So, let’s say you are a meteorologist, and you want to get some reading on the general weather conditions in your area.
Or perhaps, you have recently moved to a new part of the country, and you don’t know what the rainfall in your new home is like, and how it may affect your garden and the plants that you’re hoping to grow in it.
Or maybe, you’re just looking to do a little amateur science and statistic gathering for yourself.
Whatever the reason, if you’re looking to get a sense of how much it rains in your local area, you’re going to need the right rain gauge for the job.
After all, measuring something that can come as suddenly and as hard as rainfall is no small order.
Not only that, but knowing how much water normally falls in your area over a week, month, or year, can also help inform you if you need an expensive watering system, such as sprinklers, or if those sorts of items are just frivolous wastes of money.
For these reasons, and plenty more, if you want to check how much rain you get in an area, you’re going to want to find yourself a rain gauge.
But with so many models out there for purchase these days, it can be difficult to narrow down which is best for you. Is ease of installation your main concern?
Do you want or need a digital model or an analog one? So many factors and more can make it difficult to narrow down your choice to just a single product.
Fortunately, we’re here to help make that decision a little easier for you!
In this guide, we are going to show you a collection of different rain gauges that you can purchase right now, along with all their pros and cons that will help you make the most informed choice when it comes to buying one of these handy measuring tools for your research needs.
We’re also going to show you a list of the factors that you should be taking into account when searching for a good rain gauge, in case any of the items we have here don’t quite meet all your needs.
It’s a big market out there, and there’s plenty to look at, so let’s get started!
What Is A Rain Gauge?
Before we get any further into this guide, we should probably explain first what exactly a rain gauge is in the first place.
Perhaps you’re new to gardening or studying water and rainfall, or maybe you just need a quick refresher, since it’s been a while.
Well, there isn’t much to say, because a rain gauge is exactly what it sounds like: it is a tool that is used to measure the amount of precipitation that takes place over a certain period in a given area.
Generally speaking, most commercial rain gauges will measure in millimeters.
This is a vital tool for people who are looking to measure how much rain is in a given area, whether it is for determining what types of places best grow best when taking the local average rainfall into account, or if a researcher is attempting to measure the local climate of a given year, to see if or how it has changed from previous readings.
So, as you can see, it has both academic and commercial uses!
There have been records of rain gauges being used for thousands of years, with the Ancient Greeks using them around 500 BCE.
However, the rain gauges that you’ll find here are much more sophisticated than what people in the bast have used, and with a whole range of extra features too!
Best Rain Gauges
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Starting off our list with one of the strongest entries in this guide, we have the Precision Rain Gauge by Stratus. A rain gauge that is so good that, according to the sellers, you’ll never need to buy another rain gauge again!
Now, that’s a bold claim, so you’d hope that the product measures up to such a declaration.
Fortunately, it looks like Stratus’ words aren’t just overeager advertising, as this product has plenty of features that help lend that claim some credence.
For one, this is an incredibly accurate and precise tool that you can use for measuring precipitation.
Being accurate to within a 100th of an inch, you’ll know down to the fourth decimal digit just how much rain your local area gets. If that’s not precise, then we don’t know what is!
Of course, precision by itself does not a good rain gauge make.
This is why Stratus has also made sure that this device is also incredibly easy to install for yourself, with the quick-connect bracket that is attached to the post making it incredibly easy for the cylinder to be removed for measuring or cleaning incredibly quick and simple.
Plus, as the main tagline of this product suggests, this is a rain gauge that is built to last you a long time.
Analog may feel a little old-fashioned for some customers, but the lack of extra features to go wrong does wonder for its long-term lifespan.
And, with the accuracy of measurements from this device, it’s not like you’re even losing a lot of a digital rain gauge either.
So, if you look up no other product on this list for yourself, then we urge you to take a look at Stratus’ Precision Rain Gauge.
- This highly accurate device can get readings accurate to within 1/100th of the average rainfall amount. That’s seriously accurate!
- Being a durable design that can last for ages outdoors, it is no wonder this is the model used by official weather observers in the United States!
- This rain gauge is easy to install by yourself, too!
