Best Weather Station of 2021
Impeccable accuracy matched by an easy-to-read console earned the Ambient Weather WS-2902C Osprey the top spot in our review. The clearly labeled and color-coded display is aesthetically pleasing while delivering the weather forecast in a streamlined manner. The sensor array can take an impressive amount of measurements, including wind, rain, and UV index. Additionally, the Ambient Weather connects to IFTTT, which allows you to link up to smart home devices to manage your home more efficiently, such as turning off the sprinklers or closing the blinds.
The one issue we had with the Ambient Weather was the forecast icon appeared to be stuck in rainy mode for a couple of days — despite sunny conditions. According to the directions, the rain cloud symbol indicates decreasing pressure and not necessarily actual rain. Although we found this to be confusing, all the benefits vastly outweigh this minor detail.
The La Crosse Technology C85845-1 offers numerous features at a steal of a price. The sleek and streamlined display features a fun forecast icon that is easy to decipher. Meanwhile, the sensor reports all the basic info along with the dew point and heat index. Both the sensor and the console are equally intuitive to set up. Additionally, the sensor temperature and wireless detection range are precise, especially for a mid-range station.
The downside to this budget model is fewer features. This station won't report the wind speed and doesn't have a rain gauge. We also found the temperature reading to sometimes be off by a degree or two. That said, all the models have a temperature range accuracy that varies. The C85845-1 is a solid station for those who want to localize their forecast without spending top dollar.
If you're on a super tight budget, we highly recommend the ThermoPro TP62 Digital. We found this device had remarkable accuracy when it came to temperature and humidity. And given these two measurements are all this device is capable of, this is precisely what we would hope. The sensor is about the same size as the display, which is small, and both are simple to install. Merely pop in the batteries, and you're good to go.
While some of our testers love orange, we can understand not everyone will be on board with the pumpkin-colored glow of the backlight. But as we mentioned, it is a backlight. The screen is easy to read without needing to illuminate. If all you require is a temperature and humidity reading, we recommend skipping the pricer options and sticking with the ThermoPro.
The AcuRite Iris 01022M is a 5-in-1 option for those who want more data with location precision. The sensor has five built-in features that collect wind, rain, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure measurements. As a bonus, the Iris comes with a lightning detection sensor so you can monitor inclement weather and receive early warnings.
We did notice when mounting the sensor, the screws stripped the plastic. Like the Ambient Weather Osprey, we also noticed the rain likely icon appeared when conditions were clear. However, the readings regarding wind, temperature, and humidity were more often than not spot-on. We find these gripes are trivial compared to the efficacy and outstanding amount of features given the nominal price.
The Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue is all around a professional piece of equipment. Unlike many of the colorful consoles we tested, the Vantage Vue features a brick of a display meant to be used in the field. This quality construction and durability are further matched by pro-status performance. The Vantage Vue produced accurate measurements consistently during testing, while the user-friendly buttons made it a breeze to navigate the console. Additionally, this option offers a large chunk of daily data and historical records to chew through.
While we love the performance of the console, some may not be digging the appearance. The Vantage Vue rocks an 80s computer vibe geared towards a scientific crowd. But like all things 80s, it will be trending again. Looks aside, we highly recommend the Vantage Vue for those who want rugged durability with professional performance.
For those new to weather stations, we recommend considering the La Crosse Technology 308-141B-INT. This is another affordable option that's simple to set up and easy to use. The sensor sports a good detection range at 330 feet — without obstructions — along with good connectivity. Meanwhile, the 308-141B-INT reports all the essentials, including temperature, humidity, dew point, pressure, and customized alerts. The 308-141B-INT also features trends arrows along with the minimum and maximum readings so you can monitor changing conditions.
Like the C85845-1, the 308-141B-INT doesn't feature all the bells and whistles. However, this contender covers the essentials and doesn't require a bulky sensor with complicated installation.
The Newentor features a streamlined console that gives you all the info you need in a single glance. While most of the options we tested have an easy-to-read display, this one delivers the basics most effectively. The indoor and outdoor temperatures are exhibited in large font, while the forecast icon is the center of the show. There's even a smiley face indicating the current comfort level. We were further impressed by how well this one performed during our accuracy test.
