Pros: Weather data right outside your house; share data, easy installation, alerts, durable, fun science project
Cons: Only connects to devices made by AcuRite, doesn't connect to climate controls inside your home
In the world of Internet of Things, your smart home devices—and the way they work—are often tied to the weather. Your thermostat, sprinkler system, lights or even leak detector use data from the weather to operate more effectively. However, when you look at where the weather data is coming from, it's not necessarily out your back door. In fact, it could be miles away from your house—and miles away the weather could be quite different.
Wouldn't you want to have weather data that comes from right out your back door? GearBrain has discovered a way to make this happen. We were introduced to a company called AcuRite, a leading manufacturer of time, temperature and weather technology in the United States. They provide environmental devices(weather stations, thermostats, sensors), clocks (indoor and outdoor), cooking tools (like thermometers) and more, and was sent us a 5-in-1 PRO Weather Station to test.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when installing the weather station, but was ready for the challenge. When I opened the box, there were the following items:
Weather unit with rainfall collector funnel, solar cell panels, temperature & humidity sensors, wind speed anemometer, wind direction vane and mounting bracket.
Assembling the weather unit was very easy. I just followed the instructions and finished putting the unit together in about 15 minutes.
Next up was the setup of the smart hub. The unit comes with quick start tips which I followed, making the process simple to connect to my router. Before you connect your smart hub, make sure you go to myAcuRite.com, create a new account, and download the My AcuRite app to your iOS or Android smartphone. This will make the connection process easier.
After completing these steps, and connecting your hub to your router, it's seamless to connect more devices to your weather station. I would recommend using the desktop version for adding more devices versus the app. I found that process easier.
Once we had the dashboard up and running, we connected the other AcuRite devices supplied: room monitor, water detector, outdoor temperature and liquid and soil temperature sensor. Again, a simple process. However, make a note to secure the outdoor monitor and liquid & soil temperature sensor. The monitor needs to be off the ground—while the other device must be in the ground. Luckily for me, I was able to secure the monitor in a bush, and off the ground, yet had enough cord to extend the liquid & soil temperature sensor so that element was in the ground and away from the bush. Both devices were then secure and able to record accurate data.
There are a lot of good features with this product. The weather station measures the temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and rain. It is solar powered and has an internal fan to maximize ambient temperature accuracy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The unit has 330 feet (100 meters) wireless range and transmit data to the hub every 18 to 36 seconds. I found the device to be lightweight but durable to withstand harsh winters and very hot humid summer days. If you plan to install a weather station, keep this in mind. You need to make sure you have a good wireless connection. If the location is further way than 330 feet from your home router, you might want to look at using a Wi-Fi extender to make the connection.
The app comes with several alerts which I tested. These alerts are set up either through your dashboard (desktop) or the app. You can customize the alerts as well as select system alerts (such as loss of power for a device from a bad connection, or a device running low on its battery.) For custom alerts, we choose to be notified when water is detected. We tested this out and when the water leak detector got wet, I received a text message on my phone, which also emailed me, my wife and daughter. I was happy to see this work since water can create a lot of damage to one's home.
My recommendation when setting up these alerts would be to use the desktop dashboard versus the app. You can use the app but I just found it much easier to follow and create alerts while working from a computer screen.
AcuRite also lets you share your weather information with friends and family members. You can set this up in the app or through your dashboard. You can also broadcast your weather information to weather communities like Weather Underground. This was a nice feature, especially if you own a second home and wanted to know what the actual temperature is at that location.
You can't add any other connected devices for your smart home to your system except for those that AcuRite manufactures. For instance, if you currently own a Honeywell thermostat or LeakSmart Leak detector, at this time you can't send weather information to these devices. The company is working on a cloud-based technology to connect other manufacturers' smart home products to their smart hub. They mentioned to me this is a 2017 initiative. I think connecting your weather station to other devices in your smart home is a smart idea and can't wait to see what they come to market with next year.
If you are interested in having the most accurate weather information in a timely matter and are slightly handy, I would recommend taking a good look at AcuRite's 5-in-1 Weather Environment System with My AcuRite app. The system retails between $129.98 to $224.97 and can be purchased through the company's website, Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot and other mass retailers and home improvement stores.
If you want to do a fun science project with your kids, and have a place to put up the weather station, I would recommend this product. And, if you are a really good developer and want a challenge, then consider figuring out how to connect the backyard weather data from AcuRite's weather station to your connected thermostats, leak detectors and/or connected sprinkler hub to help save money and have your smart home run more efficiently and effectively. Of course, we also can't wait until next year to see how AcuRite offers us this option more simply.