomena 03 | WeatherStationary

Autumn is a time of transition between the warmth of summer and the cold of winter, which makes the concept of Indian Summer all the more precious. European immigrants named the phenomena for the North American Indians whose land they were settling, elsewhere it is known as “altweibersommer” (Old women’s summer), or “gypsy summer”. Although The Old Farmer’s Almanac has tried to tie Indian Summer to the calendar, saying “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s (November 11) brings out Indian summer,” the condition is better described as a period of warm weather which occurs after the first hard frost of the season. While the killing frost signals the end of the gardening season, it also triggers a number of other seasonal biological changes.

The drop in daily average temperature we notice in the autumn is a result of shortening daylight hours. This occurs because the axes upon which the planet Earth spins is set at an angle relative to the path the planet travels around the Sun. At the Winter and Summer Solstice, the South pole (during the Northern winter) or the North Pole (during Northern Summer) is pointed directly at the Sun at a tilt of 23°. At the Spring and Autumnal Equinox, the tilt is perpendicular to the Sun.

The tilt away from the Sun as the Sun moves from Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice is the reason for the shorter daylight hours and shorter days also mean that the Sun does not have as long to heat the Earth’s surface.

Many people say that the Equinox is the beginning of autumn, but when you begin to see the signs of fall will depend on upon conditions in your local region. The days actually begin getting shorter after the summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and when you see the signs of autumn will depend upon how far North you are as well as your elevation above sea level.

Winter is Coming

Autumn Weather Phenomena 02 | WeatherStationary

One important phenomenon associated with the change in the color of fall foliage. Although many plants simply die with the coming of winter, deciduous trees have evolved a strategy dropping their leaves and going into a dormant state until spring. When the spring brings more sunlight and higher temperatures, new leaves filled with chlorophyll provide energy for the tree to flower, grow fruit and seeds, as well as woody growth as the tree increases in size. At the end of the growing season, rather than spend the energy to keep the leaves alive the tree simply lets them die and fall off, knowing that newer, stronger ones will grow in the spring.

The spectacular yellow and orange hues we associate with autumn are actually present in the leaf all the time in the form of carotenoids. These compounds are masked by the chlorophyll. The deep green of the chlorophyll is used to convert water and carbon dioxide into the simple sugars which feed the tree. As daily temperatures drop, the veins in the leaf which carry water to the chlorophyll are blocked, and as the green fades, the carotenoids become visible. Other colors, such as reds and purples, occur as the sugar making process, which requires a great deal of phosphate, breaks down. As the phosphates break down, pigments called anthocyanins are formed. These are the same pigments which are present in cranberries, red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums.

 WeatherStationary

One commonly accepted sign that autumn is coming to a close and that winter is about to arrive is the first heavy snowfall of the season. Like the other signs of autumn we have discussed, snowfall depends upon several factors, including how far north a certain location is, the altitude, and the weather patterns that particular year. Snow is made up of individual crystals of frozen water and most precipitation throughout the year begins as snowflakes.

When water vapor in the air rises through the atmosphere, the vapor and the air carrying it cool with the increase in altitude. When the temperature drops to the dew point, the moisture begins to condense on dust particles carried in the air.

As the air continues to rise and the temperature drops further, the super-cooled moisture clinging to the particle begins to crystallize. The crystalline structure of the snowflake means it will be relatively light for the space it occupies, but eventually, enough ice will form that the flake will begin to fall towards earth.

For most of the year, as the flakes fall they go through warmer air causing the ice crystals to melt. The melted-crystal will usually continue to fall as liquid rain, although during a thunderstorm it may be blown several times back to a higher altitude where it refreezes to form a hailstone. During the late autumn and winter months, the entire air column is often cold enough that the frozen water remains in crystalline form until it reaches the ground. Since the crystal is so light compared to a denser water drop, the flakes may be blown by the wind into drifts. The longer snow sits on the ground without melting, the denser it becomes as the crystal is crushed by its own weight and the weight of the snowflakes on top of it.

The presence of snow contributes to the coldness of the territory since the energy from the sun during the shorter daylight hours in late autumn weather is reflected away rather than being absorbed by the underlying ground.

Autumn Travel

Travel in the months between the heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter has its own cautions and considerations. Motorists especially need to keep in mind the shortening of daylight hours. Twilight comes earlier, and one of the effects of Indian Summer is an increased haziness due to high atmospheric pressures and the lack of wind. This can play havoc on a driver’s visibility.

As the days get shorter the ground absorbs less heat from the sun, and overnight temperatures can drop to the dew point earlier, and continue to fall until the frost point. Road surfaces which have not been cleaned may have a slight covering of oil and dirt, and combined with frosty conditions can make traction questionable in the early morning hours. Crossing mountain passes this time of year calls for extra caution and planning because of the danger of a sudden snowstorm.

WeatherStationary

For centuries of human existence, autumn has signaled the need to be prepared for the coming winter. Crops had to be harvested and stored, hunters needed to gather and process meat, and individual homesteads needed put in a supply of firewood to get through the winter. The same attitude should be part of an autumn traveler’s plans. During the hour before and after sunset, try to stay off the road when visibility is at its worst. Keep supplies in your vehicle in case you become stuck, in fact, carrying some extra snacks is a good idea for air travel as well because a late autumn blizzard at one hub can affect the entire system.

Everyone Talks About the Autumn Weather…

The dog days of summer inevitably give way to the darkness and cold of winter, just as winter fades into the glorious rebirth of spring. A terrific way to appreciate the progression of the seasons is to observe your local conditions using weather measuring instruments. Mounting a weather station sensor suite outside is a simple addition to your other autumn weather chores, and being able to track daily conditions as they change can be a lot of fun. As winter approaches and you are better used to watching conditions, you will be better able to predict weather changes which will affect your family and their safety. You can even make your station part of a personal weather station network which will help to predict storm patterns and tornado conditions.

A home weather station like the AcuRite 01024 Pro Weather Station system gives your family scientific grade instrumentation which can be connected to your PC and the Internet. The sensor suite is relatively simple to set up, and wireless connection to the base station means that it will be effortless to connect. The Oregon Scientific WMR200a is a more expensive yet a classic, versatile and expandable system which can grow with your interest in weather monitoring. The separate sensors mean more complexity in setup but allows for easier maintenance and more accuracy in readings.

What Have You Learned | WetaherStationary
  • Autumn means shorter days, cooling temperatures, harvest, hunting, and football.
  • The phenomenon of Indian Summer is a period of warm weather after the first killing frost of the year.
  • The seasonal temperature drop is due to the shorter days which are the result of the Northern Hemisphere being tilted away from the sun.
  • The spectacular display of fall foliage results from tree leaves ceasing the production of chlorophyll. The tree is preparing to enter a dormant state during the winter months, and will not need the energy provided by the leaves until spring.
  • Snowflakes form in clouds year-round, but during late autumn weather and winter, the air at ground level is cool enough for the flake to remain frozen until it hits the ground rather than melting to become a raindrop.
  • During the autumn weather months, travelers need to be prepared for shorter daylight hours, icy road conditions, and rapidly changing weather conditions.
  • Despite the cooling temperatures and less predictable conditions, it is easy to understand why autumn weather is the favorite part of the year for many people. Being able to monitor weather conditions using a home weather station can add to your safety and appreciation of nature throughout the year.
Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

A summer camping trip is almost a rite of passage, but it is so much more than that. Camping is a great way for families of any size to reconnect. There will be plenty of space and things to do for everyone to enjoy the privacy and solitude they will need, but they will also be spending time together. The most important factors for a successful camping trip are location and, gear, weather for your summer camping, and attitude, and the most important ones are the two that no amount of money can change.

summer camping trip

If you have the good fortune to camp in an area with little or no cellular WiFi coverage, the family will have turn to each other for entertainment, and will probably be delightfully surprised with how much they like one another.

Learning to appreciate nature is the usual selling point for a camping trip, but the real value of spending time away from home is learning to appreciate the comforts of home.

This doesn’t mean that you should be roughing it. That attitude is OK for military units on maneuvers or boy scouts seeking adventure, but it can sour the experience for some family members. Rather than roughing it, the family camping trip should be an exercise in smoothing it. No, you may never be able to completely recreate all of the comforts of home, but with a little creativity and surprisingly little money you can come close. Even if you don’t, everyone can have a lot of fun trying together.

Some fear that camping is out of reach for their family because it is such an expensive pastime, and it is certainly possible to invest a small fortune in your kit, not to mention traveling to your camping destination. However, just about every city-dweller in America lives within a couple hour’s drive of a National Forest or BLM land (where it is free to camp) or a scenic state park, and at the end of the day, the trees and the squirrels are not going to care if your gear is old, improvised, used, or just out of fashion.

Take the Weather with You

The most important factors for a successful camping trip are location and, gear, weather for your summer camping, and attitude, and the most important ones are the two that no amount of money can change. Attitude is arguably the most important ingredient, if you and your family are ready to have fun, then you will, but there are few things that can sour attitudes faster than rotten weather.

The weather campers or anyone else for that matter, is a combination of wind, temperature, and rain. A more scientifically accurate picture would be wind, temperature, and moisture because this considers humidity as well as precipitation. The thought that your precious camping time can be ruined because of rainy conditions is obvious, but the moisture in the air can make life even more miserable. Conditions which are too dry have a measurable effect on the safety as well as the comfort of the camping experience so it’s  better to know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip.

There’s Something in the Air: Water!

Know your Weather - WeatherStationary.com 02, Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

Humidity is a measurement of how much moisture is in the air. We learned in elementary school science classes that water can exist in all three states of matter, as solid ice, liquid water, or as a gaseous vapor. If there is a possibility of temperatures being cold enough for ice to form, it is probably too cold for most of us to consider a camping trip; cold weather camping offers some unique rewards for more experienced campers, but warm weather makes a better impression on beginning outdoors people.

Liquid water will readily turn into vapor (evaporate) if the temperature and humidity are right, and when it does it causes a cooling effect. This is how the human body regulates internal temperature through perspiration; evaporating sweat carries away excess body temperature. In conditions of high relative humidity, which is to say that the air is holding as much moisture as it can, evaporation stops, and with it the cooling effect of perspiration. This can lead to a dangerous situation with the possibility of heat stroke during heavy physical activity. Nights in a tent can become insufferably long when you are unable to get to sleep because you are sweating all night so it’s better to know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip..

‘At Least It’s a Dry Heat…’

Folks living in the East find it hard to imagine suffering through the incredible desert heat of the American West, but the people who live their counter that it is a “dry heat”. This means that because the air is dry, the body’s cooling mechanism of evaporating perspiration works very efficiently. However, for campers, these low humidity levels bring a very real danger of forest fire.

Once you move inland of the coastal mountains, most of the American West is a desert or semi-desert region. This does not mean that there is no precipitation, in fact, many of the most popular areas for camping receive enough winter and springtime rains to allow terrific wildflower and plant growth. However, as the summer progresses, the rainfall ceases and the daytime temperatures rise, causing all of this plant life to die off and become tinder-dry.

Know your Weather - WeatherStationary.com 03, Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip

All this dry plant matter will need is a spark to burst into a wildfire. Nature provides plenty of these sparks with the late summer thunderstorms that come every year, but the real danger is thought to come from careless campers and other humans using the forest.

The phenomena of thunderstorms are closely related to the concept of relative humidity.

The warmer air passing over the desert mountains can carry a good deal of moisture, but as that air increases in temperature, it rises in the atmosphere. Temperature drops as the air rises, soon reaching the “dew point”, the temperature where the water vapor begins to condense and form thunderclouds. The condensing moisture causes a drop in pressure, and more cool air begins to rush into the cloud. The air molecules rubbing against each other sets up a static electrical charge which can discharge as lightning.

Your Electronic Crystal Ball

A little bit of research before your adventure begins can save your camping experience from the worst of weather-related problems. If it is going to be hot and muggy in your region, select a campsite at a higher, cooler elevation. Most Forest Service Ranger Stations will display the wildfire danger for the local area, find out what it is and take appropriate precautions. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the area around your selected campsite, and keep in mind that it might be better to cancel the trip than for your family to be stuck for the weekend, trapped inside a confining tent.

The problem with most general forecasts is that they tend to cover a wide region and focus on where most of the affected people will be (the very people that you might be planning on going into the hills to get away from). Mountainous regions where we find the best camping tend to have many “micro-climates” where the actual weather has little to do with what is predicted in a regional forecast. Local data is what you need.

For decades, every Forest Service Ranger Station had a collection of weather measuring instruments and a Ranger was assigned to record the readings from the analog instruments and forward the data to headquarters so that the local wildfire danger could be determined. Today, we can get all of the same information and can Know the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip from portable wind meters. The simplest of these weather measuring instruments, like the WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate show little more than wind speed, direction, and temperature, which is very useful in making a weather prediction, but more sophisticated devices like the WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate are also able to display relative humidity information which is used for fire danger calculation as well as heat-index and wind-chill data that relates to weather-related personal comfort, safety and for knowing the Weather for Your Summer Camping Trip.

WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate – Basic portable wind meter

WeatherHawk WM-100 WindMate

WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate – Advanced portable wind meter

WeatherHawk WM-350 WindMate

Staying in Touch

It is natural when you get to the woods for everyone to want to go their separate directions. Of course, mothers who panic if they are not able to track their children’s cell phones may have a problem letting their youngsters out of their sight in the big, scary forest. In reality, there are far fewer dangers for them to run into outdoors away from the big city. Everyone’s fears can be further set aside by putting a set of family band radios to use, like the Motorola T460 or the Uniden GMR5099-2CKHS.

The Family Radio Service Bands have been in use since 1996, and they are very appropriate for families to keep in touch with each other since the UHF-FM bands they use are the same ones employed by household baby monitors! Many family band radios are set up as FRS/GMRS hybrids with 22 channels.

Operating on the General Mobile Radio Service Bands requires a license from the FCC, but the bands which are shared by the FMS/GMRS services are set at a low power on family band radios, so they can be used without a license.

Most family band radios will also feature weather bands which carry forecasts and alerts from the NOAA. This can be important because just about everything that you will want to do while you are camping is weather dependent. This is not to say that you cannot have fun when it is wet and miserable, some of the best camping memories come from the times that the family was stuck together, playing cards all weekend inside the tent. However, there is potential for a lot more fun if the weather is good, and with proper notification, you can “bug-out” before conditions turn from miserable too dangerous.

weatherstationarycom-2c4f66.ingress-bonde.easywp.com

Bringing It All Together

  • Camping can be a fun and inexpensive adventure to bring families closer together.
  • ‘Roughing It’ may not be a lot of fun for new campers when learning how to ‘Smooth It’ generally takes a little cooperation and creativity.
  • There are probably great places to camp closer than you think.
  • It is more important for camping gear to be useful than new or fashionable.
  • The most important ingredients for successful family camping trip are location, gear, attitude, and weather.
  • Camping in humid conditions can make it hard to sleep in a tent without proper ventilation, and high humidity can lead to heat stress.
  • Long periods of low humidity raise the danger of wildfire.
  • Full-featured portable wind meters are helpful for being aware of accurate weather conditions near your campsite.
  • Family Band Radios are useful for keeping everyone in touch when they are away from camp and usually, feature NOAA Severe Weather Alerts.
Weather Stations & Other Weather Instruments for Sailboats

Weather Stations & Other Weather Instruments for Sailboats

Reading time: 10 minutes

In this article, we’ll take a look at some useful gadgets & instruments for measuring the weather, as might be required for a small sailboat.

