A technology product that is fun, yet “works” for you is a Home Toy that is also useful to own. The latest generation of personal weather stations are just that kind of a Hi-Tech Home Toy. Many owners of homes that incorporate high level control systems, such as those manufactured by Crestron, Lantronix or AMX, want them to include weather sensor inputs. Weather sensors support maximum control of security, comfort and conveniences, as they provide weather information the homeowner can “use”. It’s a Hi-Tech Home Toy that “works”.

A home control system weather station, such as a WeatherHawk?, will sense wind speed and direction, outdoor air temperature, humidity, solar radiation (sunshine), barometric pressure, and rainfall. This real-time weather data can directly feed both a home computer, for personal weather information; and a home automation system to support high level home management systems.

Weather stations can control (or report) instantaneous changes in:

Wind speed and direction for control of windows and storm shutters that protect against dust and wind carried debris,
Outdoor temperature and relative humidity measurements are used to optimize ventilation system fresh air intakes, for comfort control, air quality and dust control,
Solar radiation sensors enable management of window coverings and drapes for energy conservation and UV management,
Barometric pressure allows a homeowner to forecast weather changes that relate to recreational choices, and
Rainfall measurement enables better management of home irrigation systems.

As with most products, there are “grades” of weather stations, and within each grade there is a wide range of products available. Scientific grade systems are expensive, industrial grade systems are too “industrial”, and most consumer grade weather stations are not rugged enough for years of reliable service. Until recently home automation applications were driven by cost considerations to consumer grade “Home Weather Stations”, of questionable reliability, which also required development of custom interfaces to sophisticated home control systems. However, the demand for a rugged, reliable industrial grade system, with a user friendly consumer grade software interface has produced systems that meet the need at a reasonable price.

Solar powered, wireless weather stations that “look good” and have a full range of Plug-and-Play OEM-approved and supported software drivers for most home automation control systems can be purchased for around $2,000. Weather information from these systems is networked through the home so that everyone in the family can know what’s happening with their local weather. A good example of such a weather station is the WeatherHawk.

Students in a household can study the weather in their own micro-climate with real data, or tap into free regional weather information to develop a Mesonet for study and prediction of local weather trends. Weather enthusiasts can relate their weather information top to wildlife feeding and migration patterns, plant development and seasonal change studies, or just use it to plan their golf, sailing or fishing schedule. Monitoring a personal micro-climate enables a person to really understand and use the weather.

When such a household weather station is Internet enabled, it will post weather information on a home website. It can even integrate with a WebCam to provide an internet accessed home security feature when the homeowner is away. With such a system, a home owner can see their weather, view their home, and know that if conditions deteriorate, the input from the weather station will automatically activate environmental protection systems.

Water conservation is a social, environmental and home budget concern. Timer based lawn irrigation controllers generally deliver “too much” water, both wasting water and leaching out expensive lawn treatments that ultimately contribute to local watershed pollution. A weather station that provides input to a home control system can also provide ETo (evapotranspiration) information to schedule lawn and garden irrigation systems for water conservation and environmental protection, with the bonus of a lower water bill.

Weather conditions are always changing, and everyone knows that even regional TV and radio weather broadcasts are often not accurate at a local level. This is because public weather broadcasts get their information from government agencies, and their weather stations are not located in every microclimate. The terrain and resulting microclimate surrounding a home may be far different from where government agencies collect weather data reported for a region. That is why “smart home” owners need a weather station for home control and personal information. You “know” what’s happening where you live when you install a WeatherHawk? on your home or property.