The display was not the most robust, and we felt the quality matched the price. On the other hand, the sensor was the only one we tested that displayed the current temperature, which was a nice perk. If a localized update is what you're after, the Newentor is a good buy.
Filling the niche for the smart home and app-loving crowd is the Netatmo Wireless. This sophisticated device features an indoor and outdoor module that measures weather and displays data via Netatmo's smartphone app. Access the app, and within seconds, you can pull up the weekly weather forecast, including the daily measurements of temperature, pressure, dew point, humidity, decibel level, and carbon dioxide. We found the Netatmo had decent accuracy readings that were easy to navigate once in the app. This device is also capable of measuring wind and rain with the purchase of additional weather instruments.
Getting the app to work was another story. The directions of the Netatmo were utterly useless as they only show pictograms that offer little in the way of troubleshooting. Figuring out the battery installation for the outdoor module took longer than necessary, and getting the app to pair with the smartphone was a hassle. However, we suspect this is less likely to be a problem if you have an up-to-date phone with good internet (not 5G compatible).
With the Haber Hygrometer, you can monitor the basic comfort level of your home without high-tech equipment. This device measures the indoor temperature and humidity and displays an icon indicating how cozy your home is. The device refreshes about every 10 seconds, so it maintains up-to-date info. The info is displayed on a small screen that's so teeny-tiny it nestles in the palm of your hand.
Obviously, the main drawback to this is the Haber is only good for indoor use. Yet, at such an affordable price and compact size, this device is a must for anyone who needs to maintain a controlled indoor environment.
The AcuRite 02081M delivers the weather forecast in style. This colorful display boasts 14 different icons showing the outdoor weather conditions with an oversized font. This is great for visually impaired individuals or those wanting to get the forecast update from across the room. The sensor has a good detection range, while the device uses self-calibration to enhance weather accuracy.
There is a 14-day learning mode to accurately calibrate the device to your location. We noticed if you accidentally bump the screen, the image ripples at the point of contact. This leads us to question long-term durability. Additionally, the ThermoPro can tell you the weather and humidity at a fraction of the price. What the 02081M does best is present you with the daily forecast in an easy-to-read display.
Why You Should Trust Us
Carissa Stanz is a science-minded scholar with an interest in meteorology. She has a keen eye for product detail and boasts over four years of developing objective tests in other categories, including lifestyle, home, and outdoor products. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from OSU and tackles every review from a scientific perspective based on critical hands-on use.
When testing weather stations, we conducted in-depth research and chose the best options on the market. We designed our test plan to determine how accurately each product measured weather conditions based on nearby local weather stations. We spent hours installing, operating, and recording data then analyzed our results. Each product was meticulously evaluated based on real-life experience.
Analysis and Test Results
We put all the products through a side-by-side comparison to properly and accurately rank each one. All weather stations were evaluated according to accuracy, ease of use, durability, aesthetics, and features.
A weather station is only as good as it is accurate. This is why we calibrated each device and then put them through a five-day weather test with the help of a few local weather stations. We monitored measurements' accuracy with particular attention to the humidity, temperature, and wind readings. Additionally, we considered other measurements the stations offered, including barometric pressure and forecast.
After tallying up the results, the Ambient Weather Osprey came out on top. This station recorded the most accurate data across the board. The manufacturer claims a small variation in accuracy, which is common. However, more often than not, the variation revealed not to be a factor in achieving precision. Not far behind was the Iris and Vantage Vue. Their sensor arrays proved their worth in accuracy as their data was almost as spot-on as the Ambient Weather with minimal variation. We feel all three would be a reliable source for localized weather.
The ThermoPro performed remarkably well in recording temperature despite its nominal price and less enhanced sensor. Testing revealed the Netatmo and Newentor gave a decent performance in this category. We especially liked the Netatmo for reporting on outdoor humidity.
Ease of Use
The next factor we considered was the user experience. From sensor installation to reading the forecast, we weighed in on how easy each station was to use. To start, the majority of weather stations simply required popping a few batteries into the compact sensor and clicking a few setup buttons on the display console, like the C85845-1, 308-141B-INT, and 02081M. The Haber was even easier to set up due to the minimal settings and lack of an additional sensor.