At A Glance: Recommended Equipment

You could easily spend a lot more on this equipment depending on your needs. However, for most people sailing for pleasure, these will do the job.

Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station with LCD Console
Davis Instruments - 3120 WindTrak 10 Suspension Bearing
BTMETER BT-100APP Anemometer w/Wireless Bluetooth, Digital Handheld Wind Speed Meter for Wind Chill, Air Velocity, Temperature, Vane Anemometer Gauge
Sealed sensors to protect from the elements. Wireless & solar-powered. Corrosion tested for marine environments.
Wind tunnel tested to 80 knots. Suspension bearing, easy to read.
Perfect for sailing. Lightweight & portable. Measures wind speed, chill, and temperature. Bluetooth enabled.
Weather Station
Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station with LCD Console
Sealed sensors to protect from the elements. Wireless & solar-powered. Corrosion tested for marine environments.
Wind Indicator
Davis Instruments - 3120 WindTrak 10 Suspension Bearing
Wind tunnel tested to 80 knots. Suspension bearing, easy to read.
Handheld Anemometer
BTMETER BT-100APP Anemometer w/Wireless Bluetooth, Digital Handheld Wind Speed Meter for Wind Chill, Air Velocity, Temperature, Vane Anemometer Gauge
Perfect for sailing. Lightweight & portable. Measures wind speed, chill, and temperature. Bluetooth enabled.

Last update on 2022-05-27

If you’re an experienced sailor, you’ll know that the weather is no joke. It’s something that you need to take seriously and be equipped with the right tools to weather any storms (literally) that come your way.

Professional seafarers have depended on various types of weather-related technology for centuries, but they’ve perhaps only become more prominent in the recreational market in the past few decades. Modern electronics have made various weather instruments for smaller boats that are reliable and compact enough to be mounted on a sailboat or sailing yacht.

Sailboat Weather Stations

As we get into these product recommendations, I should start by saying that although I know a thing or two about weather stations, I am not an expert sailor by any means. So, these are solid, highly recommended portable products researched as best as possible, but do take a minute to do your own research & read reviews on Amazon too.

Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue

Let’s start with the top choice. If you’re not on a tight budget, I’d highly recommend picking up a Davis Vantage Vue. I’ll explain why as concisely as possible. This product:

  • Is corrosion tested, to simulate wear & tear in extreme marine environments
  • Has sealed electronics/sensors, protecting them from the elements
  • Updates incredibly quickly (every 2.5 seconds)
  • Is solar-powered with stored energy backup
  • Has thousands of reviews worldwide

Overall, it seems like a safe choice. I should point out that a mounting pole isn’t included with this product usually.

Last update on 2022-05-27

If you’re looking for something for a slightly smaller budget, here are some alternative options.

Last update on 2022-05-27

Reduced AcuRite 01540M 5-in-1 Weather Station

Last update on 2022-05-27

Wind Vanes & Anemometers For Sailboats

The first step in avoiding the dangers of heavy weather is being aware of what is going on locally in the atmosphere. Accurate weather measuring instruments allows the skipper to track weather conditions and quantify when and how fast they change.

Many crafts will have both a wind vane to read wind direction and an anemometer for wind speed. & other metrics.

BTMETER Digital Wind Speed Anemometer

For an anemometer, this handheld wireless option from BTMETER is our top choice. It covers the basics very well at an affordable price. Wind speed can be measured in your choice of unit, including knots. Highly accurate, connects to your phone via bluetooth, and solid power-saving features.

As well as the basics, full-featured portable wind meters like this one can include important data to display wind chill, which is critical for avoiding hypothermia.

Reduced BTMETER Digital Wind Speed Anemometer

Last update on 2022-05-27

Worth noting: you can check out this similar product, also by BTMETER, if you would also like to measure barometric pressure.

BTMETER Digital Anemometer Barometer

Last update on 2022-05-27

For a wind vane, the Windex 10 (or 15, depending on the boat size) is a popular choice.

It can be easily mounted on small boats.

Davis Instruments Windex 10

Last update on 2022-05-27

The simplest way to determine wind direction is to face directly into the wind until you feel the same amount of wind on both cheeks, then if you can, identify a landmark directly in front of you. Use your compass to determine the bearing of the landmark, or take a compass reading of the wind direction. Most portable wind meters will not have a wind vane, but some of the more sophisticated models will include an internal compass which can be used in a similar fashion to the “wind on both cheeks” method.

Accurate temperature readings may not seem critical to a recreational sailor. If it gets chilly, personal comfort dictates putting on a jacket or foul weather gear. In actual practice, with the fun of being on the water and the excitement of new sensations, some crew members may ignore the need for donning weather protective clothing until it is too late. Given the wet and windy conditions of sailing, hypothermia, an uncontrolled drop in body temperature is a constant danger.

A sudden drop in air temperature may precede a sudden change in atmospheric conditions, signalling a quickly developing storm.

Thermometers are generally small and rugged enough to be mounted in a small cockpit, but if the instrument is mounted improperly the readings could be false due to direct sun.

Full-featured portable wind meters like the WeatherHawk SM-19 or the WM-350 will include sensors and software to display wind chill data, which is critical for avoiding hypothermia.

The barometer is considered the single most valuable weather prediction instrument carried on board. Current barometric readings will provide a picture of what the atmosphere is doing, but the change and rate of change in pressure readings are even more informative.

A quickly falling barometer indicates an imminent storm. A bulkhead mounted mechanical aneroid barometer requires no power, although a salty marine environment may negatively affect the internal gear mechanism. Handheld barometers are often too fragile to be practical. An electronic barometer such as the one featured in a handheld weather station is again the most favorable solution for the small boat sailor. Portable wind meters such as WeatherHawk WM-350 and SM-28  include the option for barometric readings.  

Weems and Plath Endurance II 105 Open Dial Barometer, Chrome
Weems and Plath Endurance II 105 Open Dial Barometer, Chrome
Maintenance free, ultra-hard protective coating; Guaranteed not to tarnish or scratch; Weather resistant
$214.00

Last update on 2022-05-27

A quickly falling barometer indicates an imminent storm. A bulkhead mounted mechanical aneroid barometer requires no power, although a salty marine environment may negatively affect the internal gear mechanism. Handheld barometers are often too fragile to be practical. An electronic barometer such as the one featured in a handheld weather station is again the most favorable solution for the small boat sailor. Portable wind meters such as WeatherHawk WM-350 and SM-28  include the option for barometric readings.  

Load Up and Set Sail

Weather Measuring Instruments for Small Boat Sailors 5 | weatherstationary.com

Life On The Water

Weather Measuring Instruments for Small Boat Sailors 3 | weatherstationary.com

The basics of sailing, learning how to launch your boat, raise and lower the sails, and make it go where you want it to go can pretty much be learned over the space of a weekend, but you will spend the rest of your life perfecting those skills. There are sailing clubs just about everywhere you can find enough water to sail on, and most factory-built boats will have a class organization where you will find plenty of friends willing to teach you the basics of sailing.

It always feels great to have the faster boat while it can be humbling to wring all the performance you can out of your boat and still come up short, but racing, no matter how informal, is a great way to boost your boat handling skills. It is important for the skipper to share those skills with his crew, as well. With the limited space aboard a trailer sailor, it is good if everyone can pull their weight, and it is great fun to watch your kids learning how to handle the boat. Many skippers will tell you that the proudest moment of their sailing career was the first time they sat back with a drink while their kids took the helm and navigated across the bay.

With modern weather services both broadcast and over the Internet, a trailer sailor can usually choose the best conditions to go sailing in. If the skipper knows that it is going to be a stormy day, better to leave the boat on the trailer and take in a ball game. Keep in mind that broadcast or Internet forecasts are going to cover a wide area, and what the small boat sailor needs to know is the conditions where his boat is sailing right now.

A larger craft will have plenty of room for full-function weather instrumentation, but a trailer sailor usually will not have the dashboard space for all the weather gizmos that a skipper desires. While there is no replacement for the Mk1Mod0 Human Eyeball, there are a number of portable electronic devices that can fill the void.

Introducing the Trailer Sailor

Weather Measuring Instruments for Small Boat Sailors 1 | weatherstationary.com

There is a saying in the boating world that the fun of boat ownership is inversely proportional to the size of the vessel. In other words, people who own small or very small boats tend to enjoy them a lot more than owners of big boats. A sailboat that is small enough to live on a trailer in your driveway represents an exceptional value.

The advantages of a small boat are almost too many to number. Maintaining a large boat is a lot of work. A small boat still needs maintenance, of course, but since it is a lot smaller, the work can be done in an hour or two instead of being a day-long or multi-day project. A big boat needs to be kept in the water, but a small boat skipper is likely to use his boat more often because it is so much simpler (and cheaper) for him to get it out on the water.

If a small sailboat does have an engine, it will be a very small and simple one that sips fuel. A larger yacht is often totally dependent upon firing up the “stinkpot” to get in and out of the harbor, not to mention relying on it to get home on schedule. It is easier to learn to operate a small boat than a large one (however, almost everything that you will learn on a small craft will be directly transferable to a larger vessel if you do decide to move up).

The most obvious advantage to a larger boat over a tiny one is safety and crew comfort, but even this can be an illusion. Nautical literature is filled with tales of very small vessels surviving very large storms (including hurricanes) if the crew is able to simply button-down and ride it out. It is rarely comfortable to ride out a storm in a small craft, but your boat will be a lot tougher than you suspect.

There are a few basic conditions that every skipper will need to keep track of. These will include wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. These conditions are recorded and reported by commercial and government agencies around the world, so a means of receiving these reports can be helpful to supplement local observation.

Limitations of Trailer Sailors?

Weather Measuring Instruments for Small Boat Sailors 2 | weatherstationary.com

Some people refuse to consider a small boat because they are afraid it will be of limited use. Remember, the smaller the boat, the more fun it is to own! Some very tiny boats, including many which fit our definition of trailer sailors, have made incredible voyages, including several circumnavigations and exploring everywhere from the fjords of Greenland to the bays of Antarctica and everywhere in between.

A mooring kept yacht would seem to have a greater range, but in fact, the bigger boat is more or less trapped in a single body of water. Trailer sailors have the option of going “55 mph to windward” any time they want to on their trailer.

Even if your home waters are an inland reservoir, with a little planning and a well-timed vacation, your family could be cruising the Gulf Coast, the many islands of Puget Sound, the rocky headlands of New England, the sunny shores of the Sea of Cortez, the Great Lakes, or the Florida Keys.

As long as the water is deep enough for your keel and there is a road leading to it, you can sail your trailer sailor there!

The Life You Save May Be Your Own…

Although it is fun to dream and great to know that your boat would be up to an epic adventure, most of our trailer sailor adventures will be more limited in scope. Whether you are braving “the Roaring Forties” around Cape Horn or spending a lazy afternoon tacking back and forth across your local reservoir, things going wrong can be just as deadly for you and your crew. Small craft safety comes down to the same three elements:

  • Maintaining your vessel and its equipment.
  • Knowing how to operate it in a prudent manner.
  • Be aware of the conditions you are sailing in by having instruments for small boats on board.

As we mentioned earlier, taking care of a trailer sailor is a much simpler proposition than living with a larger yacht. Since the boat lives in your driveway, you are able to take care of things yourself and at your own pace. Even if you are not very mechanically inclined there are plenty of tutorials and forums on the Internet where you can learn everything you need to know about taking care of your boat.

The trailer sailor is small enough that learning its systems is very simple. In fact, building a small sailboat yourself is not that hard. It is a time-consuming project, and over the span of the project, most builders find that they haven’t really saved any money over buying a factory-built boat.

However, by spending a few hours a week on the project, spaced over several months, the amateur builder finds that he has a better built and more beautiful craft (since he is working for himself, the amateur builder usually does not take shortcuts and can afford to use the best materials). If something goes wrong during the life of the boat, the builder knows that he will be able to fix it because he built it!

Probably the greatest small boat sailors of all time were the ancient Polynesians. Although their craft was not really what we would think of as trailer sailors, the boats did live on the beach when they were not being sailed.

These same boats (which were among the fastest non-engine powered watercraft of all time) were constructed by hand from all-natural materials with no written plans, fiberglass, epoxy, or metal fittings. The navigators who sailed them had no weather instrumentation other than their own eyes and knowledge passed down from father to son for generations. Using this stone-age technology, they became the dominant culture over nearly a fifth of the Earth’s surface.

weatherstationarycom-2c4f66.ingress-bonde.easywp.com - What have you learned

We may never become as intimate with the sea and the weather as the ancient Polynesians, but we face the same dangers and experience the same joys every time we go to sea in our small boats. It is an attainable adventure that is within reach of almost everyone, and one that can be shared and enjoyed by the entire family. Keep the following principles in mind:

  • Smaller vessels are incredibly capable, versatile, and much cheaper to own and operate than large yachts. The smaller the boat, the more fun it is to own!
  • Although a trailer sailor may not have enough space to carry a suite of full-function weather instruments, the skipper can use handheld electronic devices to keep track of the weather and communicate with other vessels.
  • There are several types of radio sets and receivers that can monitor NOAA Weather alerts and can be set up with an alarm for emergency conditions.
    Tracking wind conditions is vital for sailing vessels for both the safety and performance of the craft. A simple portable wind meter gives the skipper up-to-the-moment readouts of wind speed and changing conditions.
  • Hypothermia can be deadly on the water. Keep track of air temperature and wind-chill conditions.
  • Use a barometer to track and predict changes in local weather conditions.
Save Money and Go Green Using Home Wind Turbine Generators

Save Money and Go Green Using Home Wind Turbine Generators

Home Wind Turbine Guide

If you’re anything like other homeowners across the nation, you dream of reducing your monthly energy bills by going green. The first step to reaching this goal is to have an energy audit done on your home. While you can guess that you’re losing climate-controlled air through your drafty windows and doors, a professional energy audit will let you know for sure about the areas in your home that need help. After you make sure that your property is adequately insulated, then it’s time for you to consider installing a wind-electric system that can cleanly and inexpensively produce power for your home. This handy guide covers the main things that you need to know about wind electricity for residential use and installing a home wind turbine.

Download the PDF form of this guide here

The History of the Wind Turbine Generator

Harnessing the wind as an energy source is nothing new — ancient mariners across the globe relied on the wind to push their sailboats. The first recorded use of a small wind turbine cropped up as early as 200 B.C. in China, where windmills pumped water into fields.

windmill turbine generator | WeatherStationary.com

Small-scale farmers continued to utilize windmills into the Current Era, refining the technology in order to speed up and simplify food production. The windmill turbine generator traveled from the Middle East to the Netherlands and beyond, and was used to grind corn, wheat, and other grains, as well as pump water.

The windmill generator was brought to the New World sometime in the late 1800s, and American farmers harnessed the ancient methods perfected across the Atlantic. The 20th century, and the electricity revolution fueled by forward-thinking visionaries including Edison and Tesla, would bring new, exciting possibilities for the wind power generator.

