Where do you go to check on the weather? A favorite website? A reliable app? Or maybe just good old Google? All these options are valid, but in this day and age, why not have your very own weather station right in your home?
The Netatmo Weather Station is a neat gadget that can do just that. With a radio and Wi-Fi connection combined, it sends the current weather conditions from both outside and indoors straight to your smartphone or tablet. So does it really work? Read on to find out. As usual, you can also win this iOS and Android compatible weather station for free! More details to follow.
For the record, we should state that this review unit was purchased at our own cost. This review isn’t affiliated with the manufacturer, and is therefore, completely unbiased. This is what we truly feel about the Netatmo Weather Station.
There are lots of different weather stations you can buy if you need to stay on top of your indoor or outdoor conditions. Most of these stations use simple displays to tell you about their findings, which means you get the information you need, but you only get it when you’re home, looking at the display.
The more modern variety of weather stations can connect to your computer, giving you access to the data from anywhere, as long as you have access to that computer. The Netatmo (which you can currently get for $179 on eBay) does things a little differently.
The Netatmo Weather Station stores all your measurements on its own servers. You can then access the data using your smartphone, tablet, and computer. This means you can truly stay on top of your home conditions, even if you’re away for an entire week.
The Netatmo is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and uses both radio signals and Wi-Fi for data synchronization. It measures temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide level, barometric pressure and noise indoors, and temperature and humidity outside. It can also provide custom alerts, in case there are certain conditions you want to be aware of immediately.
What’s In The Box
So how does the Netatmo really work? To understand that, we first have to take a look at the station itself.
The Netatmo Weather Station comes with two modules, a bigger indoor module and a smaller outdoor module. It also comes with all the necessary accessories to keep these modules charged, working and convenient to use.
These include a wall charger with multiple adapters (depends on the country you’re buying it in), a standard micro-USB cable and a pair of AAA batteries. It also comes with a sticky tape mount, and a set of one screw and one screw anchor. You can use the latter two to hang the outdoor module on an outside wall, if there’s no suitable surface to place it on.
The modules themselves are covered in single-piece aluminum which makes them durable as well as weather resistant. The outdoor module can be opened as necessary to change its batteries. According to the Netatmo website, one pair of batteries should last up to a year with standard use.
The wall plug is used with the indoor module, but this is not a charger as you might have expected. The Netatmo indoor module doesn’t have a battery of any kind. This means it has to be plugged into the wall in order to work. While this might seem like a backwards decision, it actually makes sense for a device like this. A rechargeable battery would not only make the module much heavier, it could also affect its temperature reading by heating up itself.
Setting Up The Netatmo Weather Station
Since the two Netatmo modules come paired out of the box, the actual setup process you need to go through is pretty easy. To set things up, you’re going to need to download the free Netatmo app from iTunes or Google Play. Alternatively, you can plug it into your computer to set it up without installing the app.
Once you launch it, the app will take you through every step of the setup process.
During this process, the app will recognize the indoor module, update its firmware if necessary, and help you set up the Wi-Fi connection to be used with the indoor module. Once that’s done, the outdoor module will transfer its measurements to the indoor module via radio, and the indoor module will upload all measurements to the cloud using Wi-Fi.
This initial pairing (if using the app) is done via Bluetooth, so if you’re running into difficulties while trying to pair, check if Bluetooth is enabled on your device. This happened to me while trying to pair the station with my Android device, and the cryptic error I got was no help at all.
It’s also important to note that the two modules must be placed no more than 100m (330 feet) apart, and too many walls between them may cause interferences as well.
Using The Netatmo Weather Station
Once everything is set up, your weather station is active and measuring. There’s nothing more you need to do, except to check the app to see the conditions.
The app’s interface is a little hard to figure out at first, but once you locate the almost invisible “i” button on the bottom left corner, things start to clear up a bit. The top section shows you everything you need to know about outdoor conditions, including current temperature and humidity, and the highest and lowest measurements to date. The indoor section below it includes the carbon dioxide color spot (ranges from green to red, according to carbon dioxide measurements), as well as pressure and noise measurements.
