You might want to monitor rainfall to ensure your plants meet their water needs. You could also be an avid weather observer and want to keep track of weather changes.
Or might want a device that will help you save bills by automatically turning off your sprinkler when needed.
Rain gauge is the solution to any of these.
If you are planning to buy a rain gauge, you need to know the features and capabilities to look for to ensure that it matches your needs, budget, location, and preferences.
We collated a list of these, plus some product recommendations to guide you in your purchasing journey.
Table of Contents
Out top wireless rain gauge, you can buy today.
Based on the features and capabilities mentioned above, here are the list of rain gauge that ticked, if not all, most of the standards.
Ambient weather WS-2902C WiFi smart weather station
If you do not want to simply have a rain gauge, but want to have your own weather station at home, this Ambient Weather WS-2902C is the best model for you.
It is feature-packed, accurate, and performed well in tests; hence, it will give value to your money.
It can measure indoor and outdoor humidity and high and low temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and direction. It can also give forecasts and dates and times.
Aside from these basic features, the WS-2902C also has advanced functionalities such as high and low readings and alerts for all parameters, dew point, heat index, wind chill, and UV & Solar Radiation readings.
- Supports additional sensor
- Can control sprinklers, blinds, and smart lights
- Can be operated remotely for monitoring and reporting
- Can connect to Ambient Weather Network through Wi-Fi
- Can be integrated to smart home devices like Alexa or Google Assistant
- Uses tipping bucket mechanism for better accuracy with less than 1/10” margin of error
- More expensive than most wireless rain gauge
ECOWITT WH5360B high precision wireless digital rain gauge
This high-precision wireless rain gauge can measure rainfall with an accuracy of within 5%. It can be placed remotely within 300 ft from its console.
Its console is capable of showing precipitation records in varying time periods, per day, week, month or year.
It can also show the indoor temperature and humidity, and maximum rain rate. In terms of storage, ECOWITT WH5360B can save up to two years’ worth of rain records.
Exceeding limits of rain rate, humidity, and indoor temperature also gives off a customizable alarm. This feature helps alert the user to possible floods.
- Capable of self-emptying
- Alerts can be set when data exceeds intended limits
- Console local storage can handle rain records of up to two years
- Cannot be connected to the internet
Stratus precision rain gauge
The Stratus Precision Rain Gauge is constructed based on the specifications set by the National Weather Service. Hence, this analog Stratus model is the winner in the area of precision and accuracy, making it even superior to some digital models.
Its precision makes it the ideal choice for the United States’ official weather observers. Its inside cylinder can measure up to 1/100th inch of initial rainfall, with the outer cylinder having a capacity of over 1” to 11”.
- Excellent precision and accuracy
- Comes with a mounting bracket for ease of installation
- Can be inconvenient to use
- Needs preparation and calibration for accurate measurements
AcuRite 00850A2 5-inch easy-read rain gauge
The AcuRite 00850A2 is a cheap alternative to measuring rainfall, capable of measuring 5” of rain at a time. However, because of its price, it does not have the best accuracy.
This problem with accuracy is negligible in light rain but can be very obvious in heavy rainfall. This is an easy-to-read rain gauge because of its automatic magnification caused by the rainwater. The printed lines can magnify as much as 35%.
- Not expensive
- Prints easy to read because of 35% magnification
- Accuracy issues in heavy rainstorms
outdoor home 6” Rain Gauge
If you want a rain gauge that is capable of metric measurements, the OutdoorHome 6” is the best model for you. It has printed metric and metric scales in the front.
This heavy-duty rain gauge has a conical design, somewhat similar to that of the AcuRite. Its edge is that it does not need that much constant emptying because it can measure an additional inch.
Regarding durability, discoloration from weather conditions and cracks is not an issue because it is made of high-quality plastic.
- Constructed from weather-resistant plastic
- Comes with screws and a mounting bracket
- Conical design may cause accuracy errors
The AcuRite 00899 is like the cheaper version of the ECO WITT while retaining its features. This wireless rain gauge is capable of self-emptying and saving rainfall data.
This rain gauge has an “event mode” which can monitor rainfall events ranging from 10 minutes to 48 hours. If no rainfall is detected for a consistent 8-hour period, the event mode automatically ends and stores the data from the last seven days with a date and time label.
You can choose between day mode and week mode for storing seven days and seven weeks of rainfall, respectively. It also has an A/B mode for storing total rainfall data, which can easily be cleared.
- Not expensive
- Self-emptying capability
- With “Flood Watch Alarm” for flood possibility monitoring
- Different way of storing data can be inconvenient to some
Netatmo rain gauge
Netatmo rain gauge is one of the first personal weather stations released five years ago by Netatmo, a French company. This rain gauge is accurate based on test results and capable of measuring up to a tenth of a millimeter (0.004).