 

Smith-Putnam Wind Turbine

The so-called “Energy Crisis” of 1979 jump-started the modern alternative energy revolution, but the world’s first-megawatt wind generator was erected and tied to the grid in Castleton, Vermont, in 1941. The 1,250 kilowatts Smith-Putnam Wind Turbine stood at a height of 120 feet, only a few meters taller than today’s recommended home wind turbine apex.

 

 

Wind Power for Homes

Most people think of installing solar panels when they consider getting an alternative energy system. They often forget about wind power for homes. The wind is a natural resource that you can’t see, but it’s effective for power generation. While renewable power use is a popular trend today, powering devices with the help of wind is not a new concept.

 

Photo source: University of Maryland

The ancient Egyptians reportedly used wind-based power to propel their sailboats on the Nile as early as 5,000 B.C., and Central Asians captured wind to power water pumps and grain mills in 200 B.C. These early windmills paved the way for modern wind turbines that are used to generate electricity for commercial and residential use.

There are two main ways that you can get wind-generated electricity for your home. You can buy wind-based electricity from an eco-friendly power company. These companies usually invest in wind farms and sell the energy that they produce to household consumers and commercial customers. This method of getting wind-based electricity for your home will not save you significant amounts of money on your monthly utility bills. Eco-friendly power companies must pay for the extensive infrastructure that is associated with owning wind farms. In most cases, purchasing electricity from one of these companies lowers your use of fossil fuel pollutants.

The most common way to get wind-generated power for your home is to install a residential wind turbine on your property. By placing a home wind electric system on your property, you’ll get the monthly savings on your energy bills and the easy conscience of a good environmental steward. Wind-derived power generation isn’t for everyone, though.

You’re a good candidate for a home wind electric system if you have these five things: A property that experiences high amounts of wind

✔️ A large lot of at least one acre

✔️ Flexible building codes that allow wind turbines

✔️ A way to connect your system to the power grid

✔️ A desire to live completely off the grid

The Department of Energy has wind resource maps that can help you find out if your property has enough wind to make an investment in a turbine feasible. You can also get informational resources about area wind speeds from your local airport.

To determine if a new wind system is right for you, you’ll have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that is based on these four criteria:

  • Your power needs
  • Cost of your new wind electric system
  • Expected energy production from your wind-electric system
  • Projected savings amount from using the system

The Lowdown on Wind Power for Homes

wind power for homes | WeatherStationary.com

There are numerous reasons to utilize the wind as a means of producing energy. In the past few decades, wind power has risen from obscurity to become a global phenomenon, lighting up homes and businesses throughout the world, from the vast fields of China to the New Belgium Brewing facility in Fort Collins, Colorado.

If you’re considering wind energy at your residence, you likely have many questions. For instance, how much does a windmill cost? Where can I find a wind turbine for sale? Just how much power does a wind turbine produce? Do I need to buy a wind turbine kit? How big is a wind turbine for home use?

This guide is designed for those new to wind power technology as well as those curious about adopting a lifestyle that doesn’t rely on the power grid. Wind turbine cost and site considerations are just part of the journey towards clean energy. The following home wind turbine information primarily focuses on grid-tied wind power systems, rather than those off the grid.

Site Considerations for Home Wind Turbine Kits

There are many factors to consider in regards to residential wind turbine placement, and your home’s geographic location is just the beginning.

The cost of wind energy is not as prohibitive as you might expect. In order for a wind turbine to be both efficient and economically feasible over the long term, it should be installed where the annual average wind speed is over 5 meters/second. Your windmill electric generator will achieve optimal power production when installed above turbulent air, where airflow is smooth and laminar: That is, the wind consistently flows in the same direction.

wind turbines on the roof

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the installation of your residential wind turbine is placing it on a rooftop. Airflow surrounding buildings is often turbulent, resulting in insufficient power production. A rooftop wind generator tends to vibrate slightly during operation, which can damage your structure over time.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the presence of consistent, strong winds in a particular location doesn’t necessarily indicate that the site is ideal for wind power collection. Keep in mind that quality is vastly more important than quality where energy production is concerned, and just say no to a rooftop wind turbine.

Your local landscape is of prime importance when you’re considering the installation of a small wind turbine for your home. In the U.S., optimal wind power production conditions are found across the Great Plains, with Texas topping the list of wind-producing states, by a wide margin. The Lone Star State, in fact, out-produces all three of the country’s subsequent wind power producers — Kansas, Montana, and Nebraska — combined.

But it was a small town in Missouri that made history as the nation’s first city to be powered completely by wind energy. Rock Port, with a population of just over 1,200, accomplished the feat in June 2011. As of 2017, four more American cities joined Rock Port in the wind power revolution:

  1. Aspen, Colorado
  2. Burlington, Vermont
  3. Kodiak Island, Alaska
  4. Greensburg, Kansas

Each of these groundbreaking cities meets the minimum requirements for efficient wind generation, boasting prime annual wind speeds and low air turbulence numbers.

How Does a Wind Turbine Generate Electricity?

Today’s wind power generator strongly resembles its wooden ancestors, typically constructed with a few simple components. Grid-tied residential wind turbine kits contain a tower and three rotor blades, and other components may be included.

how does a wind turbine work | WeatherStationary.com

Your new wind turbine for home generates power almost effortlessly — primarily utilizing spinning rotor blades that power an alternator, which diverts power to a tough magnet. A grid tie controller is included in nearly every wind turbine kit on the market. The device ensures that your home stays connected even if your home wind generator isn’t drawing power.

To calculate the estimated annual wind production at your residence, you’ll need to determine the rotor diameter of your micro wind turbine. Then, use the following equation:

Energy [kWh] = 2.09 X Diameter2 [m] X Wind3 [m/s]

A typical single-family home uses about 8,000 kWh of energy per year. To achieve that level of wind power production at an average wind speed of 11 mph, a 6 kWh turbine should be sufficient. Calculate your household’s typical energy needs using information from past power bills in order to determine the output you’ll need from a wind turbine.

The unfortunate truth is that many locations are not ideal for the production of wind power. To determine if wind generation is a viable option for your home, you’ll need to put in the research. Gather annual wind speed statistics from your local airport, along with meteorological data.

Annual Average wind speed

Even if the wind conditions in your area meet the minimum recommended requirements, there’s still your property to consider in regards to wind turbine cost. Trees, houses, and outbuildings all impede airflow, and even a small wind turbine should be installed at least 500 feet from the nearest structure.

As for wind turbine height, bigger is typically better. Experts recommend a minimum turbine tower height of 60 feet, plus rotor blade length, a grand total of about 100 feet from the ground.

How Much Energy Does a Wind Turbine Produce?

Wind turbines are rated by their maximum capacity to produce electricity from captured wind. Electricity production for large wind turbines, which are used in commercial applications, is measured in megawatts. One megawatt is equal to one million watts of power.   Small wind turbines are designed for use on residential properties and have electricity production ratings in kilowatts. Popular small wind electric systems are rated at 10 kW. If these systems work at maximum capacity daily, they can produce 87,600 kW of electricity in a year, which is more than enough electricity to power the average American household.

When determining whether one of these systems will meet your family’s electrical needs, you’ll have to look further than the manufacturer’s maximum capacity rating, however.   How much energy does a wind turbine produce? You can best answer this question by factoring in your area’s variations in airspeeds in addition to your system’s size and type. The wind is highly variable. Your area can experience high speeds for one week, but winds can taper off the next week. Industry experts suggest that a small wind electric system is only feasible if your area experiences an average wind speed of 10 mph or greater.

Look at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory wind maps for your area as a guide.   When it comes to capturing the greatest amount of wind power, the configuration of your small wind electric system matters. A typical small wind electric system consists of these six main elements:   – Turbine frame – Rotor – Wind power generator or DC motor – Tail – Tower – balance-of-system components   The typical system has a horizontal-axis turbine that contains three rotors. The rotors capture wind and turn a shaft that supplies the system’s home wind generator or DC motor with power.

A large rotor diameter captures more wind and generates more power than a smaller version. The windmill generator capacity for your turbine is determined by the size of your system’s rotors. The tail guides the direction of the turbine and keeps it facing the wind properly.   The turbine is affixed on a tower for optimal wind capture. These towers can be stand-alone or guyed. Guyed towers, which are held in place by guy wires, are the most common types of towers for small wind electric systems.

The height of these towers usually ranges from 20 feet to 60 feet. Your small wind electric system will capture more wind and have greater levels of power production if it’s positioned on a tall tower that soars above obstacles that could block wind flow.   The balance-of-system components include items such as storage batteries, wiring to connect your system to the grid, a controller, and an inverter.

While you can’t predict wind speeds with precision, your small wind electric system mitigates the risk of lower speeds by storing excess energy in its batteries.   If you’re located in a wind-rich area, a small wind electric system can produce the bulk of your household’s power. These systems are suitable for single-family, suburban homes, houses that are settled on small farms, and structures that need power for water pumps.      

Types of Residential Wind Turbine Systems on the Market

You can get small wind turbines in a variety of configurations. The most common small wind turbine is the horizontal axis version that contain two or three blades. These systems need high-speed winds to rotate, so it’s necessary to place them on tall towers. Full-size horizontal axis turbine systems require heavy gearboxes, generators, and blades that rely on controls to move them in the direction of the wind.

Smaller versions of horizontal axis wind turbines exist to provide power in smaller spaces. A typical micro wind turbine comes with 52-inch diameter blades that can capture wind at speeds as low as 2.5 mph.

Micro wind systems come with batteries to store electricity and a charge controller to optimize power output. You can use a micro wind turbine for off-the-grid power production at a cabin or as backup power for your primary residence. You can get a micro wind system that includes a 600w or 400w wind turbine. A 400w wind turbine can also be used to power devices on boats and to recharge batteries.

A mini wind turbine system is another option for energy consumers who have space constraints. This wind-powered turbine produces 25 watts of power in 22 mph winds. The mini wind turbine often weighs less than 10 pounds and can be installed as a rooftop wind turbine. You can position this wind-electric turbine on your apartment balcony.

While the main components of full-size, horizontal wind generator systems are located at the top of tall towers, a vertical axis wind turbine houses its main parts at the base of the structure. This turbine type sits vertical to the ground and perpendicular to wind streams. Vertical axis wind turbines are often considered to be more efficient and cost-effective than horizontal wind generator systems.

A vertical wind turbine has no blades that must be positioned into oncoming winds, and it needs no special wind speed and direction sensors. The components of a vertical wind turbine are always facing winds, and they have greater surface areas for wind capture than the propeller blades of horizontal systems. They can be installed as a rooftop wind turbine or be placed in a more inconspicuous area on your property. Innovations in vertical axis turbines take the form of microsystems such as the ones produced by Vortex Bladeless.

Horizontal Versus Vertical Wind Turbine

horizontal_vs_vertical_wind_turbines

Both the traditional windmill generator used in early American food production and the massive metal behemoths that dot the foothills of Altamont Pass in Central California, an expansive array of nearly 5,000 turbines spanning 50,000 acres, are examples of Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs).

Horizontal turbines are outfitted with rotors that resemble a propeller, rotating on an axis that’s parallel to the ground. In today’s alternative energy market, nearly every wind power generator designed for on-grid connection rotates on a horizontal axis.

Automaxx Windmill 600W

Last update on 2022-05-27

The general consensus within the world of wind power is that HAWTs are vastly superior to turbines that rotate vertically. The shape of a Vertical Wind Turbine resembles that of a wire whisk. Two blades rotate around a stationary vertical shaft, perpendicular to airflow.

horizontal vs vertical wind turbines

Manufacturers of VAWTs tout the superior power production capability of vertical rotation, even in turbulent conditions, and claim that vertical turbines are much less noisy than their horizontal counterparts. Real-world data, however, indicates otherwise; even the best home wind turbine is going to generate noise.

Further, vertical blade rotation causes excess wind resistance, negatively impacting the turbine’s performance and reliability. In your search for the optimal residential wind turbine for sale, don’t be fooled by false promises regarding the capability of vertical-axis turbines.

How Much Does a Wind Turbine Cost?

Powering your home with wind is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint along with your energy bill. But most wind turbines carry a hefty price tag: The equipment itself will set you back about $5,000 per kilowatt, meaning that you can expect to shell out about $40,000 for an 8 kWh system. You also need to factor in the cost of installation.

Self-installation of your wind turbine will likely save you money, but it’s not a good idea for most homeowners. Even if you’re a dedicated do-it-yourself person, you don’t want to risk constructing the turbine incorrectly. The turbine will also have to be tied to the local power grid, a job that’s best left to the professionals.

Expect an installation cost ranging between about $8,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of your property and the turbine itself, as well as the distance from the turbine to the power grid.

Finding the Right Wind Turbine for Sale

Once you’ve determined that your residence is an ideal candidate for wind turbine installation, it’s time to weigh your options. And since home wind turbine kits are a major investment, you should avoid making a hasty decision.

Read customer reviews, compare prices and specs between each wind generator kit, and don’t hesitate to contact wind turbine distributors directly with any questions about system performance, size, or estimated output. Questions to ask include, “how much energy does a wind turbine produce?”

In addition, check for certification: All wind turbines sold in the U.S. must be approved by the Small Wind Certification Council.

Wind turbine kits for home use range in capacity, size, price, and include extras. Minimalist home wind turbine kits, ideal for smaller homes, often contain only a basic turbine and grid-tie controller. Other home turbine kits are packed with accessories and amenities, boasting speeds of up to 125 mph, a lifetime guarantee, and/or the superior power of a permanent magnet rotor alternator.

No matter the reason you’ve made the switch to wind energy to power your home, you have myriad options at your fingertips. To ensure optimal wind turbine efficiency and a quick return of your investment, familiarize yourself with the perks as well as the limitations of this energy-saving technology. Welcome to the clean energy revolution!

How to Build a Wind Turbine

You may decide to take matters into your own hands when you consider the question, “how much does a wind turbine cost?” A DIY wind turbine will cost you much less than a wind turbine for sale at your local retailer. Learning how to make a wind turbine is relatively simple with the amount of tutorial content that’s available on the web. Without the pressure of justifying a windmill power system that costs tens of thousands of dollars, you’re free to capture the wind’s power in a manner that meets your household’s needs best.   When considering DIY wind electric systems, you can get as sophisticated or as simple as you like. Consider this video tutorial of how to build a wind-electric turbine that contains three blades.  

The DIY wind turbine that is featured in the “how to make a wind turbine” video that is linked above has an estimated cost of $30 and takes about six hours of labor. Other homemade wind electric systems cost more if you want an upgraded home wind generator, a new deep-cycle battery, and the wiring to connect your homemade wind turbine to the power grid.  

A DIY wind electric system has obvious advantages over many ready-made versions if you’re handy or if you know someone who is electromechanically gifted. There are some drawbacks to installing a homemade wind turbine and its associated windmill generator, blades, and tower. To get energy-related tax credits in some states, your small wind turbine must be installed by a certified professional.

