Author Topic: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather  (Read 686 times)

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Offline DC

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As a way of contributing to and paying back a forum that I have learned much from this post shares some of my findings as a novice into the world of weather, weather station technology, and trying to decide what to buy.

Entering any new technical area can be confusing with new terminology, acronyms, inaccurate information, etc.  The first thing I wanted to understand is what products are available, how they worked, what are the limits in both vender specifications and real world environments.   After initial research I decided to focus on three vendors in the all-in-one weather station market.  The three were the Davis Instruments, Acurite, and Ambient Weather. 

I was disappointed in the vendor comparison reviews I was able to find.  Not much detail, seemed dated, information was inconsistent, no real world testing, etc.   So in order to better understand and compare capabilities, I created a comparison chart of the three vendors (see attached).   A couple of comments on the chart:
• I have no bias or preferred vendor, my objective is to find the systems that best met my needs
• There are more than three vendors, I only limited my search to three to save time.
• The specifications are from the vendors published specification or from queries into vendor customer service organizations.  Note this comparison chart does not look at ease of set up, usability, and reliability.   Also, my research to date has not focused on the capabilities of the web and/or mobile applications available from system vendors, third party, open source, etc. 
• The prices referenced are from Amazon and/or vendors website.  Prices of course are subject to change, negotiation, specials, etc.
• Since Acurite is one of the vendors I was evaluating and they have officially announced their next generation of product line with some specifications, I have included these products in the chart.  In Acurite’s  press release dated January 1, 2017 the company states, “the systems will be available later this year”. 

Some lessons learned from my journey to help you make the most informed decision and to avoid the ‘I wish I would have known’.   
• Like all projects define your objectives for a weather system, including ranking/prioritizing specific measurement needs and features.  Also, think about usability and how you will view/use the information.  Of course what is your budget?
• Think about your location climate, landscape, and where you are willing to put your sensor before buying.  Very few people will have the perfect location to meet official weather standards for the most accurate measurements.  Take the time learn about these factors from this forum, vendor web sites, etc to understand the issues, challenges, trade offs.   You will more than likely have to compromise, which is why prioritizing, is key.
• Accuracy.  We all want our system to be accurate, isn’t that the point of a PWS, what is happening at my property now as opposed to app that pulls data from XX miles away and updates every hour.   Accuracy depends on the specification of system and location of the sensor(s).   The most accurate weather stations have separate components that are placed in the appropriate locations according to standards.   The all-in-one weather stations are a trade off in overall accuracy by design for lower price and ease of installation.   My take is all three of the vendor’s products provide an accurate representation of the weather from the sensor.  They all work, they all have had some issues along their respective product life cycles, some of which are product related and some are user related.  Some products can be more (see specs for how much more) accurate with better sensors, more frequent update intervals, and reporting, which may or may not be important to you.   However, my take is a system with average specifications properly located will be more accurate than a system with excellent specifications that is poorly located.  A comment of Internet weather community sites, such as weather underground.  While they can be interesting, fun, and informative, I wouldn’t use them to test accuracy of your weather station other than at a high level due to difference in distance, evaluation, update time, sensor location, type of system, etc.  The most precise way to test your system for accuracy is with hand held instrumentation at the sensor and/or install 2 products side by side.


« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 12:08:33 PM by DC »

Offline miraculon

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 01:41:58 PM »
Nice chart.

One comment, is that the Davis Vantage VUE does support a remote anemometer via 6332 and a VP2 anemometer. I have several VUE consoles configured this way.

Quote
Detachable Anemometer     No    No    Yes, cable    Yes, cable    No    Yes, cable or wireless

So the answer is "no" to cabled, "yes" to wireless for VUE.

Greg H.




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Offline DC

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 02:51:29 PM »
Good catch, attached is the updated chart.

Offline Bushman

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 03:30:48 PM »
Nice chart.  A couple things though.  You should add "Water Temperature" sensor capability (pools, spas, lakes, etc.) and use MSRP.  For example on the latter, yesterday you could have got the Acurite for $99 bucks - free shipping.

Offline DC

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 08:03:21 PM »
Good catch, I am actually planning on using this functionality for lake water temperatures this spring.  FWIW, both Acurite and Davis offer the water/liquid probe with the temperature sensor.  Acurite makes it obvious with lots of options and Davis requires a little bit of digging to see that you can measure liquid/water temperature with their wireless temperature probe.  See updated attachment.

