how to measure wind speed at home

When you are a weather enthusiast, how to measure wind speed at home is an important skill to learn.

The velocity of wind, along with its direction and gusts, is among the top three features that define air movement.

Having knowledge about wind patterns and weather forecasts can be beneficial in so many situations.

And for that, you have to learn the concept of wind speed and how to measure speed of wind at home.

You can measure the speed of wind using DIY or commercial anemometers, or you can also rely on specialized apps. 

What is Wind Speed?

what is wind speed

Due to temperature changes, the air in the atmosphere tends to move from areas of high pressure to those of low pressure. This motion causes the wind to blow.

To put it plainly, the velocity of wind refers to the amount of air that moves over a given period.

There are various elements that can affect the velocity of wind and wind gusts, including:

  • The gradient of atmospheric pressure
  • The prevailing weather conditions in a particular area
  • The presence of Rossby waves (large bends in high-altitude winds)
  • Jet streams

The velocity of wind has an impact on various fields such as aviation, construction, and outdoor activities like windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, paragliding, and more.

Fact: Differentiating between wind speed and wind gusts is crucial as the latter refers to sudden bursts of wind that last for about 20-30 seconds. 

How to Measure Wind Speed at Home?

measuring wind speed at home

When it comes to measuring wind speed at home, you actually have a number of options available.

Here is what you can try: 

Using Cup Anemometers

These are based around a central pole with 3-4 cups affixed to it. The cups begin to rotate around the pole as they sense the wind blowing. Cups spin faster in stronger winds.

A sensor then counts the revolutions in order to determine wind velocity.

Here is how to use a cup anemometer: 

Step #1: Get Familiar with the Cup Anemometer

Gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental structure and elements of a cup anemometer.

Usually, it is made up of three or more cups connected to a central axis, which spins due to the power of the wind.

get familiar with the cup anemometer

The speed at which the cups rotate is directly correlated to the velocity of the wind

Step #2: Pick an Appropriate Spot

Choose a spacious and high spot that is free from any obstacles like buildings, trees, or other constructions.

To guarantee precise wind speed measurements, it is crucial that the spot where you place the anemometer offers unimpeded airflow. 

Step #3: Securely Mount the Cup Anemometer

securely mount the cup anemometer

When using a handheld cup anemometer, make sure to hold it firmly, ensuring that the cups are facing directly towards the wind.

To ensure proper usage of a fixed cup anemometer, it is essential to adhere to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. 

Step #4: Adjust Its Position

Make sure that the cup anemometer is correctly aligned with the direction of the wind.

Position it precisely in the path of the approaching breeze to obtain precise measurements.

If needed, modify the placement or direction of the anemometer to ensure proper alignment.

Step #5: Notice the Spinning of the Cups

notice the spinning of the cups

When the wind gusts, the cups will initiate their rotation. Monitor the spinning motion and tally the quantity of complete cycles during a designated duration.

The majority of cup anemometers come equipped with markings or a digital screen that shows the rotational speed.

This is typically measured in units such as revolutions per minute (RPM)

Step #6: Make Calculations

Refer to the anemometer’s documentation or user manual for the conversion factor that correlates cup rotations with wind speed.

To calculate the wind speed in the desired unit, simply multiply the conversion factor by the number of rotations. 

Step #7: Document and Analyze the Recorded Measurements

document and analyze the recorded measurements

Record the measurements of wind speed and any other pertinent details like the time of recording or prevailing weather conditions.

Analyze wind patterns and variations by comparing measurements over a period of time.

Fact: In the US, wind speed is commonly measured in miles per hour (mph), while in other parts of the world, it is measured in knots (nautical miles per hour) or meters per second.  

Using Vane Anemometers

using vane anemometers

They are used to determine the direction and speed of the wind.

The propeller and tail are aligned on a single axis, allowing the propeller to face the direction of the wind.

The rotations of the propeller are used to determine the speed of the wind.

