Campers who often travel in their RVs should pay close attention to the weather. It can change quickly, and it’s vitally important to your safety to stay informed. You’ll also want to prevent damage to your RV. In addition most people are outdoors more when RVing, so having an onboard weather station can give you good data about how the weather is and has been on your trip.
Today, we’ll look at why you should consider installing an RV weather station, how many options are available, and how to set one up. Let’s dive in!
Table of contents
What Is An RV Weather Station?
If you want to know what the weather has been while on your trip installing an RV weather station is a good idea. These kits usually contain instrumentation and gauges to monitor temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and rainfall.
In addition, a weather alert radio can be a good add-on to warn you of severe weather like storms or tornados or high winds. RVers experience many weather situations, and being prepared is essential. Weather stations can help predict severe weather or even give you a heads up that you might want to leave the area.
How Do I Pick a Weather Station?
First, you’ll want to pick a weather station that helps RVers, and not just any outdoor weather station. Also, are you just looking to know what the weather is doing outside or do you want real-time weather warnings? Very few weather stations include radio alerts so it’s a good idea to invest in a separate weather radio product.
One of the most important choices for an RV weather station is to make sure it has a high-speed anemometer (wind gauge). Unless you plan to take the station off the RV when moving it will encounter very high wind speeds while driving and will need to be able to hold up to them.
Your budget will impact your choices. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line weather station, be prepared to pay a high dollar for one. But if you’re looking for something affordable, you may not have as many choices. Your location should also influence your decision and budget. If you live or travel in the plains during tornado season, it might be worth investing in a quality weather station that can do it all.
Other essential factors to consider are the interface and features. Examine the screen size. Determine if you want color or black and white images. You want to pick an interface that fits your needs as well as one that’s easy to use. The features will vary based on price. Simple RV weather stations that monitor humidity and temperature will be cheaper than more advanced kits and predict severe weather, monitor wind speed, and track rainfall.
Some weather stations can also connect to the internet and log your weather data. This may not be as useful unless you have a continuous internet connection while traveling.
How Do You Set Up a Digital Weather Station?
Setting up an RV weather station can be challenging. Depending on what you are measuring, you might place your weather station in different locations. Many people mount the display panel next to a thermostat or other interior panels installed in the RV. But the outdoor equipment locations will vary. Wherever you decide to install the sensors and gauges, know the pros and cons.
For example, if you are monitoring wind speed and direction, you’ll want to mount the anemometer to the roof of your RV. You could also set up the rain gauge here. However, you’ll have to decide if you want to install it permanently or if you plan on taking it down on travel days. The wind could damage the sensors when traveling 60-65mph down the interstate, but it’s a hassle to have to take it down often. If you park underneath trees, this could also cause damage, or at the very least, provide inaccurate information because of obstructions.
When you monitor the barometric pressure and humidity, you could use the ladder as the mounting location. If you use the ladder to store bicycles or a portable waste tank, then this might be a problem on travel days. If you’re stationary, it won’t matter.
Pro Tip: RVing in bad weather can be quite risky! Stay safe on the road with these tips on How to Weather the Weather in an RV.
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Where Should a Weather Station Sensor Be Placed?
You will likely mount equipment in different areas of the RV. However, if you’re investing in just a simple weather station to monitor the temperature and humidity, you’ll want to make sure the sensor is out of direct sunlight and that you protect it from rain. Some people place them underneath the RV or the trailer hitch, so they are out of the way. Don’t place it on the side of a window where afternoon sunshine will hit it every day. This will skew your information and possibly damage the instrument.
Which Way Should a Weather Station Face?
Usually, weather stations are set up pointing north so they can get wind direction data. Its going to depend on the weather station, but this might be a problem since the RV will change position. Usually its not a problem to face any direction but keep in mind that your wind direction readings may not be accurate. Most choose to mount the meter forward on the RV and that is considered “north” to the wind sensor. From there you can tell what direction the wind is coming from relative to the RV.
If however, you are trying to capture accurate directional data it’s essential to face your weather station in the correct direction for your measurements to be as accurate as possible. For example, the World Meteorological Organization explains the standard height for wind measurement devices should be 33 feet above the ground. It won’t be easy to get a pole secured onto the top of an RV at this height, so the information received from your instruments may not be as accurate as information from a national weather service.
How Much Does a Weather Station Cost?
The famous La Crosse Technology 308-1414B-INT RV weather station costs about $65. This kit monitors indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity. It also records the minimum and maximum values.
- Full color LCD with weather icons: sunny, partly sunny, cloudy,...
- Atomic self-setting accurate time & date with automatic daylight...
- Monitors indoor & wireless outdoor temperature (f/c) & humidity...
Another popular choice is the ThermoPro TP62 Indoor Outdoor Thermometer Wireless Weather Hygrometer. Similar to the La Crosse kit, this ThermoPro kit provides readings for both inside and outside humidity and temperature. This one also has three outdoor remote sensors to monitor different locations. This is not a full featured weather station and only costs about $30.
- Highly Accurate Readings: Thermopro TP62 indoor outdoor...
- Long 200ft Range: Wireless weather thermometer transmits indoor...
- Large Backlit Display: Room thermometer with temperature and...
A more expensive option that also monitors wind speed and direction is the AcuRite Iris (5-in-1) Weather Station. It costs about $170 but has more features than the previous two kits. The AcuRite Iris tracks indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, wind speed, direction, barometric pressure trends, and rainfall totals. The app also allows you to monitor the weather even when you’re away from your RV.
Keep in mind that these weather stations do not provide weather alerts that you can receive via NOAA radio broadcasts. Because of this, we recommend having a weather radio on in the RV as well. Make sure to get one with battery backup for when you are on the road so it stays on.
- Public-alert certified monitor receives 7 NOAA channels with...
- SAME alert programming sounds an alert only when specific...
- 25-county memory system; 90 dB siren, voice alert, and flashing...
Pro Tip: RV weather stations aren’t the only awesome RV tech inventions! Check out these 10 Amazing RV Innovations.
How Do You Use a Weather Station?
Once you set up the weather station, it relays information to the digital interface inside the RV. Depending on the kit you purchase, you might receive an update every hour or so. Knowing the humidity levels, especially inside your RV, is crucial. High humidity is expected in a small, confined space like an RV, and you want to eliminate it with a dehumidifier. Moisture can wreak havoc on walls, bed frames, and flooring, not to mention the health hazards of mold and mildew. So having a weather station that measures the indoor humidity is essential to protecting your RV and keeping you healthy.
Knowing whether you should leave where you’re parked is also critical to safe camping. If severe weather is headed your way, the weather station will sense changes in barometric pressure and wind speed. If you’re in a location where tornadoes are likely to form, it’s a good idea to pack up your home on wheels and get out of dodge. Having a weather station will keep you informed and updated.
Do you have a weather station mounted on your rig? Tell us in the comments!
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