If you’re a sailing enthusiast you probably are no stranger needing accurate wind speed and direction information. There are a slew of wind meters available today for just about every need: from handheld anemometers (wind speed meters), to sailboat mounted wind direction indicators and more. In this article we’re going to do a roundup of the best wind meters for sailing, windvanes for sailboats, the best anemometers for sailing, and more.
This floating anemometer is one of the best wind speed meters for sailing. It can measure wind speeds ranging from 0.5 miles per hour all the way up to 99MPH at user-selectable intervals of every five seconds, ten or 13 seconds (in addition to calculating the average windspeed, and tracking peak speed for you). Plus it can also measure wind temperature and windchill in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. One other nice feature about this sailboat anemometer is that it it comes with a durable build and a bright yellow flip-shield. Naturally it’s also water-resistant so if it falls into the water you’ll be able to easily spot it floating. Also comes with a loop for a lanyard or wrist strap if desired. A belt sheath is also available for this product.
Cape Cod Wind & Weather instruments have been a staple of sailors since the company was founded in 1939. With an emphasis on quality American-made wind speed indicators, these gauges are built to last.
This wind speed indicator for sailing can mount on your sailboat either vertically or horizontally and it comes with a spinning cup wheel which can be mounted wherever you like (the supplied cable is 50 feet long and comes with a mounting bracket and screws). For wireless anemometers, see our related article: What is the Best Wireless Anemometer & Wireless Wind Speed Meter?
For decades Cape Cod Wind & Weather has supplied sailors with reliable real time sailboat wind direction indicators, and this wind speed meter for sailing is no exception.
This unit measures wind speed from zero to 100 miles per hour and comes with a ten year limited warranty. Pairs well with Cape Cod’s Wind Direction Indicator which matches with a lighted dial interface for wind direction metering.
This weather vane for sailboats mounts on your masthead through bolts or a tap and it provides an easy to read wind direction indicator. It’s one of the most popular sailing windvanes on the market and this particular Davis Windex model is intended for medium to larger boats (the vane itself is 15 inches long; a smaller model exists for smaller boats). This model has what Davis calls a bird-proof spike to keep seagulls from trying to land on the instrument while you’re sailing. The vane itself features tabs that reflect in order to remain visible at night or in dark conditions.
This compact sailboat wind direction indicator comes in a bright red color and has both a top and side mounting option. It measures 15 inches long, is highly visible and weighs an astonishing 1.25oz for a highly responsive level of accuracy even in light wind conditions. The Spar Fly sailing wind vane is intended for sailing dinghies or small yachts and has great reviews.
The Raymarine i60 Wind System comes measures wind speed and direction as well as a slew of other readings with an easy to read digital-dial hybrid display and a masthead mounted instrument. It comes mounting gear and a 100 foot long (30 meter long) cable to connect the wind meter to the display. This is one of the best anemometers for sailing. Can measure wind speed/direction, maximum wind speed (peak), Beaufort scale, Tack and VMG. Plus it has a red backlight for dark conditions.
Frequently asked questions about windvanes for sailboats & the best anemometers for sailing
What features should I look for when shopping for a wind meter for sailing?
The best wind meters for are often mounted anemometers made specifically for boating which have a display you can attach to your console. We have a few such wind speed meters for sailboats listed in this article, above.
Handheld anemometers for sailing usually float, are brightly colored and are waterproof in case they fall into the water. They may also contain temperature gauges and loops for wriststraps or lanyards.
No matter the type of anemometer you choose, a large easy to read at a glance display is also especially useful for sailing anemometers.
What is an anemometer?
An anemometer is simply a wind speed meter. Some anemometers have digital displays, others have dial displays. The most sophisticated anemometers can also measure a variety of other metrics like temperature, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure and so forth. Advanced anemometers can even give a personalized weather forecast for any location (especially useful if you’re using an anemometer in a spot where there isn’t a reliable weather forecast). Anemometers for sailing are useful because they give a clear an accurate reading of wind speed and direction. For more information about what anemometers are, read our related article: What is an Anemometer and What is it Used For?
Encouraging children and young people to be interested in science can yield all sorts of rewards later on in life. One way to promote an interest in scientific and technical fields is to give STEM gifts for kids (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Weather related gifts can be especially accessible for children because weather is immersive and experiential– they see what the weather is like every day (it’s not an abstract concept).
We’ve rounded up some of the best gifts for kids who are interested in weather below:
Here’s a great science gift for kids: a tornado simulator! This weather kit allows children to simulate tornados to learn about how vortexes work using water. It can simulate tornadoes of varying severity (on a scale from 1 to 5) and includes an instructional guide book plus a “storm chasing” DVD. You can put the included foam pellets (or other objects) in and see how they react to your storm. Battery powered (3 AAs not included).
This cute and bold “future meteorologist” shirt comes in both youth sizes and adult (men’s & women’s), and is available in various different colors as well. For a kid that’s super interested in weather this could be a thoughtful gift (and something they love to wear).
Solid color choices are 100% cotton. Classic fit.
Age recommendation: All ages (various sizes available)
Written by a TV meteorologist, this weather book for kids explains how hurricanes, tornadoes, rainbows and other weather events work and why they happen. It also answers questions about how weather forecasts are made, includes DIY home experiments, and answers to frequently asked questions about weather phenomena like storms. This educational children’s book about weather also teaches about the difference between various cloud types.
This weather station for kids can measure rainfall, temperature and windspeed in your backyard. It also teaches kids who are interested in weather about climate change, acid rain, the the greenhouse effect, the water cycle and much more. This weather kit is a great science gift for kids. You can even grow “storm clouds” in the palm of your hand! Also includes a weather journal for your child to record the conditions in their area.
Here’s another science gift for kids: this kit offers 7 different hands-on experiments children interested in science can do. It includes the ingredients for making your own tornado in a bottle, a blizzard in a test tube, a tidal wave, snow, volcano, and more. Includes an instruction book with information about weather phenomena.
If your child dreams of loading up in a truck and chasing tornados or is otherwise fascinated with storms, this is the perfect toy for them. Made by Backyard Safari Adventures, this mobile weather pod has all the tools you need to introduce your children to the science of storm tracking. Your kid will learn how to track wind speed and direction with the built-in weather vane and anemometer. There’s also a compass to help track wind direction. The pod also has a rain gauge and a thermometer for tracking real-time weather conditions.
Since this weather pod is portable, it’s great to analyze the weather anywhere like the park or your own backyard. The kit also comes with a collectible storm chaser patch and a field guide. Requires two AA batteries, not included.
This science lab experiment kit for kids has dozens of activities in the fields of weather, physics, magnetism, chemistry, geology, biology and more. It includes a photo book with instructions for each activity and over 30 pieces for the experiments. The parts all fit back into a resealable ziplock bag so everything can be neatly put away after the experimenting is done.
Here’s another great STEM gift for kids: a Magic School Bus themed chemistry lab. Kids can do sorts of science experiments and put them away in the school bus-shaped storage box. Includes instructions for each experiment on colorful cards, and all the accessories you need. Your “young scientist” will enjoy more than 50 experiments like measuring pH, making slime or sticky ice, bouncy balls, their own volcano, and more.
If you’re looking for a science gift for teenagers, or advanced kids interested in weather, a home weather station might be a great option. This home weather station lives in your backyard or porch and can wirelessly send forecasts to your phone or a color base station inside. Pretty neat, huh? Weather enthusiasts use personal weather stations to offer super accurate hyper-local weather information for their specific area (often microclimates or houses in between mountains have unusual weather patterns that broad TV weather forecasts don’t accurately reflect).