This very specific measurement needs rounding off the nearest hundredth of an inch, with a 10% margin or error. This “Smart” device is compatible with digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and IFTTT.
- With smart home capabilities
- Capable of very specific measurements
- With 10% margin of error
Taylor Jumbo Jr. 20” Easy Read
If you are looking for a rain gauge that is easy to read even at 50 feet distance, this Taylor Jumbo Jr. is the best choice for you. This 20-inch model is significantly larger and easier to read than the AcuRite Easy Read Rain Gauge.
The rainwater that falls in your gauge can easily be monitored by a red ball that floats on the water inside the tube.
- With filters in the funnel for clogging prevention
- Comes with stake for mounting gauge in the ground
- Not precise measurements
La Crosse 705-108 waterfall rain gauge
This La Crosse 705-108 is a cheaper alternative to the models above, while having the same essential features. It can easily be read at a distance because of the floating red plastic, and .1” increment printed large numbers in front.
Accuracy might be affected by water splashes; that is why this model comes with a stake for ease of mounting on the deck railing.
- Not expensive
- Comes with a stake for mounting
- Ease of cleaning with unit sliding out of the mount
- “Splash back” might affect accuracy if stake is not used
What is a rain gauge?
A rain gauge is also known as a pluviometer, udometer and ombrometer. It is a device used to measure the amount of rain or precipitation in a given period per unit area.
Because the rain gauge is capable of measuring the amount of precipitation in millimeters, it helps in water conservation and lessening energy consumption.
With its wide variety of uses, rain gauges have been used even during the Greek period.
How do rain gauges work?
The rain gauge consists of a cylindrical funnel. This funnel which is placed like a seesaw above a pair of buckets, collects precipitation and uses a different mechanism to show readings.
One of these mechanisms used is the bucket self-emptying tipping motion. These buckets are highly sensitive. Once rain enters the funnel and moves to the bucket, the bucket tips.
The tipping is counted and displayed on the screen through the electrical circuit, or radio signals in the case of a wireless range gauge.
What is a self-emptying rain gauge?
Self-emptying rain gauge, from its name itself, means that it can automatically empty itself. This very convenient feature is mostly found in wireless models.
In rain gauges with self-emptying measures, the cup automatically dumps the water after getting the measurements.
This makes it more accurate and maintenance-free because the previous reading won’t affect the current reading, plus you do not have to empty the container by yourself in order to record new readings.
Two types of rain gauge
Digital rain gauges are constructed in a “tipping bucket” design, so you do not have to be there when taking the measurements. Small cups tip back and forth once a weight of around 0.01 inches is achieved.
The tipping motion occurs because of the rain being funneled to these cups, resulting in accurate readings. This accuracy decrease might be affected with heavy rainfall because the cups fill quickly and may not keep up with the tipping motion.
Too light rainfall, on the other hand, can also cause accuracy problems because of too-slow tipping resulting in under-measurement.
Analog rain gauges need supervision for taking readings because this traditional method uses graduated and calibrated cylinders to funnel in the water.
Analog rain gauges may also be inconvenient to use as you need to take several repeat measurements in a day in case of heavy rainfall.
Analog gauges are officially designed and built for scientific applications such as measuring rainfall and snowfall. One of the popular analog rain gauges is the Stratus Precision which satisfies the set standards for an analog model.
What to consider when buying a rain gauge
Precision and accuracy
The markings on a rain gauge can affect its accuracy. Ideally, measurements are at a hundredth of an inch. Unfortunately, most cheaper models have a tenth of an inch label.
To maximize accuracy, make sure you also know how to measure it correctly.
Another factor that can affect accuracy is the gauge’s design and construction. Most high-end gauges have large diameters because the ideal opening is four inches in diameter.
Cheaper models tend to have shorter usability. This is because it is usually constructed from cheap plastic, which easily discolors and becomes brittle when exposed to sunlight and extreme weather conditions.
Choose a model which balances affordability and quality.
Size and capacity
What you will use your rain gauge for and how often you are willing to empty it will determine the size you should go for. Larger rain gauges are fit for field or farm use and can measure larger quantities.
These are also more accurate than their smaller counterparts, at the expense of being more expensive.
If you do not want to miss measuring extreme rainfall, choose a rain gauge with a capacity of at least four inches. If you want to go beyond that, the Stratus Precision has a capacity of 11 inches.
If you just use the rain gauge for your backyard, you do not need to invest in larger and more expensive models.
The resolution refers to the smallest quantity of rain that it can start to measure or the value that signals it to start taking measurements. Rain gauges may vary depending on when they can start measuring.
Some can start on the slightest onset of light rain, while others need larger amounts of precipitation to start measuring.
