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Solar Powered Weather Stations (Everything you Should Know)

A weather station is an essential investment for anyone who spends a lot of their time indoors and wants to keep track of weather parameters such as temperature for the next few hours.

It’s also an excellent investment for outdoor enthusiasts who want to plan out activities such as gardening, fishing, or hiking.

But did you know that there’re weather stations that monitor weather parameters leveraging free solar energy?

Yes, you read that right; solar-powered weather stations are powered by solar energy, which from a sourcing standpoint, is available freely.

Accordingly, weather stations powered by solar could be considered a step up from conventional weather stations that rely on the grid’s electricity.

A solar-powered weather station offers tons of benefits– the main one being a reduction in operational costs.

Now you may be wondering, can solar really power a weather station? Is cost-free precision weather monitoring possible with a solar weather station? How do you pick the best solar station and how’s the installation process like?

Let’s answer these questions as we explore solar-powered weather stations in detail.

What is a Solar Powered Weather Station?

A solar-powered weather station is a weather station powered by solar power from natural sunlight. This highly advanced device can monitor weather parameters such as:

  • Rainfall
  • Temperature (indoor and outdoor)
  • Solar radiation
  • Humidity
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Barometric pressure
  • UV index
  • Lighting detection
  • Lux level

Solar-powered weather stations have tons of sensors mounted on a motherboard to track all these weather parameters. Power from the solar panel is consumed primarily by the motherboard and the sensors.

As with any electrical system, solar weather stations are equipped with additional components such as resistors, capacitors, and diodes.

A couple of weather parameters are measured using externally mounted components. Some examples are rain collectors for measuring rainfall, and wind cups, and a wind vane for measuring wind speed and direction, respectively.

As for sensors such as UV light and humidity sensors, they must be mounted externally since they can’t work in enclosed conditions.

A solar rechargeable battery is also used as a backup power source for the weather monitoring system.

Please note: A solar-powered weather station is capable of doing more than just weather monitoring. It can provide weather forecasts (through alerts or alarms), store the data collected in the past, and analyze the collected data in charts and graphs.

Solar-Powered Weather Station Hardware Kit

Sensors

As mentioned above, the sensors are the heart of a solar weather station. They’re programmed to study specific weather conditions and give data based on pre-existing standards.

Most weather stations have multiple, highly accurate sensors to monitor a wide array of weather parameters.

It’s worth noting that some sensors are made specifically for tracking indoor conditions while others are for outdoor weather tracking. In this regard, it’s important to know the kind of sensors you need based on where the solar-powered weather station installation will be.

Sensors for a solar-powered weather station can be assembled on a motherboard or mounted on a sensor mounting shelf then connected to the main unit.

Solar PV system

This is essentially the solar panels that harness sunlight and produce solar energy to power the sensors.

Since solar modules produce power during the day, the solar PV system can only power the sensors during the day.

Batteries

Batteries store the surplus solar power from the solar PV system and deliver it to the sensors at night. With no batteries, a solar-powered weather station is practically non-functional at night.

The batteries should be contained in a battery holder and connected to the sensor’s motherboard for convenient powering.

Display panel

The display panel, usually an LCD panel, is the interface where you get to access the recorded data.

The display panel may come attached to the primary sensor’s unit or separately such that you can mount it on a wall somewhere that’s easily accessible.

The information on the display panel is usually raw data, but you can always get a more detailed version from software integrated with the weather station.

Transmitter

The transmitter is a very crucial component for a solar-powered weather station as it’s responsible for sending the collected data to the server.

For real-time monitoring, the transmitter should send the data every few seconds. The strength of the transmitter dictates the range in which the data can be accessed, so it’s something to confirm with the manufacturer.

Mounting pole, clamp, screws and rubber pads

These are the basic mounting components of a solar-powered weather station.

The mounting pole and clamp are the supporting structure for all other components. The screws and the rubber pads are used when fixing the components of the weather station to the support structure.

Solar-Powered Weather Station DIY Installation

Most solar-powered weather stations are plug-and-play, so installation can be a DIY.

