We had pretty strong conflicting feelings when we first looked at Netatmo’s Urban Weather Station three years ago — on the one hand, the French developer has created an aesthetically impressive, intuitive, and easy-to-use weather monitoring solution that really “just works.” On the other hand, at $179, it was priced at a level that makes it a tough call for all but the serious weather enthusiast. Despite this, however, Netatmo has continued to expand the Urban Weather Station’s ecosystem with the addition of a Rain Gauge ($79), allowing users to measure and keep track of rainfall.
In the box you’ll find the Rain Gauge unit and two AA batteries to power it. You might be surprised to find out how little there seemingly is to the hardware — it’s basically a bucket that funnels rain into a central core where two tipping buckets are used to measure the amount of rainfall. Since the device is designed to work in the rain, however, the batteries and other electronics are enclosed in a waterproof seal, with a sturdy screw-down covering.
The Rain Gauge is an add-on for Netatmo’s Urban Weather Station, so you’ll need to have the base system already in place before adding the new unit. Adding a Rain Gauge to your system is about as simple as setting up the Netatmo in the first place, with the iOS app walking the user through the steps of pairing the additional unit with the main Netatmo base station. As we noted in our review of the base system, the user experience is great, both in terms of the setup experience and then in daily use afterward. We’ve had a Netatmo system of one outdoor and three indoor stations in use over the past two years and it’s really something you don’t need to think about other than to change the batteries about once a year. The addition of the Rain Gauge continues that same approach — once it’s paired, you place it outside where it will collect rainfall and it just reports your rainfall without any further effort required on your part.
You can check your rainfall stats through the Netatmo app — the same one you use to check data from your Urban Weather Station — and in fact Netatmo has very recently released a major update to the app, providing a stunning new design. Rainfall data is reported privately to Netatmo’s cloud servers once every five minutes, along with your other weather data, whether the app is running or not, so it will continue to work in the background and keep everything up to date even if you only open the app once every couple of months. In addition to the app, you can also check your weather data by logging into your Netatmo account from any web browser.
The app continues to be one of the most well-designed weather apps we’ve seen, and the Rain Gauge just adds another panel of data, providing rainfall stats for the current day alongside the forecast rainfall amount. Turning your iPhone sideways will display a series of graphs, and the addition of the Rain Gauge adds a bar graph representing rainfall over time. In addition. Netatmo includes a Today extension so you can see current data from the Rain Gauge, alongside your other stations, on your Today screen in Notification Center.
The Rain Gauge is a clever idea for somebody who wants to track this information, and there’s really not much more to say about it than that it really just sits there and quietly does its job. As great as the Netatmo solution is, however, the downside is that while the Rain Gauge is only $79, it’s an add-on that requires the $179 Urban Weather Station, bringing the total cost of the solution to nearly $260. If you’re already a Netatmo user and care about tracking rainfall, picking up the Rain Gauge is a pretty easy choice, as it’s a great addition to an already excellent weather monitoring system. Beyond that, however, the Netatmo Urban Weather Station and Rain Gauge continues to be priced at a level that only serious weather or gadget enthusiasts are likely to be able to justify.
Company and Price
Model: Rain Gauge
Compatible: iPhone 4 and later, iPad mini, iPad 2 and later, iPod touch 5G and later