How Wind Turbine Systems Survive Natural Disasters

You may think that hurricanes and typhoons are ideal conditions for wind energy systems. High-speed winds create windmill power that can either be used immediately or stored for later use. These natural disasters can cause harm to wind turbine generator rotors if wind speeds are too high, however. Commercial manufacturers know how to build a wind turbine that stands up to storms. These factory-made wind turbine generator systems use built-in safety mechanisms that shut off when conditions become too harsh.  

Wind turbines are equipped with sensors that measure wind speed. These wind electric systems start generating electricity at a certain wind speed. It operates steadily until airspeeds exceed the system’s maximum capacity rating. If your wind turbine’s capacity rating is 55 mph, then it will likely shut off automatically to protect its rotors during a hurricane. Category five hurricanes produce sustained winds of 157 mph. A wind turbine produces electricity and is sturdy enough to survive a powerful storm system if it has been properly installed.

A home wind turbine continues to be a viable option for certain residences.   New developments in wind technologies promise turbines that not only survive storms but thrive on them. Challenge, which is an alternative energy start-up in Japan, has designed a wind-electric system that captures high-speed winds from typhoons. Typhoons in Japan are common, and they typically produce winds of 100 mph or greater. The company’s new turbine design features cylinders rather than the propeller-like blades of a traditional horizontal axis wind turbine.

The Japanese company hopes to produce this safer, cleaner form of energy to offset the loss of energy production that was caused by the 2011 Fukushima accident. Prototypes of the design indicate that the Challenergy wind electric systems will be stronger than traditional systems, and they will produce greater amounts of energy during strong storms.    

Other Types of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is defined as an energy source that quickly and naturally replenishes itself. In addition to the wind, other sources of renewable power include water, solar, geothermal, biomass, and biofuels.    

Water

Hydroelectric power is made when the motion of running water is turned into electricity, and it’s one of the oldest forms of renewable power on earth. Ancient farmers used water power to turn wheels to operate grain mills. Today, water currents in American rivers, streams, and waterfalls are harnessed to power homes and businesses in every state. Dams are often used to control the amount of flowing water for hydroelectric plants. Some famous dams that are used to produce hydroelectric power are the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in New York, and the Hoover Dam in Arizona. If your state uses hydroelectric power plants to supply most of its energy needs, your utility bills are likely to be lower than homeowners who live in other states.    

Solar

Solar energy is one of the most popular sources of renewable power for homeowners who want to lower their utility bills. Sunshine is abundant in many American cities, and it’s produced daily for free. Homeowners capture the sun’s energy with solar panel systems that are usually attached to their roofs. These panels are a part of a system that supplies electricity to the home through a connection to the utility company’s power grid or as a stand-alone unit. Solar power deep cycle batteries store excess energy for later use.    

Geothermal

Have you ever marveled at the geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone National Park? These natural wonders are examples of geothermal energy at work. The earth produces heat deep within its crust that can be captured for heating and cooling buildings. Geothermal energy production sites are usually found in regions that are prone to volcanic activity.    

Biomass

One of the most exciting forms of renewable power is one that recycles waste products into usable power. Biomass energy is the conversion of animal and plant waste products into methane gas or ethanol for power. If society continues to produce waste from food processing, farm animals, and even human sewage, biomass energy will remain a renewable source of power. Many coal plants are converting some of their buildings into biomass processing areas to meet regulatory requirements for cleaner energy production. Local governments also support the use of landfill waste for biomass energy production.    

Bio Fuels

Biofuel energy is a controversial form of renewable power that can be derived from animal or plant matter. Companies use sugarcane and corn to produce bioethanol for power. Critics of this form of biofuel argue that these plants are food crops that should be used to feed hungry people rather than powering commercial buildings, homes, and large trucks.    

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Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

Pros
  • Wind is free

  • Wind is clean, renewable power

  • New wind technologies being developed

  • Equipment is relatively simple to operate

Cons
  • Wind quantity and speeds vary

  • Large land lots needed for system setup

  • Operating a wind power system is noisy

  • Equipment is unsightly

  • Some equipment is made using petroleum products

  • Kills bats and birds

The options are growing for those who are interested in reducing their contribution to toxic fossil fuel emissions, and wind-based power has taken center stage as a viable source of clean energy for home and commercial use. A close examination of the advantages and disadvantages of wind-based power shows how it stacks up to other forms of renewable power sources such as solar.    

Pros

#1 Wind is free.

Wind is created when the sun heats the earth’s surface unequally. Air streams that touch hot surfaces rise, and air that hits a cooler surface descends. These conditions create low and high atmospheric pressure. When these air masses interact, wind is formed. One of the key benefits of wind is that it’s free.  

#2 Wind is clean, renewable power.

Wind turbines produce electricity that is cleaner to develop and to use than electricity that is produced from coal and oil. Wind-derived electricity is also considered to be renewable since it can be produced in a relatively short amount of time.  

#3 New wind technologies being developed.

Public and private organizations promise to continue developing wind technologies that will make wind-based power more cost effective in residential and commercial markets. New turbine designs and improved battery storage are projected for the future.  

#4 Equipment is relatively simple to operate.

The design of today’s small wind turbines is patterned after windmills that have been used for millennia to power equipment. The main components of these small wind electric systems are limited in scope and easy to operate and maintain.    

Cons

#1 Wind quantity and speeds vary.

Many areas of the United States don’t get enough high-speed winds to make installing windmills for electricity worthwhile. A coastal American city such as Norfolk may only get high winds during a hurricane, but Chicago has an average wind speed of 10.3 mph throughout the year.  

#2 Large land lots needed for system setup.

A wind turbine that has a large rotor diameter for its turbine blades requires a spacious lot that is flat and unobstructed by forests or buildings. These wind electric systems usually perch atop tall towers to maximize their wind collecting capabilities.  

#3 Operating a wind power system is noisy.

A report from General Electric lets you know about the sound pressure level at which a typical home wind turbine operates. The turbine is usually positioned about 985 feet away from a home, and it produces 43 decibels of noise at that distance. The noise that is produced by a wind power generator is a disadvantage if you have close neighbors.  

#4 Equipment is unsightly.

Whether you opt for a vertical axis wind turbine or one of the horizontal varieties, you still must be prepared for a reduction in curb appeal when you install a small wind electric system.  

#5 Some equipment is made using petroleum products.

Critics of wind as a renewable power source note that wind turbines have moving parts that must be lubricated with petroleum-based products. Some turbine blades are also manufactured with petroleum-based resins.  

#6 Kills bats and birds.

Bats and birds are important members of the ecosystem. Birds help to pollinate crops, and bats reduce mosquito populations. The link between horizontal axis wind turbines and wildlife mortality is significant.  

Download the PDF form of this guide here

Long Range Marksmanship For The First-Time Shooter

Long Range Marksmanship For The First-Time Shooter

This article discusses why any shooter should consider long-range marksmanship and rifle training.  It also explores how to affordably practice the discipline using equipment you already own. 

However, the experience can be enhanced with some low-cost accessories and weather instruments – such as portable wind meters.

Reading Time: 15 min

“One Shot, One Kill”

This somewhat bloodthirsty epithet has become the ultimate expression of the rifleman’s art. The expression is most closely associated with the battlefield sniper and long-range marksmanship. However, it is not hard to appreciate that this mentality can, and should, apply throughout all shooting sports.

Every time you pull the trigger, a ballistic event is initiated which can be predicted, described, and measured. Ultimately, the most important measurement is “did the round hit the target, and were the results what the shooter intended?”

Ballistics is the science that measures and observes the factors that influence that result. The cold science of ballistics does not care if the weapon is a high-tech sniper rifle, which costs as much as your car, or the deer rifle in your closet. For that matter, ballistics apply to many things. Think shotguns, rifles, and handguns, but also slingshots, compound and traditional bows, medieval trebuchets, catapults, even baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks.

Do you need to have an intimate knowledge of ballistics to become a good long-range shooter? No, you do not. All that is really required to consistently hit your target is a firm grounding in basic long-range marksmanship. This emphasizes safety, sight picture, shooter’s position, and trigger control.

By learning and consistently practicing these elements, you and your rifle (or pistol, shotgun, bow, slingshot, or trebuchet) should be able to hit the target almost every time. Understanding the science of ballistics will make that practice more meaningful and profitable.

Focus on safety, sight picture, shooting stance and trigger control.

There is no replacement for practice. The “professional shooter”, whether military, law enforcement, a hunting guide, or a competitive target shooter, will get plenty of practice during training. Even if they are never called upon to fire their weapon in an actual tactical situation they spend hours at the practice range.

This guide is written for the “non-professional shooter”. Someone who keeps their rifle in the closet most of the year and only takes it out to fire a few sight-in rounds every fall.

It will also apply to a homeowner who keeps an assault rifle for home defense or the armed citizen who carries a handgun for personal security. It may even be relevant to the family wanting to introduce their kids to firearms.

Studying ballistics will make you a better overall shooter. Experts agree that there is no better way to study ballistics than by practicing long-range shooting. While “realistic” practice of the shots you may take in real life is important, long-range precision shooting enforces the basics of marksmanship. This is because every tiny, seemingly insignificant mistake is magnified by extreme range.

How to Get Into Long Range Marksmanship

Sniper | weatherstationary.com

A sniper, with his ability to engage and eliminate targets from a half-mile away and further, has been called the “King of the Battlefield”. Military leaders once considered snipers undesirable and even dishonorable, the modern-day sniper is often the best of the best. Before being selected for sniper training, a soldier is required to demonstrate superior discipline, leadership, and superb long-range marksmanship.

A military or police sniper will have access to the most advanced tools and technologies. Technology alone, however, will not make a shooter into Carlos Hathcock. A state-of-the-art sniper rifle can cost thousands of dollars, and the rifle itself will not make you a better shooter.

An accurate shot of a quarter-mile is well within the capability of most off-the-shelf bolt action hunting rifles with little or no modification. Of course, building a dedicated long-range rifle can be a lot of fun, and much less expensive than a full-on, customized tactical sniper rifle.

As a beginner, you won’t be a better shooter only by owning a state-of-the-art rifle.

Long-range rifle accuracy is more dependent on understanding the local conditions than the rifle used to take the shot. How these conditions affect the shot will be covered in greater detail as we discuss external ballistics. For now, simply recognize that wind and the atmosphere will have a huge impact on how the projectile flies toward a target.

The basic equipment to get started practicing long-range marksmanship are as follows:

Rifle For Long Range Marksmanship

rifle close-up | Weatherstationary.com

Obviously, a precision shot will require a precision rifle. However, as mentioned previously, most rifles on the market (or in your closet) are more precise than the shooter who uses them. Theoretically, a customized sniper rifle will shoot more accurately than the 30.06 passed down from your granddad. But, unless you are already a superior marksman, there is little to be gained by spending the extra money.

A good long-range rifle requires a precision sighting system. It is theoretically possible to hit distant targets with iron sights, but, long-range marksmanship will be better served using a telescopic sight. This will simply make a distant target visible to the shooter.

The scope for long-distance marksmanship is usually more powerful than a hunter’s scope. This is because the shot will be taken from a resting position.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a sniper rifle is the installed bipod. While the bipod makes a readily available rest in a tactical situation, it will add weight and complication to the rifle. Cross-sticks, a shooter’s staff, or even sandbags make very stable and effective rests, and since they are not attached to the rifle, the piece can still be carried for hunting.

Ammunition

Ammunition | weatherstationary.com

“Hand-loaded” and “match-grade” are ammunition terms that are thrown about in the long-range shooting community. All they really mean is ammo which will perform consistently from round to round to ensure consistent results. Usually, a hand load “recipe” will be developed to get optimal results from each rifle/ammunition combination.

Again, the beginner will be faced with the question of how good is good enough? A hunting rifle with factory ammo should be able to print a group on less than half an inch at 100 yards. The custom rifle/match ammo combo may have a theoretical performance of a quarter inch at the same range. If the shooter himself is only able to shoot a three-inch group on his best day, how much potential is wasted?

A Place To Practice Long-Range Marksmanship

Shooting Range | weatherstationary.com

A quick search of the Internet can put you in touch with long-range precision shooters in your area to help you find a place to shoot. They are probably more than willing to provide coaching and instruction to help you get started in this fascinating pastime. However, shooting with a club or organization often means adopting the style of shooting they are interested in.

The minimum requirements for a place to practice long-range marksmanship are:

  • A place where it is legal to operate a firearm
  • A safe area behind the target for bullet impact
  • A clear range between the shooter and the target

Naturally, these places will rarely be found in suburban or even rural areas, but they can usually be accessed without the need for extended wilderness travel.

Shooting Aids

Shooting Aid | weatherstationary.com

When a shooter takes a long-range shot, the more information he has, the more likely he is to actually hit the target. Many of these aids will be part of the tactical rifle system, but a casual or competitive shooter may be better served with dedicated instruments.

This is an advantage of learning from a more experienced shooter or club, as they will already have the equipment. However, the novice is more likely to absorb their preferences rather than make his own decisions about which purchase best meets his needs.

  • Spotting scope and spotter. Using the sighting scope for spotting is generally an unsafe practice. The spotting scope will be more powerful and tripod mounted, allowing the spotter to call the shot and suggest corrections.
  • Rangefinder. These may not be completely necessary if you are shooting on a formal, marked range. Range finder technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible as hunters discover its value. A range finder is indispensable if you are practicing on an informal or non-regulated range.
  • Wind/Weather Gauge. The air that a bullet flies through has an incredible influence on its performance. Most of this will be covered in the external ballistics discussion. For now, keep in mind that weather gauges are another example of getting what you pay for. However, what is best for one shooter is not always what is best for another. The shooting community has embraced Kestrel handheld wind gauges which feature preloaded ballistics software. Many shooters prefer a simpler but just as informative interface such as found on the WeatherHawk line of handheld wind gauges. The most common parameters you need to measure using your Wind/Weather Gauge are temperature, wind speed & direction, humidity, and altitude.

DOPE Fiends

One interesting habit of long-range precision riflemen is their use of D.O.P.E., “Data on Previous Engagements”. In its simplest form, doping entails

1) “calling” the shot, or predicting where on the target practice or sighting round will impact,

2) evaluating where the sighting round actually hits, and

3) applying corrections to the rifle sighting system before firing for effect.

This will work on the range, but in the field or a tactical situation, the shooter will not have an opportunity to safely take a practice shot for doping. That trophy bull standing on the ridgeline is not going to let you take a shot in his direction, wait for you to adjust your sights, then let you take another shot! In the real world, the first shot is likely the only shot.

D.O.P.E. = Data on Previous Engagements.

With this in mind, precision riflemen usually carry a D.O.P.E. This shot data book is used to record as many environmental, equipment and physical factors of each shot (or “engagement”) as possible. By studying the collected data, they will eventually be able to apply proper dope for each shot without the need for a practice or sighting round.

Being able to put that first round on target entails the ability to observe those factors and understand the ballistic variables which affect the shot.

Mildot Master

Last update on 2022-05-27

Before Moving On To Expert Long Range Marksmanship

At this point in our discussion, the weekend rifleman should have a good idea of whether or not the discipline of precision long-range marksmanship is worth exploring. If it is, they will also know what they need to begin their “study”.