Anemometers have been around for hundreds of years. They’re extremely useful devices that measure wind speed and sometimes other climate or weather information. Today a new class of wind meter is gaining popularity: smartphone anemometers. Anemometers for smartphones (and anemometer attachments/accessories for smartphones) are useful for both professionals and hobbyist anemometer users. In this article we’re going to run down some of the best wind meters for smartphones.
This is a basic iPhone anemometer/Android anemometer that plugs into your smartphone’s headphone port (it also works on iPads). It doesn’t use any battery power but instead measures wind speed by cleverly calculating the speed of the spinning magnets turning by using your phone’s built in magnetic compass. Note that if you have a newer iPhone or Android phone without a headphone jack, you may want to get a wireless Bluetooth anemometer instead (it will still work, but you’ll have to hold it instead of plugging it in). Comes with a carrying pouch.
The Vaavud Sleipnir from the Netherlands is one of the best iPhone anemometers (it works on iPads and Android devices too). This device plugs into your smartphone’s headphone jack (or in the case of the iPhone 7 and above without a headphone jack, it plugs into your Lightning to headphone jack adapter or a stiff Lightning to headphone adapter). It works with the Vaavud smartphone app to measure both wind speed and direction. The data can be added to an online crowd-sourced database and stored in your phone as a log. This smartphone wind meter is extremely popular for sailing.
Platforms: iPhone, Android Battery required: Powered by your phone’s battery Max wind speed: 89mph / 144kmph / 78 knots
This Android/iPhone anemometer attachment plugs into your headphone port (or Lightning to Headphone adapter in the case of newer iPhones) and provides you with wind data in an app. It measures both the current wind speed and also keeps track of gusts, plus the direction and GPS location. Using the free app you can even share the wind data on social media. Also works on iPads and iPod Touches.
This weather station smartphone accessory plugs into your iPhone or Android device’s headphone jack and gives you a plethora of data. It measures: wind speed, wind chill, dew point, temperature, and barometric pressure and feeds that data into a convenient free multi-platform smartphone app. Since this weather station for iPhone/Android is so small, it has a built in keychain attachment as well as an included but optional wrist strap.
Platforms: iPhone, Android Battery required: Powered by your smartphone’s battery Max wind speed: 93mph / 145kmph / 80 knots
If you’re looking for a professional grade anemometer that works with a smartphone, this might be a good unit to consider. It’s made by Kestrel, the high end anemometer manufacturer and it syncs data with an app on your smartphone or computer. Like other Kestrel wind meters, this one is quite rugged, drop tested, waterproof and it even floats if dropped in water.
The Kestrel Fire Weather Meter Pro is more than just an anemometer accessory for smartphone, it also measures heat stress index, wet bulb temperature, humidity, altitude, temperature, and other weather related measurements. Its backlit screen makes it easy to view both in the dark and outside on sunny days. Comes with a lanyard. Note: if you’re looking for a Bluetooth anemometer for shooting, there is another version of this product with ballistics capabilities. See our companion article: The best wind meters for long range shooting.
Platforms: iPhone, Android Battery required: 1 Lithium metal battery (included, replaceable) Max wind speed: 134mph / 216kmph / 116 knots
Frequently asked questions about smartphone wind meters
What are anemometers for Android phone/iPhones used for?
People use smartphone anemometers for a variety of purposes. A person might use an anemometer for sailing, RC flying, windsurfing, kite flying, and any manner of other things. Wind speed meters are also used in various professional applications from HVAC testing (air conditioning/heating) to checking locations for wind farm appropriateness.
How do anemometers for smartphones work?
The phone + app anemometers on this list measure wind speed by calculating the rate that rotating elements spin in the wind. The faster the wind is blowing, the faster the cups or blades will spin. The rotations are counted and the wind speed is calculated as a result.
What’s better: an anemometer that connects to your smartphone physically or a Bluetooth anemometer?
This list includes both types of smartphone wind meters: those that are plugged into headphone jacks and those that connect wirelessly. There are two main differences: first, the Bluetooth models require their own internal battery. Second, the Bluetooth units tend to be more expensive.
There are reasons why a Bluetooth model may be more desirable in some cases however, such as when you want to be separate from the wind metering instrument itself (if you have it mounted on something), or if you have a new smartphone without a headphone jack it can be easier to just get a Bluetooth model than using a Lightning to headphone (or USB-C to headphone) adapter.
What is the absolute best iPhone anemometer attachment?
Naturally, as with anything, people’s preferences vary tremendously. But if you have an iPhone or Android phone with a headphone jack you might want to strongly consider the Vaavud models. If your smartphone doesn’t have a headphone jack, then the WeatherFlow Wind Meter (Bluetooth model) may be the best wind meter for smartphones.
I use a protective case on my smartphone, what do I do if these smartphone anemometer accessories don’t quite plug into it as a result?
This is a common problem among people who have Otterboxes or other chunky smartphone cases with thick protective plastic housings. Luckily you can get both flexible and firm headphone jack extenders which helps you plug in these anemometer smartphone dongles.
An anemometer measures wind speed and making a DIY anemometer out of cups is a great school science project. In this article we’re going to give you a step by step guide for how to make an anemometer with cups and straws and answer some questions you might have.
How to build a cup anemometer
This straightforward video shows you how to make an anemometer step by step. Below we’re going to repeat the steps and give you a little more detail on some of them. First, here’s what you will need:
How to build an anemometer at home – Step by step guide
Step 1 – Use the sharpened pencil to poke a hole in the bottom of one of your dixie cups or another type of paper cup if you’re using easter egg cups for your DIY anemometer. Then use your hole-punch to punch two sets of 2 holes (four holes total) so that each hole is perpendicular to another hole. One set of holes should be closer to the top rim of the cup, and the other set of aligned holes should be lower down.
Step 2 – Insert the straws into the holes through the cup so they make an X when you look down at the cup from above.
Step 3 – Punch one hole into the sides of all four other dixie cups. Make sure each hole is roughly in the same spot on the cup.
Step 4 – Thread all four ends of the two straws through the holes in your four dixie cups. Bend the edge of the straw so you can tape or staple it to the other end of the cup.
Step 5 – Your anemometer cups are now all assembled. Make sure that you’ve maintained the same direction for each cup. It should look like this, viewing from above:
Step 6 – The cups should twirl in the air easily. To finish your anemometer, place the pencil into your empty plastic soda bottle for a base. You can use stickers or a marker to make an X on one of the four rotating cups which will make counting revolutions easier (it will be obvious how many times the red dot or X has turned around).
How to use your cup anemometer to measure wind speed
Have one person look at a stopwatch to see exactly how long ten seconds is. Use the following chart below to calculate roughly how fast the wind is blowing.
Alternatively you can “calibrate” your anemometer by driving exactly 10 miles per hour and seeing how many times your cups rotate when held out the window. However many revolutions are equivalent to wind blowing 10 miles per hour (assuming there is no additional wind blowing). Obviously you don’t want to be driving and sticking your arm out the window counting anemometer cup revolutions so you’ll need two people for this step.
Alternatives to DIY home-made anemometers
Several educational products are available if you don’t want to built an anemometer from paper cups. Here is an assortment of anemometer kits that you may find useful in your classroom. Click on an image to open the product in a new tab/window and check the price of these weather anemometer kits.
Of course if you’re reading this article because you’re interested in how to make anemometer for science project, you’re probably going to have to make one yourself using the DIY method outlined above instead of using a ready-built kit like these.
