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Sensors - Installing Personal Weather Station

Installing your own weather station
Installing your own weather station is not a requirement for using a Hydrawise controller. The vast majority of customers use one of the 25,000 weather stations already available to each Hydrawise controller. You may have already realized that the Hydrawise irrigation system is driven in part by temperature, rainfall measurements, and predictions sourced from a weather network called Weather Underground.
 
Worldwide, the network has tens of thousands of privately owned and operated weather stations that contribute data to be shared by all. During setup of your Hydrawise controller, you would normally select three or more nearby stations for temperature and rainfall calculations and decisions. Since Weather Underground is an open network, you have the option of setting up your own weather station to report and share weather data with others. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to do so.

Why would you set up your own station?

There are a few possible reasons for this:

  • You don’t have any nearby stations to select from.
  • You want your observations to be as accurate as possible.
  • You have other uses for the local climate information.

What do you need to get the station working?

You will need a few things to get the station up and running:

  • A weather station that can connect to a PC.
  • A PC that will run special uploading software and be on all the time.
  • Software to do the automatic data upload to Weather Underground.
  • An internet connection.

After the station is set up, it does not require regular maintenance and, other than electricity, costs nothing to operate.

A bit more detail

The weather station

There is a wide range of weather stations available on the market suitable for uploading weather data to Weather Underground. The following brands are the most common:

The different brands offer different measurements, accuracy, and build quality. Consequently, they vary in price from about $100 (U.S. dollars) to $1,000. They generally measure the following parameters:

  • Indoor temperature and humidity
  • Outdoor temperature and humidity
  • Rainfall
  • Wind speed
  • Wind direction
  • Atmospheric pressure

Some higher-end models may also measure:

  • UV index
  • Soil moisture and temperature
  • Water temperature

Stations must have a PC USB connection and the range of required sensors. At a minimum, these will be outdoor temperature/humidity, rainfall, and wind direction. Sensors can connect to the console either by wires or via wireless. 

Check which sensors are combined in the same outdoor unit. Some models combine the rain sensor and the temperature sensor together. We found it impossible to find a location for this type of combined sensor that was open to the rain but shielded from the direct sunlight, which causes elevated temperature readings.

Check also that the station comes with the necessary software to connect to the PC and set up the automatic link to Weather Underground. There is free software available for some models. If you have to buy the software, this can cost half as much as the weather station.

The PC and software

For the system to operate well, the weather station software must operate at all times and the PC must be connected to the weather station console and to the internet. The software can, if necessary, operate in the background (it uses very little computing resources). The need for continuous operation also requires the consideration of mains power failures. Most PCs on mains failure will not reboot without personal intervention.

A simple solution to this is to dedicate an old notebook computer to the task that is connected to the mains power through a powerpack. Almost any notebook less than five years old will do.

The internet connection

The data requirements are minimal. The speed of the connection is unimportant and the data use is only a few MBs per month.

 
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