A Guide to Rain Gauges

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What They Are and Why They Are Important

Listening to your local news station, you hear the meteorologist hear that it rained a quarter of an inch last night. However, as you look outside, you see the ground bone dry. What gives? It didn’t rain at all yesterday at my house. The truth is that you and the meteorologist are both right. Yes, the weather professionals use very sophisticated tools to monitor rainfall totals, but in just a few select locations. This gives them an average for the area. Of course, we know that rainclouds are not evenly-distributed machines. One area may get nothing while other places get a good soaking.

Monitoring your rainfall totals directly can help a lot to keep your yard and landscaping healthy and lush. One of the easiest tools you can use to measure and track precipitation at your home is a rain gauge. Easy to install, a rain gauge will give you accurate precipitation data that can help you in the following ways:

Helps Keep Your Lawn and Plants Watered

If your lawn is getting too much or too little water, it can cause issues for your yard. A rain gauge can take the guesswork out of deciding how much to water your plants and grass between rainfalls. It also helps you to eliminate water waste from using the sprinklers when your rainfall is providing enough moisture to your yard or garden. If the rain gauge is detecting not enough rain, you can adjust watering times before your plants shrivel and die.

Helps You Determine the Best Times for Planting

Some plants need more water than others to thrive. It’s often impossible to accurately determine just how much rainfall your place received during the last shower. Does your rain gauge show that rain totals are increasing? It may be time to plant those flowers that need moist, humid conditions to sprout. A rain gauge will allow you to accurately determine exact rain amounts you can intelligently determine when it’s best to plant each flower or shrub.

Monitoring rainfall for a period of time with a rain gauge can help you see weather patterns happening in your neighborhood, and these could be different than the trends taking place in other areas of your TV/radio broadcast area where rain gauges maybe 20 or 30 miles away from your home. The rain data that you collect will be far more accurate than the rain statistics you see or hear about. You can then determine rain patterns that will affect your landscaped areas.

Not all rain gauges are created equal. They come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. There are a few terms you should be aware of before purchasing the first rain gauge you come across. The first is the rain gauge size. The size of the opening helps determine the accuracy of a rain gauge. Generally, the larger the opening, the lower the statistical error in rain measurement will be. Thusly, the smaller the opening, the higher chance for rain measurement error. We recommend choosing a rain gauge with the largest size opening that your budget allows.

Another term you will see when researching rain gauges is rain gauge resolution. This determines the smallest amount of rainfall that the rain gauge can accurately measure, the overall accuracy of accumulated rain measurement, and the accuracy of rain intensity measurements.

There are a number of different types of rain gauges in the marketplace

Graduated Cylinder Rain Gauges:

These are also known as standard or manual rain gauges and are known to be reliable if they are read fairly quickly after a rainfall. There can be errors in accuracy if one waits to read the information because evaporation in our warm Florida climate can happen before too long.

Self-emptying Tipping Bucket Rain Gauges:

These gauges generally involve a teeter-totter dual tipping bucket mechanism with a magnet to activate a switch when the mechanism switches from one side to the other. Each bucket flips when a precise amount of rainwater accumulates and shifts the mechanism’s center of gravity. These gauges are very popular with many people because they require no electrical power to operate, unlike the weighing rain gauges (below).

Weighing Rain Gauges:

These gauges are can offer excellent high rain resolution and are quite accurate with rain measurement. They do require constant power to work. One critical problem with these types of gauges is that leaves, insects, and other debris can easily fall in the weighing pan and cause errors.

Siphoning Rain Gauges:

The types of gauges work by funneling rainfall to a measuring chamber. A solid-state sensor reads the level, and then the water is siphoned out to the ground. The siphoning action happens quickly, so no rain is normally lost during this process, allowing readings to be exact.

What type of rain gauge is right for you?

Answering that question depends a lot on your individual needs, your type of landscaping, and other factors. A representative of Florida Lawn Guys can discuss your specific situation and recommend the rain gauge that is right for you. At Florida Lawn Guys, we take everything into consideration before recommending a product. We want to serve you, not a manufacturer of a certain product. That is why we’ll always listen to you and ask questions before we give our advice. Our recommendations are always geared to making your lawn and landscaped area the best it can be – now and for the long term.

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