Frequently asked questions about cup counter anemometers
How does a cup anemometer work?
Cup anemometers are used by professionals to gauge wind speed. Normally anemometers will have built in computers that calculate how many revolutions they make per minute (or every 10 seconds or every 30 seconds, depending on how the computer is set up). The number of times that the wind pushes the cups around in a circle is then translated into the wind speed by the anemometer’s calculator into a unit like miles per hour, meters per second or whatever unit is desired. The more times the cups turn around in a circle, the faster the wind is blowing.
What is the difference between a 3 cup anemometer and a 4 cup anemometer?
Three cup anemometers are similar to four cup anemometers, they just simply have one less wind cup. For the purposes of this article about how to make an easy anemometer, we’re making a four cup model since that’s easier to make. Four cup models are also more common these days than 3 cup or 2 cup anemometers.
What is the cup anemometer working principle?
Cup anemometers feature a rotating array of wind cups that rotate as the wind blows. The faster the wind is blowing, the faster the cups will rotate. By measuring the number of cup rotations within a period of time (for instance within 30 seconds), we can calculate how fast the wind is blowing.
What other types of anemometers are there besides cup anemometers?
While this article is about how to make a kid friendly anemometer out of cups, there are several other types of wind guage instruments. Some examples include: hot wire anemometers (which measure how quickly a heated wire cools down in the breeze), ultrasonic anemometers (which transmit a sound signal to a reciever, measuring wind speed off of how long it takes to send it), and vane anemometers (which work on the cup principle but instead of rotating cups they have flat blades like a fan).
I don’t understand the instructions for how to make anemometer at home
Watch the “how to make anemometer video” at the top of this article for more information about how to build an anemometer out of cups for a school project.
I don’t want to use dixie cups, what else can I use for my homemade DIY anemometer cups?
Here are some ideas for how to make an anemometer with cups– using things other than dixie cups:
Anemometer An anemometer is a device that measures the speed of the wind. Anemometers are used by many professionals who work in the wind energy field as well as meteorologists/weather scientists, hobbyists and others. Different anemometers measure wind speed differently, depending on how they’re designed.
Cup anemometer A cup anemometer is a specific type of anemometer that measure wind speed by counting the number of rotations that a set of cups makes when the wind blows. Cup anemometers can be manual like the types of cup anemometers made of paper cups for science projects, or they can be electronic. Sophisticated cup anemometers can calculate the wind speed in units like miles per hour, meters per second or Knots (a naval unit of measurement for sailing). Simply put, the cup anemometer definition is: a wind speed gauge that uses rotating cups to measure wind speed.
Wind energy Wind energy is power created by the wind blowing.
Windmill A windmill harvests the power of the wind and translates it into energy. Early windmills pumped water or milled grains but today modern wind turbines generate electricity.
Wind farm A wind farm is an array of wind turbines in a windy area that all work together to harvest a large amount of wind power.
Wind/weather vane A weather vane or wind vane is a flat instrument which rotates. Depending on which direction it’s pointing, it will tell you which direction the wind is blowing in.
In this mega-FAQ we’re going to explain to you what anemometers are, who uses them, how they work, who invented them, and much, much more. Let’s begin!
What is an anemometer?
The simple answer to this question is an anemometer is a wind speed meter. There are different types of anemometers and they work in different ways but all anemometers have ways of measuring wind speed. Here are a few examples of what different types of anemometers look like (click any image to enlarge it in a new window).
As you can see, anemometers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are portable handheld anemometers and others are built in and affixed to buildings as a part of weather stations.
What is an anemometer used for?
An anemometer is for measuring wind speed. Some anemometers are built into larger, more complex weather stations which contain various other instruments and can provide weather forecasts based on a combination of all the data.
For instance an anemometer may be used to measure how windy it is before you go sailing on a sailboat. An air conditioning repair technician might use an anemometer to measure the output of a unit they are troubleshooting. A meteorologist might use anemometer data in their forecasts. A professional sports shooter might use an anemometer to calculate crosswind so they can compensate and hit a target from many hundreds of feet away. Storm chasers and weather hobbyists might use anemometers to understand how fast the wind is blowing. A wind turbine surveyor may use a handheld portable anemometer to determine if a particular area would be a good location to harvest wind power from.
What is an anemometer and how does it work?
An anemometer measures wind speed. Most anemometers work by counting the number of revolutions that their circular array of cups or windmill or blades make within a period of time (say, a 10 second interval) to see how fast the wind is blowing. It can then translate that measurement into a calculation of wind speed in units like miles per hour, kilometers per hour, meters per second or in the case of sailing applications, Knots.
What is an anemometer unit of measurement?
Anemometers measure wind speed in a variety of units. Generally speaking, the more expensive and sophisticated the anemometer is, the more units of measurement it will offer. Anemometer units of measurement may include:
Most anemometers fall into one of two general categories: vane (or turbine) anemometers and cup anemometers. In both cases as the wind blows through them and moves their parts around in a circle, they count the number of revolutions per second (or per minute or per 30 seconds or whatever time period). By evaluating the speed of the rotations, the anemometer is able to calculate the wind speed in a common unit of measurement like miles or kilometers per hour.
There is also a third type of anemometer, a hot wire anemometer, which heats a component and then measures how quickly the component cools down (giving a reading of how fast the wind is blowing to cool it). A fourth, more rare type of anemometer is an ultrasonic anemometer, which we will explain below.
What is an ultrasonic anemometer and how do ultrasonic anemometers work?
Ultrasonic anemometers measure wind speed. They do this by sending a sound pulse back and forth from a transmitter to a receiver over a span of a few inches to calculate the speed of the wind blowing in between the two sensors. Ultrasonic anemometers are extremely specialized devices and they tend to be much more expensive than typical anemometers in the more common vane, cup or hot-wire types.
How to use an anemometer / how to read an anemometer
In the case of electronic anemometers (most of them), normally you’ll just to turn on the unit and watch as it displays the current wind speed. You may decide to change the mode to view the wind speed in a different unit of measurement (i.e. kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour). In the case of manual cup anemometers for science class projects you’ll need to count the number of revolutions the cups make in a minute long period to calculate the wind speed.
How do you pronounce “anemometer”?
This video shows you how to pronounce anemometer:
How do cup anemometers work?
A cup anemometer (like the ones seen above– click on an image to open it larger in a new window) counts the number of times that the wind revolves a set of cups around in a circle over a period of time to calculate wind speed. At their most simple, cup anemometers consist of a stick of some kind that holds an array of 2, 3, or 4 wind cups which rotate. High school students will sometimes build anemometers or use simple non-electronic cup anemometers like the one below to manually count rotations over a period of 1 minute or 30 seconds to calculate wind speed.
How accurate is an anemometer?
Different anemometers will have different levels of accuracy. Generally speaking the more expensive the unit the more accurate you can expect it to be (no surprise there!). A common handheld decent quality anemometer accuracy range is within ±3%. This means that if the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour, the unit might register anywhere between 19.4 mph and 20.6 mph, so fairly accurate for most purposes. Specialized scientific anemometers such as ultrasonic anemometers may have even higher accuracy rates.
Where is an anemometer placed?
Anemometers come in two varieties; those that are handheld and portable and those that are mounted in a single fixed location. For the most accurate readings, anemometers are best placed in locations that are unencumbered by obstacles so you can get a wind speed reading that isn’t blocked by trees/buildings/etc. For instance, the absolute worst spot for an anemometer would be directly next to a building or wall. Anemometers are sometimes mounted atop poles in the middle of yards, on top of buildings or in wide open spaces.
