Whatever your reason for wanting to measure rainfall, there are several great options on the market.
When choosing a rain gauge, it’s important to determine your specific requirements so you can find one that best fits your needs.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed the top rain gauges in Australia and compared their pros & cons to help make your decision easier.
Our top pick: Ecowitt Wireless Rain Gauge
Why we chose it: The Ecowitt Wireless Rain Gauge is an easy-to-use and accurate device for monitoring the rain condition in your garden or farm. It has a wireless transmission range of 100M and is very accurate and precise (0.1mm/0.01inch resolution).
This product provides professional rainfall data providing all the information you need on an easy-to-read display. It also has a customisable rain alarm which amongst other things can be pre-set to turn off the sprinkler when it rains.
The self-emptying collector means you don’t need to worry about regularly emptying it to ensure accurate readings.
The display base station can be wall-mounted for convenience and convenience of use, and it also monitors indoor temperature and humidity measurements.
How it compares: When compared to the La Crosse featured later on our list, the Ecowitt provides more data, has a slightly longer range (100m vs 90m), and at the time of writing is slightly more affordable.
On the downside, the Ecowitt records only indoor temperature and humidity while the La Crosse outdoor unit includes a temperature and humidity sensor.
Best analog rain gauge: RainMaxx 280mm Rain Gauge
Why we chose it: There are lots of poor-quality manual rain gauges on the market but this isn’t one of them. The RainMaxx is very easy to use, accurate, and virtually unbreakable. It’s made in Australia and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Installation is quick and easy and it measures in both millimetres and inches. It has an open design for easy cleaning and the measurements are magnified so they’re easy to read.
The gauge is UV stabilised for a longer life, frost resistant, and has a capacity of 280 mm.
Also great: La Crosse Digital Rain Gauge
Why we chose it: The La Crosse Rain Gauge is an effective and accurate rain gauge with a large catchment. This wireless rain gauge features a freestanding catchment container with sensors that deliver data to the indoor display unit.
What others say: Tech Gear Lab rated this rain gauge the highest of all the products they tested. They cite the following positives: “No entry point for insects, larger opening increases accuracy, easy to read”. However, they also note that it has a more complicated interface than other products.
Budget option: AcuRite Rain Gauge
Why we chose it: If you don’t want to spend more than $20, this is your best option. This affordable but high-quality rain gauge measures up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) of rainwater and has numbers that are magnified by over 35% for simple viewing.
The durable, weather-resistant acrylic construction ensures that it will withstand the elements, while the integrated hang hole lets you easily attach it to a fence or porch post without any tools needed. It can also be staked into the ground.
One negative point is that this gauge measures only in inches. If you are set on having metric measurements, check out this alternative.
What others say: The Spruce also included this as their best budget rain gauge and note that “It’s a great choice for precise measurements, as it’s marked with tenth-inch increments. As rain fills the tube, the numbers are magnified 35 percent, making it easier to see from a distance.”
Types of rain gauge
Rain gauges come in two main types: analog and digital.
An analog rain gauge consists of a plastic tube or container that has an opening at one end and measurements displayed on the side. This type of rain gauge requires manual readouts and emptying after each rainfall.
A digital rain gauge collects rain measurements and transmits the data electronically to a digital display, app, or website. Digital rain gauges will usually automatically empty themselves.
While a manual rain gauge is easier to use, digital gauges have many advantages including the collection of data for months or years to allow tracking and comparisons.
They also provide a visual representation of seasonal patterns in rainfall amounts.
RELATED: The Best Irrigation Controllers
Other things to keep in mind
If you want to install your rain gauge on a wall or fence, you’ll need to look for one that comes with a solid mounting bracket.
Some of the cheaper models are held in place by suction cups or flimsy plastic hooks that can easily be torn off by strong winds or storms.
Once you’ve decided where you want to mount it, make sure that it’s level before attaching it to whatever surface you’re using as an anchor point.
Just like with any other type of weather instrumentation, this is important because an inaccurate reading will give you false information about how often it rains in your area.
The amount of accuracy you need will be determined by what you intend to use the data for.
How well can a gauge record rainfall? This depends on the design of the gauge.
While a wider mouth will collect more rain and in general be more accurate, keep in mind that insects and debris can lead to inaccurate readings if they make their way into the measurement chamber.
Advanced weather systems like those from La Crosse are designed to mitigate these risks.
Ease of use & readability
A rain gauge should be easy to use. If your rain gauge is difficult to operate, you’re likely to stop using it.
A good analog rain gauge will have clearly marked measurements so that you can easily see how much rainfall has occurred over a certain period of time.
The markings should be large enough that they’re readable without pulling out your magnifying glass.
With digital rain gauges, look for a simple and straightforward interface that provides all the data you need.
Rain gauges are exposed to the elements, and so must be able to withstand the harsh Australian sun that can fade plastic and cause it to degrade.
Metals should be protected against rust and digital measurement devices that are to be located outdoors should have adequate weatherproofing.
How accurate is a home rain gauge?
Rain gauges vary in their accuracy based on their design, calibration, and how they are installed. Products like the Ecowitt Wireless Rain Gauge can provide precise measurements down to 0.1mm while narrow analog gauges will be less accurate.
Where is the best place to put a rain gauge?
It’s important you choose an open area to install your rain gauge, so rain can still enter the catchment regardless of wind direction. Installation to the top of a fence post is often recommended.