The WeatherFlow Tempest is a weather station that was designed to combine complex and accurate data with an easy user experience. So, as you can imagine, we were all very excited to get our hands on one.
But while the WeatherFlow Tempest was first announced in 2016, and early models were released in 2018, it didn’t make it to commercial markets until 2020. That’s a lot of time for anticipation to build — and expectation to grow.
But interested parties may have found their excitement faded slightly when the reason for the hold up became clear. WeatherFlow was attempting to create an innovative rainfall detection method, and it was taking a while to get right.
Instead of using the standard tipping-bucket method, they were experimenting with haptic sensors that detected touch. They had the potential to be great, but the stalled roll-out indicated issues behind the scenes.
So, by the time the station was released, people were anticipatory, while also keenly aware of the potential faults.
Now the WeatherFlow Tempest is with us, we can see the results of this hold up. And although the overall performance of the station has garnered praise, impressions of the rain gauge are distinctly mixed.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at all the things we like about the WeatherFlow Tempest. There is a lot to like. But we’ll also cover the flaws, and discuss whether the station has enough positives to make up for any errors.
WeatherFlow Tempest Set Up
Our experience with the WeatherFlow Tempest got off to an excellent start. The sleek white box with the clean and minimal design that the Tempest arrived in looked impressive, and brought to mind the best smart technology.
We were already looking forward to getting it set up.
The positive feelings grew when we took the Tempest out of the box. Most weather stations take at least an hour to set up, and the worst of them seem to require an advanced degree in engineering.
But the WeatherFlow Tempest comes in essentially just two pieces, with much of the work already done for you.
The Tempest station itself is small and light. Portability might not seem like an essential feature, but it does make installation easier.
And it means you have more options when it comes to installation, because you don’t have to worry about exactly how you’ll get bulky sensors in the right place.
Included with the station are the installation and user guide. This was clear and comprehensive, and helped us through the already intuitive installation.
The first thing you need to do is get the Tempest app set up and connected. This is easy for anyone who has ever installed an app, and even those who haven’t.
Simply head to the Play Store or App Store, and download the Tempest app. As you create your account, plug the base station into an outlet. There should be an LED light indicating that the station is charged for installation. (Once installed, it uses solar power).
With your user account set up, all you need to do is configure the station. The app walks you through this, and the whole process is incredibly simple.
The station runs over the Wi-Fi, but you can get raw data without an internet connection thanks to a UDP and BLE broadcast. We found the app clean and easy to navigate, and that it integrated well with a smart home.
Having connected to the app, it’s time to actually install the weather station. There are two mounting options included: a collar that tightens around a 1-inch pipe, and a baseplate with a standard ¼-20 thread.
Of course, you still have to find the right place to actually install the station for accurate results, but you’ll find this concern seems reduced when set up takes minutes, not hours.
All in all, we found setting up the Tempest took less than ten minutes, and several of those minutes were spent appreciating how easy it was. We reckon you could probably get it all ready to go in just five minutes.
If this is your first weather station, WeatherFlow makes it easy to understand how to position your sensors correctly for accuracy.
Although set up might seem like only a small part of the overall quality, the ease of installation meant we were looking forward to using the station and app.
Functions And Uses Of The WeatherFlow Tempest
The Tempest app is the device that connects you with the data collected by the station. From here, you can view the information as it’s obtained by your sensors, and measurements collected from WeatherFlow sensors around the world.
The overall design of the app is good, with user experience clearly highly valued. The landing page displays everything you might need at a glance: the current data, an hourly forecast, and a 10-day forecast.
You are then able to navigate to the current data in greater detail, and to the history. The history data is extensive, giving you averages across days to months. As well as overviews, you can access in-depth data displays, collected by the sensors.
The app is incredibly easy to navigate, with data laid out in a way that’s clear to read. A quick glance at the homepage will tell you everything you need to immediately know. Navigation is simple, and the page isn’t cluttered with extraneous information.
So, what exactly does the Tempest station monitor? The station has a:
- Light sensor, detecting ambient light, the UV index, and solar radiation.
- Haptic rain sensor, measuring rain onset, duration, intensity, and accumulation.
- Sonic wind sensor, monitoring continuous wind speed and direction.
- Lightning sensor, detecting strikes and distance up to 40 kilometers.
