WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)
AcuRite Atlas Weather Station Unboxing and Review
By Jesse Ferrell
10/22/2018, 2:54:39 PM
AcuRite has released a brand new, higher-end weather station for consumers and professionals called the AcuRite Atlas. This unique weather sensor suite solves some of the shortfalls of the previous AcuRite stations, adds new technology not available elsewhere, and keeps the price in the consumer range, starting at $149.
You can build your Atlas with the sensor suite, or add a color console, internet upload, lightning detector, or wind anemometer extender. Of course, I unboxed all these! Here's my unboxing, assembly and review video:
The Atlas station improves on the older AcuRite stations by providing unique sensors, better siting options, and more power choices.
UNIQUE SENSOR: SOLAR
The station comes with UV and Light Intensity, which are typically add-ons -- or unavailable -- for other weather stations. This is something that I've missed when I didn't have it, it's fun to watch how much solar energy the clouds block out, and how many hours of light you have each day during the year.
From the My Acurite website, the screen above shows Light Intensity over a day and Hours of Light over a week. The drops in the green graph are shadows or clouds passing over the station, while the yellow bars show which days were sunnier or cloudier.
UNIQUE SENSOR: LIGHTNING
The sensor that I thought showed the most promise, and was the most unique, was the Lightning Detector. A previous AcuRite lightning detector could transmit to one of their displays, but wasn't integrated in the Internet upload. It also had to be powered with batteries and mounted outside, but not too far away. The new tiny lightning sensor plugs into the sensor suite.
The last time I had UV and lightning integrated into my weather station, it was a wired station that sold for $3000. The wireless Atlas sensor unit is only $149.
And please don't forget, you can add up to 10 additional sensors to be tracked with your station, as I posted about last year. Think: Pool, HVAC, freezer, etc.
I forgot to mention this in the video, but specifications of the Atlas can be found here. The big changes in specs since the previous model of AcuRite station include a doubling of most accuracy data, and the wind speed now transmits every 10 seconds instead of every 18 seconds.
MORE POWER OPTIONS:
I mentioned the battery pack above, but the station is powered by solar panels when possible (not just one but three!). For the first time in the AcuRite line, you can power the station by AC power. This is great if your station ends up in a shady or snowy area, or is too far north to get a lot of sunlight in the winter, though if you are not plugging in, I also recommend using Lithium AA batteries, especially in the winter).
Here's what the Atlas looks like mounted outside:
BETTER MOUNTING OPTIONS:
Your weather station is only as accurate as it is "sited" which is a fancy word for "location." Standard temperature measurements are taken at 2 meters (6 feet), so your station should be about that high, preferably in direct sun, in an open area, over grass, so you don't get rising heat from non-grass surfaces underneath the station. Not every weather enthusiast is able to site their station correctly, so it's good that temperature sensor in the Atlas is well vented (see above, compared to their previous stations) to mitigate bad siting.
SIDENOTE: As with other AcuRite stations, all of your data goes to the MyAcuRite.com website / mobile app where you can share your weather station data with your friends. Here is a screenshot of my temperatures during the last 10 days -- which have gone from feeling like the 90s down into the 20s! Must be Fall.
MY STATION ID IS 24:C8:6E:0B:28:A8 IF YOU'D LIKE TO FOLLOW MY STATION HERE IN CENTRAL PA!
Speaking of siting correctly, wind speed is much slower on the ground due to obstructions, and is measured at a standard of 10 meters (30 feet), which makes all-in-one sensors like the AcuRite stations hard to site. With the Atlas you can solve that problem two ways -- either use the optional anemometer extender kit with a standard PVC pipe, or use the optional battery pack so you don't have to climb up a 30-foot pole to replace your batteries.
A NOTE ABOUT LIGHTNING & INTERFERENCE:
There's one trick with lightning data -- the detectors are notorious for picking up bad data that isn't lightning (this is why you can't use them near a car or computer). I thought having the lightning sensor with the rest of the weather station would be OK but unfortunately my location near an industrial/research corridor (along with plenty of other gadgets running on my property) provided to be too much interference.
As you can see from the screen above via My Acurite, it picked up hundreds of lightning strikes each day between 8:30 and 5:30 (work hours!) Right now the station is about 20 feet from the house; I'll move it further out later this Fall and see if that helps. Be aware that your location will need to be free of interference to measure lightning.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an official endorsement from AccuWeather, Inc. Product was supplied by the vendor(s) for this review.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com
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