This article is part of a series entitled “Introduction to Industrial Weather Stations” (IIWS). The other parts are:
Part 1 – Definitions
Part 2 – Weather Station Construction
Part 3 – Who Makes Industrial Weather Stations
Part 4 – Installation and Accuracy
Conclusion – Finally…
Generally, industrial weather stations may be presumed to be turn-key systems that can be deployed by the end user.
Dyacon is focused on this mid-range, turn-key weather stations, providing a robust product at a price that is viable for commercial, industrial, and small aviation users.
The focus of Dyacon weather stations are fully-autonomous systems that can be deployed by users with basic technical skills. In order to provide a high-value solution, Dyacon designs and manufactures the weather station controller (data logger), all of the mounting hardware, and most of the basic sensors.
Data can be uploaded over WiFi or cell phone to the DyaconLive web portal, which provides real-time measurements, system operational information, forecast, and many other reports and features. The portal has a special aviation configuration for pilots. Weather station network users have access to a data API, to pull data into their own system.
Dyacon weather stations can be cable connected to external equipment through the Modbus RTU port. The RS-485 signal can be connected to a PC, PLC, BAS, SCADA, TCP gateway, or other automation devices.
Dyacon wind, temp-hum-pressure, and globe temperature sensors are also Modbus RTU devices and may be used independently; directly connecting them to automation systems.
Of course, Dyacon is not the only company targeting commercial and industrial users. While the companies listed below may be competitors in some respects, each offers somewhat different functionality, usability, support model, and value proposition.
Onset manufactures a range of instruments for the mid-range market. Their Hobo product relies on integrations of sensors from other companies, including devices from Davis, Texas Electronics, Apogee Instruments, Maximum Weather Instruments, and others. Like Dyacon, the Hobo is designed for ease of use and fully autonomous applications.
Columbia Weather monitoring solutions are based on their MicroServer product, which is a Linux single-board computer. This makes MicroServer a very versatile solution for tethered or line-powered applications. The system architecture facilitates the integration of a wide variety of sensors from other manufacturers extending the range of application-specific solutions.
RainWise, now owned by NK, provides several turn-key weather stations options for very reasonable prices. Several models upload to a web portal through a computer connection or over a Zigbee link to a separate cell phone transceiver station. NK moved RainWise from Maine to Boothwyn, PA. It will be interesting to see where they go with the product line.
Meter Group developed a low-power, integrated weather instrument, Atmos 41. It is designed to be connected to their ZL6 data logger for a plug-n-play solution. The system uses some novel measurement methods and design priorities in order to achieve “no moving part,” minimize cost, and keep the total system power low. Now that Meter Group is fully under CSI management, it will be interesting to see where it goes. (Campbell Scientific sells the Atmos 41 as ClimaVU50.)
Vaisala’s Beacon product is similarly targeted to the requirements of commercial and industrial users. Their easy-to-use, plug-n-play solution packages their existing products into a turn-key solution. But like the WeatherHawk product that was once sold by Campbell Scientific, the functional boundary may be intentionally limited in order to not infringe on the traditional base products of the corporation.
Davis Instruments is one of the most prominent pro-sumer weather station manufacturers in the world. The plug-n-play operation and low initial cost has made the weather stations attractive for industrial applications as well. They have met this opportunity by developing expansion options such as wireless sensors, particulate matter sensors, and telemetry gateways. Davis sells individual components to industrial integrators such as Onset, further expanding their presence. (Remember, this is an incestuous business; competitors are often customers and suppliers.) Due to their large market presence, Davis products are a benchmark for both consumer and industrial weather station manufacturers.
The above companies make turn-key weather monitoring solutions that should be reasonably easy to implement. The following are some sources of instruments that might be appropriate for some applications when the user wishes to perform the integration work.
Texas Electronics makes a very popular rain gauge. We buy a stripped down version and add our own mounting solution. They also make a “complete weather station,” but the user must add a data collection device, such as a PLC or data logger and then do all of the programming to complete the solution.
Met One makes some beautifully machined and anodized aluminum instruments. (I know. Engineers have an odd sense of beauty.) We used the Met One MSO integrated sensor suite as the basis for our first weather station design in 2013, adding data telemetry and solar power capability. We abandoned it before production release and designed our own instruments. Due to the digital interface, MSO would be easier to integrate than raw analog sensors.
Some other integrated sensor suites use ultrasonic anemometers. These are available from Lufft, Vaisala, Campbell Scientific, Lambrecht, Intellisense, Gill Instruments, and others. Zoglab represents the encroachment of several Chinese-made devices into the mid-range segment. Given the nature of the weather business and the modern world economy, it is likely that some of the offerings among those listed above are from Asian sources. This isn’t necessarily bad. After all, weather is a global phenomenon.
Side Note: I once received a call from a man that was adamant that he would only buy a weather station that was completely “Made in the USA.” As far as any electronic product can be made in the US, Dyacon products fit the bill. Unfortunately, he didn’t like that resistors, capacitors, and ICs in our product were manufactured offshore. I pointed out that the computer he was using did not meet his requirement. The call didn’t last much longer. I promise that I wasn’t rude. Sometimes you just can’t win.
While we would certainly like to support you weather station needs, we know we can’t do so for everything. If you have any questions, please let us know; we are happy to steer you in the right direction. If there is an important option that should be included in this post, please let me know.
Hopefully this has been helpful as you evaluate your weather station options.