There are many different types of rain gauges used for various applications, including weather forecasting. The gauge options are dependent on your location, budget, weather requirements, and application. Meteorologists and hydrologists use a rain gauge to track and measure the amount of precipitation received in an area during 24 hours.
We will discuss some primary collection methods in a few advantages and disadvantages of each.
Basic Collection Rain Gauge
This type of gauge may pop to mind the most because you may have seen it in your parent or grandparents’ garden. It may have had advertisements on it or was giving away free at the town market or gas station. It was simply a glass or plastic tube that collected water and was edged with measurement lines where you could read how much rain was collected. Some older styles had sleeves you would slide the tube out for emptying but would have advertisements written on the back.
It was simple and undoubtedly basic but generally not very accurate when it came to measuring rainfall. In some cases, this may be acceptable to get a general idea of how much rain is accumulated over time in a particular spot. Luckily today, we have different options for home applications.
The advantages to this style are that it’s cheap, basically gets the job done. The disadvantage is there not very durable or accurate, especially in windy conditions.
The funnel gauge, which is considered much more accurate, consists of a gradient funnel that empties into a tube with edged markings down to 0.01 and up to 1.00 inches. This cylinder sits in a bucket to catch the overflow. You can typically catch up to 8 inches of rain in one event. This type of rain gauge is recommended for amateur home weather observers and recognized by the National Weather Service.
The advantages of this type of gauge include accuracy, and it’s not that expensive for an official gauge. The disadvantages are that it can be clunky to take the measurements of rain. It would require taking the top funnel off and self-emptying the inner tube after each rain event during a 24-hour period. If water spills into an overflow bucket that would need to be emptied into the inner tube for measuring. If you want to keep historical records, you must write them down and keep logs. This can be time-consuming but for the hobbyist, it’s fun and educational.
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This is popular for collecting and measuring rainfall. Most home self-emptying rain gauges use this method. This technology is interesting because it uses two small “buckets” mounted on a fulcrum. It works like a see-saw. As water fills one side, it causes the bucket to drop and empties, and then the other side starts to fill. This process repeats as sensors record rainfall totals and transmit data to a digital readout typically located in a home or building.
The advantage of this method of measuring is it requires no daily checks or manually emptying or logging rainfall data. You just set up the collection bucket in your yard or garden. Some models are accessed through the internet, making it convenient for checking while on the go.
The disadvantages of tipping buckets for most home models are that they are not always accurate during heavy downpours. Data on occasion are dropped during sudden loss of connections for wireless models, but this is rare but still possible. Spot checks of the funnel hole are needed to ensure spiders or dirt do not clog that restrict water.
Precise by Weight
This method is an apparatus for measuring precipitation consisting of a storage bin weighed to record the mass. Specific models can measure mass using a rotating drum or a vibrating wire. This type of gauge is better than tipping buckets because it more accurately shows the intensity of rain. It can also measure other forms of precipitation, such as snow and hail.
The weighing type recording gauge may also have a device to measure the number of chemicals in the precipitation, for example, acid rain. This weighing method is beneficial to scientists studying the effects of climate change.
These automated weighing gauges called the AWPAG (All Weather Precipitation Accumulation Gauge) are more scientific applications than the causal home uses.
Rain gauges are devices to measure and record the amount of precipitation you have received. There are many types of rain gauges. Some examples are an essential tube rain gauge, funnel-bucket gauge, tipping bucket, a weighing rain gauge, or precise weight.
The advantage of using different types is that you can get the right one for your needs. They also have different price points and for general estimates cheaper sometimes works better.
The disadvantage of using the common types of rain gauges being used by home users is that the designs are usually not as accurate when measuring rainfall intensity. Also, the tube or manual funnel bucket requires emptying and recording., admittedly cumbersome and time-consuming.
Regardless of the method used to record rainfall, it comes with many benefits of knowing how much rain you received especially determining your lawn or garden watering needs.