Last updated: August 7, 2021

Our method

16Products analysed

27Hours spent

15Evaluated articles

78User reviews

Welcome to our big rain gauge test 2021. Here we present all the rain gauges we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best rain gauge for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a rain gauge.




Summary

  • A rain gauge collects rainfall in a container and can indicate the rainfall per m² using a scale or a digital mechanism.
  • Rain gauges fall into two categories. Analogue and digital rain gauges differ firstly in price and in the evaluation mechanism. Analogue systems have to be read out themselves, whereas digital rain gauges transmit the information directly.
  • No matter which type of rain gauge you buy, pay attention to the recommended alignment in order to obtain the most accurate measurement results.

The Best Rain Gauge: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a rain gauge

What is a rain gauge?

A rain gauge, also called a rain gauge, measures the amount of rain that falls per square metre.

Like many other components, a rain gauge is part of a modern weather station and is also operated by weather services in the same form as in your garden.

Precipitation is measured decentrally from your location, to get accurate results for your locality you need your own rain gauge. (Image source: pixabay.com / 3d_Maennchen)

The usual rain gauges can indicate not only precipitation but also the amount of snow per square metre. The readings are always for a specific time interval.

What does a rain gauge show and how do I read the values?

The millimetre bar of the rain gauge indicates how much precipitation has fallen per square metre in a certain period of time. This is indicated by the values in the funnel.

One millimetre of rain in the rain gauge is one litre of rain per square metre. With an analogue rain gauge, you can read the values on the device itself.

A digital rain gauge does not need to be read off in such a complicated way; here you simply look at the display and get the value that has already been calculated.

How does a rain gauge work?

The analogue rain gauge collects the rain in a small funnel and can be easily read on a scale.

The digital version is a little more complicated. A built-in tipping scale in the rain gauge always tilts to the other side when a gram of rain falls. The number of tilts is counted by the measuring device and can thus determine the amount of rain quite accurately. One gram of rain is one millimetre of water.

The following video explains the basic functioning of a rain gauge. In addition, the term precipitation is explained in more detail.

How accurate is a rain gauge?

The accuracy of the measurement depends on the location chosen for the rain gauge. If there are many sources of dripping water, such as trees or house walls, which direct rainwater from other locations towards the rain gauge, the readings will be distorted.

Dripping water from trees has a considerable influence on the measuring accuracy!

Under good conditions and with an ideally vertical position of the rain gauge, the measured values are very accurate and deviate by a maximum of 0.5mm. This corresponds to half a litre of rain per square metre.

Digital and analogue rain gauges are both very accurate, but the analogue rain gauge can be misread due to human error.

What are the alternatives to rain gauges?

There are no concrete alternatives to a rain gauge. The amount of precipitation per square metre is also given by many online weather reports, but it is unclear how accurate these values are for your region.

Besides a simple rain gauge, you can buy a weather station with a rain gauge. This digital form of a rain gauge integrates many other functions and can also be shown on a display.

What does a rain gauge cost?

Rain gauges are available in different price categories. Simple devices can be bought cheaply for a few euros in the supermarket, while digital versions have no upper limit.

Device price
Analogue rain gauge from 4€
Digital rain gauge from 30€

Branded analogue rain gauges cost much more than the simpler versions. These start at around 15€.

Which rain gauge is right for me?

We can't give you a definite answer to this question. The suitability of the rain gauge depends on your use and the relevance of the readings.

If you are farming and rainfall is important for your yield, I recommend a digital rain gauge, which is much more professional than the analogue version. In addition, the values do not have to be read off, but are shown on a display.

If you are simply interested in how much it has rained and don't want to rely on weather reports, then an analogue version is also sufficient. However, you have to read and analyse this yourself.

Where should I place a rain gauge?

The rain gauge must be placed outside in a weather-neutral area. It must be placed perpendicular to the sky for best results.

The position of the rain gauge must be chosen carefully. (Image source: pixabay.com / PublicDomainPictures)

It is important that no additional dripping water gets into the rain gauge, so you should avoid house walls and the vicinity of trees. Otherwise the readings may be incorrect.

It is also possible to mount the rain gauge on a balcony or roof, but you should make sure that you read the scale yourself, especially with analogue rain gauges. This means that the rain gauge should be within your reach.

Decision: What types of rain gauges are there and which is the right one for you?

Rain gauges differ in various aspects, but primarily in analogue rain gauges and digital rain gauges.

I will show you the individual advantages and disadvantages in the following paragraphs.

What distinguishes an analogue rain gauge and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

An analogue rain gauge is a funnel-shaped vessel with a scale. The rim is slightly wider in order to catch as much rain as possible and measure it later. Such inexpensive rain gauges are of course not as accurate and serve more as a guide, since you also have to read the values manually.

Analogue rain gauges are often decorative and have different designs, which makes the rain gauge a real eye-catcher in addition to its actual function.

In addition, the position of an analogue rain gauge is very important; if the rain gauge is not vertical and is slightly tilted, the results will be correspondingly inaccurate.

Advantages
  • Very inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Can be decorative
Disadvantages
  • Measurement results only as approximate values
  • Must be read manually
  • Position plays a major role

What are the characteristics of a digital rain gauge and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A digital rain gauge is a collection container, available in different designs, with a toggle switch. This toggle switch is the digital scale of the rain gauge. In addition, there is a display unit that conveniently displays the measurement.

