What are the most popular types of anemometer?
What is anemometer?
Anemometer is a special device used to measure wind speed and direction. It is often used as an additional tool to weather stations and helps with measurements in meteorology. The name comes from the Greek word anemos which stands for wind. The first anemometer is said to be used in 1450. It can also be used for measurements in the wind tunnels, and other gas-flow applications.
What is wind speed?
Wind speed is a value of the air movement. Wind is created by the air moving from high to low pressure areas, and its speed might differ dramatically. Usually, the pressure differences are caused by changes in temperature.
Wind speed is most usually given in m/s (meters per second) – this is the SI unit for velocity and also the unit recommended by the World Meteorological Organization. Sometimes other units like mph (miles per hour), kn (knots) or ft/s (feet per second) can be used for historical reasons.
What is air flow?
Wind speed should not be confused with airspeed. That is a completely different value. Airspeed is a term used in aviation and it denotes the speed of an aircraft relative to the air.
Why determine wind speed?
It is an important value for weather forecasting, aviation, and maritime operations, as well as construction projects, growth, and metabolism rate of many plant species. The wind direction might sometimes be equally important. Meteorologists as well as physicist might need to determine the wind speed as part of their work to figure out other important values. Anemometers are used worldwide in meteorological and weather stations. It can help indicate and forecast weather changes, approaching storms etc. – these values might be also important for pilots, meteorologists, engineers, and climatologists.
Types of anemometers
Also called rotational, cup anemometer is probably the oldest type of anemometer. It consists of multiple, usually four cups joined together on vertical axis. The wind presses against the cups and makes them rotate. The stronger the wind, the faster the rotation. There is usually a digital display to show the data measured. Cup anemometers are used in many various industries and for many purposes – in research, at schools, for meteorology purposes or commercial activities.
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Hot wire anemometer
Also called thermal flow anemometer, this device measures both wind speed and pressure, making it a more efficient tool than the basic cup anemometer. This tool is composed of a long rod with hot wire positioned at the top. The anemometer is placed in the open air and as the wind passes by, it cools down the hot wire and therefore the anemometer measures the wind speed and pressure. The faster the wind, the cooler the hot wire. It measures the air flow through building conducts, and you can also find this type of anemometer in the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning industry.
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Unlike the hot wire anemometer, the windmill anemometer measures wind speed and direction. There is a propeller located at the front and a large tail section. The wind blows and makes the propeller spin. The wind speed is measured from the speed of the propeller´s rotation. The faster the wind speed, the faster the propeller will rotate.
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Pressure tube anemometer
Also called “windsock”, this device can often be found at the airports and is used primarily to measure the wind direction. It consists of a wired tube. The blowing wind catches the larger end of the tube and therefore the device can indicate the direction of the wind as the tube turns according to the wind direction. It also measures the wind speed, because the faster the wind blows, the higher the tube raises off from the ground. There is no value or data displayed as this tool is rather used for relative measurements.
This type of device works by sending sonic pulses across a path to sensor on the opposite side. The faster the wind blows, the more the pulses get disrupted by it. Therefore, the ultrasonic anemometer can provide very accurate data about the wind speed. It can even detect very small values of wind speed. Usually, the device is composed of four sensors arranged in a square pattern.
Laser Doppler anemometer
This type of anemometer uses the Doppler effect to determine the speed of air flow. They are commonly used in high-tech applications like jet engines or river hydrology and measures successfully even the smallest changes in the air flow.
Which type of anemometer should you choose?
It is not possible to say which type of anemometer is the best. Simply, each of them is used for different types of measurements, for different purposes, in different conditions, and by different people. When choosing, which anemometer you want to buy, you should consider all your requirements. Each type works slightly different, offers different values and data, each is differently accurate. Some anemometers might be better for some uses that others and vice versa.
For example, if you are looking for a hand-held anemometer, you might prefer a vane anemometer over a cup anemometer, as the cup anemometer is a bit clumsier to carry around. However, if you are looking for an anemometer to mound to your house roof and measure the wind speed, the cup anemometer might be a better option than vane anemometer since hot-wire anemometers are primarily purposed to be used as hand-held devices. You see? Each of them has their pros and cons and it only depends on what you want or need to use the tool for!
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