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18 Aug 2017

Should you buy a Netatmo Weather Station?

The Netatmo Weather Station enables you to keep track of your local environment, both inside and outside of your home. But is it any good?

The Netatmo Weather Station allows you to monitor your own local climate on your smartphone. But is it a worthy investment or just a smart home gimmick? Find out what happened when our researcher took it home to try it out.

Britain is undoubtedly a nation obsessed with the weather. Whether it's the wind, rain, hail or whatever else our dynamic climate may throw at us, it's always a reliable conversation starter.

Likely to appeal, therefore, to our strong community of weather watchers is the Netatmo Weather Station. While the French connected-home company is commonly known for its smart thermostat and wireless security camera, Netatmo's smart home weather station has been on the market for a while now.

So is it worth its £120 price tag? Read on to find out our first impressions, including whether it's actually accurate and what you need to know about the Netatmo Weather Station's sensors.

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What is the Netatmo Weather Station?

Netatmo's Weather Station consists of two elegant aluminium units - one indoor and one outdoor sensor. It uses your home wi-fi connection and is fully automatic.

The indoor and outdoor sensors (left), the rain gauge (centre) and wind gauge (right)

The indoor unit monitors the quality of the environment inside, measuring the room's temperature, humidity, CO2 and noise levels. Meanwhile, the smaller outdoor sensor keeps track of the outside temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. If you'd like, there's also the option to add the rain gauge (£59), wind sensor (£90) and up to three additional indoor modules for monitoring different rooms, each costing £59.

You can monitor all your current and historical data in real-time on your smartphone or computer using the free Netatmo web or mobile app.

Setting up the Netatmo Weather Station

The set-up process is pretty straightforward and it shouldn't take you more than around 15 minutes to have the two main units connected and up and running. We set it up using the mobile app, but you can use your computer if you'd prefer.

You'll be prompted to register a free Netatmo account before getting started. From there, it's a case of plugging the indoor unit into the mains and following the app's on-screen instructions to get it connected to the wi-fi. The indoor unit acts as the 'base' station and communicates wirelessly with the outdoor sensor, which is battery-powered.

Once installed, we didn't run into any reception problems - but it did take several minutes for the outdoor sensor to successfully connect and start reporting. If you do opt for any of the additional sensors, you can start their set-up process through the app's settings page.

The app's on-screen instructions were simple to follow, but it's worth mentioning that the paper documentation provided is fairly sparse and picture-based. If you're the type of person who likes a manual to fall back on, you'll have to look to Netatmo's online help centre.

Once you're ready to place the outdoor sensor outside, Netatmo provides a screw and wall plug for mounting it to a fence post or wall, as well as a Velcro strap should you wish to mount it to a pole. Although it can be freestanding, the additional wind sensor is designed to be used in conjunction with the Netatmo Mount to attach it to a pole or railing - this is sold separately and will cost you a further £20.

The Netatmo app and Weathermap

The app's home screen (left and centre) and the Netatmo Weathermap (right)

As long as you have an internet connection, you can use the web or mobile app to monitor all of your weather station's readings anytime, anywhere. Overall, we found it to be well-presented and easy to navigate.

The mobile app's home screen displays all of the current conditions, as well as a 7-day forecast summary for your location - a useful addition if you'd like to keep an eye on how your observations compare with the forecast. Rotate your phone into the horizontal position to access interactive graphs of your readings, allowing you to track trends and changes over time.

One minor gripe we have with the app is its refresh rate. While the weather station automatically transmits readings every five minutes, the app only refreshes the data every ten.

If you'd like some increased functionality, the web app has a few extra features, including the ability to export your data to Excel - this is only possible for the outdoor sensors, though.

Another interesting feature is the Netatmo Weathermap. It's a global map of Netatmo weather stations, populated by users worldwide. Your station will contribute data to this by default, but you can choose to deactivate it if you'd prefer to keep your data and station's location private.

You can view interactive graphs of all your data when you rotate your mobile device.

How accurate are the readings?

On the whole, we were generally impressed with the accuracy of the Netatmo Weather Station. Its outside temperature, humidity and rainfall readings never strayed too far from other local and official weather stations, and were typically a good representation of the local conditions.

However, if truth be told, the accuracy of the readings is largely dependent on where you place the sensors - this can be tricky in most residential situations. You'll want to make sure that the outdoor sensor is never exposed to direct sunlight, as that will give you wildly inaccurate temperature readings. We put ours on a north-facing wall at approximately head height.

Similarly, you'll want to place the indoor unit somewhere well-ventilated, but away from open windows, radiators or direct sunlight.

With regards to the additional sensors, the rain gauge should sit just above ground level, away from the shelter of trees or buildings. The wind sensor, however, is the most difficult sensor for which to find a suitable mounting location. Unless you live in open countryside, it's likely that your wind sensor will experience significant obstruction from surrounding trees or buildings, meaning the readings will not reflect reality.

Whether you have a suitable place to position the wind sensor is probably the most important thing to consider before purchasing that additional module.

It's Alexa compatible

Although not something we tried during our first look, the Netatmo Weather Station is now compatible with Amazon's Alexa voice-assistant. If you have an Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to tell you what the Netatmo's outside temperature reading is, for example.

If you're interested in smart home integration, check out our guide to home automation.

Which? first look Netatmo Weather Station verdict

The Netatmo Weather Station may not satisfy the most serious weather enthusiasts, and it will likely be a step too far for others. However, its key strength is its ability to collate all your current and historical data into one intuitive app that you can access anytime and anywhere.

It's an expensive gadget by anyone's standards, but if you're looking for a simple solution to log and monitor your local environment - both inside and outside - it could be the ideal addition to your home.

Want to set up the ultimate smart home? Go to smart home and gadgets.