- Being an analog device, measuring non-liquid rainfall can be a little trickier than with digital devices, as you have to gauge how much water you’re adding, especially when it comes to snow.
Also Available From: Scientific Sales
Of course, some regions and areas will get significantly more rain than others, meaning that, if you’re going to get those larger measurements without running out of measuring space, you’re going to need a larger rain gauge.
This is where the Jumbo Rain Gauge from EZRead becomes very handy for people taking measurements in heavy precipitation regions.
Coming in at over 25 inches tall, a having a 4-inch diameter, this device can measure up to 5 inches of rainfall in a given area that it is placed, meaning that you’ll be able to get those accurate readings for high rainfall with this oversized rain gauge.
Of course, one of the bigger issues and concerns people have with larger rain gauges is how they stop debris such as leaves or dirt from getting into the measuring tube, affecting the results and making them void.
Fortunately, this is another aspect where the EZRead rain gauge does very well.
The unique funnel design makes sure that items such as that will not accidentally fall into the gauge, keeping your results interference-free and measurable.
Just because a device has a large volume, does not mean that you don’t also need accuracy.
Luckily, the EZRead rain gauge has you covered there too, by using its high visibility float to get the most accurate results possible for an analog rain gauge of this kind.
Plus, it has an extra magnification for easier viewing and reading for yourself.
Being able to read the results of a rain gauge is just as important as getting them in the first place, so this is a great usability feature for it to have.
So, if you are in an area that you think is likely to be hit with large amounts of rainfall, you know that this is a device that will serve you nicely!
- A large measuring volume is perfect for high rainfall areas
- Funnel design stops unwanted debris from entering and ruining your measurements.
- Magnification is a great accessibility feature that makes reading measurements easier.
- The floating measurement system also makes this device very accurate for an analog rain gauge.
- Whilst this device is easy to mount, you do still need to mount it, and does not come with its mounting bracket.
- This product is not resistant to freezing, so be careful when using this in colder regions and areas.
Also Available From: Headwind Products
The rain gauges we have covered so far are all excellent at their given tasks.
However, with weather measurement technology improving so much in the last few years, both in production and reduction of tool sizes, it has never been easier to get not just a good rain gauge product, but the rest of a weather station to go along with it.
This is the premise that is behind the many excellent products that try to combine several weather tools into a single product, such as the Wi-Fi Smart Weather station by Ambient Weather.
This is a tool that is perfect for measuring weather around your home from the comfort of the warm indoors.
Of course, it has the tools needed to help you measure rainfall. But it has so many other tools besides that, from a wind speed measurement tool, temperature and humidity measurements, as well as potential forecasts that are coming up too.
There are so many features on this weather station, you’ll be covered for pretty much every weather-measuring need that you can think of.
The Wi-Fi in its name isn’t just for show, either. All these points of data collection can be viewed for yourself from your smart device.
So, if you want to be able to get readings on more than just rainfall, this is a product that you should consider.
- Doesn’t just measure rain, but is also able to measure levels of indoor or outdoor humidity, as well as barometric pressure!
- It can even measure wind speed and amounts of UV radiation in your local area!
- All these features, and plenty more, can be measured and controlled from your smartphone, saving you the trouble of manually collecting them.
- The device is also very easy to assemble too
- This product uses the same frequency and channels as all products, meaning that data from other nearby Ambient Weather products could affect your readings.
- Being a smart device, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection to use it, which detracts a little if your connection is not ideal or close enough.
Also Available From: Wayfair
Of course, while extra bells and whistles sound great on paper, especially for weather enthusiasts, sometimes you just need a simple device that can get the job done, and done easily, and on a budget.
After all, if you only need rainfall measurements, why spend all the extra cash on tools that you know you won’t use?
This is where the AcuRite easy-to-read rain gauge is an incredibly useful tool. This is the perfect product to buy if you are trying to get measurements on your community garden or allotment, without having to break the bank to do so.
Able to measure up to 5 inches of rainfall wherever it is placed, this is a great device for checking if your area has high precipitation.
Plus, the device numbers are magnified for easier viewing, able to give you relatively accurate readings from just a glance, saving you the time (and your back), from having to bend or kneel over to get a good view.