Briefly, these will include:

  • A reasonably accurate rifle. Although a purpose-built long-range rifle is nice, almost any modern bolt-action rifle can be pressed into service as a precision firearm.
  • Ammunition. The advantage here goes to the experienced hand loader with the time and resources to find which works best in an individual rifle. Note here that branded factory ammunition will work for most shooters. Save the expense of “match-grade” ammo for actual match shooting.
  • A Place to Shoot. A formal rifle range may have some helpful coaching available. But, if a “place in the woods” is more convenient and is a safe place to shoot, you are likely to get in more practice.
  • Shooting Aids. These are in addition to a bench or pad for prone shooting, and a steady rest for the rifle. They include instruments needed to evaluate the shot and the environmental conditions.
  • Spotting Scope. To allow the target to be accurately observed from the firing line and evaluate shot placement and conditions
  • Spotter. Hopefully, someone who is experienced with precision shooting to help establish DOPE for each shot
  • Range Finder. Determines precisely how far the bullet must travel between the shooter and the target
  • Wind Gauge/Weather MeterTo evaluate the wind conditions at the firing line. As we will discuss in an upcoming section, wind and air resistance have the greatest influence on whether the shot hits the point of aim after basic marksmanship principles.

With these basics in hand, you are ready to begin practicing long-range marksmanship. As long as you have the proper tools, an understanding of the science behind them is not strictly necessary. However, if you do take the time to learn and understand the science, you will better understand the tools and be able to use them more efficiently.

The Hard Science of Ballistics

Flying Bullet 1 | weatherstationary.com

Great shooters understand that long-range precision marksmanship is a combination of art and science. Up to this point, we have mostly been discussing the artistic part of the shot. Every great artist begins by understanding his tools and how to use them.

These tools include the rifle, the ammunition, a place to shoot, and shooting aids including environmental sensors like wind and weather gauges. Like any other artist, the long-range rifleman needs to practice to become proficient with his tools. A chef needs to sharpen his knives and cook, a musician needs to tune his instrument and play, the rifleman needs to get on the range and use his equipment to put rounds on target.

Taking some time to understand the ballistics basics will definitely improve your shooting skills.

Science is observing and understanding the factors which contribute or detract from success. The chef learns that the best ingredients are spoiled if the pan is too hot or too cold. The musician knows how to strum the strings of his instrument, but if his fingering is not correct the notes may be sour. A shooter needs to understand the science of what happens between the time he pulls the trigger and the round impacts the target. The science of shooting is called ballistics.

Ballistics is a science of mechanics which deals with the launching, flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles through space. These mechanics are based on measurable and predictable Newtonian physics. They will apply whether the projectile is a bullet, a bomb dropped from an aircraft, a stone launched by a kid’s slingshot, an intercontinental ballistic missile, or a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher. The mechanics and the physical laws are the same for all of them.

Ballistic Trajectory | weatherstationary.com

Scientists further break ballistics into three or four distinct categories.

  • Internal Ballistics,
  • Transitional Ballistics,
  • External Ballistics
  • Terminal Ballistics.

Internal ballistics deal with everything to do with launching the projectile. Another definition is everything that happens inside the gun itself.

Transitional and external ballistics are often discussed together and include everything which occurs from the time the projectile leaves the gun until it impacts the target.

Terminal ballistics study what happens at the end of the bullet’s flight and how the projectile’s energy is transferred to the target. It may seem somewhat academic to the target shooter on the range whose goal is to simply hit the target precisely. However, it is of terrific importance to the tactical shooter or hunter as what the bullet does to what it hits is the whole reason for the shot.

Some observers consider internal ballistics as everything that happens from the time the trigger is pulled until the bullet leaves the muzzle. Actually, it begins with the primary design of the firearm.

Every firearm which uses cartridge ammunition goes through an eight-step cycle of operation. They are:

1) Feeding – stripping a round from a magazine or manually placing it before the breech or bolt face,

2) Chambering – pushing the round into the firing chamber,

3) Locking – the firing chamber is locked closed and the mechanism of the firearm is aligned to fire the round,

4) Firing – the trigger is pulled and the firing pin impacts the primer, causing the propellant (gunpowder) to ignite, the expanding gasses of the burning propellant push the bullet through the bore where it engages the rifling, imparting spin to the projectile,

5) Unlocking – occurs with the backward motion of the bolt or slide in an automatic or semi-auto weapon, manually in a bolt, pump or lever action,

6) Extraction – the spent cartridge is pulled from the firing chamber,

7) Ejection – the spent cartridge is thrown out of the firearm, and

8) Cocking – the firing mechanism is readied to fire the next round.

These eight steps are most readily observed in the cycling of automatic and semi-auto firearms. They can be applied to muzzleloaders as well as launching arrows from a bow, perhaps even a pitcher throwing a baseball. The steps are most simple and controllable in bolt action rifles, and why they are the preferred tool for long-range marksmanship.

Although there are differences between rifle models, the basic steps can be seen in the video below of a bolt action mechanism. They do not apply to the discussion of precision rifle shooting, observing the cycles of a Glock pistol, a Colt 1911 pistol and the M16 semi-automatic rifle can aid in understanding internal ballistics.

The cycle of firing a rifle is only the beginning of internal ballistics influence on accurately placing the round on target. The construction of the piece will govern how precisely it shoots.

A mass-produced surplus infantry weapon or sporting gun is generally thought to be less precise than a tightly fitted custom-made firearm. This is due to the slacker tolerances necessary for mass production versus the tighter control of one-off construction.

Modern manufacturing techniques allow tightened production tolerances, and why modern hunting rifles make acceptable tools for precision shooting and long-range marksmanship.

Barrel length is another important internal ballistics factor. A longer barrel is thought to be inherently more precise and accurate than a shorter barrel. As the bullet travels down a long barrel, the expanding gases of the propellant have more time to build pressure and transfer more energy and velocity to the projectile.

Understand Precision vs. Accuracy For Long Range Marksmanship

Ammunition selection is considered as part of internal ballistics. The powder charge must be sufficient to propel the projectile to its target. However, an excessive charge can damage the firearm and even injure the shooter.

Every rifle, even those from the same production run, will have an optimum combination of powder charge and projectile. This gives it the greatest accuracy and is an advantage of handloading over factory ammunition. However, higher grade factory ammo may be even more precise than hand loads and this consistency can have a greater effect on overall accuracy.

Precision vs. Accuracy | weatherstationary.com

This is a good place to discuss the difference between precision and accuracy. The long-range marksman needs both, of course. Precision is related to how small a group you can shoot with your rifle and ammo. Generally, precision is thought to be the mechanical qualities of the rifle and ammunition combo.

A precise rifle will place the shots in a tight grouping every time. Accuracy is a function of the shooter himself, and depends on his ability to achieve a proper sight picture, maintain breath control while pressing the trigger, and understanding and compensating for the influences of external ballistics as the projectile flies toward the target.

Most people assume that when a rifle is fired, the bullet travels in a straight line to the target. In fact, due to the effects of gravity, the projectile needs to follow an arced path toward its target, flying slightly upwards first until gravity forces it to begin falling towards the earth, impacting the target on its downward path.

An advanced shooter, especially when engaged in long-range marksmanship, realizes that there are many other factors that affect external ballistics. These include air resistance, humidity, wind speed, even the rotation of the earth (the Coriolis effect). Since a bullet flying 300 yards or further spends more time in flight than a pistol round at a range of 15 feet or so, external ballistics are of great importance to the long-range shooter.

External Ballistics Begins in Transition

The physics of every shot fired is essentially the same, no matter the weapon or the range. One thing not very obvious to the shooter is that the spinning projectile which we expect to fly true all the way to the target actually wobbles a great deal during the first part of the ballistic arc.

We can see the same effect in slow-motion replays of a long-distance football pass. The quarterback’s fingers impart spin to the ball, just like the rifling in the barrel, but the ball will wobble in flight. What is important is that the further the ball flies, the steadier it becomes.

This wobbling is less noticeable in pistol rounds since the projectiles are usually shorter in comparison to their length. This means they stabilize much faster. A rifle bullet may fly as far as 50 feet before it stabilizes on its axis of rotation.

Wobbling can be minimized by matching the load to the rifle, but never completely eliminated. This is why increasing the powder charge to a round may increase its velocity but can destroy its accuracy.

These rotational effects are identified as;

  1. Yaw
  2. Precession
  3. Nutation

Yaw, Precession & Nutation | Utah.edu

We have only “scratched the surface” of ballistic science here. If you are looking to study the subject in depth we recommend you to start with “Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting 3rd Edition” by Brian Litz.

If you’re only interested in knowledge regarding the specific subject of Long Range Shooting, then you can check the “Long Range Shooting Handbook” by Ryan M. Cleckner. This #1 Best Seller on Amazon will guide you through all aspects of long-range shooting; from calibrating your rifle to using your wind speed instruments and calculators.

Flies Through The Air with the Greatest of Ease

We can use the quote “What Goes Up Must Come Down” and claim to understand bullet trajectory. But, we know there is a lot more going on that influences a projectile’s flight than gravity.

Granted, gravity is a pretty big deal any time a shot is fired. The moment the projectile leaves the muzzle, gravity begins pulling it toward the center of the earth. Most shooters understand that the bore of the rifle is aligned so that the bullet will fly slightly above the line of sight. In this way, the bullet will arc back down to impact at the point of aim. What is harder to see is that the downhill side of the arc is slightly steeper than its climb.

Not only is gravity pulling the bullet down, air resistance is slowing it down so that it has time to fall further. This means that the high point of the bullet’s arc is not at the midpoint of its flight, but closer to the target. It seems like a small point, but it is one that is magnified over distance and important to long-range marksmanship.

When we begin considering how air resistance affects a shot, we also see the influence of the weather. Air resistance is greater when the shot is fired at a lower altitude. Barometric pressure, or the amount of air that is stacked on top of you, is greater at sea level than it is in the mountains.

Air resistance will decrease as the temperature rises, as humidity rises, or as the barometer falls. These conditions combine to generate a figure called “density altitude”. An illustration of density altitude is the fact that a shooter on a sunny 90-degree day in Dallas will face about the same air resistance as a shooter in Denver on a cool 20-degree day.

As stated by NOAA, density altitude is “the pressure altitude adjusted for non-standard temperature.” Simply put, increasing temperature at a given atmospheric pressure will cause the air density at that pressure to appear as though it resides at a higher physical altitude.

Density altitude increases as barometric pressure decreases which reduces air resistance. Indeed, a falling barometer may also indicate approaching storms meaning increased wind, which will have its own effect on long-range marksmanship. It is commonly understood that a five-mile-per-hour crosswind (blowing directly perpendicular to the shot) can deflect the path of a .308 round as much as 3 inches over 300 yards. In fact, the wind is probably the most common excuse for missed long-range shots.

Judging the effects of wind for a long-range shot is fraught with variables. The first is determining just how much wind there is.

An old standard of wind speed is the Beaufort Scale. It provides a series of observations (how much leaves move, whether the sea is calm or rippled) to help estimate wind speed. This can be notoriously inaccurate unless the shooter has a good deal of practice with the observations and an accurate scale to go by.

The simplest, most accurate scale would be the anemometer of a weather station, but few firing ranges have one installed. A handheld wind gauge is an important piece of a long-range shooter’s kit. It may not be available to use in a tactical or hunting situation, but on the practice range, it will contribute to eventual success in the field.

A common complaint about handheld wind gauges is that they will only give you wind data at the firing line, and not at the target or in the space between. This is true and there is no way to accurately judge the wind velocity at the target. However, if you have accurate data at the firing line, you will be better able to make an estimation of wind velocity down-range.

Some ranges have flags to indicate wind speed and direction between the shooter and the target. At other times the shooter will simply have to base his estimate on how the vegetation is reacting to the wind at the target. Indeed, in both cases, accurate data at the firing line is the best data to have.

Check these quick tips to approximate the wind speed at the point of target:

  1. Use a portable anemometer to measure the crosswind speed while you analyze your target. Now you have the wind speed at your current standing position.
  2. With your high magnification rifle scope analyze the heat waves or “mirage” caused by the atmospheric distortions. With a crosswind wind speed of zero, the “mirage” is perpendicular to the ground. If the mirage waves tip at 45 degrees from left to right this indicates a wind direction from left to right at approximately 5mph. Horizontal waves indicate wind speed is at least 10mph. Be aware that higher wind speeds will still indicate a horizontal “mirage”.
  3. Keep in mind your wind meter value and the “mirage” patterns while analyzing the environment such as grass, leaves, tree sways, floating seeds, or even spider webs.

Mirage 0 mph Wind | Long Range

Mirage 5 mph Wind | Long Range

Mirage 10 mph Wind | Long Range

This method combined with the right ammo choice should help you in approximating the wind speed and direction.

Improving Long Range Marksmanship Using Portable Wind Meters

Another reason for the importance of accurate data at the firing line is the wind will have its greatest influence on the flight of the projectile early in its flight. Remember our discussion of transitional ballistics? During the phase immediately after the bullet leaves the muzzle it is still wobbling in flight. It is at its most vulnerable to be blown off course. Then, gyroscopic stability sets in to help the bullet fly true.

What are the characteristics to look for in a shooter’s portable wind meter? The most obvious attribute is accuracy and consistency. As with everything in long-range precision shooting and marksmanship, small inaccuracies add up. Ensure that your data is correct before you begin to make corrections.

What do you need to read with your handheld wind meter before pulling the trigger? Crosswind, Wind Speed & Direction, Air Pressure, Density Altitude, Temperature and Relative Humidity.

The next thing to consider is the ease of use and ruggedness. You need to be able to gather the data easily so as not to have to waste concentration on things that have nothing to do with making the shot. This is where ruggedness comes in. Ideally, the portable wind meter can be turned on, provide the data needed, and then set aside with no further thought. A unit that can be closed to protect its impeller and then simply placed on the shooting bench or even the ground will be more useful than one which is so fragile that it needs to be carefully placed in its case after every reading.

While it is true that you get what you pay for, long-range shooting is an expensive pastime if you are not being paid to do it. A top-of-the-line portable wind meter may be a worthwhile investment for a tactical operator where lives are on the line. The extra expense is questionable if the purpose of the shot is simply to put holes in a paper target.

One of the reasons the price of the wind meter goes up is its list of features. The casual shooter probably only needs a simple gauge that will show little more than wind velocity.

As the portable anemometers move up in sophistication, they will add extra features. A compass, temperature, and humidity gauges, used for wind-chill and heat-index readings and a barometer for weather prediction. However, as we discussed above, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure can be combined to calculate density altitude. Some of the latest wind meters are provided with special software for ballistics. Check our latest review for the best shooting wind meters.

There are portable wind meters that are designed specifically for shooters such as the Kestrel Elite with Applied Ballistics. Often, these units will carry ballistics software that will calculate the dope the shooter needs to apply for a particular shot. Again, these are features that may have value when lives are on the line, but there comes a point when extra features interfere with simply reading and applying the data and taking the shot.

It’s the complete solution specially designed for Long Range Shooting

Putting It All Together

Admittedly, by itself, ballistics is pretty dry science. For the average person, the only thing that makes ballistics exciting is actually pulling the trigger and seeing the mechanics of it in action. Then the dry science becomes very exciting!

