Are you experiencing inaccurate readings from your weather station? It might be because of the dirt on your sensors. I’ve got 16 tips for weather station maintenance that will get your device back to normal.
Learning how to clean your weather station will extend its life and retain its precision. So follow these steps to make your device perform well like it’s brand new!
How Long Should a Weather Station Last?
The service life of a weather station depends on its brand, maintenance, and the weather conditions in your area. You may expect it to last anywhere between one to ten years.
If you have a proper maintenance routine on your weather station, it may last longer than expected. Twice a year is enough to ensure the unit’s longevity. However, it would be better to perform weather station maintenance once per season.
How Long Do Batteries Last in a Weather Station?
The battery life of your weather station depends on the environment, settings, and the type of batteries you have. A good set of Alkaline batteries may last for a minimum of 18 months.
Do not use unreputable battery brands because their chemical composition might not fit the requirements of your weather station. The expiration date should also be more than six years for the best performance.
Try not to mix old and new batteries to avoid fluctuations in readings. Combining them can also cause a noisy weather station due to the interference of radiofrequency.
How Do I Keep Birds Away from My Weather Station?
Birds like to perch on top of weather sensors, but it can affect the accuracy of your data. Look for sensors with deterrents. For example, there are rain gauges with a spike strip to keep the birds far from your device.
Or you can make a bed of nails using UV-resistant cable ties. Strap them on the tube-shaped part of the wind monitor so that it acts as a shield. Then, tightly pull the free end of the ties and leave them standing up.
This bed of nails does not hurt the birds. But it will prevent them from landing on your weather station.
To protect your rain gauge, take out a bird control wire strip and place it around the funnel. Make sure they exceed the funnel to prevent roosting. Then, give the birds another option for perching like a cross-arm higher than your wind sensors.
Where Should I Place My Weather Station?
Place your weather station away from obstructions that might result in biased readings. These include dark surfaces, direct sunlight, sprinklers, and trees.
The distance from tall obstructions must be double the height. For example, aim to keep your weather station device 20 feet away from a 10-foot tree. And keep it level during installation.
The height of your weather station depends on the sensors included. Temperature sensors should be four to six feet above the ground, while rain gauges should be four to six feet above the ground. Anemometers should be mounted 32 feet above the ground.
Spring Cleaning: Weather Station Maintenance Tips
Weather station maintenance instructions differ among the types of personal weather stations. If you’re not sure how to start cleaning your unit, here’s how.
1. Prepare the Important Tools
Weather stations do not require a special cloth or soap for maintenance. Most of these tools are probably available in your house already.
- Duct tape.
- Soft toothbrush.
- Damp cloth.
- New lithium batteries.
- Antistatic wipes (optional).
- Silicone spray (optional).
- Alcohol (optional).
2. Disconnect Your Weather Station
Before performing any maintenance procedures on your weather station, make sure to remove it from the pole first. Then, detach the battery and disconnect your console.
Removing the weather station will make it easier to wipe the unit with a cloth. It will also avoid inaccurate readings caused by the maintenance steps you will take.
3. Check Your Location
The maintenance of the siting is just as vital as the weather station maintenance. Insect webbing, nests, dust, and rodents may accumulate on your unit’s pole or radiation shield. These pests and obstructions can prevent accurate readings of temperature and weather.
Check if the rain gauge is level. If it’s not at the right height, the rainfall readings will become inaccurate over time. Getting rid of shrubs, sprinklers, and other obstructions should also be part of your routine maintenance for your weather station.
Examine the screws of your device by detaching the unit for cleaning and re-mount it tightly. Lastly, cover the holes in your weather station with duct tape to avoid the entry of insects. But leave the temperature and humidity sensor module in its shield.
4. Clean the Bucket Rain Gauge
If your tipping bucket is showing 0 inches of rain when it has been storming, it’s an excellent time to wash it. Remove the batteries of your rain gauge, detach the rain funnel, and rinse with soapy water. Doing this will remove any dirt or gunk that’s clogging it.
The open part of the rain gauge is prone to collecting leaves, insects, bird droppings, and sticks. So make sure to perform this maintenance task several times a year.
Wipe the rain gauge with a soft cloth and let it air dry for a few minutes before re-attaching the batteries. Then, mount it back on the pole.
5. Wash the Solar Panel Unit
Power supply maintenance is vital to keep your weather station working throughout the years. Different weather station brands have varying instructions on cleaning the solar panels. Some only need an antistatic damp cloth, while others require warm water and soap.
Water and soap are enough for some units for the solar radiation sensor to keep its maximum functionality. Remove the dirt and dust from the photovoltaics to ensure uninterrupted power from the sensor.
