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How to use an anemometer

Last Updated: 06.12.21

Anemometers are instruments commonly utilized to measure the speed of the wind. To an untrained eye, they might look like a weather vane, but the latter is used to determine wind direction, not speed. Wind meters are available for a variety of prices and come in a wide array of shapes and sizes, and that’s why it is a good idea to start your prospecting journey by comparing anemometers.

They can be found at a plethora of retail department stores, usually near the kitchen scales (look here for some options) but many online retailers also sell them. It is a good idea to try to understand as much about them as possible before choosing a specific one and then telling how you can make the most of it when using it. Don’t dismiss the importance of research but look at it as a necessity, after all you would do the same if you were to learn more about how to choose a good analytical lab scale that meets all your needs.

What type do you have?

There are several kinds of anemometers available out there. Some are digital while others are mechanical, but there are also laser interferometer anemometers and ultrasonic models that one needs to consider. Doppler laser anemometers are the most accurate of all, and that is why they are commonly utilized in laboratories.

From all of these designs and varieties, the mechanical and digital ones are those that you might find online these days. Don’t undermine the importance of a weather station, either, as it can offer you important data regarding the weather. And the best thing about them is that you can even make your own.

Weather station anemometers are outfitted with sensors that enable them to measure anything ranging from the temperature, be it indoor or outdoor, to the heat index, time, moon phase, humidity, wind chill, wind direction, and wind gust speed.

In order to provide accurate results, the sensor array of a weather station has to be installed outdoors so as to avoid any obstruction.


Using a digital handheld anemometer

Digital anemometers are convenient, versatile, and above all, very easy to use. Most of those that we have stumbled upon have a portable design, which means that they are compact enough to be carried in a handbag or backpack, and some are so small that they can even fit into a pocket of your jacket.

Unless you are a professional who is trying to make the most of the weather and predict it as accurately as possible, you are likely to use a digital anemometer for any outdoor activity that ranges from fishing and sailing to kite flying and surfing. For those that have never utilized such a gadget before, a first-time experience can be somewhat baffling. Read on to learn how to use it.

A handheld anemometer needs to be placed facing the wind direction. Much like the sensor array of the weather station that we were mentioning earlier on, it is a good idea to use the handheld device in an area where there’s virtually no chance of the wind encountering an obstacle.

So if you want to use the anemometer in the middle of the woods, it might be pointless as it couldn’t tell you what the wind speed outside of that forest is. You can also use a mechanical anemometer in these outdoor settings, but with a digital option, the information received by the device will be processed and then displayed conveniently on its screen.

Hot-wire sensor anemometers

There is an even more advanced method of measuring the wind speed, and it consists of using a hot-wire sensor. Unfortunately, from what we have noticed by scouring the market, these kinds of meters can cost a pretty penny. Their technology is far more advanced compared to that employed by digital alternatives.

Hot-wire anemometers rely on wires that have to create heat by sending out electrical current. The wires are linked to tungsten or another kind of metal, which is normally quite sensitive to temperature variations. Therefore, this type of meter relies on that metal to measure the wind speed. How can this happen?

The temperature of the metal will either increase or decrease in accordance with the amount of air flow it receives. As such, the device will be capable of calculating the wind velocity based on how hot the metal connected to the wires is. The hot-wire sensor anemometer is by far one of the most accurate alternatives out there, and that’s why they are highly recommended for professionals.

Unfortunately, their hefty price tag makes them out of reach for amateurs and regular consumers. Nonetheless, they do ensure a series of advantages, with many of them being capable of storing readings for further analysis. That is why it’s said that they mostly address the needs of meteorologists and other professionals who study wind patterns.

Other common uses of anemometers

We’ve already noted some of the applications for which such a device might be worth its weight in gold. However, we have decided that a bit of extra info might be helpful, which is why we have made a list of some of the common activities that an anemometer is employed for and who might benefit from using it.

It goes without saying that the first people we should think of are scientists whose jobs involve measuring environmental conditions. However, hunters, windsurfers, sailboat owners, as well as hobbyists and weather enthusiasts should also consider using an anemometer. Paragliders, safari guides, and virtually anyone who lives in a rural area should, too.

Any individual who flies RC planes or drones should be aware of the weather conditions so as to make sure that their devices do not get damaged. Finally, one type of professional that needs to use an anemometer on a regular basis is someone who installs HVAC units. Home inspects, and facility managers fall into the same category as such personnel needs to ensure that the performance of any appliance in charge with heating, ventilating, or air conditioning is up to par.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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