The Best Rain Gauges of 2022

A rain gauge is a useful tool for gardening, farming, and staying informed on weather conditions.

By Caroline Prévost-Levac | Updated Oct 26, 2021 12:36 PM

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The Best Rain Gauge Option

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Initially used by weather stations and now by gardeners, farmers, and weather enthusiasts alike, rain gauges collect rain into a funnel to measure precipitation saving you time, energy, and money. By knowing how much rain the area receives over an average week, month, or year, you can plan when to water your plants or to prepare for storms.

With so many different models available on the market, finding the best rain gauge for your needs can feel overwhelming. To give you a headstart, read on to learn about shopping considerations and why the following rain gauges are top performers.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Headwind EZRead Jumbo Rain Gauge with Float 820-0002
  2. BEST BUDGET: La Crosse 704-1531 Large Magnifying 5-Inch Rain Gauge
  3. BEST WIRELESS: AcuRite 00899 Wireless Rain Gauge
  4. BEST WEATHER STATION: Ambient Weather WS-2000 Smart Weather Station
  5. BEST FOR RAIN AND SNOW: Stratus RG202 Professional Rain and Snow Gauge
  6. BEST DECORATIVE: Evergreen Metal Frog Statue with a Glass Rain Gauge
  7. BEST RAIN APP: Netatmo Rain Gauge Weather Station NRG01-WW
The Best Rain Gauge Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rain Gauge

You may be wondering what constitutes a good quality rain gauge. As with most products, your specific situation will impact the features and price range best suited for you. Consider the following criteria before buying.

Size

The height of a rain gauge typically ranges from 5 to 20 inches, while the diameter of its cylinder ranges from 2 to 8 inches. It’s quite simple: the larger the cylinder, the more rain collected and the more accurate the readings are.

If you live in an area where it rains a lot, a larger rain gauge is a wise choice. Some models may double as snow gauges or come as part of an all-in-one weather station. However, if you only care about rain-related data, a more expensive, larger-scale gadget may not be necessary.

Type

Rain gauges come in analog and digital types. Analog gauges are the simplest, most affordable models on the market. They collect water in a tube, then users must manually read and record the data every time it rains.

Digital or wireless rain gauges are much more self-reliant but come with a higher price tag. They transmit their data to a unit inside the home or to a phone app. They may provide additional benefits, from monitoring the temperature to integrating other smart devices.

If that’s not enough, weather enthusiasts can opt for a weather station. This device offers a more complete picture, including not only rainfall data, but also temperature, snowfall, barometric pressure, and more. Weather stations are evidently the most expensive options on the market.

Collection Capacity

The importance of a rain gauge’s capacity depends on climate—whether it rains heavily or sporadically in a particular area—and on the tool’s intended purpose. Heavy and frequent rainfalls will require a larger rain collection tube. A rain gauge used for agricultural purposes requires more precise and long-term data compared to one used for gardening.

Most rain gauges collect up to 5 inches of rain, while larger models can collect up to 11 inches. A 5-inch rain gauge is usually plenty for an average yard or garden. Larger ones are better suited for farming.

The Best Rain Gauge Option

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Accuracy

Accuracy is generally important, although gardeners may require less precision than farmers. Wireless or digital rain gauges are more accurate than analog models, which may only bear markings in 1/4-inch intervals. Although, some premium models are accurate to 1/100th of an inch.

A wider diameter usually leads to more accurate readings. A 4-inch rain gauge is appropriate for most uses, while 8 inches is what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employs for its data. To avoid evaporation before the water level can be measured, UV protection is another factor to consider.

In the end, accuracy is also a question of placement. Nearby obstructions such as buildings or trees, as well as wind and uneven terrain, can all play a part in the readings’ exactitude. It is best to record measurements at the same time of day each time. For optimal accuracy, you can even use multiple rain gauges placed in different areas of the yard.

Display

With analog types, you may prefer to look for large and clear markings that can be read from afar. Some designs bear properties that magnify the water level. Contrasting colors for the tube and markings also enhance ease of reading.

Markings that will neither erode nor disappear over time are a high priority. With digital units, the data is sent either to a display screen kept indoors or to an app on your phone.

Installation

A rain gauge can go on a fence post, a patio railing, a mailbox, a plant pot, or even straight into the ground near your plants. If you want to attach yours to an existing structure, look for a model that comes with brackets and screws. Alternatively, you can look for a model with spikes to plant directly into the ground.

Keep in mind that you should place a rain gauge in an unobstructed area. It should be installed at a reasonable distance from any buildings, trees, or overbearing bushes, while still protected from heavy winds. Avoid placing it directly beneath a rain gutter, as not to risk runoff altering your reading. It is also ideal to place it four or five feet above the ground.

Digital gauges typically require more work to install than analog ones. But on the upside, offer low maintenance once set up. Plus rain jackets can stay in the closet since all data is sent directly to a unit inside your home or an app on your phone.

The Best Rain Gauges Our Top Picks

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Our Top Picks

Below are some of the best rain gauges that stand out for their quality, ease of use, accuracy, and versatility.