Does anemometer measure wind direction?
Anemometers measure wind speed. Some anemometers will also calculate the direction that the wind is blowing. These anemometers will often rotate or have an additional vane attachment that detects the wind direction. So to answer the question “Does anemometer measure wind direction?” we can say that most measure direction (they measure speed only), don’t but some higher end, more expensive models measure both speed and direction.
How is an anemometer different from a windsock?
Windsocks are a very simple way to gauge “is the wind blowing?” and “is the wind blowing fast or slow?” at a glance. But anemometers are very sophisticated instruments that can tell you precisely how fast or slow the wind is blowing, and sometimes even which direction the wind is blowing from. Anemometers will sometimes also be built into a feature-rich weather station which measures other factors like temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.
what does an anemometer look like / how does an anemometer look?
Here are some examples of what different types of anemometers (wind speed meters) look like. Click on any image to open it in a new tab and learn more about it.
How is an anemometer used / how is an anemometer helpful?
Anemometers, which measure wind speed, are used by many people for a variety of purposes. Knowing the wind speed is helpful to sailors, windsurfers, air conditioning repair technicians, professional sports shooters who need to know crosswind, meteorologists, and weather enthusiasts. Sometimes anemometers are built into sophisticated pieces of equipment with many other sensors called personal weather stations which are used by people who live in remote areas or microclimates where traditional weather forecasts are inaccurate.
How do anemometers work / how do anemometers measure wind speed?
Most anemometers have some sort of moving part which rotates or cycles in the wind so when the wind blows faster it will rotate faster. The anemometer’s computer counts the number of revolutions per second or minute (or whatever interval) and then figures out what the speed of the wind is in miles per hour, meters per second or whichever unit it’s set up to read. If you’re interested in learning more about how anemometers calculate wind speed, read on at Wikipedia.
Who invented the anemometer first?
Italian Renaissance man Leon Battista Alberti is credited with inventing the first anemometer, or wind speed meter, around the year 1450. Later in 1846 the English astronomer Thomas Romney Robinson invented the first cup anemometer. You can learn more about the history of the anemometer on Wikipedia.
Who invented the hot wire anemometer?
The first constant-current wire anemometer for practical use was created in 1909 by Russian scientist Dimitri Riabouchinsky (more info).
What does an anemometer and weather vane measure?
An anemometer measures wind speed. A weather vane measures the direction that the wind is blowing (for example, north-south or east-west).
How does an anemometer help meteorologist / why is a anemometer important to weather forecasting?
Basically what anemometers do is they tell you how fast the wind is blowing. If you’re interested in how an anemometer is used to measure weather, check out this answer from an engineer:
Meteorologists use anemometers to measure wind speed. Wind speed is obviously a weather feature reported in itself, but meteorologists use the data for other reasons as well. Gathering wind speed and direction at many locations and altitudes allows meteorologists to create the weather maps used to predict weather across the world several days ahead.
How does anemometer indicate the speed of the wind?
Most anemometers count the rotation of a series of cups or vanes to see how fast the wind is blowing. The faster the wind is, the faster the cups will rotate in the wind (or the faster its turbine will rotate). That speed is then calculated by the anemometer and displayed in a unit like miles per hour or meters per second on the display. In the case of an old fashioned manual cup anemometer, high school science students will often count the number of rotations and calculate how fast the wind is blowing based on that. See below for a simple cup anemometer example:
What is an anemometer used for in science?
What does an anemometer tell us? It tells us how fast the wind is blowing. This may be useful for a variety of different scientists. For instance, meteorologists use anemometers to calculate wind patterns. Renewable energy scientists and engineers may use handheld anemometers to figure out whether a particular place is a good spot for a wind turbine. Other scientists testing lab equipment may have different specialized uses for anemometers. So, what does an anemometer help scientists measure? Wind speed (or air flow, when indoors).
An anemometer is a gauge used for recording the speed of what?
Anemometers measure wind speed. Some very sophisticated anemometers and weather stations can also calculate the direction that the wind is blowing in, in addition to the speed at which it’s blowing.
How big is an anemometer?
Some anemometers are portable and can be held in your hand and stowed in a pocket. Others are part of a larger weather station and can be mounted on the rooftops of buildings or on poles in big open fields. The size of anemometers really varries widely depending on how it’s meant to be used.
How is an anemometer different from a weather vane?
A weather vane measures the direction that the wind is blowing. You frequently see them atop old houses or sometimes in people’s yards, ornamentally. An anemometer on the other hand is usually an electric device that measures the speed that the wind is blowing, based off of how fast a set of cups or a turbine is rotating. Anemometers come in both handheld and stationary mounted varieties. Some anemometers measure the wind direction as the speed, while others measure only the wind force.
Plenty of professionals and hobbyists alike use portable anemometers or portable weather stations for a variety of uses. These devices range from simple portable wind gauges all the way to fully fledged weather stations with tons of features. In this article we’re going to go down the list of the top portable weather instruments. If you’re reading this list then you’re probably going to be especially interested in the size and weight of these anemometers so we’ll be listing that alongside each contender for best portable anemometer.
Our picks for the best portable wind speed and direction meters & weather stations
This basic portable anemometer will measure the wind speed and temperature. It features an easy to read backlit screen that works well even in the dark and a 180 degree rotatable turbine head for measuring wind speed (it does not rotate in the opposite direction but the blades measure wind in either direction so there’s no need for this). It operates at 0 to 32 meters per second wind speed (67 miles per hour) and from 32 degrees Fahrenheit up to 122 degrees (0-50 Celsius, both modes are available). The Qooltek Digital Handheld Anemometer also offers its wind speed measurements in a variety of modes: meters per second, km/hour, Knots or miles per hour. Runs off of three AAA batteries (included).
Measures: 6.3 inches tall x 1.7 inches wide x 0.98 inches thick Weighs: 100g / 0.22 lbs
If you’re looking for a portable wind speed meter for measuring equipment airflow, this one might be for you. This next anemometer, portable with case included, is aimed at professional users who need to be able to separate the display from the actual wind turbine instrument itself. For instance HVAC pros may find this portable wind meter especially useful when they’re measuring air flow from vents or air ducts while troubleshooting on site. It measures air flow/velocity and temperature in a 14-140 F range (-10-60 C). Runs on one 9V battery (not included).
Measures: 10.2 inches x 8.5 inches x 3 inches (included carying case dimmensions) Weighs: 0.86kb / 1.9 pounds (in the included carrying case)
Ambient Weather makes some of the best portable anemometers for the money. If you need more features than just wind speed and temperature, consider this portable weather station. It takes the same readings as the above models but it adds in the ability to detect exact wind direction with its directional compass as well as humidity, and heat index, dew point measurements, and more. It can calculate cross winds, head winds and tail winds, and gusts too. This is also a rugged unit; it’s water resistant and it floats. Accurate from -20 to 158F (-28-70C) and 0.8-90 miles per hour. Uses one coin style Lithium battery (included).
