Review: Netatmo Urban Weather Station

My obsession with weather monitoring started a decade ago when I moved out of the city and took an interest in grown-up concerns such as when the plants needed watered or when the pipes in the garage were likely to freeze.

Over the years I’ve installed, adjusted and souped-up several weather stations to broadcast their data to the internet or even send texts when certain thresholds are breached. Such gadgets are useful but they can be a pain to set up and maintain. Eight years on from my first internet-enabled weather station I still get requests for set-up help from as far afield as Brazil.

The Urban Weather Station from Netatmo aims to make the process of installing a weather station and getting it online as simple as possible, and the firm appears to have succeeded. Unlike most units that arrive as a jumble of wires, poles, boxes and screws, the Netatmo consists of two beautifully finished aluminium cylinders.

Set-up is fairly straightforward – the outdoor unit takes four AAA batteries while the indoor sensor runs from a mains socket or any USB power source. Once powered up, it’s a case of visiting the Netatmo site from a computer to complete configuration of the station, though it can also be set up via the Netatmo smartphone app.

One drawback is the lack of weather protection for the outdoor unit. The instructions recommend placing the unit in a dry location, but this could be tricky given the near-horizontal rain often found in Scotland. Placement of the outdoor sensor is critical – the wireless range is quoted at up to 100 metres, but I found the limit to be closer to 20m through a patio door. Other owners have noted rust on the sensor if exposed to the elements, so it’s important to consider if there’s a suitable nook within range of the indoor sensor.

Instead of the graphical display found with most units, the indoor cylinder sports a light indicating indoor air quality. All other data is accessed over the internet via a PC or one of the apps for iPhone or Android handsets.

The outdoor sensor measures temperature and humidity, but lacks the rainfall and wind sensors found in most rivals. The indoor unit is better, measuring CO2 and sound levels, atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity.

All the captured data is supplemented by third-party data, making the website and app more fully-featured than the sensors alone would suggest – outdoor air quality, wind speed, rainfall and a five-day forecast are all presented alongside directly captured stats.

The Netatmo might not be the most comprehensive weather station I’ve tested, but it is the easiest to set up and arguably more useful than conventional models.

Positives Great design, simple set-up and useful data.
Negatives No wind or rain sensors. Outdoor sensor is difficult to place.

This article first appeared in The Herald