How Weather Station Sensors Work

The weather outside is always changing and keeping track of it can be easy if you have the right tools for the job. If you would like to be an armchair weatherman, a weather station is one device that you should invest in. It’s a great tool for anyone who loves staying in the know about local climate conditions. Let’s take a closer look at weather station sensors and how they can accurately provide you with trusted weather data. 

Most of us know that a weather station is not simply one device. It is made up of a collection of small tools that help form the larger unit. A weather station is a combination of sensors and other gadgets that all work together. These smaller devices help collect information from both the inside and the outside environment. These weather station sensors take measure the environment and transmit data to a display unit. This unit allows us to easily read the weather conditions from the comfort of our homes. However, it is not easy for most people to understand how this process actually works.

So that you can be more familiar with the device, it is vital for you to know the various weather station sensors and also the way they work. We have tried our best to explain to you these mechanisms in a straightforward and easy-to-understand way.


Thermometer – Source:

Of all the weather station sensors, the thermometer is the most basic and essential. It is used to collect temperature data that is later transmitted to the inside display unit. Most weather stations come standard with both an inside and outside thermometer.  This allows you to determine the temperature from the comfort of your home. There are three main types of thermometers that weather stations use. Below we will learn more about each of them and how they work.

Type and Working Principle

The temperature sensor of a weather station can be of three categories:

  • Thermocouples: Thermocouples are made by joining two different types of metal that will create voltage when the ambient temperature differs from the resistant temperature. This is based on the electromagnetic force that is generated at the junction of the two different metals. 
  • Thermistors: These are thermally active resistors which are made of metal oxides that are encased in glass or epoxy.  The resistant output will vary depending on the outside temperature.
  • PTD probes: PTD probes are made of metal, particularly platinum. This sensor uses electrical resistance of the metal to determine the atmospheric temperature. Even a small positive change can signal a 1 degree rise in the temperature.

Like any other thermometer, the temperature sensor in the weather station senses the temperature of the atmosphere and converts it into a proper and understandable data. In addition to the inside thermometer housed in the console of the weather station, there is another temperature sensor outside, which transmits data back to the console.

Transmission range is typically at the around 30 meters or 100 feet. Some sensors run on batteries and some work on solar energy. The outdoor temperature sensor works more accurately if it is housed inside a good radiation shield.

In addition, the data it collects may sometimes be used in combination with other data to provide us with specific measurements that require more than 1 reading, such as dew point (humidity + temperature).  


A hygrometer is used to measure humidity. As many of you already know, moisture is a major part of weather. Weather stations can contain a wide variety of different types of hygrometers, but they all work in a similar fashion. Below, we will learn more about how a hygrometer works.

Working Principle

A hygrometer is placed beside the temperature sensor in almost all weather stations.  The hygrometer is a type of capacitor that consists of a dielectric polymer layer and a thin metal electrode. This sensor absorbs water molecules from the air.  Finally, the moisture causes a change in the capacitance which indicates a change in the level of relative humidity. A dew point is calculated by correlating the relative humidity and the temperature that is sensed by the hygrometer and the temperature sensor.


Another very important weather station sensor is the barometer, used to measure barometric pressure which is also referred to as the atmospheric pressure of the air.  Below we will learn a little more about how a barometer works.

Working Principle

Most weather stations have an onboard electric pressure sensor or barometer. This sensor measures the pressure using a force collector. A force collector determines the strain that is a direct result of an applied force over a particular area. When mechanical force is applied, there will be a change in electrical resistivity of the semiconductor that is located inside of the sensor. This data is collected in analog form. Then, the data is converted into digital form and sent to the inside display.  

It is interesting to note that old barometers used a special liquid concoction to measure pressure. There are also weather predicting storm glasses that can be used to monitor pressure as well.


Weather stations record wind speed with the help of an anemometer. Anemometers also record wind direction and send both the data points back to the inside unit. There are three main types of anemometers used in weather stations. Below we will learn more about them. 

Type and Working Principle

  • Cup anemometer with wind vane: This type of anemometer comes with three cup like structures which measures wind speed. The vane that is combined with the cup anemometer is used to measure wind direction. This vane is designed to always point against the course of the wind. When doing so, it transmits an analog signal that is used to display wind direction. 
  • Propeller Anemometer: This type of anemometer comes standard with a vane and a propeller.  These two tools work together to determine wind speed and direction. In this setup, the propeller is forced by the wind vane to face the direction of the wind.  This produces data that can be displayed on the inside unit.  
  • Sonic anemometer: This type of anemometer is high-tech and very accurate. In this setup, the anemometer uses ultrasonic waves to transmit wind data. The sonic anemometer sticks up high in the air much like an antenna. This antenna has spaces between each part which allows air to pass through them. The wind that passes through either slows down the ultrasonic waves or speeds them up. This in turn is used to collect wind data that is transmitted back to the inside display unit. 

Rain gauge

Rain gauge
A rain gauge (black part) – Source:

Most weather stations come with a rain gauge. A rain gauge is a weather station sensor that accurately calculates the amount of rainfall at any given time. Rain gauge types can vary, but the most popular kind today are wireless ones.  The rain gauge sensor transmits this data back to the inside unit. There are several different types of rain gauges that can be used to detect rainfall amounts.  One of the most common rain gauges is referred to as the tipping bucket rain gauge. Below we will learn how this type of gauge works.

Working Principle

The tipping bucket rain gauge has an 8-inch rain collector. It also has a bucket that offers very accurate readings and is able to detect rainfall in very small amounts. The bucket collects rainfall in .01 of an inch amounts. Once the bucket is full, it tips over and the amount is recorded and the amount that goes into the collector is recorded. 


As you can see, there are many different types of weather station sensors.  Each of these sensors all work together to help you track the weather.  Most weather stations are very effective at monitoring the weather given that they are built with high quality weather station sensors. If you are in the market for a weather station, it would be a good idea to find one that has all of the sensors mentioned above. This will give you real-time weather condition readings that are highly accurate. 

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