Measures: 5.5 inches long x 1.75 inches wide x 0.75 inches thick Weighs: 181g / 0.4 lbs
If you need an extremely high quality, extremely precise portable wind speed and direction meter with tons of other features, the Kestrel 5500 might have your name on it. This high end portable weather station offers over a dozen different measurements:
wind direction and speed (current/average/max)
wet bulb temperature
heat stress index
In addition to its easy to read digital display this model also has Bluetooth and connects to a free iPhone/Android app and allows you to download data on to your computer using a Kestrel computer dongle (sold separately). This Kestrel 5500 kit comes with both the portable wind meter itself and also a vane mount which swivels in whichever direction the wind is blowing for the most accurate measurements. It works with a normal full sized camera tripod but it can also be fitted to a Kestrel Mini Portable Tripod. (For full-sized tripod recommendations, see this related article: What is the best tripod under $100?.) All these features come together to make the Kestrel 5500 one of the best portable anemometers today. Runs on 1 AA battery (included).
Measures: 5 inches x 1.9 inches x 1.1 inches Weighs: 0.27 lbs / 121g
Frequently asked questions about portable anemometers
Does an anemometer measure wind direction in addition to speed?
Some portable wind speed meters measure only wind speed and others measure direction as well. In this article we’ve noted which models will give you direction data. Especially sophisticated anemometers will even sometimes have wind direction vanes and tripod mounts for measuring wind direction and capturing the most accurate possible data, such as the Kestrel 5500 portable weather meter.
How much do portable weather instruments cost?
It depends on the unit and how many features it has. Generally speaking simple portable wind gauges can be found for around $20 while more sophisticated portable weather stations can retail for all the way up to hundreds of dollars. The less expensive models may only offer the ability to read wind speed and temperature while more expensive models throw in a host of other features that help predict what the weather will be like (dewpoint, barometric pressure, density altitude, humidity sensors, etc). Each user’s uses may be different.
What is the best portable anemometer?
Again, it depends on what you need to use it for but if you’re looking for one of the most fully-functional wind speed meters, we’d say that the Kestrel 5500 is one of the top handheld anemometers out there right now.
Are any of these portable wind vane anemometers?
Of the units listed in this article only the Kestrel 5500 comes with a wind vane attachment for mounting on a tripod or mini-tripod. With that said, it’s worth noting that the Ambient Weather model also can calculate wind direction with its built in compass.
Two way radios, sometimes also called walkie talkies, are extremely useful for a variety of purposes both in emergency situations and with large families at ski resorts or in a variety of work situations where cell phones are not ideal, such as farms.
Midland is a well known maker of two way and emergency radios and their LXT500VP3 radio system is one of the best emergency two way radios for the money. This package includes two 22 channel radios and a dual unit charging base station (allowing both radios to be charged simultaneously). The 2 way radios can be powered either by rechargeable battery packs (included) or four AAA batteries. These walkie talkies also have an optional low power mode which can elongate the life on a single charge up to an impressive 16 hours. If you need more than 2 units, just buy another set (they will of course work with the same channels). Includes drop in charger.
Range: Up to 24 miles Channels: 22 Battery: Up to 16 hours
These two way radios by Motorola have a 23 mile max range and run on the included rechargeable batteries or 3 AAAs. They offer a feature upgrade over the basic Midland unit above because in addition to offering 22 channels, they also offer 11 weather channels (7 of which are NOAA frequencies) to receive emergency broadcast notifications. These are also some of the best emergency 2 way radios because they have so-called “privacy code” modes which let you filter out unwanted conversations on the same frequency (useful for popular frequencies in crowded areas). Also available as a three pack. Optional separate walkie talkie headsets are also available. Includes drop in charger.
Range: Up to 23 miles Channels: 22 Battery: Up to 10 hours
If you want an emergency two way radio but you don’t need a weather alert radio built in, this might be one of the best best emergency radio for bug out bags. It is a three pack of emergency two way radios able to be powered off of either included rechargeable batteries or 3 AA batteries. When powered by the rechargeable battery it gets up to 12 hours of life, but with double A batteries it can achieve up to 29 hours of life. Note: these walkie talkies are charged via included AC adapters (not drop in chargers like some of these other units).
Range: Up to 16 miles Channels: 22 Battery: Up to 29 hours
When range is the most important factor in buying a walkie talkie pack, this unit from Motorola may fit the bill. It offers a range of up to 35 miles although of course in practice any two way radio’s range will be smaller if there are terrain obstacles or tall buildings in the way. This emergency two way radio offers a battery life of 23 hours on 3 AA batteries or 8 hours when using the included rechargeable battery packs. Although this is a pack of three walkie talkies, it’s also available in a two pack.
Range: Up to 35 miles Channels: 22 Battery: Up to 23 hours
If you need a seriously long range two way radio with professional grade features, this might be the unit for you. The BaoFeng F8HP works with 128 channels and is compatible with walkie talkie frequencies as well as an expanded range of UHF and VHF frequencies. It even can receive weather channels. It’s also one of the best emergency two way radios for the money because it has an LED flashlight built in (which can also be set to serve as a blinking beacon which lets you locate the walkie, or allows others to see your location in the dark if you’re wearing or holding it). Note that without a HAM radio license, transmitting on UHF and VHF frequencies is only permitted in an emergency. This unit includes a high gain antenna, an optional belt clip, an earpiece/microphone headset, and drop in cradle charger.
Range: Unlisted, but some users routinely get 15 miles Channels: 128 Battery: Up to 24 hours
Frequently asked questions about emergency two way radios
If I purchase multiple sets of the same radio, can I use them all together?
Absolutely, yes. The main thing is to make sure that all your two way radios are tuned to the same channel. It does not matter how many radio sets you are using: 20 walkie talkies will communicate just as well as two will.
Can multiple different brands of two way radios work together?
For consumer class two way radios with 22 channels, the answer is usually yes. More expensive professional class radios may operate at exotic frequencies however, making them incompatible with other brands sometimes. The two way emergency radios listed in this article with 22 channels will most likely work with each other, across brand.
Do these emergency two way radios require a HAM radio license?
If you’re using a consumer grade 22 channel two way radio, you don’t need any special license.
If however you’re using a UHF/VHF professional grade two way radio, you need a HAM radio license (unless you’re using it in an emergency scenario). The only radio on this list that broadcasts in these pro frequencies is the last one. You can learn more about obtaining your own HAM radio license at HAMStudy.org, which prepares you to take the 30 question multiple choice amateur radio exam to get licensed.
Can these two way radios receive CB radio transmissions from trucks on the highway?
Generally no. CB radios in trucks use different frequency ranges.
How many miles in range can I reasonably expect to achieve with these two way radios?
Although all walkie talkies advertise ranges of “up to 20 miles” etc in realistic practice, your range will be much smaller. The ideal case would be if the transmitting radio was on top of a mountain and the receiving radio was in the valley. On flat ground with building or hills in between, you may realistically be able to expect closer to a 2-5 mile range with family style two way radios. With that said, the advertised ranges are helpful when comparing units to each other because in relative terms they give you a sense of generally how strong or weak their transmitters are.
Can I get hands free headsets to use with these two way radios?
Yes, to find a handsfree headset compatible with your choice of radio, simply search in Amazon for the model number and the word headset. In many cases there are both original manufacturer headsets as well as third party headsets which offer different configurations, styles and sometimes lower prices than the first party manufacturer.
These two way emergency radios come with rechargeable battery packs and they also work with AAs, what is the difference?
Besides not having to replace AA or AAA batteries, there are two main differences between using your walkie talkie’s rechargeable battery pack and normal alkaline batteries. The first difference is that alkaline AA or AAA batteries will give you a longer battery life, sometimes as much as 10 hours longer than rechargeable batteries. The second difference is that if you’re using AAs you can simply replace your old batteries with fresh ones, whereas if you only use the included rechargeable battery pack you’ll need to charge your walkie to use it again, which can often take a few hours.