Best Overall

The Best Rain Gauge Option: Headwind EZRead Jumbo Rain Gauge with Float 820-0002
Photo: amazon.com

The EZRead rain gauge by Headwind is an analog model featuring an oversized design. Standing tall at 26 inches and with a diameter of 4 inches, it can measure up to 5 inches of rainfall. Its funnel top prevents debris such as leaves from clogging the rainwater collector.

The markings on this Headwind rain gauge are large and visible at 1/4-inch intervals. With the additional float and water-level magnification feature, you can read them from up to 50 feet away. Its bright yellow and green design is fun and highly visible in most weather.

The EZRead is designed to withstand excessive heat, high winds, and heavy rain alike. However, it is not freeze-resistant, so be sure not to leave it outside in the cold. Thanks to its plastic hanger, the device is easy to install on a range of surfaces.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Analog
  • Size: 26 inches long, 4 inches in diameter
  • Ease of Installation: Moderate

Pros

  • Measures up to 5 inches of rainfall
  • Built-in funnel top
  • Float and water-level feature
  • Weather-resistant

Cons

  • Requires wall-mounting
  • Not freeze-proof

Best Budget

The Best Rain Gauge Option: La Crosse 704-1531 Large Magnifying 5-Inch Rain Gauge
Photo: amazon.com

With this magnifying analog model by La Crosse, there’s no need to break the bank to get a functional rain gauge for the backyard or garden. The compact device is 12 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches wide, capable of measuring up to 5 inches of rain.

The magnifying acrylic funnel features large numbers that are easy to read, even from a distance. The funnel is removable for cleaning and emptying. Keyhole brackets make the device easy to mount on a post or a fence, while a pointy bottom allows for planting it into the ground. Note that mounting screws are not included.

The La Crosse rain gauge is designed to withstand heavy rain and wind, but not freezing temperatures. It’s available in three color choices: black-blue, navy blue, and burgundy red.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Analog
  • Size: 12 inches tall, 2 ¾ inches wide
  • Ease of Installation: Easy

Pros

  • Easy to read
  • Weather-resistant
  • Keyhole brackets; ground or wall-mounting
  • Comes in multiple colorways

Cons

  • No mounting screws included
  • Not freeze-resistant

Best Wireless

The Best Rain Gauge Option: AcuRite 00899 Wireless Rain Gauge
Photo: amazon.com

This digital and wireless model by AcuRite is easy to set up and does nearly all the work for you. A rainfall alarm lets you know when it starts to rain, and then rain totals get transmitted every 16 seconds to the easy-to-read LCD display.

The indoor unit provides all data and measurements in both inches and millimeters for the current rain event, current day, last 7 days, plus two other customizable totals. A flood watch alarm also lets you know if conditions may lead to flooding.

Its signal is strong enough to transmit up to 100 feet away, which provides reasonable freedom with positioning the outdoor component. Once mounted, it is designed to stay securely in place through the elements. However, this model may not withstand excessive heat or too much direct sun exposure, so choose its location carefully.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Digital
  • Size: Unlimited
  • Ease of Installation: Easy

Pros

  • Rainfall and flood watch alarm
  • Reports every 16 seconds
  • LED display
  • Strong signal

Cons

  • Not UV or heat resistant

Best Weather Station

The Best Rain Gauge Option: Ambient Weather WS-2000 Smart Weather Station
Photo: amazon.com

This high-tech weather station offers full-color TFT LCD display, 300-feet wireless transmission, and encrypted Wi-Fi connectivity. With this device, you get real-time updates every 16 seconds, in both imperial and metric units of measure. This model is not limited to rainfall measurements; it provides an array of other important weather-related data as well.

An all-in-one integrated sensor measures wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and rainfall as well as UV and solar radiation. You can add optional detectors for lightning, air quality, and humidity. This weather station can even place sensors indoors for data on the temperature and humidity in your house or office.

You can connect to the Ambient Weather Network via their website or through their app to access dials, gauges, graphs, and text reports. It is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for easy voice-activated weather reports. The sensor is solar-powered, although two AA batteries (not included) are recommended for backup power.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Digital
  • Size: Unlimited
  • Ease of Installation: Moderate

Pros

  • Provides ample weather data; UV, lighting, air quality, and humidity
  • Compatible with smart homes
  • Full-color LED display
  • Solar-powered with a backup battery option

Cons

  • Expensive compared to standard rain gauges
  • Mounting pole and backup batteries not included

Best for Rain and Snow

The Best Rain Gauge Option: Stratus RG202 Professional Rain and Snow Gauge
Photo: amazon.com

The Stratus RG202 rain gauge provides some of the most precise measurements among analog models. It is 14.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide, allowing it to measure up to 11 inches of rain or snow.

The Stratus 5G202 comes with an inner measuring tube with a 1-inch capacity, graduated to 1/100th of an inch for extra precision. When rainfall exceeds 1 inch, the extra water simply flows into the larger outer cylinder. The funnel and inner cylinder are removable for ease of reading and cleaning. With its “Quick Connect” bracket, the device is easy to install on most mounts or structures.

