There are many uses for historical weather information, but your desktop console often does not store more than a few hours of past data for review. This is where personal weather station software comes in, and why we recommend that you install it yourself to get the most out of your investment.
If you’re only using your personal weather station to find out the current weather conditions, you’re not using your station to its fullest potential. You can forecast and analyse much more by looking at weather trends over the longer term versus just observing whatever is happening at any given moment.
For example, seeing how a shift in wind direction affects weather conditions and temperature over several hours may provide clues as to what the weather may do in the near future. Also, reviewing weather observations for an extended period of time may help you better decide whether you might need to water your garden more as a result of overall drier weather to ensure optimal growth, and so on.
Where Can I Get Free Weather Station Software?
Most weather stations come with software in the box. There are a few stations—most notably the Davis Vantage Pro2 and Davis Vantage Vue—where you’ll need to purchase some type of attachment or dongle to connect it to a software program, but those are few and far between.
There are also third-party software options available if the included software doesn’t meet your needs, which we’ll cover later. While typically these are “shareware,” meaning you can download them for free to try but must pay for a license if you plan to continue to use them, a few options are available at no cost. Generally, the free weather software options are limited and often lack reliable customer support.
We think the included software options will be sufficient for most, although your specific situation might require a software application that is more robust. Additionally, Mac users might run into compatibility issues, as most manufacturers only produce software for the Windows platform and not the macOS. In this case, your only software option may be a third-party application.
Can I Just Use the Weather Underground Instead?
Modern personal weather stations offer internet connectivity, which in turn allows the station to upload data to the Internet. A popular destination for sharing weather data over the Internet is Weather Underground, which is the world’s largest database of live personal weather stations. If merely sharing your weather data to the world is your biggest goal, then just uploading it to the service will be sufficient.
The Weather Underground has its limitations. The service is ideal for displaying up-to-the-minute data from your station. However, its historical data options are limited. Because of the sheer amount of data the Weather Underground must process due to the thousands of stations on its network, it only captures data about every 10 minutes. Additionally, its display options for historical data are limited, so if you are looking for specific weather data (say a graph of a select number of days), you’re restricted in how it is displayed.
It's, for this reason, we instead recommend you install a software package to analyze historical data versus relying on a service like Weather Underground. A Software suite gives you much more control over how your data is displayed, as well as giving you the option to store data as frequently or infrequently as you’d like.
Our Weather Station Software Recommendations
What software is the best to use? Here are our recommendations.
WeatherLink (Windows and Mac): If you’re a Davis weather station owner, you don’t have much of a choice other than to purchase the WeatherLink software—regardless of whether you use it or not. This is because the software itself is bundled with a special dongle that is necessary to connect your Vantage Vue or Vantage Pro2 to your computer. While the software itself is a bit dated, it offers a high degree of customizability on how you can view your data. It also allows you to upload your weather data to the Internet, either through the Weather Underground or to your own website.
AmbientWeather.net (Web): Ambient Weather's cloud based service is one of the most-recently developed personal weather station software options. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly because it is both a cloud and web-based service that it will run on any device with a web browser. Compatible with a wide variety of manufacturers either directly or with the addition of the Ambient Weather WeatherBridge. What catches our eye here is the IFTTT support, which allows you to use your weather data to trigger events on your smart devices and the Amazon Alexa support which allows you to ask Alexa for a report on the current conditions or for a report about a specific day, month or year.
Cumulus (Windows/Mac/Linux): A free option—as long as you're willing to deal with outdated software—is Sandaysoft's Cumulus. Its interface reminds us a lot of WeatherLink. Dated, but incredibly powerful. We'd even argue Cumulus does graphs better. Sandaysoft says the software should work with Davis stations with the dongle, in addition to some Oregon Scientific, Fine Offset, and La Crosse models. Check their site to confirm your station is compatible.
WeatherSnoop (Mac): For Mac users, WeatherSnoop is the best option for broad compatibility. A companion iOS app allows you to also view data from your iPhone and iPad when you’re not at home. The Lite version is focused solely on getting your weather data online, so we’d recommend the Pro version of the software to get the analytical features that we consider a ‘must have’ when considering weather station software.
WeeWX (Mac/Linux): Feeling a bit daring and adventurous? If you have some tech and computer smarts, WeeWX might be a worthwhile option. It’s completely free and open source and allows you to customize how it outputs data to organize web pages better. It can even upload your data to Weather Underground too. We do caution however that you must be comfortable with Linux, as it operates off the command line, and doesn’t have a friendly graphical user interface. But because it’s such a small and nimble program, you can run it on a Raspberry Pi, negating the need to leave your main computer on all of the time.
Weather Display (Windows/Mac/Linux): One of the leading software packages to get the most from your weather station that was first released in the year 2000 and is still continually upgraded by the developer. Weather Display includes features such as real time data display, graph history, FTP transfer of the weather data to your own web page, email/text notifications of extreme conditions and data transfer to Weather Underground. The software is compatible with a wide range of stations from manufacturers including Davis, AcuRite, La Crosse and Oregon Scientific. A lifetime license with free updates will set you back $60.