Weather Station Maintenance Guidelines

The quality of the weather data collected and delivered via NEWA is highly valued for crop production and IPM forecast applications. Maintain your weather station in good working condition according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for optimum data integrity. Below are tips for relative humidity and temperature sensors, precipitation (rain) gauges, leaf wetness sensors, wind speed anemometers, wind direction weather vanes, and solar radiation sensors.

Routinely inspect your weather station to make sure all sensors are clean, free of debris and in good working condition. It is recommended that you use a flashlight to check the motherboard for corrosion near plugs and capacitors especially if your station is near the ocean. Periodically clean the solar panels that power the battery with an alcohol wipe, but if none are available a soft, clean, damp cloth especially after spraying near the machine.

At least once per year, inspect cables and make certain mounting brackets, poles, posts, etc. are stable, vertical and sound and the instrument is securely fastened. Jostling during strong winds can affect radio transmission of data.

Sometimes, spiders or other insects will make nests inside of the support pole and radiation shield. To prevent this, cover the holes with duct tape or silicone sealer. DO NOT seal the Temp/RH shield.

Once a sensor goes bad, it cannot be repaired, only replaced. Most sensors have a 2 yr warranty and the solar panel has a 5 yr warranty, but they can last longer.

Protect weather instruments, sensors and cables from pruning, spraying and harvesting activities that may damage the sensors, cut cables, or cause weather stations to lean. It is a good idea to get the serial number off of the part you are replacing, before contacting RainWise for a replacement, to ensure you receive the correct version of the sensor.

Calibration:
It is best to calibrate weather stations about every two years. Contact RainWise Service & Repairs, call (207) 801-4036 or 1-800-762-5723 for instructions on sending the station in for calibration. Plan a good time to take out the station for maintenance, usually in late fall, winter, or early spring.

Relative humidity (RH) and temperature sensors:
These sensors are delicate instruments that should be periodically checked, according to the manufacturer's recommendations, to make certain they are accurate. Compare the readings of the weather station sensors with a calibrated thermometer or with another nearby weather station. During dewy mornings or rainy weather, low RH readings indicate a sensor malfunction. Contact the station manufacturer to replace bad or broken sensors.

Precipitation (rain) gauges:
Leaves, moss, algae, pollen, and debris will cause clogging of the tipping bucket screen. The tipping bucket should be cleaned routinely (at least 1-2 times per year). The surrounding environment will affect how often it should be cleaned. For example, where weather stations are placed in an open area near an orchard, vineyard or woods, make sure that tipping bucket rain gauges are not subject to filling with leaf litter from adjacent areas.

For RainWise weather stations, start by turning off the weather station. Loosen the 4 screws holding the bucket to the base of the rain gauge and twist counter-clockwise to remove it. Straighten the cotter pin legs holding the screen, pull the cotter pin out, remove the screen, and clear the drain hole.You can clean the collector and tipping bucket with warm soapy water if necessary. Make sure you rinse it well afterwards. When putting it back together, if the cotter pin legs hang down inside the bucket collector, they may interfere with the tipper mechanism. The cotter pin legs MUST be bent up so they don’t interfere with the tipper. Remember to turn the weather station back on after cleaning.

Wasps may build nests in tipping bucket rain gauges. A small piece of vapona strip may be used as a deterrent.

If improperly mounted, the weather station may be jostled during strong winds and this may cause the tipping bucket arm to tip and record a small amount of precipitation during dry weather.

If the rain gauge continues to malfunction after cleaning, it is possible the reed switch is bad. Refer to the Troubleshooting Guide or contact RainWise for technical support or replacement.

Leaf wetness sensors:
NEWA suggests that you place plastic grid type leaf wetness sensors facing north and angled 45 degrees from horizontal. If they are attached close to the weather station, this protects the sensor and cables from pruning, spraying and harvesting activities. Periodically check the plastic grid for cracks that would expose the metal wire grid. Contact the station manufacturer to replace any broken or cracked leaf wetness sensors.

Wind speed, anemometers:
The anemometer should spin freely and be free of debris of any kind. Periodically inspect the anemometer in strong wind conditions and calm conditions and check the data being recorded to make certain it is working correctly. Contact the station manufacturer for technical support or replacement.

Wind direction, weather vane:
The weather vane should be set to zero on due North in order for the readings to be accurate. Any time the weather station is moved or bumped, check the orientation of the weather vane relative to North. The weather vane should move freely and be free of debris of any kind.

Solar radiation:
The solar radiation sensor must be kept clean to ensure accurate readings. Clean the glass diffuser with a damp cloth. Replace the diffuser when it yellows (usually after several years of service). It is essential to have good solar radiation readings in order to run the apple carbohydrate thinning model. If your station does not appear in the selection list of stations for that model, the solar radiation data is out-of-range. Should this become an issue, contact the station manufacturer about sensor calibration or replacement.

The sensor ships from RainWise with a green plastic cover on it. This cover must be removed when the weather station is installed.

Routinely inspect your weather station to make sure all sensors are in good working condition, it is in a vertical position, and firmly secured to its mounting post.

Calibration:
It is best to calibrate weather stations about every two years. Contact RainWise Service & Repairs, at 207-801-4036 or 1-800-762-5723 for instructions on sending the station in for calibration. Plan a good time to take out the station for maintenance, usually in late fall, winter, or early spring.

Download the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide

Download the Maintenance Checklist

Carroll, Valentino, and Gibbons, 2015
jec3@cornell.edu