As to MSRP pricing, I choose Amazon because I think it is the fairest overall sense of what these products are selling for without constantly updating for sales like you reference and very few products sell for MSRP.   More important than pricing to me and the primary objective of the chart is give interested buyers, especially newbies an understanding capability and accuracy specs to answer questions about accuracy and how accurate is accurate enough for their needs and location.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 08:05:53 PM by DC »

Offline WeatherHost

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 08:27:18 PM »
Amazon might be a lot of things, but  ....  'fair'?  You must not be too familiar with how they operate.

If you're going to do a comparison chart, keep it fully impartial.  Either list multiple places for purchase, or none at all.

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Offline Mattk

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 08:38:03 PM »
To be correct the Vantage Vue does not have a "detachable anemometer" (as such) but has the ability to receive from a separate secondary Anemometer kit (in lieu of the standard Vue anemometer) which is not part of a stand-alone Vantage Vue package and is an additional purchase.   

Number of sensors supported including the all in one sensor (1 with Vue Console). The Vue console can receive the Vue ISS plus Anemometer Transmitter kit, which would make 2 "including the all in one sensor" 

Also check the Soil & Leaf capability (Yes?) for the Vue
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 08:45:37 PM by Mattk »

Offline DC

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 01:13:21 AM »
To be correct the Vantage Vue does not have a "detachable anemometer" (as such) but has the ability to receive from a separate secondary Anemometer kit (in lieu of the standard Vue anemometer) which is not part of a stand-alone Vantage Vue package and is an additional purchase.   

Number of sensors supported including the all in one sensor (1 with Vue Console). The Vue console can receive the Vue ISS plus Anemometer Transmitter kit, which would make 2 "including the all in one sensor" 

Also check the Soil & Leaf capability (Yes?) for the Vue

Yes, good catch on clarification, revised is attached.

Offline DC

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2017, 01:25:31 AM »
Amazon might be a lot of things, but  ....  'fair'?  You must not be too familiar with how they operate.

If you're going to do a comparison chart, keep it fully impartial.  Either list multiple places for purchase, or none at all.

I debated on weather or not to include prices, I believe it is relevant and helps to position products when looking at capability but as stated above prices and for that matter configuration details are not the primary objective of the chart. 

As to your Amazon comment, it is the only market place I found that sells all three products, there may be others.  You are taking my comment about market prices via amazon out of context, I have no comment on amazon business practices being fair or not, it is just a benchmark.  You are welcome to and I will not be offended if you want to add as many pricing options from as many vendors as you wish to this post or the document. 


 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 01:29:26 AM by DC »

Offline dow

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2017, 09:43:08 AM »
DC,

I'd like to take a moment to thank you for putting all the work in on creating this resource.  Hopefully you've made the process of choosing a weather station much easier for all of us.  Deciding on a weather station can be an exercise in confusion, especially for a newbie.

Thanks again for a job well done!

Dow Mathis ∴
Boerne, TX
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently motivated fool.

Offline BeaverMeadow

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2017, 10:09:42 AM »
I too would like to thank you DC! Your chart makes me all the more motivated to wait for the release of the Atlas Elite. My hopes/concerns for that unit are: build quality/accuracy of sensors, functionality of software, and ability to separate sensors in an effective manner so as to give more accurate readings than all-in-one units. I'm also wondering about whether the solar cells will be charging the batteries in addition to powering the aspirating fan (a fan that might not be needed for cooling if a separate temp sensor can be placed in a properly shaded area).

Online alanb

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2017, 03:36:19 PM »
I would also like to add my thanks for the chart. As a complete newbie to weather stations, this is really helpful for me to learn about the differences between the available products without having to dig through multiple forums and posts.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 03:38:12 PM by alanb »
Alan

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Re: My findings comparing Acurite, Davis Instruments, and Ambient Weather
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2017, 07:24:11 PM »
You need to change your Davis info. The solar cell does not charge  the battery. The battery in the ISS is non chargable.  The solar cell charges up an  super Cap that is used  at night to run the unit  and the battery only kicks in when the super cap is discharged.