There are many choices out there when it comes to personal weather stations, especially on the cheaper side of things. But with these cheap stations come compromises. That’s why I was skeptical of the claims Ambient Weather made about the WS-2902C.
Ambient Weather promised us a station that would give the Davis Vantage Vue a run for its money in terms of accuracy, but with far superior smart home and connectivity features, and at a price far cheaper than the Vantage Vue or any of the smart home-enabled weather stations out at the time.
Such bold claims should be looked at with skepticism, but they seem to be true. AmbientWeather.net, the WS-2902C’s cloud-based Internet portal, is far superior to other web and app dashboards we’ve seen.
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both supported so that you can ask for your station’s conditions by voice. IFTTT is also built-in, and you trigger other smart devices to do things based on the readings your station collects.
For the most part, the WS-2902C lives up to the hype. While most of the sensors perform well, the Vantage Vue still has the advantage. The LCD console is fairly basic — one of the places Ambient Weather had to compromise on to keep the station cheap.
But for the casual weather observer, the WS-2902C is perfect and the best budget weather station available.
Setting up the WS-2902C
The WS-2902C instrumentation includes all your basics, like indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, and rainfall. We were pleasantly surprised to find a UV and light (solar) sensor, usually only found on mid-grade and pro-level weather stations.
The large 3-inch by 6.75-inch display is also another highlight. It was recently redesigned to more prominently display most commonly sought information like temperature and rainfall. Also, it is viewable from a wider angle than previous revisions (this is the third, thus “C”).
The sensor suite of the WS-2902C is an “all in one,” and installation is simple. The weather station ships mostly pre-assembled, with only the wind vane, anemometer cups, and the rain gauge funnel to attach. Install the batteries, put it on a mast of some kind, and your up and running awfully quick.
We love the directions — they’re written in a way that is easy to follow. That’s what speeds the process along. Downloading the app helps you install the connectivity options, but you can choose to do it through the web-based portal.
Once that’s all set up, you’ll be able to view your station remotely, either through the app or the website. If you want, you can connect your WS-2902 to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant. or IFTTT — as well as share your data with Weather Underground.
AmbientWeather.net now allows non-owners to access Ambient Weather station data through its front page, and the station is set to be public by default. There is an option to make your data private, however.
High-end features at a budget price
The WS-2902C’s low price would lead you to believe that this would be some middle-of-the-road weather station, but it most definitely isn’t. Ambient Weather has packed a good deal of functionality into the WS-2902C. The smart home capabilities work well, and accuracy was above my expectations.
Temperature, humidity, and wind readings generally matched up well with my Davis Vantage Vue. The rain gauge generally performed to our expectations, although with a tendency to overcount rainfall in downpours.
One issue we had was with the barometric pressure sensor, which seemed to react aggressively to fast pressure changes, requiring us to recalibrate it more often than we’d like.
We originally tested the WS-2902A. Ambient Weather may have fixed the issue in either the B or C revisions. If you have either station version, we’d love to hear from you on your experience and will update this review accordingly.
It also has a far longer update interval than Ambient’s higher-end WS-5000, at 16 seconds for outdoor sensors and just over a minute for indoor sensors. That’s quite slow and might pose an issue in quickly changing weather conditions.
But where Ambient Weather has not cut corners is in construction. Generally, it doesn’t appear any less well constructed than more expensive stations. I’m surprised, to be truthful, considering most stations in the same price range as the WS-2902C look every bit the part of a cheap station.
The radiation shielding that protects your thermometer/hygrometer from direct sunlight actually seemed to work better than my Vantage Vue in preventing false temperature spikes.
Ambient Weather also includes a UV and light sensor in the WS-2902C sensor suite, something that isn’t often found on stations of this price. The company does allow for a bigger margin of error than Davis does for its UV and solar radiation sensors with the Vantage Pro2, so I’m assuming these sensors are of lower quality.
Connectivity options aplenty
Ambient Weather’s stations report their data to AmbientWeather.net, the company’s cloud platform. You can access your data either through the web portal, or an app that is available for both iOS and Android.
IFTTT support makes this the cheapest full-featured weather station to support smart home connectivity. During the test, we used the data from the light sensors to control our lights during the evening, and had no issues at all.
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support can also be activated, allowing you to ask your digital assistant to read out your current conditions. For Alexa, ask “Alexa, ask Ambient Weather for the indoor/outdoor weather report,” or ask for weather information for a specific date. With Google Assistant, it’s similar, say, “Hey Google, Ambient Weather indoor/outdoor weather report.”
Word of warning, however, every measurement is reported back. There’s no way to ask for specific information, like the day’s highs and lows or the daily rainfall, for example.
The WS-2902C is a budget favorite
Having tested so many weather stations, coming across a surprise like the WS-2902C is rare. Usually, price is the biggest factor in determining whether a weather station will be good enough.
The Ambient WS-2902C was the first to break the mold. Most of the sensors hold up against mid-range weather stations in terms of accuracy. The connectivity support is the best of any station we’ve tested and is the reason why Ambient stations score highly in that department.
Ambient Weather WS-2902C
Cheap weather stations often cut a lot of corners. Ambient Weather's WS-2902C station isn't one of them -- and is surprisingly good.
Product SKU: WS-2902C
Product Brand: Ambient Weather
Product In-Stock: InStock