Are Capricorn Weather Stations a Good Choice for Home Use?

Capricorn Weather Stations are designed for long and reliable service in agriculture, industry and emergency services. Consequently, they are not an obvious choice for a first home weather station, but, like similar stations produced by Rainwise, WeatherHawk and Texas Weather Instruments, may be just what's needed when the time comes for an upgrade.

Why might that be? Well the cost of a weather station depends on a number of factors, just like anything else. Some of the more critical matters are the reliability and useful life of the components - if the market demands reliability combined with low maintenance programs then that comes at a price, either in money or in time spent in setting up.

So if a manufacturer such as Columbia Weather Systems, the manufacturer of Capricorn Weather Stations, targets the industrial and commercial market, the ideal product is likely to be a little more robust, and costly, than a weather station designed for home use.

Manufacturers dealing with the commercial and industrial market also recognise that large amounts of data may need to be automatically stored in the system, and that facilities for downloading data to a remote office may be necessary. Many clients will probably want some customisation of their station - drop the barometer but add two more soil moisture sensors, and so on.

All this needs to be built into the product. It adds to the primary cost, and limits opportunities for price reductions from economies of scale in large production runs.

And one more thing. Commercial users may not be prepared to take the time to make sure that radio transmissions of data from sensors is free of interference. As a result, Capricorn weather stations and similar systems choose to use cable connections.

So at a recommended price of $2049.00 for the Capricorn 2000, a cable weather station which includes Weather View 32 software, most first time buyers of home weather stations would be looking elsewhere. Particularly when a rain gauge adds another $315.00 to the price.

But the story may be different if you are looking to upgrade your weather station.

Maybe radio transmission is unreliable because of interference or signal blocking. Maybe you have a sideline in orchid propagation and want to set up a fully automated system to control temperature, humidity and watering in your orchid house.

That may be the time to check out Capricorn Weather Stations, or some of their competitor's stations, certainly including the options offered by the Davis Vantage Pro2 range.

But before leaving the Capricorn weather stations, let's take a quick look at the real strengths of this equipment.

Weather stations are not just for fixed home use. Vehicle mounted or portable weather stations can be critical tools in situations such as firefighting, construction, and all manner of emergencies, particularly including spills of hazardous materials. And it is here that Columbia Weather Systems has focused much of its efforts.

Both the Capricorn 2000 and 2000EX, with a more sensitive and reliable wind recording system, are also available as fully integrated Vehicle Mounted Capricorn Weather Stations . The Pegasus Portable Weather Station is a rugged self contained system designed for rapid deployment in emergency situations. It also comes with remote capability through wireless tranceivers with a two mile range.

And just recently the Orion Weather Station was added to Columbia's range - a full weather station without any moving parts. Rainfall is calculated from a pressure sensitive pad, while wind speed and direction are determined from three ultrasonic sensors, and everything is contained in a single integrated package.

The Orion won't come cheap - I'm waiting for a price - and a similar research system from Vaisala runs into five figures. But provided the price is not ridiculous, I am sure there will be a lot of interest - no freezing of anemometers, no leaves in the rain gauge, and hardly any maintenance.

Who knows - it could be the start of the next revolution in affordable, effective home weather stations.

The real conclusion here is that, like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. So while the heavy duty, often cable connected models, including the Capricorn Weather Stations, may not be the best choice in the early days of observing weather with a home weather station, as your requirements become clearer other options will become worth considering.

It all gets back to a little thought prior to selecting your first or next home weather station. Most of the general questions are discussed in articles on Weather Stations in general, and tips about setting them up .

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Last update 12/05/2011