However, not all weather stations are created equal, which is why if you’re going to do the installation yourself, you need one that’s actually easy to install.

All in all, if you have questions or concerns regarding the installation process, you can always reach out to your electrician.

That said, installing a solar weather station is straightforward.

Just follow these steps:

Select a strategic location for the installation.

Usually, a place with few disturbances and that’s exposed to all the weather parameters you’re tracking.

Connect the sensors array to the mounting pole.

The mounting pole should come with adaptive mounting brackets for this purpose. Ensure you properly tighten the bolts for a sturdy fix.

Connect the external sensors and/or any other components needed for the specific brand of weather station you acquired.

Complete installation by connecting the solar panel cable to the main board of the weather station, then turn it on to begin tracking the weather.

Analyzing the data

Solar weather stations use integrated software for data analysis.

While many solar-powered weather stations have dedicated servers, you can also use conventional servers with most solar weather stations. Weathercloud, Accuweather, and Weather Underground are good examples of these servers.

Whenever you want, you can always reset the solar-powered weather station to erase any stored data.

How does Solar Powered Weather Station Work?

The solar panel collects solar energy and converts it to usable power. Typically, a solar weather station needs 4-6 hours of daylight sunlight to function optimally.

This power is stored in a capacitor and used to power the sensors array and other electrical components making up the weather station. Some of the power is stored in a rechargeable battery and is used as a backup.

When power is availed, each sensor collects information about a specific weather parameter and displays it on the LCD panel. Most solar weather stations record minimum and maximum values for various weather parameters along with their time and dates.

For a wireless solar power weather station, the signals are transmitted to integrated software, where you can view it conveniently on your device.

Note: Transmission may not happen through walls, so you must be strategic with where you install your solar weather station.

As mentioned above, a good wireless solar-powered weather station should update the data every few seconds for real-time weather monitoring. Some solar weather stations send SMS alerts to keep you updated about existing and predicted weather conditions.

Solar Weather Station Buying Guide

Now that you understand how a solar weather station works, how do you go about shopping for one? Here’re some of the factors you need to consider.

Remote monitoring

A wireless solar-powered weather station enables you to monitor weather parameters from your smartphone or web browser.

With a wireless weather station, there’s no need for cables since the data is transmitted over the internet either through a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.

Operating temperature range

Solar-powered weather stations have a wide operating temperature of about 23 °F – 122 °F. This is to keep them in operation even in areas where temperatures fluctuate to extreme ranges.

To ensure your solar weather station will hold on well in your specific area, it’s good practice to confirm its temperature range before making a purchase.

Accuracy

Weather stations powered by solar should be highly accurate equipment that tracks and display data about weather conditions as they are.

The manufacturer’s sheet will state how accurate the equipment is. However, you can only confirm it from past customers, so make sure to read customer reviews and consult from past users of the weather station you wish to buy.

Weight

For solar weather stations ground-mounted permanently, the weight isn’t a big deal. However, if you intend to mount your weather station on a boat, or to move it from place to place, then you should get lightweight equipment.

A good portable solar-powered weather station should weigh around 2 to 5 pounds (1 to 2Kgs).

Cost

The cost of solar-powered weather stations varies depending on the features and capabilities. Generally, there’re 3 cost categories for solar-powered weather stations: budget, midrange, and high end.

  • Budget: $100-$300
  • Midrange: $300-$500
  • High end: $1000-$1300

Don’t forget to evaluate your budget so that you purchase only what you can afford.

Brands

There are a lot of companies selling solar-powered weather stations, but here are some of the most popular ones you might want to consider:

  • Arduino
  • Open Green Energy
  • Ambient Weather
  • WeatherPi
  • ProWeatherStation
  • Davis

You can also purchase a solar-powered weather station from major retailers like Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, etc.

Batteries

As discussed earlier, batteries are an integral component of a solar weather station. You should invest in high-capacity, highly reliable batteries that don’t need constant changes.

Batteries may be included in the main unit, or you might have to acquire them on your own. The good thing is, most weather stations powered by solar use 2AA batteries that are readily available.

