Personal Weather Station - what to buy?


#1

Hi all -

I really like our Iro - it works just great!

I would like to take this to the next step and buy a PWS and link it to my PWS account for “yard” reporting.

In looking around here, I am confused on just what I should buy? I want to get a good station that I can use for my primary station with the Iro. When 2.0 is released, I will use this as the primary along with my “normal” station (an airport that is 4.1 miles away) as my secondary.

The problem here is I am not sure what to buy? I would like a station that is a 5 in 1 that I can mount on the roof of my house. I would also like a nice color display for inside the house.

Can you all throw some suggestions my way? I do not mind spending a reasonable amount of money on this.

Thanks for any replies!

Ray


Wiring Rachio
#2

I am also interested in this, I would love to see some posts and pictures of others setups too!


#3

I’m interested as well. It’s funny how I never really had an interest in one until I got the Iro. It’s like I have a new hobby!


#4

I’m using Netatmo. It isn’t a full service weather station. I originally purchased it as a wireless solution to help me have a better view of the environment inside my home on different floors. It also provides me outdoor temp, humidity, etc. They then added a rain gauge and will soon have a wind gauge as well. All of these devices (except for 1 are wireless and battery operated.

About two weeks ago, I associated it with pwsweather.com and meteoware. It is now a public weather station and my IRO is using it to determine irrigation needs. In the last week, we have had significant rain across two days. I’ve seen IRO skip scheduled irrigation not only on the days it was raining, but the days after as I was significantly beyond my defined thresholds.

There are other solutions, this is the one that I already had and integrated. It is doing the job I hoped it would do!


#5

I 2nd the Netatmo, I just installed one 2 weeks ago and my Iro is pulling precipitation data from it. Rachio has an easy to follow FAQ on how to set it up as a PWS. http://support.rachio.com/article/350-netatmo


#6

I live in Florida and considering Netatmo but am wondering if it is worth the extra expense compared to using local weather for the Iro to pull from. I have heard some mixed reviews regarding the accuracy and quality of the Netatmo. Also is 2.0 gonna better for pulling better WX and maybe a PWS won’t be necessary. In Florida the is like 50% for rain everyday in the summer and very localized so I don’t trust the IRO to skip watering. I have a rain sensor hooked to the IRO. Does having this just stop current watering or does it possibly cause a skip in watering? Because you can set it to trigger at say 1/2" of rain and then the system can then know that less water is required?


#7

Does using a PWS such as Netatmo change the functionality of IRO from reacting to forecasted rain?


#8

It adds another dimension. Much of the activity of IRO is based on weather stations already. With 2.0, you will be able to choose a weather station. The current version picks the ‘closest’ one. In some instances, that could be another town or micro-climate away. In my case, it did pick up mine and the information that is fed into the mix of forecasting needs, skipping unnecessary schedules based on what has happened and what is predicted to happen (remember, mother nature is ultimately in control) is a bit more accurate.

@Msm411 - i’ve been a netatmo customer since the product was released. I haven’t had problems with inaccuracies or product quality issues. I’ve added to it twice now. The only innacuracy I see is my own fault. The outdoor weather station is on the east side of my house. When the sun rises and through the first part of the day, it is being impacted by direct sunlight. The recommendations from Netatmo (and common sense) tell you to keep it out of direct sunlight. The best place would be under an eve or in my case, on the northeast side of my house. I do intend to move it. I’m also not sure why you are saying you don’t trust IRO to skip watering. I’m seeing it work very well in that respect.

If it starts to rain while a zone is irrigating based on a schedule, I don’t believe it will stop in its tracks. I’m sure Emil or Franz will jump in to answer that for Rachio. It will however, prevent the start of a schedule if precipitation in the recent past or in the near future is expected to exceed the threshold you have set for the zone in IRO.


#9

@Msm411

Would like to add my 2 cents and context regarding PWS for you and others reading this.

Unless you have installed or know personally the PWS, I would not suggest opting into one through our app. We have viewed a lot of bad data coming from PWS.

Just for an example, we have one installed at the office. It was installed incorrectly under an awning and on any given day the temperature was 20F higher than what was being reported by the national weather station near us.

To be completely transparent, internally we only use PWS data for our weather intelligence (virtual rain sensor) and weather display on the client apps. We do not use PWS for water budgeting. I am not initially planning on using PWS data to calculate ET or precipitation values for flex schedules. Please understand that to mix and match this data is a large undertaking, and to start we are taking a more cautious approach. I will be looking at the best way to incorporate flex schedules using PWS (I’m thinking of using the PWS precipitation for schedule skip, just like we do weather intelligence (virtual rain sensor) ). This will happen after we have enough empirical data on how flex schedules are running. I don’t want to introduce too much, too soon.

Here is a bit more information on PWS.

Here is more information on how weather intelligence works, it is much more sophisticated than a physical rain sensor:

I expect sometime this year to research and implement a different weather service(s) that will allow us to get much, much, more accurate weather data and ET data. Stay tuned :wink:


#10

@franz - soil sensors. That’s all I have to say! :wink:


#11

I’m kind of leaning towards an IFTTT integration would be great to start, at least to gauge demand for this.

After cost, complexity, etc. it feels like it could get out of hand quick :wink:


#12

@franz - you mean an IFTTT solution with one of the up and coming solutions?