6. Clean the Temperature and Humidity Sensor
Inspect your digital thermometer and hygrometer before cleaning them. Look for dirt, debris, and insects around the device. Wipe the grimy areas with a damp cloth or use a soft toothbrush if they are hard to eliminate.
Make sure the individual sensors don’t get wet to avoid damage. Soaking them in water may also hinder accurate temperature and humidity readings because the sensing surfaces may degrade.
7. Clean the Wind Vane and Anemometer
Obstructions in the wind vane and anemometer can cause poor wind directional readings. Regularly clean the blades using soap and a damp cloth. After rinsing out the suds, wipe with a dry cloth and check if it’s freely spinning.
Ice may also form in the anemometer during the winter. Carefully remove it so that the sensor doesn’t break. Or just let the ice melt and wipe the wind sensor.
8. Clean the Sonic Anemometer
Clear any debris, snow, or ice on the space in the sensor using a dry cloth. But for tough spots, you may use the same mild soap and warm water for other sensors.
9. Clean the Soil Sensor
If your weather station has a soil sensor, there are two ways to clean them. The first is by ensuring the entire soil sensor is vertically positioned in the soil. This method is only applicable if you have a soil temperature probe to insert into the ground.
But if the installation method for your soil sensor is burying it horizontally, frequent maintenance is not required.
9. Clean the Leaf Wetness Sensor Unit
Get rid of any dirt and debris on the optional leaf wetness sensor using a toothbrush and soapy water. This sensor is very delicate, so be gentle while cleaning.
10. Clean the Entire Unit
You can also clean the entire unit instead of wiping each sensor one by one. Use a cloth and warm water to remove bugs and foreign objects. Makes sure to reach any inlet area for realistic temperature and humidity measurements.
Doing this twice a year is enough to guarantee a long service life for your weather station. The ideal time to clean your weather station is during the fall and spring seasons. Aside from a damp cloth and soap, you may also try antistatic wipes, alcohol, and silicone sprays.
11. Console Maintenance
Your console is not susceptible to bugs and rodents, but dust may grow on the screen. Try your best to wipe it with a damp cloth regularly.
12. Check the Cables
If you have a wired weather station, it should have durable sensor wiring that can resist environmental elements and bird droppings. High-quality sensor cables do not require frequent cleaning, so you can save more from the reduced maintenance cost.
Just check it once a year to ensure the mounting brackets are still intact. You can also examine whether the poles and columns are stable. Remove excess cable that you don’t need for your weather station.
13. Check the Batteries
Some weather station sensors use backup batteries despite relying on solar power. You might think they will last a long time even when not in use, but batteries deteriorate even if they are at rest.
Make sure to replace old batteries with alkaline batteries or lithium batteries. You may also try rechargeable batteries as long as you follow the manufacturers’ suggestions. This is also what we recommend for indoor hygrometers and temperature reading devices.
And change the batteries more frequently than recommended to ensure reliable communication between the sensor and console. While alkaline batteries are enough, lithium batteries are better for below-freezing temperatures. They perform better during the winter.
Alkaline batteries tend to drain their power in cold temperatures. They are also prone to freezing if the temperature reaches -4°C. Your weather station may stop working during the cold season if you have this kind of battery.
If your weather station or individual instruments stopped working out of nowhere, they probably need recalibration. The accuracy of your digital sensors declines over time even if they come out of the box working well.
This decline is a result of severe weather conditions or cheaper sensors. Even if the temperature, wind speed, and wind direction sensors work, the others may not. You’ll notice that the humidity, rainfall, and barometric pressure do not fit the current condition.
If you suspect inaccurate readings, compare the measurements with a nearby weather station. Doing so will help you confirm whether you need to recalibrate your sensor or not.
The instructions for recalibrating your weather station depend on the brand you have. Follow the steps in the user manual to adjust the readings. The maintenance frequency for recalibrating your weather station should be around once or twice a month. This will guarantee the longevity of the unit.
15. Clean the Solar Radiation Shield
A solar radiation shield is helpful for accurate weather readings. You need it for your sensors if you have concerns about dust getting in the units.
However, dirt buildup may also occur in the shield itself. Dust, webs, and insects may also thrive in the solar radiation shield. Clean inside and outside the radiation shield once a year using a damp cloth.
Has this guide helped you take the proper steps to cleaning your weather station? We hope it did. Splurging on a high-quality weather station is not enough for accurate weather readings. Regular maintenance is also a must to avoid damage and repair costs.
Another benefit to regular weather station maintenance is getting more accurate readings. And you don’t have to worry about buying a replacement anytime soon because your device stays good as new.
Let us know any questions you have in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed reading it. For more great tips, check out our guide to solar highways.