Tip: Purchase environmentally friendly batteries that contain no toxic chemicals to protect the environment from pollution.

Features

Solar weather stations with more features are better. The ideal solar-powered weather station will not only record the weather conditions but will also provide forecasts and data analysis.

Having the option to control the weather station with Google Assistant or Alexa would be even more convenient.

Solar weather stations with solar lamps look more elegant and practical at night. We could go on listing features, but it’s clear the more features a solar-powered weather station has, the better.

Long range transmission

A good remote monitoring solar weather station should offer considerable transmission distances to give you better flexibility.

A good example here is the Davis Vantage Vue solar weather sensor that can do wireless transmission up to 1000ft (300m).

Aesthetics

Generally, the look of a solar weather station may seem like no big deal. However, if you’re going to place it in a common spot in your establishment, then it makes sense to choose a design that’s appealing to the eye.

In fact, a perfectly designed solar weather station can make your space more inviting and attractive.

Durability

A solar weather station’s durability is crucial since it determines how long the equipment will serve you. When purchasing a weather station, verify the strength, robustness, and overall quality and integrity of the product to be confident you won’t have to replace it in the near future.

As solar weather stations are sometimes subjected to harsh weather conditions, they should be able to endure them. In this case, a polyurethane seal for the electronics could come in handy.

Warranty

A warranty gives you a quality guarantee for the solar-powered weather station you’re buying. The warranty period may vary from brand to brand, but it shouldn’t be less than a year.

When shopping for your solar-powered weather station, look for the best deal in terms of functionality, features, and price.

Applications of Solar-Powered Weather Stations

Solar-powered weather stations can be used for home or industrial-scale applications.

Solar powered weather station for home

A solar-powered weather station for the home should be easy to read, precise and accurate in monitoring various weather parameters without having a highly complicated build.

In most cases, home solar weather stations are used for backyard weather monitoring or home gardening.

Industrial grade solar power weather stations

Industrial grade solar power weather stations are more robust and have more capabilities than their home counterparts. These weather stations are ideal for agricultural purposes.

Industrial solar weather stations can also be used for firefighting and response, school weather monitoring, and outdoor activities such as boating.

Pros of Solar Powered Weather Stations

Cuts the cost of electricity

A solar-powered weather station won’t add to your electricity bills as it relies on solar energy either directly from the solar panels or the battery backup.

You can do real-time weather monitoring

With most solar weather stations, you can monitor the weather remotely and receive the collected data in real-time.

Cons of Solar Powered Weather Stations

Not entirely reliable

If the sun doesn’t shine for an extended period, then a solar-powered weather station won’t work. Even with a battery backup, the weather station will only run for a few hours before it dies.

High initial investment

The cost of the solar weather station added to the cost of a solar PV system and batteries can be quite an expensive investment when you’re starting out.

FAQs about Solar Powered Weather Stations

Is a solar weather station worth it?

A solar weather station simplifies weather monitoring while offering much-needed cost benefits, so it’s definitely worth it.

To optimally tap into the benefits of solar-powered weather stations, ensure you get a quality deal from a reputable manufacturer.

Can a solar-powered weather station be automated?

With an integrated server, you can automate how the solar weather station collects, transmits, and stores data.

Automation can also be in the form of data analysis, where software can help you interpret the primary elements of a huge pool of data.

Can a solar-powered weather station be used indoors?

Solar weather stations come with indoor sensors that can monitor weather parameters such as temperature in indoor conditions.

Even so, most sensors are tailored for outdoor weather tracking, so installing your solar weather instrument outdoors is more practical.

Conclusion

The use of solar-powered weather stations allows for cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and convenient weather monitoring. It’s really amazing how you can exploit one weather condition (the sun) and get power to monitor other weather parameters.

Solar-powered weather stations offer more than just weather tracking. Among other things, they keep you updated with weather forecasts and analyze the data for you making it a breeze to interpret.

Sure, they’re clear-cut reasons why solar-powered weather stations are better than conventional ones. To say the least, these instruments are worth investing your money in.