The “spray and pray” type of shooting we see from Hollywood can be a lot of fun, but is expensive and not at all productive. Instead of burning your way through several boxes of expensive ammo, you may only shoot a few rounds during a precision shooting session. However, every one of those shots will teach you something and is vital for long-range marksmanship.

Put your kit together and get on the range this weekend.

Getting behind the rifle, calculating conditions, applying the D.O.P.E. and finally taking the shot is a rather long process. It may be one that you may not have the luxury of in a “real world” shot. However, there will be a surprising number of crossovers between a precision shot and one in the field or during a tactical engagement.

  • The Rest. Precision long-range marksmanship will require a shot from a rock-solid prone position, or occasionally from a solid bench, the rifle supported at its fore-end by a bipod or sandbags. This factor alone accounts for an increase in accuracy in comparison to a weekend shooter firing from a standing, off-hand position. After you get used to firing from rest and/or a prone position, you are more likely to take the time to find one in a hunting situation.
  • The D.O.P.E. A precision shooter usually zeroes his sights to conform to the D.O.P.E. he observes before the shot. A sportsman may “get away” with using the 100 yard “zero” he found while doing his preseason sight-in. This is because with most modern hunting rigs, whether the range is 20 yards, 50, or 150, the actual point of impact will be within a couple inches of the 100 yard zero. Acceptable accuracy at hunting ranges when the vital organ target area (“kill zone”) of a big game animal is around 10 inches. However, just like precision shooting, ‘little things’ which can spoil the shot add up. The discipline of long range marksmanship should carry over to keep the sportsman from taking an unethical shot as well as increasing the ethical range of a shot.
  • The Conditions. A long range marksman develops an intimate sense of range and environmental conditions, as well as an awareness of how these conditions will affect his shot. Although they verify them with instruments, range finder and wind gauge, using the instruments teaches them to make these observations and corrections in manually. They will not only have a feel for how to compensate for a gusting 7 knot crosswind, but also develop an awareness of the wind to the point that they make the corrections instinctively. A wind gauge may not be important in the field, but using it on the range will make your “real life” shots more accurate.
  • The Shot. A “spray and pray” shooter in a tactical situation or the once a year hunter with “buck fever” will waste ammunition and ultimately put lives in danger. Sometimes even those he is trying to protect. In the rush to get a round (or several rounds) down range, accuracy suffers to the point where actually hitting and killing the target is more luck than skill. Even when the situation does not allow for all the time normally taken for a shot, they will still be methodical enough to be accurate. One-shot, delivered accurately on target, is infinitely more effective than two, three, or even a dozen shots that miss.

“One Shot, One Kill.” It is a high standard to strive for, but with dedication, discipline, and best of all fun practice, it is a very attainable standard.

 

Check out our post Best Wind Meters for Long Range Shooting 2021.

Weather for Kids: Introduction

Weather for Kids: Introduction

 

This Weather for Kids course is designed for parents to begin teaching their children about the weather and how it affects their world. It is primarily intended as a fun learning experience for both parents and kids, but it has a secondary goal of creating the basis for a life-long interest in science and nature.

Whether this interest grows to the point of further studies and an eventual pursuit of a career or studies in a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field is not important at this point.
What is important is that kids and parents share a sense of discovery as they learn about the world around them.

Weather and Science should be part of the child’s curriculum in school. We feel that by sharing these topics outside of a school environment so the child will have greater enthusiasm towards their lessons.

kids and the weather | weatherstationary.com

What’s more, this enthusiasm will carry over into other subjects. Children who are raised in an environment where learning for its own sake is encouraged are more likely to have greater success throughout their education. Greater success in school is just the icing on the cake. There are more than seven billion people living on the planet, and every one of them feels the effect of weather.
 weather for kids course | weatherstationary.com

 

Talking about the weather has always been one of mankind’s most common conversation topics. We all enjoy nice weather and complain when it is not, but if we understand the weather even a little bit, then frightening and dangerous conditions become less scary. If the child is less scared in a dangerous weather situation, she is more likely to make the correct decisions and stay safe.

 

Check out the first 5 Chapters of our Weather for Kids Course

 

Weather for Kids Chapter 1: Why teach your child about weather?

Weather for Kids Chapter 2: What is Weather?

Weather for Kids Chapter 3: Basic Weather Terms

Weather for Kids Chapter 4: Dangerous Weather, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Lightning

Weather for Kids Chapter 5: Weather vs. Climate

Why Own A Weather Station?

Why Own A Weather Station?

Selection             Installation             FAQ
Isothermes | Knowledge Center | Why tracking the weather?Since before man learned to walk upright, he has been concerned about the weather. Weather observation through weather station may actually precede Astronomy as the oldest science.

Stone age man would have poked his nose out of the cave in the morning and realized from past observations that if there was a good deal of wind and dark clouds on the horizon, it was a good day to stay inside the cave and paint pictures on the wall. When agriculture was developed, introducing trade and the beginnings of urbanization, a trader would soon learn that “red sky at morning” would mean it was not a good day to load his grain on a raft to float it to market.

Unless you spend your entire life indoors, connected to the Internet, the weather in your location has a profound influence on your daily existence. If you are able to detach from the Internet and actually go outside, you will find that knowing the weather conditions is vital to not only the success of whatever activity you choose to engage in, it will impact your health and safety. Speaking of health and safety, there are indoor applications for weather instruments that will help to measure the atmospheric conditions in your home, shop, office, or factory and how they affect the performance of the people inside.

The Atmosphere: It’s Everywhere

Weather takes place in the atmosphere, which is a very large place. It is influenced by the different rates at which the Sun heats the water in the ocean, the rocks of the continents, and how these bodies heat the air above them. These influences may be occurring hundreds or thousands of miles away from where you are living, working, and playing, but with modern technology and communications, we can get a pretty good idea of how they are going to affect the weather in our backyard. We know that an area of unseasonably warm ocean water off the coast will change our local rainfall patterns, or that the shift of a cold water current on the other side of the sea could bring major storms to our area in a few weeks.

A more immediate concern is what is happening right outside our window. There are any number of resources we can turn to in order to see regional conditions, from local TV and Radio news reports to  Internet Weather services. The problem with these reports is that they are going to report Regional Conditions as opposed to what is going on in your own “micro-climate”.

Weather Panel | Knowledge Center | Why tracking the weather?

                  • Knowing that it is raining at the airport is not the same thing as knowing how much is falling on your garden and how often you need to turn on your sprinkler. Knowing how hard the wind is blowing at the local TV station may not tell you whether it is safe to fly your remote control airplanes. Knowing the humidity, heat index or wind chill at City Hall does not tell you whether you should put on a sweater or not for a walk around your neighborhood.

 

 

Selection

(To view/download the NOAA recommended guide on Choosing a Personal Weather Station CLICK HERE.)

Choosing Your Home Weather Station

There is an incredible variety of weather stations on the market, ranging from the most accurate and expensive instrumentation similar to those found at an International airport or University science department to the so-called “Weather Rock” (“If the rock is wet, it is raining”). Choosing a personal weather station for your home is a matter of balancing the information you need displayed, how easy the system is to install and operate, and how much you are willing to pay.

Gardeners, athletes, students, sportsmen and business people are all affected by the same weather, but the conditions they need to observe may not be the same.

Home systems fall into different categories. There are wireless as opposed to wired systems. Some systems mount all the sensors in a single unit, which is easy to mount (and potentially portable) while others use separate sensors so that each can be mounted where they will read most accurately.

Last update on 2022-05-27

Electronic Weather Instruments and What They Measure

 

Wind

Cup Anemometers | weatherstationary.comA wind sensor is a common reading in home weather stations. Most use a simple cup anemometer which has the advantage of sensing wind speed accurately from any direction and quickly responding to gusts. The propeller-type anemometer is highly accurate and compact, making it a natural choice for handhelds, but its accuracy depends upon keeping its axis aligned with wind direction.

What is a wind vane | weatherstationary.comA wind vane will digitally indicate wind direction, but the unit’s base must be mounted and firmly held at true North. Most mounting instruction packets include information for converting magnetic North readings from a handheld compass to true North.

Rainfall

 

 

Rain Gauge | weatherstationary.comGardeners, landscapers, and homeowners need to follow rainfall amounts. An analog rain gauge is a deceptively simple device; it is simply a straight-sided vessel with an open top. Periodically, the observer will record the depth of water in the vessel after a period of time, the results being inches of rainfall. When making the observation, he will also tip the accumulated water out of the gauge.

An automatic rain gauge measures the amount of rainfall as the rain is falling. The precipitation falls on a circular collection area with a funnel below. The outflow of the funnel is directed into a “self-emptying tipping bucket”. This device is essentially a teeter-totter with a water chamber on either side of the fulcrum. When the chamber on one side fills, the bucket tips and the chamber drains. At the same time, a switch is closed, and the sensor reads the frequency of the switch’s opening and closing. The most accurate tipping bucket systems have an 8-inch collection area and the bucket will tip with the weight of 0.01 inches of precipitation. Some lower resolution systems will not tip until 0.04 inches of precipitation falls.

Temperature and Humidity

What is a thermistor | weatherstationary.comTemperature is measured using an electronic device called a thermistor, which is a resistor whose resistance depends upon temperature. As the temperature changes, so does the voltage of the thermistor circuit, and this is interpreted by the unit as a temperature reading.

Relative humidity, or the percentage of moisture in the air, is measured by an electronic hygrometer. The heart of the device is a material whose conductive properties change as humidity increases or decreases. Relative humidity differs from absolute humidity in that the former is a measurement of how much moisture the air can hold at a certain temperature. At high relative humidity levels, water does not readily evaporate and increased moisture will result in precipitation.

Systems that have temperature and humidity indicators usually have software that will compute the heat index. This is a measure of supposed comfort in an environment. Since the human body regulates its internal temperature by sweating, and the evaporation of sweat is less effective during high humidity, times of high heat and low humidity can be more comfortable and lower on the heat index than periods of high humidity even though the actual temperature is lower.

Another software application that uses readings from two different sensors is wind-chill. Since the transfer of heat away from the body occurs more readily in moving air, the greater the wind during periods of cold, the colder it will feel.

Data Logging

Along with software-based measurements, data logging is an important feature in a weather station. Simple handheld wind gauges often forgo data logging, but more fully-featured models often retain a significant amount of data for later recording, and some can even attach to a computer or smartphone to download readings.

Some home weather stations are designed to connect with a PC or laptop and incorporate a Windows-based interface. Some stations have a permanent base station which both displays and stores data from the sensors. Usually, the base station will also interface with a computer via USB or Wifi.

Many weather hobbyists enjoy connecting their personal weather station to a Personal Weather Station Network like Weather Underground (http://www.wunderground.com/personal-weather-station/signup.asp).

Not only does being part of the network contribute more data points for more accurate climate observation and forecasting, being able to compare data with nearby stations gives an indication of how accurately an individual station is working.

Installation

(To view/download the NOAA recommended guide on Installing a Personal Weather Station click here.)

Selecting a home weather station and learning about the different sensors can be exciting and fun, but deciding where and how to install the station is even more important to get the most out of it.

It is kind of like buying a sports car. It would be great to go out and buy a Lamborghini, but if the only place you can drive it is on crowded city streets, it is a lot less fun.

A sports car needs to be out on the open road, and a personal weather station needs to be out in the weather. Of course, there is more to sitting in your weather station than just putting it outside and turning it on.

Getting the best results will take some consideration and probably some compromise, but when you get it right, you will ensure years of trouble-free and accurate service. 

Ideal Installation

Launching and landing commercial airliners which are carrying hundreds of people requires an intimate knowledge of local weather conditions, so airport operators put a lot of thought into how they install their weather sensors. However, the average home or business owner probably has fewer options than the airport has.

Reduced Davis Instruments 6152 Vantage Pro2 Wireless Weather Station with Standard Radiation Shield and LCD Display Console

Last update on 2022-05-27

The National Weather Service recommends that temperature/humidity sensors be placed between 4’1” and 6’7” above the ground, a horizontal distance twice the height of the nearest object (twelve feet away from a six foot fence), and not in direct sunlight but in the open air.

An anemometer will ideally be mounted ten meters (32.8 feet) above the ground and a horizontal distance four times the height away from the nearest obstruction. The rain gauge will get its most accurate data if it is four to six feet off the ground and a horizontal distance four times the height away from the nearest obstruction.

Mounting all of the instruments on a single pole with each sensor at the proper height is often the best solution. Just keep in mind that the pole must be sturdy enough to support the weight of the anemometer in heavy winds. The use of guy wires is preferable to seeing your expensive weather station come crashing to the ground.

Installation in the Real World

At the airport, there is plenty of room to meet all of these conditions without getting in anyone’s way. In town, it may not be so simple, especially if you need to consider restrictions placed by a homeowners association or even the reality of a small yard.

The design of the station itself may place some restrictions on your installation. There is no way to place the rain gauge a few feet off the ground and the wind gauge five times higher with an “all in one” weather station. However, from an engineering standpoint, such a design is incredibly simple to install, just find a pole that meets the manufacturer’s recommendations and you are good to go.

Getting the data from outside at the sensors to the base station inside also needs to be taken into consideration.  Most wireless stations are rated with a “line of sight” transmission distance, but building construction and electromagnetic interference may reduce the radio transmitter’s range.

A wired station is less vulnerable to interference so long as the wire is protected from damage.

Stations with separate sensors often use wires to connect the sensors to a central power or sending unit. Some systems have a solar charging option to keep the batteries fresh or they may incorporate an external power source. Other designs use internal batteries which must be refreshed occasionally.

Although there are many factors to be considered for installation of your weather station, most manufacturers have useful recommendations in the installation instructions.

Many companies will have a helpline that will provide installation advice over the telephone or online. The National Weather Service also provides some useful guidelines.

1. How Does WeatherStationary Select The Weather Stations It Sells?

We are located in Wyoming, where the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains come together, so we are no strangers to extreme weather. We are also in a position to enjoy some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities anywhere, so long as the weather cooperates!

We select our weather stations and instruments based on several factors, but they generally boil down to one thing: providing our customers with the best value for the money. One of the first things we look at is how easy the system is to install and use. A rugged, easy-to-install unit will provide better service and results than a more sensitive system that requires more adjustment.

Even if a system seems simple to install and use, we feel that it is important for the manufacturer to have a reliable support network in place. All of the companies we work with provide easy-to-understand user manuals, and they go the extra mile with a well-staffed helpline. Keep in mind that the sensors in your weather station are sensitive electronic instruments. The call center staff has “heard it all” and will be a huge help to answer your questions and troubleshoot any problems you have during installation.

Finally, there is the money factor. We have selected the weather stations that allow us to give the best price to our customers. Naturally, you get what you pay for, but we know that everyone appreciates a good deal!

 

2. What Do I Do If There Is No Data Or Faulty Data Displayed On My Console?

Refer to the literature provided with your station for specific troubleshooting guidance, but a few general guidelines apply to most weather stations. If all of the data is displayed on the console screen but is much higher or lower than expected, a common problem is the unit set, which may be in metric or imperial units. Set the units to those most appropriate to users observing your station.