Can a walkie talkie be used while it’s in its charging cradle?
Generally yes, although it may be awkward to press the talk button while it’s sitting in a charging cradle.
Can other people listen in on my walkie talkie conversations?
Yes. Walkie talkies don’t prevent anyone else with a similar unit from tuning in to your conversations. At the same time, depending on where you are the chances of that may be rather low.
Some higher end walkie talkies like a few on this list have so-called “privacy codes.” These codes do not prevent other people from listening in if they have a two way radio tuned to the same frequency as you, but instead they limit your radio from receiving transmissions on whatever channel you’re using, unless the transmitting radio is also tuned to that same privacy code.
Using a wind meter for long range shooting can be extremely helpful for predicting shot placement and compensating for cross wind conditions. Some high end wind gauges for shooting even have special applied ballistics functions that help you make calculations for shooting in the wind. There is a wide variety of shooting wind meters available today, and so helps to know the differences between them when you’re picking one out. We’ve done a round up of our favorite wind meters for shooting below.
This Caldwell brand wind meter for shooting is a rugged and water resistant unit with an easy to read screen and a 90 degree rotating anemometer head (wind turbine). The head of this unit rotates 90 degrees clockwise but the meter measures wind speed in either direction (so there is no need to rotate it the other way). Measures: current wind speed, average wind speed, max wind gust, temperature, barometric pressure, and altitude/density altitude. This budget-priced unit provides a decent wind reading for long range shooting, especially for the money.
One especially nice feature of this wind meter for shooting is that it has a standard size screw mount at the bottom, so you can set it on a small tripod. Unit runs off a single coin style battery (included).
The free BallisticsARC iPhone and Android app allows to to calculate a variety of ballistics information when you used with this shooting wind meter wirelessly over Bluetooth (a non-bluetooth version that plugs into your phone’s headphone jack is also available, although it is missing a few features).
This unit provides a variety of data for shooting in the wind: wind speed & direction, temperature, dew point, heat index and wind chill, as well as density altitude and relative humidity. The BallisticsARC app also comes in a professional version (for $15) which gives you satellite imagery to provide a GPS rangefinder. See below for a screenshot of what this looks like in practice:
The Kestrel Elite Weather Meter is in some ways the gold standard for wind meter shooting. It provides you with Kestrel’s industry-leading Applied Ballistics Elite Ballistics solver, and the ability to store up to 30 custom gun profiles and has a library of custom drag models for over 400 bullets. This model is ideal for sports shooters doing competitive long range shooting because it even has a privacy PIN code for Bluetooth (if you’re linking it up with an app).
If you want a standalone tripod that rotates as the wind changes direction, you can combine it with a rotating vane mount and tripod.
This unit is also rugged, drop-tested and floats. Available with and without Bluetooth, in four different color options. Runs off of one AA batteries (included). Comes with a protective pouch, neck lanyard and a 5 year warranty. Made in the USA.
For a more budget friendly option for reading the wind for shooting, check out the Kestrel Sportsman Weather Meter, the younger brother model to the Elite. It is able to store less custom information but it comes with the tripod, Bluetooth, and vane mount. Measures wind direction, speed, crosswind, humidity, pressure, altitude, temperature and more.
This two pack includes both a Kestrel shooting wind meter, and a Bushnell Elite 1 Mile Conx laser rangefinder. Together they form a powerful duo giving you extreme accuracy under even challenging wind conditions. Both the Kestrel anemometer for shooting and the Bushnell Conx communicate wirelessly to iPhone and Android devices with the included apps to analyze conditions so you don’t have to do manual calculation or data input.
With this wind meter for long range shooting, you can create custom ballistic curves on your phone with data from the rangefinder and calculate how weather conditions and crosswinds will affect your shooting outcomes. With the ability to measure altitude, humidity and other weather conditions, as well as density altitude (a key metric for many shooters), this combo provides all you need to shoot more accurately than ever before taking cross winds into consideration, especially at long range.
Frequently asked questions about long range shooting wind meters
Which Kestrel for long range shooting?
In order to get a wind reading for long range shooting, we recommend choosing a model that includes applied ballistics functionality. Kestrel makes two models of long range shooting wind meters with applied ballistics: the Kestrel Elite and the Kestrel Sportsman. The Elite model has more functions and more memory for custom data, whereas the Sportsman has less (but also costs less).
What is the best wind meter for shooting?
On this page we’ve laid out several long range shooting wind meter options, but if we had to pick the absolute 100% most fully functioning one, it would have to be the Kestrel Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics. Both this wind speed gauge’s features and its reputation as an industry standard speak for itself when it comes to wind meter shooting excellence. When you factor in budget however, there are plenty of other candidates for the best wind meter for long range shooting, which we’ve listed above.
What is the difference between the Kestrel Sportsman vs Elite for long range shooting?
Generally speaking the Kestrel Elite model has more memory banks for additional custom guns than the Kestrel Sportsman model has, and a more detailed ballistics display. Because the Kestrel ballistics solver calculates each combo of a gun and a bullet separately, having more data banks to store different combinations is quite useful (you can always overwrite on top of the memory banks but inputting the data is a bit cumbersome and slow).
Is it worth paying extra for a Bluetooth enabled Kestrel wind meter for shooting?
We’d say yes. If you’re going to be using an anemometer for long range shooting frequently or with a number of different gun/bullet combinations, it’s especially worthwhile. Not only does this mean you’re able to input combinations of bullets and guns more easily with a full sized phone keyboard (instead of the button combination on the Kestrel unit), it also has a nice display with additional information. If you do plan on using the iPhone or Android app with your Kestrel for long range shooting purposes, we recommend getting a wind vane and mount with it because holding both devices at once is awkward. Note that the app can store more rifle/load combinations than the Kestrel unit can, since your phone has more storage.
The US weather experts at NOAA issue location-specific weather alerts using a protocol called the S.A.M.E. code and you can set this storm radio to receive only alerts affecting your area (it’s user programmable to include a larger region too; up to 25 counties!). You can set it to use whichever of three alert systems you prefer: a 90 decibel siren, a voice alert or a flashing LED light. Also works with three AA batteries as a backup in case your home loses power during a storm.
This weather radio works in both the US and Canada and provides safety alerts in three languages (English, Spanish and French). The Midland WR120 (this model) is one of the top rated weather alert radios, after having gotten a massive number of positive reviews. Also works as an alarm clock.
Here’s another one of the best weather radios that has a couple of unique features. It receives warnings on 7 NOAA weather channels and also receives AM and FM radio. It also has a built in flashlight and LED reading lamp and is waterproofed enough to work outdoors during rainy weather, making it a great all purpose and weather radio for camping trips.
Plus, it can be charged with USB power from a computer or USB power brick (like a cell phone charger), or AAA batteries or a hand crank or solar power with its built in solar panel for use outdoors! The built in solar panel is also adjustable so you can set an appropriate angle for use. This alone makes it one of the best emergency weather radio for preppers.
The Midland Portable Emergency Weather Radio is a great hybrid device that can either sit on a flat surface in its charging cradle or be carried around handheld on battery power. It uses NOAA’s SAME weather alert technology to give you only the weather alerts that are useful to your local area and it can be customized for up to 9 counties at once. It also uses Midland’s Weather Scan technology, which lets you scan the local area and latch on to whatever the strongest NOAA channel is automatically.