Here is how to use it: 

Step #1: Get a Vane Anemometer

Get a vane anemometer appropriate for residential purposes.

Vane anemometers are commonly made up of a tool featuring a vane resembling a propeller or a wind direction indicator that spins in response to the wind. 

Step #2: Get Familiar with the Vane Anemometer

get familiar with the vane anemometer

Take the time to go through the user manual or any accompanying instructions that come with the vane anemometer.

This will help you grasp its unique characteristics, various configurations, and how to effectively use it.

Ensure that you possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to appropriately calibrate and operate the device. 

Step #3: Pick an Appropriate Spot

Choose an open outdoor location with clear airflow to ensure precise wind speed readings.

Steer clear of areas in close proximity to buildings, trees, or any other structures that could potentially impact the flow of wind.

Step #4: Arrange the Vane Anemometer

arrange the vane anemometer

Position the vane anemometer at the designated spot.

Certain models might necessitate being affixed or fastened to a stable surface, whereas others can be held in hand while taking measurements.

Simply adhere to the precise guidelines accompanying your vane anemometer. 

Step #5: Adjust the Vane Anemometer

If needed, make adjustments to the vane anemometer as per the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

The process of calibration guarantees precise measurements of wind speed by correcting for any possible inaccuracies. 

Step #6: Orient the Vane towards the Wind

orient the vane towards the wind

Position the vane anemometer in line with the wind by directly aligning the vane indicator or propeller head with the incoming wind.

Ensure that the vane anemometer is held steady or securely mounted in the correct orientation. 

Step #7: Take Note of Rotations

When the wind blows, the vane or propeller will start to spin.

Take note of the spinning motion and observe the indicated velocity of the wind on the vane anemometer.

Wind speed is commonly expressed in units such as meters per second (m/s), miles per hour (mph), or knots.

Using DIY Anemometers

using diy anemometers

Making your own anemometer out of common household items is one of the best ways to get accurate readings on wind speed.

You may use cups, straws, a pencil, and a pin to construct a simple anemometer.

The concept is to build a gadget that spins when exposed to wind, with the rate of rotation serving as an indicator of the velocity of the wind.

How to Do It?

  • Take four tiny paper or plastic cups.
  • Paint them a bright color to use as an anemometer for your home.
  • Put a sturdy connection between two straws by crossing them in the middle.
  • Using the ends of the straws, fasten the four cups together.
  • When fastening, ensure the open sides of the cups are constantly faced in opposing directions.
  • Put a pin in the center of the crossed straws and cups, and then attach the whole thing to a pencil. Make sure it is stable and can spin freely.

Counting the anemometer’s revolutions per minute yields a value indicative of the wind’s velocity.

Fact: In order to make your DIY anemometer work, it is important to calibrate it first, which you can do by comparing the readings with data collected through commercial anemometers.

Making Use of Modern Apps

making use of modern apps

With the rise of smartphones, there are now countless apps available that can perform a wide variety of functions, such as calculating wind velocity.

By utilizing the internal hardware of your mobile device, including barometers and GPS, in combination with intricate algorithms, these applications are capable of providing a relatively accurate approximation of wind speed.

Numerous applications cross-check this information with up-to-date weather data obtained from meteorological stations located globally. 

An Important Consideration

Certain advanced applications also provide interactive capabilities for users, enabling them to input and record observable environmental conditions.

The app can interpret various observations such as the movement of trees or the size of waves, and provide an estimate of the wind speed.

Fact: When using apps, you should only take them as useful resources that offer approximations rather than exact data. 


application advance

Learning how to measure wind speed at home can make things quite exciting, and it also helps you learn more about the changing wind patterns.

To get a good reading, you can always rely on commercially-designed anemometers, but you can make your own at home.

Similarly, using mobile apps may also help.

Although they may not be as precise as a professional anemometer, they are useful for getting a general idea of wind speed for informal or non-essential purposes.