The somewhat more expensive rain gauge, like the analogue rain gauge, must be optimally positioned in order to achieve very accurate results. The measured values are much more accurate due to the mechanism.

Advantages
  • Very accurate measurement results
  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable reading of the values
  • Can often be integrated into its weather station
Disadvantages
  • Cost point is much higher
  • Must be powered
  • Point of view plays a big role

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate rain gauges

In the following chapter, we will show you which aspects and key data you can use to decide between the many possible rain gauges.

We will go into the following criteria in more detail and give you an overview:

  • Size
  • Rain measurement / Accuracy
  • Material
  • Operation
  • Design

Size

The size plays a role in the collection quantity and should be appropriate. The height of the holder is also relevant for the ideal installation and should be chosen carefully.

Digital rain gauges also have a display station that must be set up in the house, this must also be chosen as desired.

Rain measurement / Accuracy

The rain measurement is the same for all analogue rain gauges and therefore similarly accurate. Make sure that the scale is clearly legible.

Digital rain gauges have a higher accuracy than analogue rain gauges.

The digital rain gauges also work according to a mechanical principle and thus achieve more reliable measuring accuracies.

Material

When choosing the material for your rain gauge, you need to consider your annual weather conditions. Many materials are not frost-resistant and therefore unusable in cold temperatures. Look for high-quality materials, also for the holder.

Recommended materials are:

  • Glass
  • Hard plastic
  • Aluminium or copper

Especially with the more expensive digital rain gauges, you should not forego quality; this is the only way to still achieve measurable results in years to come.

Operation

The operation must again be differentiated into analogue and digital.

Analogue rain gauges must be ideally positioned in order to achieve good results. Especially the readability of the scale for evaluation should be easy and fast. Also make sure that the rain gauge is stable and can be emptied easily.

Digital rain gauges, like analogue devices, must be ideally positioned. The connection between the actual rain gauge and the display is usually very limited. Pay attention to the maximum range of the sensors.

Design

Analogue rain gauges come in a wide variety of designs. From a simple metal or plastic holder to elaborate and decorative metal works of art. However, the function remains the same and the vessel always looks similar.

It is best to choose the design you like best, the more elaborate the design, the more expensive the product.

Digital rain gauges are all a little different in design. This varies from brand to brand and makes no difference to the function.

Facts worth knowing about rain gauges

Are there rain gauges with apps?

Analogue rain gauges do not have the option of transmitting data via apps.

Depending on the manufacturer, some digital rain gauges have their own apps for transmitting rain gauge data. You download the app offered by your rain gauge to your smartphone and connect it to the rain gauge.

Often the apps are designed for complete weather stations and you only get limited results.

Can I connect a rain gauge to my weather station?

Analogue rain gauges cannot be connected to a weather station with outdoor sensors, as it is not possible to transmit data from the analogue system.

Check the manufacturer's specifications to see which weather stations your rain gauge is compatible with.

Digital rain gauges are often offered in addition to a weather station and can then be easily integrated into your digital system.

Are decorative rain gauges just as good?

Analogue rain gauges in particular are available in a wide variety of designs. There are hardly any limits and almost every taste is catered for.

Basically, rain gauges with a simple design work just as well as fancy rain gauges, which is why decorative rain gauges are in no way inferior to simple systems.

Digital rain gauges also come in different shapes, but are not offered in elaborate designs due to the elaborate technology.

Can I save data from the rain gauge?

Digital rain gauges often have the option of saving data via apps and retrieving it later.

Pay attention to the manufacturer's specifications for your rain gauge and the instructions for your app. Analogue rain gauges do not have the option to store and process data.

What is a Hellmann rain gauge?

The Hellmann rain gauge is a 200cm² zinc or stainless steel sheet that directs the precipitation through a funnel into a collecting cylinder. There the rain is protected from evaporation. The cylinder in which the precipitation is measured is accurate to 0.05mm.

The small Hellmann has a collecting area of 100cm². Hellmann rain gauges are also used for snow.

The rain gauge named after a Prussian meteorologist is still used today by modern weather stations.

How do I build a rain gauge myself?

Building a rain gauge is not a problem with manual skills and provides solid results.

Step Material Description
Step 1 Scissors, bottle, tape Cut off the top of the bottle and tape the sharp edges.
Step 2 Pebbles, bottle Fill pebbles into the lower part of the bottle to make the rain gauge more stable.
Step 3 Paper, ruler, scissors Cut a narrow strip from the paper and create a scale using the ruler.
Step 4 Foil, scissors Cut a piece of foil to match your scale and stick both onto the bottom of the bottle.
Step 5 Bottle, water Fill the bottle to the first mark on the scale. Place the top part of the bottle on top of the bottle with the opening facing down to make a funnel.

If these steps are too theoretical for you and in order to illustrate the whole thing better, we have selected a video for you to go with the building instructions. In this video, the individual steps are shown and explained in detail.

So nothing should stand in the way of your self-built rain gauge:

Finally, you can set up the homemade rain gauge in a place protected from the wind and read the rain on the scale, just like with other analogue rain gauges.

Image source: unsplash.com / Jake Colling

Why you can trust me?

Reviews