Convenience is determined by its ease of use. Regarding rain gauge type, the digital models are more convenient and easier to use because you no longer need to be there to take the measurement.
However, some gauges, even the digital ones, might have non-user-friendly installation and instruction.
Cheaper models cannot survive extreme weather conditions like cold and heat. Choose models that are constructed from UV-resistant materials such as the Stratus Precision Rain Gauge.
In this case, you won’t have to keep buying a new rain gauge now and then.
Some possible issues with rain gauge are inaccurate values and the inability to take readings with temperature changes. Buying a new rain gauge every time your old one manifests this symptom can be very costly.
That is why it is important to look for a rain gauge with a warranty of at least one year. Replacing the model or having it repaired under warranty terms is cheaper than having to buy a new one.
Installation and mounting height
The mounting height refers to the ideal height ideal for placement. Normally, mounting height falls at around 1.5m depending on the model.
Some models need to be above ground level, while some can be mounted on railings. Not installing it properly at its proper height might lead to inaccurate readings.
Here are some additional features you can consider. These are not essential, but these can make it extra convenient for you.
For digital type rain gauge
- Rainfall history storage
- Temperature monitoring
- Installation and mounting height
- Smart home integration and app support
For analog type rain gauge
- Self-emptying feature
- Glance readings on the inch with specific figures up to 1/100th
What to remember when installing a rain gauge
- Choose a model with a mounting bracket.
- Place the gauge at 2-5 feet above ground level. You may also mount it in a pole or fence.
- To prevent splash-back, situate the gauge’s mouth above the pole or fence or whatever surface you mount it on.
- Choose a spot that is free from objects that could possibly block precipitation, such as trees and buildings.
- If there is an obstruction, choose an area with a distance twice that of the obstruction’s height.
- If the previous step is not doable, simply choose the most obstruction-free spot in your area.
How to maintain your rain gauge
Here are some steps to improve your rain gauge’s longevity and productivity
- Choose an open area for your rain gauge.
- Place the monitor and gauge near each other for better battery life (applicable for digital rain gauges)
- Store the device indoors in very harsh weather conditions
- Consider updating and downloading new features and apps for your digital rain gauge
- Check the accuracy of your rain gauge by regularly comparing it with official local readings
Is it okay to use big rain gauges for my garden and backyard?
Yes, in terms of size, even the bigger models of rain gauges do not take up much space. The only consideration you need to bear in mind is to place it in a spot free from obstruction.
In terms of accuracy, larger models even have higher accuracy than their smaller counterparts.
Do rain gauges have mounting brackets?
For easier installation, most rain gauges come with mounting brackets and screws.
Are there leaf/debris guards included in a rain gauge set?
Unfortunately, rain gauges do not come with debris or leaf guards. That is why, when setting them up, it is important to place them in a spot with no obstruction as these can get stuck and even negatively affect the accuracy of the device.
Can a rain gauge measure wind speed and snow?
Rain gauges are only meant to measure the total rainfall in a particular spot at a given time. Unfortunately, measuring wind speed is not one of its functions.
In terms of measuring snow, it is possible but with some inaccuracies. That is why, when measuring snow, it is best to use a snow gauge rather than a rain gauge because rain gauges are susceptible to alterations in readings due to debris and snow getting inside the equipment.
Can a rain gauge keep track of indoor/outdoor highs and lows in temperature?
The capacity to record and store high and low temperature indoors and outdoors varies per device. Some are capable of recording and saving the temperature history, while other models are limited to only showing the present thermometer readings.
The latter feature is available for rain gauges that come with a thermometer.
Is the temperature in the rain gauge measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit?
For some models, you can easily switch between Celsius or Fahrenheit unit depending on what suits your preference. In this case, you won’t be inconvenienced by having to convert the units yourself.
Can I attach the rain gauge to a wooden fence?
Rain gauges can be attached to a wooden fence. That is why some models include a mounting bracket for ease of attachment.
Just ensure the wooden fence is far from obstructions that may alter your readings.
What is meant by “wireless” rain gauge?
A wireless rain gauge means that it can transfer the measured rainfall through the console without the use of physical connections such as cables and wires.
This is done by self-tipping motion. The lack of need to use wires is called “wireless”.
Do rain gauges have limitations?
In terms of capabilities, rain gauges have some limitations. Among these are Non-reliability and difficulty collecting data during strong winds, localized measurements and inability to calculate trace amounts on the collector.
Whether you are a weather enthusiast, a gardener, or just someone who loves to keep track of the weather for safety purposes, owning a rain gauge is a must.
There are several features and capabilities to consider depending on your needs, location, and preferences. If you value accuracy, the best model for you is the Stratus Precision Rain gauge. However, if you want a model that offers value for money, then go for the Ambient Weather WS-2902.
Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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