The Midland HH54VP2 receives information on nearby hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, ice storms and other weather events as well as civil emergency information about Amber Alerts, fires and chemical spills. The clear LED screen is backlit for use in the dark. This is one of the best weather alert radios for handheld use.
The Kaito KA500 storm radio can be powered in six different ways: by 3 AA batteries, a built in angle-adjustable solar panel, a hand crank, by USB from a laptop or cell phone charger, by a rechargeable battery pack or an AC/DC wall adapter (not included).
The Kaito emergency weather radio can receive AM/FM weather as well as NOAA weather alerts and it also functions as a flashlight and reading lamp. It even can charge a cell phone with a USB power output port. This model also has a blinking red light mode which can serve as an emergency beacon. Telescopic antenna extends up to 14 and a half inches. Water resistant and comes in several different colors.
This emergency weather radio, certified by the American Red Cross, combines several features into a neat package, complete with carrying handle and bright red color. It receives AM/FM radio as well as all 7 NOAA weather stations (or Environment Canada), plus it has an alert function for extreme weather warnings. It also can charge your cell phone via USB and has a flashlight on its side. Powered by either 3 AAA batteries, a built in solar panel, the built in hand crank or a computer or cell phone charger via USB. This weather radio is smaller than it looks in the product photos but it also has a blinking red light for beacon mode to find it in the dark.
Can I tune a storm radio or emergency radio to a normal AM/FM radio station? Not every emergency radio has this feature; some weather radios only tune to weather radio stations. But in our weather alert radios reviews above we’ve included whether or not each model allows for AM/FM tuning. If in doubt, check the product listings themselves.
What are the important features to look for in a weather alert radio? It depends on what you’re using it for but we generally recommend looking for a weather radio that has multiple ways to power or charge it just in case you lose power. Many weather radios have the ability to charge from a built in hand crank and some may even include a built in solar panel (though in stormy weather this won’t be of much use). For some, it may be important to get a handheld weather radio which can fit into a pocket. We also recommend considering getting an emergency weather radio that has a way to charge a cell phone, as many of the models listed in these reviews have.
What kind of information will I get using a weather alert radio? A weather radio using the NOAA S.A.M.E. weather protocol alert system will broadcast alerts tailored to your specific area using a series of county-codes (many weather radios let you program in a range of county codes that are relevant to your area). Weather radios capable of receiving the 7 channels of NOAA broadcasts will also receive weather alerts. Some weather radios will also give you access to civil emergency information like Amber Alerts and information about other local emergencies such as chemical spills. Still other weather radios will also have AM/FM tuning for receiving normal radio broadcasts.
Handheld wind speed meters or handheld anemometers are extremely useful portable devices to gauge wind speed and sometimes direction. They range from basic cheap handheld anemometers to fully fledged portable weather stations that can measure barometric pressure and give instant hyperlocal weather forecasts. We’ve reviewed some of the best portable handheld anemometers, and listed them below.
The best handheld anemometers and portable weather stations (our handheld anemometer reviews)
The Ambient Weather WM-2 model is a basic handheld anemometer which measures wind speed, temperature and wind chill. It can also hold data for wind gusts and display information for the the Beaufort scale method of for measuring wind speed. With a long lasting battery and easy to read LCD screen readout, data can be displayed in a variety of ways including switching measurement units between miles per hour, kilometers per hour, meters per second, feet per second and knots.
Key features of the Ambient Weather WM-2 Handheld Wind Meter:
The Ambient Weather WM-5 is the bigger brother model to the previous handheld mobile anemometer, the WM-2. The WM-5 offers several advantages including a “jackknife” flip-case which doubles as a handle when you’re measuring the wind so that your own body heat and moisture won’t influence the instrument’s sensitive measurements.
The WM-5 features a Swiss-made precise barometer to measure barometric pressure as well as a humidity sensor. Its battery lasts up to 400 hours and is replaceable by the user.
Key features of the Ambient Weather WM-5 Handheld Wind Meter:
This tiny handheld weather meter measures wind speed, direction, temperature, dew point, heat index, wind chill, pressure & density altitude and relative humidity. That’s a quite a mouthful! But it has a trick up its sleeve: this unit doesn’t have a display and it instead connects wirelessly to your cell phone via a mobile app for iPhone or Android where it displays all the information using the large color screen that’s already in your pocket.
The WeatherFlow Handheld Weather Meter will be of special interest to sports shooters since it has a integrates with the BallisticsArc smartphone app to help calculate accurate predictive information for shooting purposes.
Key features of the WeatherFlow Handheld Weather Meter:
Small, lightweight design
Uses your smartphone’s large screen
Wireless (via Bluetooth)
Provides you with a wealth of data up to the second
The FixKit Handheld Digital Anemometer measures wind speed in 7 user-selectable units (mph, km/h, etc) on a large easy to read LCD screen with a backlight for dark spaces. This unit may be of particular interest to those who need a handheld anemometer for HVAC uses. The sensor unit has 3 foot long cable that separates the wind speed meter fan from the rest of the unit. This means you can stick the meter inside an air duct or other tight space to measure air flow and temperature without having to crawl inside it or stick an arm in there with a flashlight.
Note that because this hand held wind speed meter is in two parts (the sensor fan and the display readout) you’ll probably need two hands to operate it, unless you’re able to set one piece down on something. Two handed use might not be a problem for many applications, but it might be for some possible uses.
Key features of the FixKit Handheld Digital Anemometer:
Wind speed meter is detached from display unit
Large, easy to read screen & button navigation
Rugged rubber bumpers on edges of the display unit
Measures temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
Kestrel is one of the best known names in weather data devices and the Kestrel 3000 is an extremely well regarded pocket wind speed meter unit. It features an easy to read LCD display which reads out information on wind speed, temperature, relative humidity, dew point temperature, heat stress index, wind chill and more.
The Kestrel Pocket Wind Speed Meter is designed for professional daily use and it not only displays data on the current wind speed, but also the average wind speed over a period of time as well as the maximum wind speed reached during the measurement session. It also measures wind speed in miles per hour as well as knots and more units.
This handheld wind speed meter also has another trick up its sleeve: it’s waterproof and even floats! Especially handy for sailing enthusiasts who need a handheld anemometer for their boats.
Key features of the Kestrel 3000 Pocket Wind Meter:
Pocket-sized, with lanyard strap
Rugged design built to withstand heavy use and drop-proof
This Kestrel handheld weather meter unit is probably the most fully featured handheld weather station on this list. It provides the user with a large easy to read display, and can optionally be used with the included tripod and wind direction vane. The Kestrel 5500 syncs with the Kestrel app on your iPhone or Android device up to about 100 feet in range and provides you with up to the second data on wind speed, direction, headwind and crosswind as well as temperature.
The Kestrel 5500 runs on a single AA battery and is fully waterproof up to about 3 feet for up to 30 minutes and it floats. It also measures humidity, barometric pressure, dew point, pressure trends, altitude and more as well as calculate wind chill and can store past use data within its memory banks. Comes with a neck lanyard, tripod, and wind direction vane attachment (though it can be operated without using these).
Key features of the Kestrel 5500 Handheld Weather Meter
Syncs with your iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth
Waterproof & floats
Backlit display is easy to read even in the dark
Made in the USA
Includes a digital compass
Tracks headwind & tailwind
Works with a variety of ballistics phone apps for shooting
Red night vision LCD display mode
Includes a “heat stress meter” mode
Another nice feature of the Kestrel 5500 is that it can wirelessly connect to your PC or Mac to download weather data using an inexpensive dongle add-on. Using software you can then analyze historical wind speed information that you’ve collected using the instrument.