If all of the data points on the console are either blank or fully black, reboot the console. This is usually accomplished by removing any backup batteries and disconnecting the AC adapter for 10-20 seconds. The console will begin a reboot cycle when power is restored.

If the console displays partial data, there may be a problem with the sensors or the transmitter(s). Before getting on the ladder, go ahead and reboot the console, if this does not correct the fault, check the power for the faulty sensor and its associated transmitter. Note: If more than one sensor uses a common transmitter but there is a faulty reading from only one, the fault is likely in the sensor rather than the transmitter.

3. Will The Mounting Pole Affect Wind Direction Readings?

Most units are designed with the wind vane and anemometer mounted at the top so that it will always be in free-moving air. There are weather station designs that place the vane and anemometer below the sensor housing, but wind tunnel testing has shown that interference from the mounting pole does not affect the wind readings, so long as the unit has been mounted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

4. How Can I Share The Data From My Weather Station WithOthersIn My Area?

Systems from Davis Instruments are designed so that the Integrated Sensor Suite is the only transmitter in the system, but the signal may be received by any number of compatible consoles. A single ISS installed on the highest building of campus could provide weather data to several different labs and offices.

Weather data can also be shared via the Internet, as long as the owner/operator of the station chooses to connect with the ‘net. If the software bundled with your station does not allow for Internet sharing there are aftermarket software outlets for all of the popular weather stations. WiFi-enabled receivers to allow station data to be uploaded to the Internet without turning on your primary PC.

Station operators may choose to share their data via a Personal Weather Station Network like Weather Underground. By reading the data from nearby weather enthusiasts, the data from their local station becomes more meaningful, predictions become more accurate, and it is simple to verify that your own station is performing accurately. However, the data from the network will never be as accurate for your local micro-climate as the data from your own station.

 

5. What Tools Will I Need To Install My Weather Station?

Different models will have different installation parameters, but they are generally designed to be “plug and play” and installation is well with the reach of a home handyman. An adjustable wrench and screwdriver are all that are needed to mount the sensors to the mounting pole. Attaching the pole to a structure or post may require heavier tools and hardware, but it is no more difficult than mounting a television antenna.

One required special tool is a compass or local map to align the wind vane with true North. Keep in mind that uncompensated hand-held compasses will point to magnetic North rather than true North. If the declination is not figured in there will be a permanent error in your wind direction readings (although it will be a consistent error in all directions). Declination data can be found on USGS topographical maps or by looking it up at http://www.magnetic-declination.com/.

 

6. The Wind Is Gusting But The Wind-Chill Reading On My Console Does Not Change. Why?

The wind chill is a calculated data point rather than a measured one. The formula for figuring wind-chill is based on air temperature and wind speed, but since it is an indication of how cold the environment feels, most systems use average wind speed rather than current wind speed. Therefore, if the wind increases for a few seconds, the wind chill will not drop right away.

 

7. The Transmission Range Of My Weather Station Is 1000’ (300m). Can I Really Mount The Unit That Far Away From My House?

Transmission ranges are generally listed as “line of sight”, which allows for some wiggle room in radio ranges. When we say “line if sight”, it means that if the transmitter at the sensor suite is sitting in the open air, and the receiver in the console is also sitting in the open air with nothing between the two, then data will be transferred even if the units are 1000’ apart. Note that “line of sight” is not the same as “ideal conditions”, there are several examples of low-powered transmitters and receivers getting a signal through for miles. However, in the real world of your backyard, there may be trees, power lines, metal buildings, and walls between the transmitter and receiver, any and all of which may reduce the transmission range.

Most wireless weather station manufacturers offer radio repeaters that will boost a low signal to give it a longer range. The repeater will be tuned to each manufacturer’s units and may be used to extend the range up to several miles.

08. I Know That It Has Been Raining But My Rainfall Gauge Does Not Indicate Any Precipitation Or Gives A Lower Than Expected Indication. What Should I do?

The tipping bucket rain gauge is an ingeniously simple and reliable instrument with very little that can actually go wrong. Quite often, lower than expected readings occur simply because Mother Nature does not always spread rainfall evenly over a small area. This is particularly noticeable during short cloud bursts. How often does a friend across town call and complain about forgetting her umbrella while it is sunny and clear at your house?

One way to verify that your rainfall gauge is working is to slowly pour a measured amount of water through the device, about 100ml over a period of 5 minutes. If the water flows too fast, most of it will spill out without tipping the bucket, but a slow pour should yield a measurable result.

Spiked Rain Gauge | weatherstationary.comRain gauge funnels also seem to attract wildlife. Birds and insects have been known to nest in rain gauge funnels, or debris may block the funnel screen. If birds roosting in your rain gauge becomes a problem, you may consider installing bird spikes which will keep birds from landing on your gauge without interfering with raindrops being collected.

9. What If I Am Not Getting A Rainfall Reading And I Just Installed The System?

You may be able to remove the cover and funnel from the rain gauge by gently pulling the cover off (be careful not to pull the whole rain gauge off of the weather station). Inspect that there is no debris or damage preventing the tipping mechanism from working. Manually tip the mechanism with your fingers. A slight clicking should be heard as the counter engages. If the manual tips do not register on your display console, there may be failed switch or wiring defect. Contact the customer service number for your device’s manufacturer. In most cases, the rain gauge is easily replaced in the field and will require no calibration.

10. The Air Temperature Reading From My Station Is Much Higher Than The Old Dial Thermometer I Have Had In The Yard For Years. What Is Happening?

False high-temperature readings are common in roof-mounted installations, even when the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. Most will specify that the unit is to be mounted several feet above the surface of a roof, or above a paved surface. Since these materials absorb a lot of solar energy which radiated and heat. Generally, the air temperature sensor is mounted far enough above the radiation source (the roof or pavement) that air movement (wind) will normally correct the reading. However, during periods of low or no wind, surface radiation may heat the air immediately around the sensor to the point that it appears to be a false reading. If raising the sensor mounting higher is not practical, consider placing a lighter-colored material immediately under the sensor. This will cause the surface to reflect rather than absorb solar radiation. If neither of these steps is acceptable, the only option is to find an alternate mounting location or accept that the air temperature reading will be high during low wind conditions.

11. The Barometric Pressure Displayed On My Console Is Obviously Too High Or Too Low. What Will Cause This?

The electronic pressure gauge which acts as the barometer in your weather station is a rather simple and reliable device. It is made up of a force collector and a strain gauge. The Strain gauge measures the change in electrical resistance of a metal or semiconductor as mechanical force is applied to it. These are calibrated at the factory and generally not user adjustable.

However, erroneous readings are often the result of installers forgetting to input the altitude or making the input in feet rather than meters.

Keep in mind that barometric trends are often more useful than the actual numerical reading. If pressure is higher than it was an hour ago, the weather is likely clearing. If the pressure is steady, the same weather conditions will continue, and a falling barometer indicates that a storm may be approaching. If the barometer falls rapidly, the storm may be a violent one!

12. How Does My Weather Station Generate A Weather Prediction? Is There Any Way To Generate A More Detailed And Reliable Prediction Than The Standard Icons?

Sometimes what is happening with the weather now will not be as important to you as what the weather will be doing in the near future. If your display console displays a weather prediction, the unit generates that prediction based on an algorithm that uses current weather condition factors as well as some past data. Each manufacturer will use its own algorithm, which is based mostly on barometric pressure trends. For years, sailors at sea were able to make reliable predictions based on their ship’s barometer and the conditions they saw around them. More sophisticated algorithms will take other weather conditions into consideration, but barometric pressure is usually the most closely tracked trend.

Your local TV station or favorite weather website may provide a more detailed forecast than the simple “Sunny”, “Cloudy”, “Partly Cloudy”, “Rainy” or “Snowy” icon displayed on your personal console. Although these outlets use an algorithm that is rather similar to that used by your personal weather station, they have the advantage of a much larger data set, including readings from hundreds of weather stations just like yours, pulse-Doppler radar, radiosonde data, and some of the most sophisticated computers on the planet.

It pays to follow the predictions from commercial and government sources to compare with your personal forecast. In the end, whether it is from the biggest computers at the NOAA or a Boy Scout reciting “Red Sky At Morning…” on a camping trip, any forecast is simply a guess based on past observations and the available data. The more you observe the weather with your station, the better you will become at anticipating environmental conditions for your location.

You can also check our latest review on Netatmo Weather Station.

Davis Weather Station Troubleshooting Tips

Davis Weather Station Troubleshooting Tips

Davis Instruments FAQ

This section is tailored for Weather Station troubleshooting for Davis Vantage Vue and Davis Vantage Pro2. However, there are common issues that will apply to any personal weather station. Even if the specifics are not the same, the information may help while enjoying any of our weather stations.

The most accurate information should be in the owner’s manual for each station. If the manual is lost or mislaid, most manufacturers have PDF copies online for you to download.

Davis Instruments History|WeatherStationary.com

1. How Can I find The Product Number And Manufacturing Code For My Station?

Davis weather stations typically provide years of trouble-free service, however, from time to time some things can still go wrong. 

Whether you contact the company via telephone, email, or online chat, they will need two pieces of information in order to give the best service. These are the exact Product / Part  Number and Manufacturing Code of the station component.

The Product / Part  Number is the main Davis catalog number needed to identify and fix your problem. The Mfg Code is the serial number and manufacture date for each unit that will also help the technician ensure that the correct parts are installed for your weather station. Both can be found on the label of your unit.

The label for the Vantage Vue ISS is located on the underside of the unit. Other sensor transmitters will have the label on the internal transmitter board cover, which will be obvious once the outer door is opened. Labels for consoles are on the back or underside of the unit. Data logger labels are on the side of the unit which faces into the console when installed (the logger must be removed to see the label).

TIP: Before mounting the Integrated Sensor Suite, copy the label data onto a Post-It note and place the note on the back of the console. Then you will not have to get the ladder out if you need to contact the Service Center.

2. When Do I Need To Reboot The Console And How Do I Do It?

Sometimes the console will display a Fault Code or will malfunction apparently. Usually, these conditions can be corrected or cleared by simply resetting or rebooting the console.

The Vantage Vue and Vantage Pro 2 consoles do not have a designated “reset” switch. So, initiating a reboot requires completely powering down the unit by removing all power sources, i.e. the main power cord and the batteries. Leave the power disconnected for at least 10-20 seconds before restarting.

Listening To The Number Of BEEPS When Rebooting

It is a good habit to listen for the beeps as the unit reboots. These serve as an indication that the reboot is successful. The Envoy console will beep once, the VP2 twice and 3 beeps for the Vue console. Add one beep to the sequence if there is a data logger installed.

Vue and VP2 consoles will not display data until the unit exits “Set Up” mode. Most units will exit Set-Up automatically after 10 minutes, but older firmware may display “Receiving from” on the ticker line at the bottom of the display. Simply exit Set-Up by giving the Done button a ‘long press’.

3. Why Do My Console Appears To Be Dead Or Unresponsive.

If there are no texts or icons displayed on the LCD screen, most like the cause is a power failure. Check both the 5v AC adapter and the three ‘C’ cells in the battery compartment. If the console works on batteries but not on the adapter, assume that the adapter is defective. If the unit powers up using the adapter but not on batteries, check the following:

  • Ensure batteries are installed with correct polarity
  • If possible, check each cell with a multi-meter to verify the charge – 1.2 to 1.3v. If a multi-meter is not available, try installing fresh batteries.
  • Inspect battery holder to ensure that springs are not loose or other parts are disconnected.

Note: Storing the unit with old batteries may allow them to leak and damage the battery holder.

If all or most of the characters on the display are lit but will not clear or respond to button presses, the display may have locked up. This usually occurs when powering up the unit or if the AC adapter experiences a power spike. The usual remedy is to reboot the console as described above.

There may be other symptoms of misbehaving display which are too detailed to discuss here. If problems do not go away after checking the power supply and rebooting, contact Davis Instruments Customer Support.

4. The Console Appears To Be Working But There Is Missing Data.

If the console has powered up correctly and is displaying time/date and inside temperature/humidity/pressure, there is likely a problem with the sensor transmitter or the sensor itself. Generally, each transmitter will carry data from multiple sensors, so if all the data from one transmitter is missing, the fault is likely the transmitter. If only one sensor reading is missing, the fault is probably the sensor itself.

5. The Console Displays A ‘Low Battery” Warning.

There are two Low Battery warnings on the Davis Instrument console; Transmitter low battery and Console low battery.

change battery in vantage vue transmitter

The console will run fine with no or low batteries. Because of the danger of old batteries leaking, it may be a good idea to remove them when the Low battery warning is displayed. (The warning will continue to display if the batteries are removed.) Although the console will continue to operate without battery back-up, if there is a power loss the unit will go off-line and require a reboot when power is restored. Since there is minimal power drain of the batteries, it is recommended that batteries are installed even if the AC adapter is the primary power source. Rechargeable batteries are not recommended because their voltage profile is significantly lower than alkaline cells.

The sensors have three power sources. The “main power” is a non-rechargeable lithium CR123 cell, a type commonly used in digital cameras. This cell normally contains enough power to last 6-9 months by itself, but the sensor suite also has a small solar panel that will power the transmitter during a sunny day. Any excess power produced by the solar panel is collected by a super-capacitor (supercap) which is capable of storing an incredible amount of electrical energy for its size. The supercap could store enough energy to power the transmitter for a full day, but the solar panel cannot provide enough power to fully charge it on winter days with short daylight hours.

The power sequence is Solar, supercap, and then lithium cell. When the solar panel and supercap cannot provide power through the night, the lithium cell is drained and therefore eventually will require replacement when indicated on the console display.

6. My WeatherLink Logger Is Not Displaying Readings On My Computer. How Do I Troubleshoot It?

The data logger itself is a relatively simple, rugged, and reliable unit that rarely fails. In 98% of WeatherLink faults, the trouble lies with the computer, external problems such as wireless interference or noisy AC mains, or the logger connection is loose. This Weather Station Troubleshooting guide assumes that the logger is being used with a Vantage Vue or Vantage Pro2 console. Troubles may also occur when the logger is connected to an Envoy console, but since the Envoy does not have a screen of its own, all data is displayed on the PC, and troubleshooting must be modified accordingly.

That being said, the first step to Weather Station Troubleshooting logger problems is a simple reboot, of both the console and the computer to which the logger is connected. This assumes, of course, that the logger is properly connected to the console and the USB port of the computer.

Weather Station Troubleshooting protocols assume that the logger is properly connected at both ends and has performed properly in the past. There are some important considerations if you are having problems with a new installation. Although WeatherLink is designed to be compatible with third-party software, it is highly recommended that the software on the CD shipped with the logger be installed on the PC and used for the initial installation. Once the logger is communicating with the PC using the provided software, you can proceed to install third-party software with the assurance that the system is working properly.

Whenever there are issues related to viewing weather data on the PC, there are some basic steps that should be observed:

  • Ensure that the console is displaying all the data. If not, the fault may lie with the console or the ISS. Troubleshoot these faults before proceeding with Weather Station Troubleshooting the logger or the PC.
  • If the console display is functioning, unplug the USB from the PC for 10-20 seconds to force a reset, then replug and wait an additional 10-20 seconds before retrying the program.
  • Close and restart the software program.
  • Restart and reboot the PC.
  • Reboot the console and check that the logger is firmly installed.

