Whenever I’m heading outside for farm chores, I’ll stop and check the temperature to see whether I’ll want to wear a jacket (or two or three, if it’s winter.) I could easily look up the temperature on my phone or computer, but I have a slightly different approach. I just check the reading on my wireless weather station.
I’m a big fan of these simple but useful devices, which utilize portable sensors to wirelessly transmit data to receiving stations located in the comfort of your home.
Simple models use a thermometer and a hygrometer to report the temperature and humidity. More complex models might add a barometer for measuring atmospheric pressure and use their data to forecast upcoming changes in the weather.
The wireless sensors can typically transmit data for a few hundred feet, provided they have a clean line of sight to the receiver.
You might be wondering, why don’t I just check the weather on my phone? I could, but I prefer to have data that’s 100 percent specific to my farm, not my general region.
A couple degrees of difference might not matter most of the time. But suppose you’ve just planted a garden, and now forecasts call for a potential late spring freeze.
If the temperature is threatening to dip down toward 32 degrees F, having a local thermometer will help you determine how much protection your young garden needs.
Will you need to cover your plants? Or is your location running a couple degrees warmer for one reason or another, helping you to slip by safely?
This brings us to a second question. Why not just hang a thermometer outside a window where you can see it at a glance and forego the trouble of a wireless sensor?
This approach can work fine, but the thermometer might pick up the heat of the house (particularly on sunny days) and give off a warmer reading than it should.
But the biggest advantage of wireless weather stations is their ability to showcase data from all over your farm. With enough sensors, you can see at a glance the temperature and humidity of any location within a few hundred feet of your weather station(s).
And the sensors don’t always have to be outdoors. For example, you could place a sensor in your barn to make sure the temperature is staying warm enough on cold winter nights.
A great example of creatively using a wireless weather station comes from my father, a beekeeper who built a small insulated shed to help his colonies survive cold northern Wisconsin winters.
The first year he placed hives in the shed, he also installed a wireless weather transmitter inside one of the windows. Deep snow made the shed difficult to access. But thanks to the transmitter, checking the conditions inside the shed didn’t require a single trek outside with snowshoes and shovels.
Instead, my father could check the conditions by glancing at the weather station. For the record, the shed stayed warm and dry even during the worst winter conditions.
Give it some thought, and you’re bound to come up with a half dozen ways you could put a wireless weather station to good use. Even if it’s as simple as guiding your choice of jackets for the day.