This is a review of the La Crosse Technology Model c84612 weather station.
Manufacturer: La Crosse Technology
Place of Purchase: Costco
Technical Support: (608) 785-7920
Originally published: Dec 26, 2013 @ 16:14
Updated: 04JAN14 @ 11:00a
I’ve wanted a weather station for years and so when I came across this deal at Costco, it was too good to pass up.
Included in the kit are the base station and three sensors: wind, temp and rain. All three talk to the base station using a wireless connection.
Setup was dead simple, just follow the instructions. I had all three sensors sync’ed up within minutes. The only issue with the configuration was getting the gateway to work. This took some work, and ultimately the gateway had to be set up with a static IP instead of using DHCP (which is the default). The tool for performing that is located here (the page is here).
Once that was working, it was time to deploy the sensors. The temp/humidity and wind sensors were set outside, the rain sensor was not (since it’s the middle of winter, there’s not too much rain). For now, the wind sensor was mounted to a piece of 3/4″ EMT with some strap clamps holding it to a trellis.
It’s working great, and so far is very accurate… the only issue is that with the La Crosse Alerts there is no way to get the data out other that an CSV export. I was hoping that there would be a way to export data, or have an embeddable page that I could put on my own domain. For now at least, there is no way to do that.
UPDATE 04JAN14: With all the snow we’ve been receiving lately, the Achilles heel of the wind sensor was discovered. With a couple inches of snow on the solar panel, the sensor stopped transmitting data in less than a day. Once it was cleared off (using a shop floor broom), then it worked intermittently for a while until the next day when it was sunny out. A couple take-aways: First, mount the wind sensor in a way that it can be reached easily. Second, keep the panel cleared off! Not only does the solar panel charge the batteries in the wind sensor, but that is how the base station knows if it is sunny or cloudy. With the wind monitoring offline, wind chill could not be calculated.
The refresh rate on the sensors is quite slow. This is a problem with the wind sensor if objective is to measure wind gusts, this device cannot do it. An average is show, and it appears the refresh interval is 30 seconds. The temp sensor is spot-on accurate.
The lack of access to real time data is going to be a deal breaker, at first I thought that would be OK, but I would rather use the Weather Underground instead of La Crosse Alerts. The fact that only a month’s worth of data is available is another negative. Plus it appears that there is a yearly fee to keep La Crosse Alerts active (it’s really not too clear how it works, since I don’t have the manual). A year is included with the device.
I also have some concerns wiwth the gateway device and what data is being sent back to the mothership. There’s just no way of knowing. A paranoid person would worry that any device sitting on their network forwarding data to a website might very well be reason for concern.
Is this still worth the $80? Yes, as a stand alone device, it’s pretty good. Again, the longevity of the sensors will be a determining factor. Ultimately, a Davis system is in my future.
UPDATE 25JAN14: The sensors stopped communicating with the base last Friday (the 17th). Followed the instructions for resetting the base and sensors. Somewhat of a pain as I had to bring them in the house as it was way too cold to be performing these tasks outside. Solar panel was covered on the wind sensor, the batteries removed from the temp sensor and base station.. reset to factory on base station… wait 15 minutes, nothing. Did it all again and still no communication. Sent an email on Sunday to support at La Crosse Technology, they claim it’s faster than calling. Did not hear back from them by Thursday, so I called in the morning and had to leave a voice mail. Around 2:00p, called support again and finally got through to phone support. They agreed that there was a problem, and that I should send it in for repair. Shipping to paid for by me.
The good news is that I purchased it at Costco, so I could return it no questions asked. If the reviews were not so bad for this thing, I might have had the thing serviced, but there are a lot of people out there that have had issues with the communication, it’s just not worth the aggravation. Another case of “you get what you pay for”.