Davis has long been the best when it comes to personal weather stations. However, it has ‘rested on its laurels’ over the past several years allowing competitors to catch up and surpass Davis in just about every aspect other than accuracy.
While accuracy should still be the most critical aspect of a personal weather station, there is an increasing emphasis on functionality. The Davis platform is a nearly three-decade-old personal weather station concept, where the console and instruments are the key features, and connectivity is an afterthought.
That isn’t enough. With more and more of us turning to smart home technologies, most consumers are looking to do more than see what the weather is. They’d like their sprinkler systems to be able to shut off automatically when it rains. They want their lights to turn on when it’s cloudy outside or when it gets dark. The Davis platform couldn’t do this until now.
Enter WeatherLink Live. It’s Davis Instrument’s first step into modern connectivity. While WeatherLink Live still lacks robust smart home connectivity, the platform is there to support this in the future. Is it worth its high price tag, though?
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The Console is No Longer Center Stage
The first thing you’ll notice about WeatherLink Live is that there’s not much to it. At first glance, it’s just a 9-inch tall rectangular piece of plastic with a power cord. But looks are deceiving. Inside of the plastic shell is a lot of new technology that brings Davis into the 21st Century.
WeatherLink Live is Wi-Fi compatible (2.4GHz only), which allows you to connect your weather station to the internet directly, rather than the old and outdated console dongle. There are benefits to this. Within the new WeatherLink app, conditions update in real-time, in as short as 2.5-second intervals.
Theoretically, if you wanted, you could go without the console since you’ll be able to monitor conditions through the app. You also can add additional weather stations or sensor transmitters to a single WeatherLink Live, up to eight total.
Setup is Easy, But We Lost Data (Kind of)
I appreciated how easy it was to set this up. Altogether, it took me less than five minutes to get it up and running, as most of the setup occurs through the app. You’ll need to install 4 ‘AA’ batteries to power the device and allow it to continue to collect data in the event of an outage. You’ll also need to provide a name for your station, choose your station, and connect it to your WeatherLink Live.
The process was flawless—almost. Once we had our station setup, we discovered three years of data was gone. This is WeatherLink Live’s one major issue. You’ll have to start from scratch if you previously used the Davis dongle to connect your station to the internet.
Unless you’ve used the PC software the whole time, there is a process to import data from the WeatherLink servers, but it only downloads data dating back to the time you migrated your station to the WeatherLink 2.0 platform (for most of us that happened this past spring). All your historical data from previous years is not accessible—even though its available from the station you first set up. WeatherLink Live creates a separate and new station, which is annoying.
It is disappointing and gives us pause in recommending it to current Davis station owners. Some of us might have years of data we’d like to import. For the time being, we’ve kept both the WeatherLink live station and the station that is connected to our console dongle so we can continue to access that data.
If Davis could provide us with some way to import that data over, we’d be so much happier.
These problems do not affect new station owners, though, since you won’t have any previous data to worry about (at least from a Davis station). For these folks, we’d strongly recommend you start with a WeatherLink Live in your setup. It’s worth it.
The Live Updating is Awesome
I’m a fan of live updating. During wind and rainstorms, we were able to monitor new data coming in as it was measured. Wind speed and direction are updated every 2.5 seconds, and rainfall is updated every 10 seconds. The live updating is much easier than having to back out of the station data page in the app and re-enter to see new data.
It’s as close to a console experience as you can get on a mobile phone and more modern than the aging Davis display consoles. While new display consoles are on the way apparently, this will do for now.
Smart Home Support is There, But Basic
Right now, the only smart home support available is for Alexa, using the WeatherLink skill. The skill works well and will read out your conditions for you. But as of now, that’s it. What we’d like to see next here is support for Google Assistant, and smart home platforms like IFTTT so we can use this data to control other smart home devices.
The good news is that the WeatherLink Live platform has everything set to make this possible, so it’s only a matter of time before Davis adds it.
What We Really Liked
We love just about everything the WeatherLink Live offers. It answers a lot of problems that the old methods of connectivity from Davis had. The live updating through the app is some of the fastest we’ve seen, and the Alexa connectivity works well.
What We Didn’t Like
The need to create an entirely new station for the WeatherLink Live stinks. It separates you from a lot of your data—especially if you’ve had your Davis station for a long time and didn’t use the clunky software. There’s got to be a way to merge this data and not require an entirely new station. Again, this ONLY affects previous station owners.
Are There Better Alternatives?
While other platforms may offer better smart home connectivity at a much lower price, there are very few that can match Davis’s accuracy. And the dongle method isn’t all that much cheaper and is likely to be phased out with time.
Should You Buy It?
The WeatherLink Live is expensive as a standalone product, but as part of the bundles Davis now offers, it’s much better value. While it still puts a dent in your wallet, you’re getting necessary modern technologies to future-proof your station. We’d strongly recommend it if you’re purchasing a new station. However, long-time Davis owners may want to wait until Davis figures out some of the historical data migration issues are addressed.