The $300 BloomSky Sky2 Weather Camera has a list of features that will impress even die-hard weather geeks. It offers the usual array of climate sensors found on weather systems popular among amateur meteorologists and science educators. It can detect temperature, wind speed, rain and air pressure, plus it draws its electrical power from the sun. What makes the BloomSky Sky2 truly unique are its HD camera, its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, its companion mobile app and the way it ties in with other smart home gadgets and services.
The Sky2 is expensive even if it's priced competitively against traditional options from weather station specialists Davis and Acurite. Buying a kit like this only really makes sense if it's in your job description or you have a serious weather fetish and money to burn. Ordinary people with merely a casual interest in local atmospheric conditions are better off consulting a mobile app or choosing a less expensive device such as the $179 . It doesn't have a camera or solar power, but the Netatmo is a snap to deploy, and monitors your home environment too.
Design and features
With a roundish body, the BloomSky Sky2 reminds me of giant eyeball that's bristling with sensors. About the size of your average grapefruit, this model replaces Bloom's older BloomSky Plus device but is physically identical on the outside. Just like the first Sky, the Sky2's most noticeable feature is a large camera on its face. The camera has a fisheye lense that lets it see a wide 170-degree field of vision. You can pivot the camera, which sits on a curved hinge, to point straight upward or angle it down about 30 degrees.
Next to the Sky2's camera are instruments that sample relative humidity, ambient light, air pressure and temperature. Below the camera is the weather station's moisture detector. A field of copper circles of various sizes, the sensor detects the occurrence of rain but can't measure the amount of rainfall.
For that you'll have to spend an additional $140 for BloomSky's Storm accessory, which features a tipping-cup rain collector. The Storm has hardware to measure both wind speed and wind direction, to,o plus UV light levels, which the Sky and Sky2 units can't track.
The competing $180 Netatmo Weather Station can't detect UV light but it does support these features, though they're not bundled in the base kit. In fact in the case of Netatmo you'll have purchase separate ($80) Wind Gauge and ($100) Rain Gauge add-ons. Netatmo sells the mounting kit separately too for $25. Not so with the Sky2, which comes with its mounting equipment included. To sum up, that's $440 for the Sky2 and the Storm, and $385 for the complete set of Netatmo gear.
Both the BloomSky Sky2 and Storm sit atop custom plastic poles that double as stakes. You can either drive them into the ground or place the units inside steel mounting brackets that you fix to an outdoor surface. In my case mounting the Sky2 wasn't too difficult since BloomSky supplies the mounting bracket and screws. The Sky2's solar panel easily and securely attaches to this bracket as well.
Unfortunately BloomSky doesn't provide the same sort of hardware with the Storm kit -- it costs $40 extra. That forced me to improvise with what I had on hand: a metal flowerbed, a deck guardrail, plastic twist ties and the two flexible "U-Bolts" in the Sky2 box.
By comparison the compact, wireless Netatmo Weather Station is a breeze to set up.
Additionally Netatmo's kit includes an indoor module built to log characteristics of the environment within the home. BloomSky initially bundled a similar gadget but has since killed the product.