The two bars in the middle summarize your general indoor condition (ranged from Very Good to Bad), and provide an air quality measurement, showing the level of pollutants. Also included is a local weather forecast for the next few days.
When left alone, the Netatmo sends a reading every 5 minutes or so. Want a measurement done right now? This is how you trigger an on-demand measurement using the indoor module.
The video is showing me plugging in the indoor module, at which point it flashes green, and then triggering the measurement by touching the module until it flashes blue. You can also blow on the module to trigger a high carbon dioxide alert, if you feel like it.
It’s not only about current measurements, though. The app gathers all the available data, which you can view in graph form. Use the dropdown menu on the right to switch between the different available measurements.
You can zoom these graphs in and out, and see the exact result of each measurement made, its time of day, and its date.
But what are you to do with this information? If you want your conditions to stay just so, you can set up the app to alert you when things go awry. By default, the app will alert you of extreme conditions such as a freeze, a pressure drop, high carbon dioxide levels and low room temperature. You can turn any and all of these off, and add any outdoor or indoor alerts you feel are necessary, or tweak current ones to better suit your needs.
The Netatmo app doesn’t like it when conditions go sour, and it won’t hesitate to tell you so.
At the end of each week, the Netatmo will provide a weekly summary, telling you about notable events that happened this week. These include, for example, the carbon dioxide max point measured, the lowest indoor temperature measured, and more.
Once you’ve been using the station for a while, you may want to view weekly, monthly, or even yearly graphs. This is possible using the Netatmo Web app, which is yet another way to access your measurements and configure your station. From here you can also access the Netatmo World Map, which aggregates outside temperatures measured by a large number of worldwide users.
Want to share the fun with family or friends? Invite them to view your data using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or email. They will then be able to see everything you see, without owning a station themselves. You can also choose to contribute your outdoor data to the world map, or rather, opt out of contributing, as this is enabled by default.
The app also includes a pretty good help section, not only for operating the station, but for understanding what each measurement means, and for making the best use of the app.
Living With The Netatmo Weather Station
Despite my expectations, having the Netatmo around turned out to be an addictive experience. I check out the app first thing every morning and last thing every night, and words like “cold” and “stuffy” suddenly get a whole new meaning with actual measurements to back them up.
Prior to having the Netatmo, I kept feeling like there was “no air” in the bedroom, especially in the mornings. The Netatmo showed me I was right: carbon dioxide does in fact go through the roof when sleeping in a closed room without ventilation. It also taught me that even a small crack in the window can improve things greatly.
After some initial trouble on the first day, trying to figure out how everything works, and some problems while trying to re-configure my wireless network, the Netatmo became a complete hands-off experience. I could forget it existed for several days, and then check out the app to see all the measurements I missed. It’s definitely a gadget you can buy, set up, and trust to continue doing its job without constant tinkering.
The drawbacks? There are several. The first and foremost, is the price. $200 is quite a lot to pay for some weather measurements. The station lacks a carbon monoxide sensor, which could have made it a life-saver, and also lacks any kind of display on the modules themselves, requiring an additional device every time you want to see how cold it is.
It’s nice to have access to data from everywhere, and the station definitely works well, but are you willing to pay $200 just to know how cold or hot it is in your room? There are much simpler and cheaper sensors out there that can tell you that, and while you may not have access to them while out of the house, most people don’t really need that.
Should You Buy The Netatmo Weather Station?
Do you need to know about your current conditions at all times? Do you want to be able to leave the house and stay on top of your indoor weather? Do you have a hobby that requires constant weather supervision? Do you actually need weather alerts to appear on your phone?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, the Netatmo Weather Station is a great buy. If not, the Netatmo is still a great toy, but at $200, I would give it a pass.
MakeUseOf recommends: Buy it only if you really need indoor weather tracking and alerts.
How do I win the Netatmo Weather Station?
You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, January 3. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.
Congratulations, Natalie Schilla! You would have received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Please respond before January 15 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.
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