That may sound like a small detail, but for a mobility-impaired gardener or meteorologist, this makes this measurement tool very accessible to many more people.
Of course, a good rain gauge shouldn’t just have good volume and be easy to read (as nice as those features are).
They also need to be able to stand up to the elements of the outdoors when that rain does it.
Fortunately, AcuRite got it right again in this feature too, being resistant to pretty much any weather condition that mother nature can through at it. Nothing will phase this tough little rain gauge!
Plus, with both hanging holes for placing this in a higher station or a point that allows for easy staking into the ground, installing this product is both adaptable and very easy too!
So, if you are on a budget, and need something that can stand up to the great outdoors, we can easily recommend this AcuRite rain gauge!
- This rain gauge is durable and weather-resistant, even to cold temperatures!
- Magnified numbers make this rain gauge easy to read for pretty much anyone.
- Able to measure up to 5 inches of rainfall too!
- This rain gauge is one of the cheapest products on the market.
- Whilst it is possible to hang this rain gauge, the two holes make placing it against a wall somewhat tricky. Consider staking it in the ground instead if you have trouble.
Also Available From: Home Depot
Ambient Weather doesn’t exactly do half-measures when it comes to their weather equipment, do they? If you’re getting one rainfall-measuring tool, you’re going to get them all!
The WS-5000 is another example of Ambient Weather’s high-quality miniature weather stations.
Its connectivity to a home’s Wi-Fi, as well as a household’s Alexa or Google Home system, makes this device perfect for using while comfortable indoors. You’ll be able to use pretty much all of its features indoors, away from the cold and the rain.
And there are plenty of features for you to sink your teeth into here. It is an Ambient Weather product, after all!
With barometric pressure and humidity sensors, as well as an ultrasonic sensor array, plus a temperature and wind chill measuring tool too!
Of course, with more complicated systems such as this, there is the concern that having so many extras means that there are more parts that can break down and fail, and wrack up a pretty expensive repair bill along the way.
Fortunately, with next to no moving parts, these tools have a surprisingly long lifespan, as well as being very easy for a person to assemble and set up for themselves.
So, if you are looking for more than just a rain gauge to set up in your station or garden, Ambient Weather has a product for you!
- This station doesn’t just have a rain gauge cup, but plenty of extra measurement systems for you to try, such as humidity and air temperature tools, and plenty more!
- This weather station is incredibly easy to set up and assemble for yourself.
- Connectivity to home Wi-Fi makes this a comfortable measuring tool to use, too!
- Whilst the many features of this weather station are useful, if you are only interested in the rain gauge function, you should probably look elsewhere for a simpler option.
Also Available From: Walmart
Of course, there is more to a rain gauge than simply being accurate. After all, what good is all the precision in the world if you can’t read the device in the first place?
That is where products such as the plastic rain gauge from La Crosse are very useful.
Like many of the other useful rain gauges on this list, this device has a magnifying feature for looking at its measurements across the main body of the device, making it easy to see your current reading from a glance whilst still standing up.
The bold white measurement points across the gauge stand out excellently from the deep navy-blue background, meaning that pretty much anyone will find the contrast of colors helpful for getting measurements.
Plus, the lack of extra bells and whistles on this rain gauge means that it is a dependable, if simple, rain-measuring tool that can be used in pretty much any weather condition.
The plastic design also means that there is little to no danger of this device being damaged by weather conditions too.
If you’re worried that a cold snap may destroy the reading that your rain gauge has gathered so far, this is an ideal product to help soothe those fears.
Plus, even if one of these is damaged, their simplicity also means that finding a replacement is both easy and affordable.
If you are looking for an easy-to-read gauge for your garden, we can easily recommend this item for home use.
- This is a durable plastic rain gauge that can survive many different weather conditions, including freezing temperatures.
- Magnified measurements make getting readings incredibly easy.
- This is a very reasonably priced rain gauge, especially if you aren’t looking for extra features
- This model has no way of hanging or attaching it to a post or wall, you’re going to have to stake this rain gauge in the ground, no other option.
Also Available From: La Crosse Technology
We have covered quite a few rain gauges for both ends of the price spectrum. However, we have yet to show you a true digital rain gauge that is perfect for use at home.
