Netatmo Weather Station Homekit Review

Friday, May 21, 2021

Once upon a time, before electricity and microchips, smoke signals were cleverly used for long distant communications. People were even able to successfully predict weather by simply observing the sky - an art that has almost been lost. Observation, alone, has served humanity well and so has the ingenuity of harnessing electrons, which has made everything more convenient, allowing us to talk to someone half way around the world and access weather predictions without even looking at the sky.

If you like a more involved approach to weather forecasting and monitoring, using a gizmo such as the Netatmo weather station is the way to go. It is equipped with electronic sensors that can record basic metrics such as temperature and humidity, as well as indoor air quality. The Netatmo weather station consists of two units, an indoor unit (tall module) and an outdoor unit (short module). Both units are machined out of a single piece of brushed aluminium. The modules have a sleak design with a tall cylindrical shape reminiscent of Emporio Armani perfume atomizers (if you've seen one before, you'll see the resemblance).

Both the indoor and outdoor units are sensory devices, although the indoor unit is also a connecting hub, which means you cannot use the outdoor unit standalone because it needs to indoor module to transmit its data. The Netatmo weather station units work in conjunction with the Netatmo weather mobile app, which requires an account sign up, as well as bluetooth and Wifi to be enabled on the device the Netatmo weather station is being connected to. Once the Netatmo weather app is paired to the station and Wifi configured, you can disable Bluetooth since the Netatmo weather station sends measurements via 2.4Ghz Wifi. 
If you're router is set to dual radio (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz), you will need to change the setting to 2.4Ghz only because the Netatmo weather station does not support 5Ghz. Hotspots are not supported either, which means you won't be able to connect the weather station using a Wifi hotspot on your phone. That said, powerline adapters are supported so, if you own one, you can connect the weather station to it, instead of a router.The wireless connectivity range is up to 100 meters (300 ft) in direct line of sight and down to around 20-30 meters with brick walls.

The outdoor module contains an inner plastic housing, which comes apart from the main body by unscrewing the bottom section. The inner plastic housing contains several sensors, as well as the battery compartment, which is accessed by unscrewing the round head thumbscrews. The lid of the battery compartment has an o-ring gasket and two metal springs, which are designed to complete the path between the positive and negative terminals of the batteries. The outdoor unit is not rugged; hence it's not water resistant. You have to keep the outdoor module away from rain and direct sunlight, which means it needs to be sheltered ideally inside a greenhouse or under a porch roof.

The indoor module contains five sensors for reading temperature, humidity, sound meter, air quality and CO2 levels. The outdoor module sensor reading includes temperature, humidity, air quality and rain prediction via a barometric sensor. The outdoor module doesn't have an CO2 sensor. The CO2 sensor inside the indoor module basically measures air quality by reading how much carbon dioxide (CO2) there is inside the room, which can be unhealthy at levels above 1600 ppm (parts per million). Netatmo provides the CO2 air quality reading, using three colors: green (very good >425ppm), yellow (average> 1180ppm) and red (poor> 2250ppm).

The CO2 reading can be viewed from the app and via the indoor module led bar. You can touch the top of the indoor module and the led bar will light up, showing the current status of the CO2 level. The CO2 sensor is accurate at reading CO2 level and, it will re-calibrate itself every time the CO2 level drops below 400ppm. As long as the room is properly ventilated, you won't need to manually calibrate the CO2 sensor, which takes up to 6 hours. For a quicker re-calibration, you can put the indoor module outdoors for a few minutes.

Data collected from the indoor/outdoor sensors can be viewed graphically and, it is transmitted to the app almost in real-time with a refresh rate of approximately 5 minutes. Netatmo sells indoor modules individually, as well as an anemometer and rain gauge, which are not included. You can only add a maximum of three extra modules to the Netatmo weather station kit. Unless you have a massively large house, you could probably use a single indoor module and move it across different rooms periodically.

Notifications alerts are a neat feature you get with the Netatmo weather station too, which allows you to enable seven parameters such as outdoor temperature dropping below 3C (37F) and very high CO2 (above 2000ppm). These pre-set parameters cannot be customized but, you can create your own notification alerts and set the parameters you want. For instance, you can create a noise dB notification alert when noise is greater than the dB parameter you set. As well as weather alerts, you will also receive an alert when outdoor module is running low on battery. The indoor module is powered via mains electricity while the outdoor modules uses two AAA batteries, which are included. Battery life expectancy for the outdoor module is up to 2 years, although it depends mainly on the outdoor temperature, which is the main factor. The colder the temperature, the faster the batteries will deteriorate.

As far as privacy, the Netatmo app is transparent about automatically collecting your usage data, which is sent to Legrand Group, which is the company that acquired Netatmo in 2018. You can disable usage data collection from the app if you don't want your usage data being collected. If you want to share your outdoor data with Netatmo Weathermap, you can enable this setting from the app also. You can export the recorded data too and specify a date range you want to export, as well as the exporting file format (CSV or XLS), which is is handy for plotting the data into a spreadsheet.

As well as android devices (4.2 and higher), the Netatmo weather station is compatible with iOS devices (iOS 9 and higher), as well as Windows computers and Mac computers via the Netatmo Web app. The weather station is also compatible with the Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. The weather station is not compatible with Google Home. A HomeKit code is included with the weather station, which is needed in order to add the Netatmo weather station to the Apple Home app. The HomeKit code is made of 8 digits and, it's unique to each Netatmo weather station so, if you lose it, you won't be able to use the weather station with the Home app. Luckily, the HomeKit kit code is glued onto the back of the indoor module, just below the micro USB port. Speaking of HomeKit, it's worth pointing out that there are three versions of the Netatmo weather station. The one pictured is version 3 (v3), which is compatible with HomeKit, while versions 1 and 2 are not.

The indoor temperature sensor is capable or registering readings between 0C (32F) and 50C (122F), while the outdoor temperate sensor can register a reading between -40C (-40F) and 65C (150F). The CO2 sensor can read up to 5000 ppm (parts per million) and has an accuracy of ±50ppm up to 1000ppm and ±5% between 1000ppm and 5000ppm, which means a reading of 845ppm could be between 795-895ppm. The humidity sensor measures relative humidity (0-100%) with ±3% accuracy. 
The noise sensor can read between 35dB and 120dB. The pressure sensor can read between 260 mBar (77 inHG) and 1260 mBar (372 inHG) with ±1 mBar accuracy. As far as dimensions, the outdoor unit weighs 154 grams (with batteries) and measures 10.5cm high and 4.5cm in diameter. The indoor unit weighs 173 grams and measures 15.5cm high and 4.5cm in diameter. The included power adapter (5V/0.55A) has a 1.3 meter long micro USB cable and an EU 2 pin plug. Other accessories you will find inside the box are a velcro strap for cable management, a screw and wall plug for mounting the outdoor module onto a vertical surface. You can buy the Netatmo weather station from amazon.

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