- Temperature and humidity.
- Pressure sensor station and sea level pressure.
We’ll go into how well we think these sensors perform below, but this is the information you have access to on the app. There are more than 15 weather measurements, which are all displayed in a user-friendly manner.
You also have access to customizable charts and graphs, so you can make the most of the data as you need it.
The app will also provide you with real time alerts, which can be sent as push notifications. It can warn you of oncoming rain or storms, and it integrates with IFTTT. And that’s another feature of the WeatherFlow Tempest that we like: the integrations.
The Tempest is smart home ready, and the data collected can be used to perfect temperature, adjust irrigation, and more. Among the integrations are Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Data is collected from the WeatherFlow Tempest roughly every 3 seconds, so you’re getting continuous monitoring. Straight from installation, the app provides a great forecast. As it has time to gather even more information, you can only expect it to get better.
Thanks to the user-friendly interface, we got used to checking the app frequently. It was easy to check updates whenever we had a free minute. And because we knew the app was constantly receiving updates, we knew the information was always up-to-date.
There’s one final thing we loved about the app: it has an interactive map showing Tempest stations around the world. This isn’t exactly an essential, but it’s a fun add-on, and definitely had us spending more time in the app itself.
How Does The WeatherFlow Tempest Perform?
As much as we may have loved the app and set up, the most important thing is, of course, the performance. Overall, we were very much impressed by the performance of the Tempest station.
WeatherFlow claims that the station calibrates itself, and that was certainly what we found. However, a few users have reported some issues with calibration, including drifting as the sensor ages.
Again, this isn’t a problem we had, but it is something to be aware of.
Our favorite sensor is the lightning detector. We found the data to be quick and accurate, but we’ll cover that in more detail below.
We were also a big fan of the wind sensors. As it monitored speed and direction, we found it very useful for planning outdoor activities. Fans of windsurfing and other water sports should find these settings incredibly useful, especially as the data was so easy to check.
Because it factors in information from across the Tempest network, we had access to accurate local data and forecasts.
With all this detailed information, it was easier to plan the days to head to the beach, and when it was better to stay home. We felt we could trust the forecast Tempest provided, which is more than can be said for standard weather apps.
And we also found this trust was repaid in data that turned out to be correct.
We found the other sensors all worked well, and were accurate in comparison with similar systems. Temperature and humidity both performed well, and having this information linked to our smart home was fantastic. As well as adjusting the sprinklers, it meant the temperature in the house could be perfected.
But there was one sensor we had an issue with, and that’s the rain gauge. Admittedly, we did approach the rain gauge with some skepticism. A stalled roll-out won’t fill you with confidence.
And while we could see some benefits to the haptic sensor, there were also some major concerns.
First, what we like. The sensor could be very sensitive, and was able to detect precipitation even before other stations. This is because rather than using the tipping-bucket technique, it uses a haptic sensor.
This allows the station to feel rain hitting the sensor, and warn you early. In light rain, traditional stations can take significantly longer to register showers.
But when it came to measuring rainfall, we found the Tempest had some serious issues. And we aren’t the only ones. In fact, so many users had issues with the rain gauge underestimating the measurements that WeatherFlow had to rethink the system.
It now uses the data from your own Tempest, combined with a radar estimation of precipitation, to produce a Rain Check.
The Tempest rain gauge isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. Although the haptic measure does have some issues, we can see why WeatherFlow are trying so hard to develop the system.
Traditional rain gauges often require significant maintenance for accurate measurements, and this isn’t an issue with the Tempest. And while the estimates are off, they’re close enough for those with a casual interest.
Overall, the sensors are accurate and perform to standard. But the rain gauge is a serious problem, and a persistent issue. Although WeatherFlow are working constantly to improve the haptics, they haven’t got it right just yet. Hopefully, they’ll carry on developing it, because we think the sensors could be something great.
What Are The Pros And Cons? (Hint: Lighting Detection!)
Having had a chance to get to grips with the WeatherFlow Tempest, there is a lot to like about the station. From the basics of the design to the final performance, there was plenty that made the Tempest a weather station worth considering.
One area that we loved, and that we feel deserves some extra mention, is the lightning detector. We were really impressed with both how this performed, and how the data was presented.