So, here we are, with the Wireless Rain Gauge by AcuRite.
If you are looking for a digital rain gauge that doesn’t need any extra features, and no humidity or wind speed tools, this is the perfect robust digital rain gauge.
Not only is it an accurate piece of kit, as well as being able to measure in both millimeters and inches, but it is also able to record the rainfall history of the area that it is placed in once turned on.
This is a great way to build up a record of weather conditions, especially rainfall, in your area, so you can see how much rain your outdoor gardens have received over that few days or weeks.
Not only that, but this digital rain gauge also allows you to set alarms too.
If you are worried that your garden is likely to flood with a rainstorm, this rain gauge can set an alert that tells you what the rate of rain currently is, as well as send you updates on the amount of precipitation every 60 seconds.
Greta tools if you live in an area that experiences plenty of heavy rain.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about emptying it, as the gauge will empty itself when full, whilst still recording the data it had. It’s a perfect autonomous tool!
So, if you need some way to record rainfall on its own in your garden, this is the rain gauge for you!
- Able to give you updates on rainfall every 60 seconds!
- This product self-empties once it is full.
- It can record rainfall rates, without needing extra equipment or techs, such as Wi-Fi or an app.
- Able to set flood alerts from the LED screen.
- Whilst pretty durable, it doesn’t stand up to UV radiation or drastic heat changes very well.
Also Available From: AcuRite
Rain Gauges Buyer's Guide
Digital Vs. Analog
This is likely the most notable distinction that you will find between different models of rain gauges.
Most products on the rain gauge market today are divided into two types: Analog and Digital. They are primarily distinguished by how they gather information on rainfall.
Whereas analog rain gauges will have measured labeled on their vessel that a person needs to read to determine rainfall levels, digital models use sensors and other equipment to determine the water level that is currently in the device and can often be read remotely.
This leads cleanly into some of the main advantages that digital rain gauges have over their analog counterparts, whereas the latter as significantly more manual work that needs to go into measuring and maintaining the device.
The former are much more autonomous, and sometimes don’t even need to be approached to get results from, especially in wireless models.
Because they are using sensor technology, they are also generally more accurate than analog models, as well as often coming with a range of other features too, such as setting rain or flooding alerts, as well as more frequent reports.
However, there are some notable drawbacks to digital rain gauges, mainly in terms of durability.
Even with the toughest of tech, simply using more equipment and technology than analog models means that they usually have a shorter lifespan on average.
Whilst we have made sure to note only the toughest models here, this is a difficult drawback to escape from.
This is a factor that will often determine how often a rain gauge needs to be replaced.
Not only do rain gauges have to be waterproof (obviously), but they also need to be able to be resistant to pretty much any weather condition that would expose them to extreme temperatures, such as hot summers and cold winters, as well as anything else nature might throw at it.
Plenty of factors, such as the material that the rain gauge is made from, and whether it is a digital or analog model, can affect how long the device will last.
You want your rain gauge to yield accurate results, otherwise, you may as well try and count each rain droplet!
Digital rain gauges tend to be more accurate than analog models, although it isn’t difficult to find analog ones that are decently accurate. Plus, analog measles tends to be clearer to understand than digital rain gauges.
Most rain gauges are installed by staking them in the ground. However, many models do also have the option to attach them to a higher elevation, such as with nails or a supplied bracket.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Big Should A Rain Gauge Be?
Generally speaking, most rain gauges should be able to contain between 5 and 6 inches of rainwater.
However, if you live in an area where higher rainfall is likely, consider looking for larger models, such as 7 and 11 rain gauges.
How Do I Clean My Rain Gauge?
Dirt and debris can build up in your rain gauge, throwing off your results.
To keep it clear and usable, gently clear out any dirt with warm, soapy water, and allow it to dry before placing outside again.
Where Should I Keep My Rain Gauge?
Your rain gauge should be shielded, to make sure that it isn’t damaged or affected by wind, and should be clear of any items that could construct it, such as plants or roofs.
They should also be relatively high off the ground, around 5 feet high.
So, there you have it!
Make sure that you keep your rain gauge well-maintained, and it’ll be usable for years to come!
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on 'How Does A Barometer Work, And What Is It?'.