7. I Have An Older Davis Instruments Weather Station. Can I still Get Support For The Unit?

For owners of the prior generation of Davis Weather Monitor II, Weather Wizard III, and the original Vantage Pro (which Davis refers to as the VP1), please understand that these units are now a decade old or in many cases, even older, which is well beyond their anticipated service life. Many of these units are still in service, which is a testimony of how well Davis builds their weather instruments, but the technology has moved beyond these units.

For example, the VP1 and the Vantage Pro 2 use significantly different data protocols, and therefore are not compatible with each other. This means that you cannot replace your VP1 console with a newer unit, and a serviceable VP1 console, whether cabled or wireless, will not receive and display data from the newer ISS.

Davis Instruments Cabled vs. Wireless|WeatherStationary.com

Davis Instruments Cabled vs. Wireless

One of the biggest issues faced by owners of older weather stations is parts support. Spare parts for these units have not been manufactured for years, although it may be possible to find “new old stock” on the shelves of some larger service centers.

Some of the sensors used in older units are still standardized parts and can be directly replaced with current parts. One exception is the temperature /humidity sensors for the VP1 and the WMII. These parts are distinct from each model, but share the problem of unavailability. It is technically possible to replace the temperature/humidity sensor with a simple temperature sensor. Since there is no humidity reading, dew point and heat index functionality will be lost as well, but in some cases, this is an acceptable means to extend the life of an older system.

The anemometer of the 6410 VP2 is fully compatible with the VP1. A faulty rain gauge may be repaired by replacing the reed switch, or replaced with a 7852 standalone rain gauge. The 6450 solar gauge and the 6490 UV meters from the VP2 are fully compatible with the VP1. However, the pressure sensor, which is built into the console mainboard, is not replaceable.

Repairs to transmitter boards and consoles are theoretically possible, but the uncertainty of parts replacement tends to make repair prohibitively expensive and unpractical.

8. How To Clean Your Davis Vantage Vue

 

9. How To Replace Vantage Vue Transmitter

 

10. Not Registering Rainfall

First, you have to check if something is stuck in the hole like twigs or trash. If it’s clean, then check for blockages like spiderwebs that might prevent it from communicating with the ISS.

11. Display Is Blank

Your unit is not receiving power. Check the power adapter connections and batteries, replace them if needed.

12. Display Unit Shows Dashes Instead Of Weather Data

The ISS isn’t transmitting properly or the console is not receiving. It can also be caused by calibration numbers not properly set, calibrate if necessary.

13. Display Locks Up

Reboot the console by unplugging AC and removing the battery and plugging again. If this happens frequently using AC power then plug it into a surge suppressor or use batteries to make it last longer.

 

8 Most Common Weather Station Problems

You do not need to be a science or weather geek to appreciate the advantages of adding an electronic weather instrument to your home. Weather affects just about everything we do, and even the local weather information from TV or radio is aimed at an incredibly wide area. When you are planning activities, you need to know what the weather is doing right in your own backyard. Watching and accurately tracking the local weather can be great fun and may even help your kids to develop an interest in science and nature.

The electronic weather stations on the market today are informative, simple to install, and easy to operate systems, but the fact is that things do not always go the way we want them to. The system is designed to give years of trouble-free service, but it is important to keep in mind that they are sensitive electronic instruments that live outside in the weather. If you left your laptop computer turned on and sitting outside on the picnic table overnight during a rainstorm, you would be shocked and amazed if it was working the next morning but we expect the sensor suite of our weather stations to live outside through the stormiest conditions.

To be fair, weather sensors and their housings are designed to be exposed to the weather and your laptop probably is not, but over time, exposure may have a detrimental effect on your system. Weather station problems can be divided into two distinct categories: Problems that show up during or soon after installation, and problems that appear after the system has been in use for a period of time.

1. The Weather Station Is Giving False, Inaccurate, Or No Data The First Time I Turn It On

Although the installation process for most home weather stations is designed to be simple and straightforward, things can and do go wrong. Some homeowners opt for a less expensive system, especially if it is their first weather station. Many less expensive units are of higher quality than expected, but they fall short on information in their user manuals and installation guides. Make every effort to read and understand the instructions before you begin the installation.

Sensor suites with separately housed components tend to be more versatile because the individual sensors can be mounted for the greatest accuracy, however, self-contained units are much easier to install. With a self-contained unit, all of the connections between the individual sensors and the transmitting unit are made at the factory, whereas the connections between separately housed components need to be made by the installer. (TIP: Whenever a wire may be in wet conditions, ensure that at least part of the run loops below the end connections so that water clinging to the wire will run to the low point and drip off rather than running into the connections, electricians refer to this as a “drip loop”.)

Perhaps the most important connection is the one between the sensor suite and the base unit. If the system has a wired connection and both the sensor suite and the base unit are powering up properly, recheck the connections at either end. If they are made properly, the connecting wire itself may be faulty.

Davis Sensors Usage |WeatherStationary.com

There are potentially more things to go wrong with a wireless system, but this is more than offset by the increased range and ease of installation. Some units will have a manual channel selection switch, ensure it is set the same on both the sending unit and the base station. If both the sensor suite and base unit appear to be powering up properly but not communicating, bring the sending unit inside and place it near the base station. Power down both units by removing the batteries and disconnecting the charging units, leaving them powered down for twenty minutes to allow residual power to drain and the memories to reset.

Replace the batteries in the order prescribed in the installation manual (improper battery installation order may cause the units to fail to synchronize). Leave the units in proximity to each other for at least three hours to allow for full synchronization. If this does not work, try the entire procedure again with new batteries. Although the batteries may be fresh from the factory, a bad cell may have slipped by.

      For Davis Vantage Pro2 and Vantage Pro2 Plus Console

davis weather station battery replacement

2. The Base Unit Is Displaying Obviously Inaccurate Data When I First Install The System

The system may be displaying accurate data, but in a unit that you are not familiar with. Some weather stations are set to display metric units by default. Your owner’s manual will give instructions to change the display units, or there may be a simple menu function on the display.

If the wind gauge is giving faulty data, the anemometer may be fouled or unable to rotate freely. Check it by hand, there may be a particle of packing material blocking the rotation. If the wind direction is wrong, the sensor may need to be turned to align with true North.

3. After Giving Trouble-Free Service For An Extended Period, Suddenly There Is No Display On My Base Unit

If the display is completely dead, it is most likely the result of a power interruption. If the base unit is battery powered, the display will usually begin to fade as the cells begin to lose power, but in some cases, it will simply turn off suddenly if the battery voltage is insufficient.

If the unit is powered by AC or an AC adapter, check the connection. While we cannot recommend using any power supply adapter other than the one provided by the manufacturer, they are relatively universal units, and you may be able to find a comparable unit in an electronics store. Many weather station base units are equipped to operate with an AC adapter but have a battery backup. The batteries may be rechargeable or simply dry cells.

If the base station is operational using fresh batteries but not the adapter, your AC adapter may be faulty. Should the unit be operational with the adapter but not the batteries, the batteries need to be replaced. Under normal usage, the batteries should have a long service life, but it is a best practice to renew them when they begin to weaken since older dry cells can leak corrosive chemicals which will cause further damage to the unit. Failure to display using either the batteries or the adapter may still indicate faulty batteries. Replace them before contacting your manufacturer for warranty service.

4. Low Battery Warning On The Console

There are two very distinct types of Low Battery warnings which the operator may see displayed on the base station console, a warning for low power levels in the base station and low batteries in the sensor suite transmitter. These alarms can again be split into two types: genuine or real low battery conditions and spurious or false alarms.

At first evaluation, a low battery warning for the base station may not be that big of a deal. In many cases, the batteries are simply a backup and the base station will run just fine on AC power, even if the batteries are not installed. The unit will reboot itself if AC power is lost and the batteries are not installed. However, it is not a best practice to leave low-powered batteries installed. As batteries age, they may be subject to leaking their corrosive contents and causing damage to the base unit electronics. Replacing the batteries annually or even semi-annually (perhaps coordinated with the changes in daylight savings time, like smoke alarm batteries) is the choice made by some weather buffs. At the very least, remove the old batteries when the console indicates a low battery condition to prevent damage.

Dealing with a low battery condition in the sensor suite is a more difficult and involved situation, simply because it will require actually gaining access to the sensor suite. Observe common-sense ladder safety if the installation is on a rooftop or pole. It is a good practice to familiarize yourself with the power supply configuration on your sensor suite as each manufacturer will employ a different system. Some will employ simple alkaline batteries as primary power for the sensor transmitters while others may have a three-layer system of backups – primary power being solar backed up by solar rechargeable batteries or supercapacitors which are further backed up by long-life disposable batteries.

Some of the three-layer backup systems have a reputation for giving spurious low-battery warnings. This often occurs as the system switches from one power source to another, and should reset within 24 hours. There have been reports of genuine premature battery failure due to moisture “tracking” between battery poles, causing a short circuit condition that discharges the batteries. Since this usually occurs in older units, the recommended repair is the application of an insulating grease between the contacts to prevent the tracking.

Davis Battery Life|WeatherStationary.com

 

5. The Unit Displays A Fault Code Or Simply Displays In An Erratic Or Unexpected Manner

If you do see a fault code, make a note of the code, and if you can, the conditions which caused it. If the screen displays nonsensical numbers of figures, usually the condition can be corrected with a simple reboot.

The base unit may have a reset button, its location will be indicated in the user’s manual, but a more effective reboot may occur after removing the batteries, disconnecting the AC adapter, and waiting 20-30 seconds before repowering. Rebooting will clear 90% of all base unit faults.

6. Loss Of Communication Between System And Data Logger

Some systems are intended to be used with a home computer or laptop taking the place of the base station console, while other manufacturers offer the option of connecting the base station to a computer for data logging. Personal weather station networks like Weather Underground or NOAA’s Citizens Weather Observation Program (CWOP) will require a data logging system along with an Internet connection. Data loggers are relatively robust, trouble-free pieces of equipment, but problems can and do occur.

If the data logger is being used in conjunction with a base station console, ensure that the base station is displaying correct data before beginning to troubleshoot the logger. The following Weather Station Troubleshooting protocol is based on the supposition that the logger software has been communicating with the computer previously. Communication failure in a new installation is more likely to require warranty or technical support from the manufacturer (although attempting the Weather Station Troubleshooting steps cannot hurt).

Logger communication failure can be caused by reasons ranging from very simple to relatively obscure, but most often they can be corrected using simple Weather Station Troubleshooting tricks which apply to most electronic and PC-related devices.

  • Start by unplugging the USB for 10-20 seconds and replugging. Allow a further 10-20 seconds for the device to reboot.
  • Close then reopen the program.
  • Reboot the computer.
  • Reboot the console, ensuring that the logger is firmly connected to the console.

In most cases, these four “first steps” will resolve the issue, at least temporarily. However, a temporary solution is usually not a satisfactory solution because the purpose of the data logger is to continuously record data without the need to be attended to. If the “first steps” do not resolve the issue, the baud rate or the logger mode may need to be reset on the console. These steps will be covered in your owner’s manual or you may seek assistance from customer support.

If the condition is corrected but reoccurs hours or even days later, you may be experiencing USB dropout. Changes in the computer’s power-save settings may lead to USB dropout causing the unit to power off the USB during power-save modes. A more common cause of USB dropout is USB interference. The conditions which lead to USB interference are not well understood but have been documented in many cases. USB connections are more sensitive to outside interference than traditional connections like serial ports. A change to the physical desktop environment may lead to a mysterious USB interference situation.

7. There Is An Erratic, Faulty, Or No Display From Just One Of Two Of The Sensors

Even an all-in-one sensor suite is made up of individual instruments, and some of them are mechanical and exposed to the weather, and electronic faults can occur in the sensor software as well as in the base station. Since many sensors are solar-powered, rebooting may not be as straightforward.

A solar-powered sensor will have a battery backup. In some cases, the battery will depend upon the solar panel for recharge, in other designs, the power plan will be for the solar panel to provide primary power, excess solar power will go to charging the batteries, and there will be a non-rechargeable cell to back up the rechargeable batteries. These cells will have a long service life, but in certain regions where there are limited daylight hours the backup cell will require more frequent replacement. Refer to your user’s manual.

Debris and normal wear and tear can prevent the anemometer vanes and the wind vane from spinning freely, leading to faulty readings. In most cases, a faulty condition can be observed from ground level before the need to climb to the sensor suite.

Another sensor that is particularly susceptible to mechanical interference in the rain gauge. One of the most common problems stems from the fact that the funnel of the rain gauge is very attractive to nesting birds. Some manufacturers provide screens or bird deterrent devices, but they are still subject to insect or debris infestation. Your owner’s manual will describe the proper procedures to disassemble the rain gauge to remove any foreign objects. Ensure that the bucket assembly rocks freely.

Davis Sensors Usage|WeatherStationary.com

8. The Data On The Screen Does Not Match The Weather I Am Observing

A common question crops up on cold days and the weather station is indicating high humidity. Many people associate high humidity with the uncomfortable sticky feeling they experience in hot, tropical climates, but high humidity can and does occur during cool conditions.

Humidity is a measurement of how much moisture is in the air, and it is expressed in two ways, absolute humidity, and relative humidity. Absolute measured by a device called a hygrometer and is the total amount of moisture in the air often expressed as grams per cubic meter. In general, the warmer the air is, the more moisture it can hold, so relative humidity is an expression of how much moisture is in the air versus how much moisture the air can hold at that temperature.

Evaporation occurs most readily during conditions of low relative humidity. High temperatures with high relative humidity are less comfortable because the human body depends on evaporative cooling. The high relative humidity is actually more common at lower temperatures. Since cool air cannot hold as much moisture, it takes a lower amount of absolute humidity for the air to reach 100% relative humidity or saturated. When the air is saturated, precipitation generally occurs.

9. In Brief…

Usually, the customer service representative will be able to quickly help you to troubleshoot your system and will be helpful if he determines that your issue is warranty related. Before you contact customer service, keep the following in mind:

  • If the Weather Station is giving false, inaccurate, or no data the first time you turn it on, there is likely a problem with the wired or wireless connection or the power source.
  • Data that is obviously inaccurate displayed on the base unit when you first install the system may occur because the display is set to unfamiliar units (possibly metric) or there may be leftover packing material fouling the mechanisms.
  • Faded, erratic, or no display after the system has been in service for a while may indicate power supply issues.
  • A low-battery warning for the base station console may be a minor issue if the unit runs properly on AC power, but old batteries should be removed to prevent damage from leaking batteries. Servicing sensor transmitter batteries will depend on the power configuration of the particular system.
  • Fault codes, erratic displays, or just nonsensical data can often be cleared by doing a full reboot of the base unit.
  • Loss of communication between the data logger and the home computer can usually be resolved with simple Weather Station Troubleshooting techniques
  • If there is faulty or no data from just one or two sensors, there may be a power or mechanical issue in the sensor suite rather than the base station.
  • Use your weather station to not only observe your local weather but also as a tool to understand weather and climate in general.

 

How To Clean And Maintain Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station