This rain and snow gauge was manufactured in accordance with United States Weather Bureau specifications. It contains heavy-duty, UV-resistant polycarbonate, allowing the gauge to withstand rough weather and direct sun exposure without fading or corroding.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Analog
  • Size: 14.5 inches tall, 5 inches wide
  • Ease of Installation: Moderate

Pros

  • Measures up to 11 inches of rainfall
  • Removable inner funnel and cylinder
  • Quick Connect design for wall-mounting
  • Weather-resistant

Cons

  • No measurements on the outer tube

Best Decorative

The Best Rain Gauge Option: Evergreen Metal Frog Statue with a Glass Rain Gauge
Photo: amazon.com

With this fun frog statue and rain gauge by Evergreen, you don’t have to choose between aesthetic and utility for your garden: you get the best of both worlds. It’s made of metal, polystone, and glass, allowing it to withstand heavy rain and wind. Its antique rust finish is charming, while also camouflaging any potential corrosion. For additional stability, a spike is located under the frog’s feet.

This decorative piece is 18 inches tall and 4 inches wide. The frog statue is much larger than the rain gauge tube. It collects up to 5 inches of rain, offering measurements in both inches and centimeters. The rain gauge provides basic rainfall information to benefit most gardeners, while the statue adds whimsical beauty.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Analog
  • Size: 18 inches tall, 4 inches wide
  • Ease of Installation: Easy

Pros

  • Collects up to 5 inches of rain
  • Sturdy, weather-resistant construction
  • Included spike for placing
  • Inch and centimeter measurements included

Cons

  • Spike is not removable
  • Material tends to rust

Best Rain App

The Best Rain Gauge Option: Netatmo Rain Gauge Weather Station NRG01-WW
Photo: amazon.com

This smart rain gauge is an accessory of the Netatmo smart weather station, which must be purchased separately. Its best feature is certainly its app, available on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac. The device provides real-time readings of rainfall as well as data history to track changes over time. You get a rainfall alert on your smartphone as soon as it starts raining, and you can customize alerts for information on cumulative quantities.

The rain gauge can be installed up to 300 feet away from the weather station’s indoor module. It is highly resistant to rough weather and is powered by two AAA batteries, not included with the product. It is compatible with Alexa and can connect with other smart devices of your smart home, including sprinklers, which the gauge can shut off as soon as it starts raining.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Digital
  • Size: Unlimited
  • Ease of Installation: Easy

Pros

  • Real-time readings
  • Rainfall alerts
  • Comes with app for monitoring
  • Compatible with smart homes

Cons

  • Batteries not included
  • iOS 9 minimum required

Our Verdict

If you’re looking for a highly reliable device with ample rain collection and weather resistance, the Headwind rain gauge is our first pick. This analog tool is made with a float and water-level feature for reading rainfall and a built-in funnel top to keep out debris and other materials.

Alternatively, the La Crosse rain gauge is a basic but functional model at a low price tag. Designed for placement in the ground or wall mounting, this rain gauge is easy to read, weather-resistant, and comes in multiple colorways to match your garden or yard accessories.

How We Chose the Best Rain Gauges 

Rain gauges can help to know how much your plants have been watered or monitor weather patterns in your area. Our selections for the best rain gauges depended upon the size, ease of use and installation, weather resistance, and added special features offered.

The featured picks can measure ample or unlimited amounts of rainwater or snow to keep track of rain rates. Many selected picks can also track other weather patterns or conditions like humidity, lightning, air quality, and UV radiation. To fit your preference, some of these rain gauges are controlled through apps or digital displays, while others measure rain with analog technology.

FAQs 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by shoppers before buying a rain gauge.

Q: How does a rain gauge work?

A rain gauge collects water into a graduated cylinder and measures precipitation over time. Analog types require you to manually record measurements and dump the water yourself.

Digital models require less maintenance; they record and transmit data to an indoor unit or to an app, and often include self-draining rain gauges.

Q: What size should a rain gauge be?

If you are a gardener, a 5- or 6-inch capacity will likely suffice. If you live in a rainy climate or make a livelihood from farming, a cylinder capable of collecting between 7 and 11 inches of water is more suitable.

Q: Where is the best place for a rain gauge?

The best spot for a rain gauge is one that is free of obstructions, protected from the wind, and 5 feet above the ground. For accurate measurements, a level surface is also ideal.

Q: What is the best way to mount a rain gauge?

Many rain gauges come with mounting brackets, for which you’ll need screws. They can then be mounted on fence posts, patio railings, or other elevated spots. Some models include spikes to secure them directly in the ground.

Q: How often should I check my rain gauge?

An analog gauge will require you to record measurements yourself. How often you check it depends on the accuracy and precision required. Digital or wireless gauges, on the other hand, record the data for you. You only need to check them for battery changes or occasional repairs.

Q: How do I clean a rain gauge?

When your rain gauge develops buildup, use a gentle soap to clean it. The funnel and cylinders are sometimes removable for ease of cleaning. Steer clear of harsh chemicals, which may damage the glass or plastic. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before cleaning.