Factors to consider when choosing a handheld anemometer or handheld weather station
Does this anemometer measure more than just wind speed?
The most basic handheld anemometer will measure wind speed, temperature and probably nothing else. If your needs are limited to just that, then you can probably get away with a basic entry-level cheap handheld wind meter. But if there’s a chance you might need some more weather sensors such as barometric pressure or dew-point, then you might be more interested in a fully fledged portable weather station. Still other more advanced portable weather stations can offer analytical information like heat stress index, Beaufort scale equivalents, or windchill based on combining multiple measurements into one.
Will I be using this mobile anemometer near water or in rain?
Some handheld anemometers are waterproof and others even float. If you’re planning on bringing your wind speed meter on a boat or in adverse weather conditions, we recommend getting a portable anemometer that’s designed for that (such as the floating and waterproof Kestrel models listed on this page).
Do I need a detached instrument or is an all-integrated wind speed meter okay?
Some users who are interested in extremely precise humidity or temperature measurements will want to consider an anemometer with a jackknife design such as the Ambient Weather WM-5 listed on this page which has a flip-out display cover which you can hold on to instead of the unit itself so as to avoid from influencing the data collection with hand-sweat or body heat.
What type of weather conditions will I be using this handheld anemometer in?
If you’re a storm chaser that regularly finds themselves in high wind conditions then you might have more rugged needs than, say, an HVAC technician. Some anemometers are more rugged than others and can measure wind velocity up to almost a hundred miles per hour. Generally speaking the more expensive the anemometer, the faster the wind speed it should be able to read.
What is the price of this handheld anemometer?
Price is often a factor and the price range of handheld wind speed meters and portable weather stations ranges from a few dollars to several hundred. If you are planning on purchasing additional accessories such as tripods or other gear to use with your portable wind speed meter you’ll want to be sure to factor that price into the total purchase price of your system. Ultimately the best handheld anemometer is the one that’s right for you.
Do I need/want smartphone app compatibility for my handheld wind speed meter?
Some higher end wind speed meters such as the Kestrel models or WeatherFlow ones on this list offer the ability to connect your wind speed meter or weather station to your cell phone via iPhone or Android apps which you can download to provide in depth analysis of your hyperlocal weather conditions.
This Bluetooth connectivity can be useful for looking back at stored historical data (i.e. recognizing that a particular wind speed is the highest ever recorded, or what’s “normal” wind speed for a ventilator system). Handheld wind speed meters that work with your phone can also sometimes hook up to other third party apps like ballistics apps for shooters.
What are handheld weather stations or handheld anemometers used for?
There are a number of things that people use handheld anemometers, pocket weather stations and portable wind speed meters for. Generally speaking, these are grouped into several different categories by use type:
Pocket wind speed meters for firefighters – In some places wind speed and directionality can be a matter of life and death. It’s hard to think of a more critical use case for accurate wind speed meters or anemometers than firefighters battling a forest fire. Firefighters may use pocket weather stations to predict how conditions may change that impact the way that they fight wildfires as well as get a sense of where they may be able to safely be located while they’re fighting wide ranging fires.
As one firefighter says in the video above: “The reason [wind is] important to us, fires can create their own wind but they’re also driven by the wind that goes on within the weather. Increased winds will increase the veracity of the fire, changes in wind direction will change the direction that the fire’s going, so those are things that are important for us to know when we come on the scene and monitor for changes during event.” Relative humidity and temperature are also important weather factors for firefighters to monitor because humidity affects how quick nearby tinder is to catch fire.
Handheld anemometers for HVAC professionals – Contractors installing or maintaining heating, cooling and air conditioning units often find handheld anemometers useful because they’re a convenient pocket sized way to gauge how fast air is blowing, and whether a unit is faulty or not without having to rely on what it “feels” like.
Portable weather stations for hikers & backpackers – If you’re hiking in a microclimate or out in the middle of nowhere you may not have access to reliable weather data, especially at high altitudes. Carrying a pocket weather station with you can help produce accurate hyperlocal weather forecasts which can determine whether it’s important to seek shelter in the case of adverse weather conditions.
Handheld wind speed meters for model plane enthusiasts – Although pilots of large aircraft can usually rely on other sources of weather data, model plane and drone pilots often find handheld wind speed and direction meters invaluable when determining their own hyper-local flying conditions.
Portable anemometers for sailing – Large sailboats sometimes have anemometers (wind speed and direction meters) built-in but smaller boats don’t have these and it’s often handy to be able to check wind speed with a handheld device.
Anemometers for sports shooters & hunters – For sports shooters, wind speed and directional information can be quite useful to boost the accuracy of their shots. While hunters are interested in accuracy they may also be even more interested in the direction of the wind for scent purposes (hunting upwind, etc). Read more about the effect of wind speed and direction as well as scents in hunting in this article.
Weather stations & barometric pressure meters for fishing – Fishers also sometimes use pocket weather stations to measure barometric pressure which fish react to. In high or low barometric pressure environments fish swim slowly in deeper waters, while in falling pressure environments fish are more likely to be swimming near the surface and be ready to bite at any opportunity.
Wind speed meters for agricultural users – Farmers sometimes need to measure barn ventilation as well as temperature conditions for livestock purposes and so handheld portable wind speed meters are useful for them as well.
Wind speed meters for wind power professionals – People working in the rapidly expanding wind power energy sector often use handheld anemometers to measure wind speed at locations they’re considering putting in new wind turbines or windmills, as well as for measuring data when doing maintenance checkups to existing wind power sites.
Coaches and trainers who need handheld heat stress meters – Some coaches working with athletes outdoors during summer or winter may want to use a wind speed meter that has a built in heat stress meter to monitor weather conditions by synthesizing a combination of temperature, wind speed as well as humidity. This is useful to make sure athletes don’t over-exert themselves in challenging weather conditions while training. Some handheld wind speed meters such as Kestrel models offer this feature.
Pocket weather stations for storm chasers – Storm chasing is one of those hobbies that’s gaining popularity due to both cheaper equipment and the effects of climate change producing more extreme weather variations. Storm chasers often use pocket anemometers in conjunction with other gear to monitor current weather conditions and trends. Pocket anemometers allow storm chasers to measure weather conditions surrounding extreme weather events without fragile equipment, since most of these small devices are rugged and many are weatherproof and come with lanyards or hand straps.
Pocket wind speed meters for EMTs & public safety workers – Portable wind speed meters are also useful for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and also public safety workers dealing with avalanche control, smoke coordination, forensics, hazmat/biohazard remediation, K9 handlers, dive rescue workers, search and rescue, and more.
Pocket weather stations for Weather enthusiasts – The weather hobbyist community is growing and as weather station gear has gotten more both more portable and more affordable, some weather enthusiasts are choosing to buy their own portable weather stations. Weather reports generally offer forecasts for a large area– sometimes many square miles, and will never be as precise as the information you can get from your own handheld weather station.
Of course there are plenty of other reasons why a person might want a handheld weather station that aren’t related to any of the use cases listed above. Whatever the reason that you’re looking to buy a pocket anemometer we hope you find this article useful.
Frequently asked questions about handheld anemometers
The anemometers on this list have fans or “vanes” which rotate at a speed based on the wind velocity. The devices then measure how fast the wind vane or fan is turning and then translate that into the speed of the wind in units such as miles per hour, meters per second, knots, or other units.
We hope you found our handheld anemometer reviews helpful. For more information about anemometers, visit our homepage, WindAndWeatherTools.com.