Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Review - The Bresser / National Geographic WIFI Weather Center 7in1

Bresser / National Geographic 7in1 monitoring the weather in Pickering

Following on from my previous blog reporting on my experiences with the unreliability of budget weather stations, this is a review of my latest unit, the National Geographic WIFI Weather Center 7in1 by Bresser UK. This unit replaced a more expensive Youshiko YC9391 unit - which lasted less than six months before failing under warranty. 

The Bresser range of weather stations are supplied by Bresser GmbH Germany, however the units can be ordered from Bresser's UK Office and website based in Kent. The Bresser Company has been trading now for over sixty years. 

No duty was payable for my unit on delivery (Post Brexit April 2021). The range of stations available is extensive, currently starting at £35 and going up to £433. The units are branded as either Bresser, Explore Scientific or National Geographic. This review is for the mid-range 7in1 National Geographic model. This review was written after the unit had been in service for just 3 weeks. 

This model and similar units in the Bresser range do not rely on a computer to transfer data to the internet. Data is uploaded from the control panel directly to publicly available websites via the users own router, which becomes an "Access Point".  A comprehensively written 22 page English Quickstart printed manual is included for set up and maintenance and this is also supplied in German.

An adaptable mounting kit for fixing the 7in1 unit to a circular pole is supplied, or the mounting bar with shoe can be fixed permanently to a flat surface. The supplied clamp was used with stainless steel hardware to fix the mounting bar to a 30mm length of tubing attached via u-bolts to a small mounting bracket on the gable end of my home.

The 7 in 1 unit fixed to its mounting bar and fixing shoe prior to erection

The 7in1 Unit

The moulded plastics used are of good quality. The unit weighs 673 grams. Incorporated in the unit is a rain chamber, which operates using a conventional tipper, outdoor temperature gauge, anenometer for wind speed measurement and weather vane for measuring wind direction. In addition humidity and UV / light intensity index is also measured. In use, the effect of sunlight on the temperature sensor does not influence the readings.  A spirit level is incorporated in the top of the unit to ensure level mounting, so that in theory at least, the rain gauge remains accurate.  To power the 7in1 unit I used three Duracell Ultra AA batteries. It will be interesting to see over time how long the batteries will last...

The 7in1 unit mounted in proximity to the writers Amateur Radio antennae

The unit passes weather data at a power level of >25mW on a frequency of 868 Mhz to the control panel inside my home. A range of 150m is claimed - in my installation the signal passes through two masonry walls and two wooden floors to the panel 11m distant from the 7in1 unit. The panel indicates that the signal strength is 4 bars, which is the maximum indication.  

The Control Panel

The control panel is smaller and brighter in colour than my previous unit. It is small enough not to look out of place on top of a worktop, window sill or piece of furniture. The unit is powered by the supplied 5 VDC plug-in mains power supply. Backup is via a CR2032 button cell. No batteries for either unit are supplied by Bresser. 

The panel has internal sensors for indoor temperature and barometric pressure. The display is highly configurable for various parameters of each weather characteristic. I prefer to observe wind gusts in mph, temperature in centigrade, absolute pressure in millibars hPa and rainfall in millimetres.  The unit also displays the "feels like" temperature which I can vouch as being accurate when we have a "nithering northerly" or a "beast from the east" cold wind! In terms of accuracy all measured units can be calibrated electronically during setup. The barometer was actually reading six units high compared to the local airfields, so the panel was recalibrated to match the accurate air pressure. Several weeks later the reading has remained accurate. 

National Geographic / Bresser Monitoring Panel

In addition to monitoring the 7in1 weather data the smart device picks up and displays date, time, and moon state data which it obtains from the internet.

During installation and calibration the control panel becomes an Access Point, allowing set up using WiFi via a tablet, phone, laptop or personal computer. The set up interface can be displayed on Android or iOS devices. The frequency used for the purpose of access is in the commonly used 2.4 Ghz band. I had no problems in accessing the panel settings using an Android tablet or smartphone and a Windows 10 laptop, which all allowed me to save the settings.  The panel was set up to provide viewable current and historical data to three publicly available websites - see below.

Internet Connectivity

These latest Smart Devices no longer need a direct connection to a computer to upload data to external websites, as earlier models and many current units still require. This is a positive advantage, to provide 24/7 day monitoring without the need to rely on a computer to be left on continuously, yet still sharing the weather data via the users router to a website. In the case of my installation the data is uploaded to Weathercloud, Weather Underground and AWEKAS.  All three websites provide a free service to registered users.  You can see the results at: Weathercloud, Weather Underground and AWEKAS. One last important point to note - this unit is covered by the Bresser five year warranty

The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WIFI Colour Weather Center with 7in1 Sensor is available at £189 plus £5.95 carriage from Bresser UK 

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