Other options like the Ambient Weather Osprey and Iris took some more dedication. There are a few parts that require assembly to build the sensor. However, the Osprey came with exceptionally helpful directions that made this process a breeze. Once the unit was mounted, taking in the data was exceptionally pleasant. The user interface is well organized and readily displays a large amount of data that doesn't require endless clicking for information retrieval.
The Iris's display is similar to Ambient Weather's in terms of helpful organization and accessible data. We especially appreciated the navigation button panel on the Vantage Vue. While we quickly discovered that building this sensor was more tasking than others, the user interface made it all worthwhile.
Nobody wants to stare at an eyesore in their home. This is why we assessed the appearance of the displays. In our opinion, the Ambient Weather Osprey is an attractive console, featuring alluring colors that aren't distracting and a display that isn't too bulky. Meanwhile, captivating graphics of the Iris pop without being too cartoonish or childish. We really liked the sleek design of the two La Crosse models, which could integrate seamlessly into many types of home decors. While the Netatmo doesn't have an actual display, the module is attractive, featuring a sophisticated appearance that isn't too showy.
The Vantage Vue is more of an acquired taste. Given the outdated look, the scientific model has a very professional appearance that some may not be so keen on. However, those who are nostalgic for old technology will probably dig this feature. The 02081M also has a very distinct, colorful display that may appeal to some more than others.
To assess durability, we examined how well each sensor and display was manufactured. We considered whether or not the sensors would stand up to inclement weather and if the consoles were likely to break. The majority of sensors were on par. With the exception of the Ambient Weather, Vantage Vue, and Iris, weather station sensors should be placed out of direct sunlight. We were particularly concerned with the Netatmo as this device appeared to be more susceptible to malfunction should it be exposed to harsh conditions.
The Iris, Vantage Vue, and all require direct exposure to the elements. They feature solar panels that require sunlight for operation and rain gauges designed to collect rainwater for measurements. Additionally, the wind speed and direction instruments are built to withstand some abuse, and we found all three of these stations to be equally durable.
Along with the measurement instruments, we considered how well each display was likely to operate properly. Virtually all the displays were comparable, with the exception of the Vantage Vue and the AcuRite 02081M, which ranked at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Vantage Vue is, without question, a hefty and rugged display. This makes it a good option for fieldwork or weekend exploring. Meanwhile, we were concerned the 02081M screen could experience malfunctioning more easily than other models due to the ripples that form if the screen is accidentally touched. Given the screen's design, we could see how some might mistake this for a touchscreen device when it most certainly is not.
In our last metric, we examined what features each product had to offer. What all the weather stations had in common was they could be used as a wireless device that collected temperature and humidity measurements. However, some options certainly outshined the competition in this category. For example, the Ambient Weather is capable of taking UVI and light readings. We appreciate its IFTTT capabilities that give us the option of linking to smart home devices. This unit also sends data to Weather Underground, Weather Cloud, and Osprey to help monitor the weather.
At 1000 feet, the Vantage Vue possesses an exceptionally long range while the graphs readily display weather trends. Meanwhile, the Iris can detect and report lightning up to 25 feet away. Watch the real-time weather ticker, and the display will alert you with a message when lightning is in the area. Additionally, Iris, Vantage Vue, and Ambient Weather all reported on the wind and rain, which no other models we tested offered. At least not without an additional purchase like the Netatmo. The Netatmo was unique in that it was the only weather station that operated via an app. The app was filled with an array of data and was useful in monitoring weather trends.
The Haber offered the least amount of features and is only suited for indoor use. However, for those who need to monitor specific rooms of the house, like regulating temperature for a sick relative or using a room for fermenting or storing food, this product delivers at an exceptionally nominal price.
Weather stations are effective in obtaining accurate measurements of the weather in your exact location. Some models offer more data than others which may or may not pertain to your needs. This is why we tested a range of the best products. We hope you find our results useful in your quest for the best weather station.
— Carissa Stanz