First, we found that it detected storms quickly. Lightning alerts came through fast, before other systems knew what was happening. We also found the information was accurate, and the strike numbers were in line with the official information.
Second, we like that the app displays each lightning strike based on both distance and time. It allowed us to see the storm as it hit: when it began approaching, when it hit, and when it started to move away.
It felt like an intuitive way of displaying a lightning storm. Not only does it display the movement of the lightning, but also the intensity. The data felt real.
Lightning detectors aren’t cheap — at least, the accurate ones aren’t. This integrated feature was a bonus, and probably the sensor we most appreciated having.
Knowing accurately when storms are coming is very helpful for outdoor enthusiasts. Along with the impressive wind sensors, this makes it easier to plan when to head out.
Linked to this, another pro of the WeatherFlow Tempest is the app. It was very easy to set up, and incredibly easy to use. Actually, that’s true for the entire station.
Installation is definitely a plus, and once the station is in place, you don’t have to touch it. This is one of the advantages of the haptic sensor rain gauge.
The app interface was intuitive, and all the information was smartly displayed. A quick glance at the homepage told you the basics you needed to know, while in-depth detail was just a click away.
For some, the lack of screen on the Tempest will be an issue, but we like the app so much we didn’t notice. However, if an on-device screen is important to you, be aware that the Tempest doesn’t have one.
Without the app, you won’t know what your weather station is recording.
Related to the app, we also loved the integration. Connectivity is strong and responsive, and compatible with all the major brands, including Alexa and Siri. It made it easier to use the data collected by the Tempest, and actually exploit the possibilities of the weather station.
But the biggest issue is the rain gauge, and it’s a tricky one to ignore. If you’re more interested in using the other sensors and readings, the rain gauge is close enough to not be a real issue.
But it’s also a pretty key part of the weather station, and it drags the overall performance down. And without the accurate rain gauge, the price tag starts to feel a little steep.
The price tag is likely to be another stumbling block for weather enthusiasts. The cost puts it closer to premium weather stations, and we aren’t entirely sure if the performance justifies it.
With a better rain gauge and an on-device display, we’d probably think differently.
Final Thoughts On The WeatherFlow Tempest
On the one hand, it’s easy to condemn the WeatherFlow Tempest for sticking with the flawed haptic rain gauge system, rather than calling it a day and using the tipping-bucket mechanism.
But on the other hand, we appreciate that WeatherFlow has tried something different. And while the technology is currently flawed, we’re hopeful for future improvement.
They’ve clearly been consistently aiming to improve it, and while it isn’t there yet, the system shows promise.
Although the measurements might not be entirely accurate, there are positives to the haptic sensors. They’re able to detect light rain before tipping-bucket sensors, for a start.
They also don’t require the cleaning and maintenance of a traditional gauge. This is a “hands-off” approach, and one we’re sure many will feel the benefit of.
Other than the rain gauge, the sensors are accurate, and we were pleased with the performance. We also appreciated the ease of use of the weather station, and the app display, which was incredibly user-friendly.
The WeatherFlow Tempest is a good station for weather enthusiasts, if not a perfect one.
If WeatherFlow were able to improve the haptic measuring system, it would be excellent. And as the controls and equations can be updated remotely by WeatherFlow, any changes will benefit current users.
However, we think the WeatherFlow Tempest would, instead, be better suited for outdoor enthusiasts. The wind and storm sensors are excellent, as is the overall forecasting ability.
Planning days out was easier when we had the data from the Tempest, and we felt we could trust the information.
Plus, the ease of installation and use are also beneficial for the more casual user. Even if you’ve never used a weather station before, you should be able to get the Tempest set up in no time.
And the data collected is displayed in a clear and easy to read format. Another advantage is the smart home integration, which improves the usability of the station — the data collected can work for you.
Unfortunately, the price tag might be off-putting. It’s a premium price tag that perhaps isn’t completely matched by a premium performance.
There are some issues with the WeatherFlow Tempest, and it depends on your usage how much of a problem they’ll be. The majority of the performance is exceptional, and the smart design makes up for some of the failings.
WeatherFlow has been trying to fix it for long enough now. We’ll keep our fingers crossed they’ll have it sorted soon.
The WeatherFlow Tempest is a weather station with many great features, and a few obvious issues. Although the haptic rain gauge is a clear concern, there might be enough high points to make up for the problem.
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