So, I’m trying to look at all of the things that IRO is intended to do. The key to it all is to reduce water consumption. Am I correct? Right now, we are all stuck with leaning on data based on actuals of what has happened and predictions (forecasts) of what will happen. The other challenge is that there are micro climates everywhere. It might rain in my neighborhood but it might not on the other side of town. This means that the actual and forecast data is only as relevant as what has happened on my property. This means I need to have an accurate weather station that measures precipitation ‘actuals’. I think most do a fair job of that.

If I’ve stated all of the intent and challenges correctly above, the real intent here is to lay down water when it is necessary. Forecasts, actuals of precipitation, thresholds set within IRO - are all guesses, some more educated then others.

For me, it would seem that sensing moisture and chemical make up of the soil in each zone should be the ultimate goal. What better way is there to tell us if we need irrigation then understanding what the soil make up is and the needs of the plant material in it.

Am I wrong in my thinking? Whether you guys invest in it or take advantage of APIs and things like IFTTT, up to you but I think soil sensing should be the ultimate goal.


#13

@SteinyD Agreed on moisture sensing entirely. My main theme is we first need to build a successful business before we can invest in new hardware, software development, etc. As soon as sensors become more ubiquitous, inexpensive, etc. we will know when it is the right time. Before that, we will need to work with APIs, IFTTT, etc. to prove out these concepts.

I’ve had talks with multiple water municipalities and their view of sensors is you need a lot of them to make this work.

Edyn is somewhat promising, but would you spend $800 ($100 x 8) to install these? The technology is far too new to even know if it works in a garden, let alone a distributed yard with different crop types, etc.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edyn/edyn-welcome-to-the-connected-garden/comments

TLDR; sensor integrations yes, but it needs to make business sense. We have much larger business opportunities we are currently engaging in.


#14

Gotcha and understand! :beers:


#15

@franz Thanks for all your work. I’ve had my Iro installed for a couple of weeks and am pleased so far.

I’m looking forward to 2.0 and flex schedules. It should really take things to the next level. I’m concerned, though, about losing the ability to select a PWS for skipping schedules based on actual rainfall. It can, and frequently does, rain heavily all around me while my yard sees very little or no rain. We have cool season grass in a hot climate (due to shade), so incorrectly skipping even one scheduled watering could sometimes make the difference between healthy grass and dead grass.

I want to save water, but missing a schedule at the wrong time – when it hasn’t actually rained on my yard – could be very, very bad. Not being able to select my own or a very close-by PWS for weather intelligence / virtual rain sensor to skip schedules seems like a big step backwards. I’m a software developer, so I totally get how large and complicated implementing the flex schedules must be and how limiting complexity at first is good. I hope you’ll be able to add in PWS for schedule skipping purposes quickly, though. Without that, I’ll be hesitant to use flex schedules.

Thanks again for all your work and your interaction with the community.

Michael


#16

@msdowdie I’d really like to just have a binary system where if you choose PWS we use that for all of your data (ET calculations, precipitation) but like I said earlier, I think the risk for us of having many, many users that have opted into a PWS because it’s closer would start to have really bad things happen. Imagine crazy high or low ET values that would really affect flex schedules. The hybrid approach (capturing precip from PWS, ET from non-PWS) opens up a whole other Pandora’s box. This is a case where we are taking a more cautious approach first.

So, I need more empirical data before figuring out the best solution.

My ultimate goal is to get better weather data, which we are working on solutions. More about that later.

:beers:


#17

@franz , To my thinking the reward of using PWS data for ET calculations may not outweigh the risk of bad data. For most areas, I’d guess that temperature, humidity, cloud cover and other factors probably don’t vary a whole lot from the nearest official weather station. On the other hand, I know in my area that local precipitation can vary drastically from official amounts.

Again, I’m coming at it from the standpoint that saving water is good but failing to water because the official station several miles away thinks it rained enough just isn’t an option.

I think as long as you make official weather stations the default and caution users that PWS data may not be as accurate, then it should be the user’s responsibility to make an informed choice and switch back away from using PWS data if they get worse results. I’ve felt that I received adequate cautions in this regard in the current app.

Thanks,
Michael


#18

After reading through the replies it seems to me that going out and purchasing a PWS would be a waste of money for use on IRO 2.0 with flex scheduling? It won’t account for PWS rainfall totals for Weather Intelligence?


#19

@Msm411 For the initial launch we are not using PWS data.

Still trying to figure out the best approach to take. I think there is still a large misunderstanding on the quality of PWS data by the Rachio community.

Most do not have a wind station (which is used in ET calculations) or capture solar radiation (which is one of the most important factors in ET). If they are not put in the correct location there can be large temperature swings and very inaccurate reported data. If we are using ET as the entire basis of flex schedules, you need to be certain that the incoming data to calculate it is very accurate.

We will incorporate PWS data into flex schedules as I feel it is very important data. Initially it might be used as a weather intelligence skip as we do now for fixed schedules, which seems to be very popular and straight forward. That could be incorporated in a couple of days. It might be a safe approach in the beginning.

I’ll post more when we do make a decision. It won’t be that long after 2.0 is released.

:beers:


#20

@franz - i agree and recognize the placement issues of PWS. I’m having that issue with mine (Netatmo) at the moment. Mine is east facing and so it captures overstated temperature data. I do know I need to get it in a full time shaded location, potentially on the northeast side of my house. I don’t have a covered area for that at the moment. Trying to figure out how best to do that.

But I do get the need for accurate data and the control (or lack of) that individuals have on the weather stations.