Weather camera is a device which is used to capture live changes in weather. Many meteorologists and weather enthusiasts use weather cameras to learn about weather conditions. As you are here now, I am pretty sure that you must be either interested in knowing more about weather cameras, or maybe you are looking forward to buying one. These devices are of not much different than the standard cameras, in fact, many use normal cameras as weather cam. However, weather cameras are specially designed for this purpose and no other equipment will be able to acquire the precise accuracy.
As weather cameras come with many features, in different shapes and sizes, it becomes tough for a novice to select the best one. So I have created some guidelines to help you purchase the right weather camera. Given below are some very important factors that you must consider;
Generally, weather cameras can be classified into two types;
Standard Weather Cameras: These are like normal cameras. You can use them to record live weather and then transfer the file to your computer or laptop to view, share and analyze.
Network or IP Weather Cameras: Network cameras are like webcams, they can be streamed live without the need of connecting to other devices like the computer of laptop. You can post your images to the internet directly by connecting the camera to the network router. These are IP addressable and allow you to continuously view configuration menus and live images from anywhere by just entering your weather camera's IP address. Network camera also enables file transfer protocol, allowing you to upload images to free hosting services or your own website.
Wired or Wireless
You can choose between wired camera and wireless. Wireless cameras are mostly preferred as no cables need to be run around. Also, wireless camera is easier to install. However, you will still have to run AC power to the camera, which minimizes flexibility.
Whether you are going to install the camera indoor or outdoor is another vital factor that you must consider while choosing a weather camera. If you have a nice vantage point for your camera from inside the window, then you can save a lot of money and time, as weather cameras that are designed for outdoor installation are more expensive. They require special mounts and have features such as waterproof or weather resistant. You’ll also have to buy special enclosure for the camera.
Usually, most weather cameras operate on AC power. However, if you need a camera for remote area with no power supply, you can get a camera that includes a solar panel.
Resolution is measured in pixels. It is the amount of detail that a weather camera can capture. This is one of the most important features as the quality of an image usually, depends on the camera's resolution. The more the pixels a weather cam has, the better is its resolution and more details will it capture. Images captured by a high-resolution camera can be enlarged without getting blurry or grainy.
Range of Exposure
The range of exposure is the amount of light that the lens aperture of the camera can gather and the speed of the shutter, expressed in seconds. A camera with wide exposure range will provide excellent contrast during high as well as low light levels.
The frame rate is calculated as frame per second. It's the speed of image being updated. A camera with high frame rate will allow streaming of live video seamlessly. A live streaming of video over the internet cannot be accomplished easily. However, high-resolution live images are clearest and easiest to upload.
Auto Iris Lens
Auto Iris lens ensures the image quality in constantly changing light condition. The iris of the camera closes or opens depending on the light level. When the light is low, the iris opens up and allows maximum light for precise quality image, and when the level of light is high, the iris closes in order to prevent the incoming light from affecting the camera and turning the image blur. If you are going to use the weather camera in this type of inconsistent lighting condition then a camera with auto iris lens is highly recommended.
Saturation and Auto Haze Subtraction
If you are looking forward to high-quality images, then you must also consider these aspects. Saturation is the amount of color that an image consists. The higher is the saturation value of the camera, the more colorful the image captured by the device will be.
Auto haze subtraction feature of the camera automatically subtracts the contrast in the image to improve its quality.
There are some additional features that you may want your weather cam to include;
- Night Vision: A camera with night vision ability can also capture images during the night or immensely low light conditions. You would want this feature if you are interested in capturing night weather images.
- Built-in video recording: Many low-end cameras come only with ability to capture still images. Videos can be more useful and entertaining, so you can spend some more bucks and get a camera that can capture videos as well.
- Motion Detection: This feature can be very useful for many weather enthusiasts. Also, if you wish to use the weather camera for security purpose as well then you might want to get a weather camera with motion detection.
Price and Warranty
Before going for the purchase, you must decide your budget. If you know your budget, you can purchase the best weather camera that is affordable in your budget. Generally, good weather cameras come in the price range of $50 to $200 and more.
Warranty is a very important aspect. All reputed brands provide warranty time of 1 year to 5 years with their devices to ensure the buyer's investment. So always choose a unit with the reasonable warranty period.
Common Damages in Weather Cameras
Like other technical devices, weather cameras are also prone to some common damages, especially when the camera is installed outdoors;
Damage due to Exposure to Direct Sunlight: If weather cameras are exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods, it may cause the images of the weather camera to fade. However, the sensor life can be extended by setting the iris lens properly.
Heat, Cold, and Humidity: Extreme heat, cold or humidity can cause damage to the internal parts of the device. Humidity can completely damage the weather camera. Although outdoor cameras have enclosure to protect the camera from such condition, but they still require external enclosure for superior protection. For cold condition, the enclosure must be completely sealed to prevent damage due to condensation.
Weather cameras are very useful units and these are used by many. If you are novice, buying the right camera could be a very tough task. Due to the unlimited choices, many individuals get confused and end up purchasing the wrong unit. Before going for the purchase you must do a thorough research on what features you need and why you need the device. Once you are sure of your requirements, you'll find that choosing a weather camera is not so tough after all. If you are still confused, going through the reviews provided by experienced buyers could be very helpful.