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Barometers: Introduction

Barometers are invaluable devices used to measure atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric or air pressure is defined as the force applied onto a surface by the weight of air, pulled by gravity. Air pressure changes with distance below or above sea level. Note that air pressure and oxygen level decrease as altitude increases.

Interestingly, Evangelista Torricelli is credited as the inventor of the first barometer in the 17th century. It was Blaise Pascal, however, who proved that air pressure is a result of the vertical weight of the air in the atmosphere. The design of barometers has evolved significantly over the centuries. We should note that there are two main types of mechanical barometers: mercury and aneroid meters. Note that mercury was a common liquid used in the past as its density allows barometers to be of manageable dimensions. Aneroid or non-liquid barometers, on the other hand, are more durable and wildly used as portable devices. Apart from mechanical barometers, there are electronic barometers, and some miniature units can be installed on cell phones.

Measuring air pressure is vital. To provide an example, barometric pressure concerns mountain climbers and scuba divers as moving from high pressure to low pressure too quickly can cause decompression sickness. Measuring pressure is also essential during cabin pressurization and flying. Furthermore, fluctuations in air pressure can predict weather changes. Fast drops in pressure can indicate oncoming storms, while high pressure often results in calm weather. Changes in weather and barometric pressure, on the other hand, can affect people’s health and lead to joint pain, migraine, and other aches.


Choosing a Barometer: Factors to Consider

From predicting the weather to marine applications, barometers are invaluable scientific tools. Choosing a barometer, however, can be challenging. Prospective buyers should consider three major factors: requirements, specifications, and costs.

Requirements: Enhanced by the advancements in science and technology, prospective buyers can choose from a wide range of barometers. As stated above, there are mechanical and electronic meters, with mercury and aneroid models being the most popular mechanical units for sale. While mercury units utilize liquid, aneroid units use a system of springs, which make them safer and more portable (ideal for hikers and fishermen). Note that if one wants to record the history of the pressure fluctuations, it’s better to choose a barograph. Barographs are defined as aneroid barometers that record the changes in air pressure on chart paper.

Specifications: Accuracy and reliability are the main parameters to consider. Here we should note that most barometers today have decorative functions. In fact, the dials of both mercury and aneroid models can be of copper, decorative paper, or brass, while casings can be made of oak or mahogany. The design of barometers also varies; because of their shape, mercury barometers are often called stick barometers, while aneroid units have a round shape. When it comes to aneroid models, we should mention that they can be placed on a wall/stand or function as pocket units.

Total costs: Although the design of a unit is essential, users should search for accurate and reliable barometers. Usually, more costly units provide higher accuracy. Prospective buyers should consider barometers with clearly marked dials, small screws and knobs to facilitate calibration, and additional accessories (e.g., neck lanyards). Sets that include different devices (e.g., a barometer and a hydrometer in one) can be both reliable and elegant, but more costly.


Best Barometers on the Market

Given the wide variety of units for sale, it’s no surprise that choosing a barometer can be a challenging task. Therefore, based on different parameters and user reviews, we provide a list of the best barometers for sale to help readers make an informed decision.

1. Ambient Weather WS-228TBH 9″ Brushed Aluminum Contemporary Barometer with Temperature and Humidity

Ambient Weather WS-228TBH 9″ Brushed Aluminum Contemporary Barometer with Temperature and Humidity is one of the most attractive barometers on the market. The unit is made of an aluminum bezel and a radiant blue dial. Note that it comes with a set screw for calibration and a hook for hanging (the unit allows for sea-level calibration of up to 3,000 feet). This measuring station has a reference needle to track changes in pressure, and also indicators for temperature (°F) and humidity (%). With a variety of features and beautiful design, this barometer is a great gift choice for both professionals and weather lovers.

2. Ambient Weather B1025C Antique Storm Glass – Wall Mount Liquid Barometer with Drip Cup

Ambient Weather B1025C Antique Storm Glass – Wall Mount Liquid Barometer with Drip Cup is a classic and attractive unit used to measure atmospheric pressure and predict stormy weather. This storm glass consists of a hand-blown glass container with a sealed body, half-filled with water (13 inches/30.5 cm long). With its attractive design, this measuring unit is a wonderful choice for anyone in love with science and aesthetics.

3. Learning Resources Weather Centre

Learning Resources Weather Centre is an affordable three-in-one unit ideal for learning environments. The set consists of a barometer used to measure air pressure, a hygrometer to detect moisture, and a thermometer to measure temperature (°C and °F). Note that these three devices can be removed and used separately (each 2.95 inches/7.5 cm). Furthermore, the unit comes with an activity guide and a case, which makes it great for beginners and young learners.

4. Downeaster Blue Dial Standard Barometer

Downeaster Blue Dial Standard Barometer is an elegant barometer. Note that the unit has a brass case that can be mounted on a wall or a stand. This product is ideal for detecting changes in air pressure and predicting storms. As explained above, increasing air pressure indicates fair weather, while decreasing pressure indicates stormy weather.

5. Weems and Plath Endurance II 105 Open Dial Barometer

Weems and Plath Endurance II 105 Open Dial Barometer is a great unit with a weather-resistant and protective coating. This barometer is not only durable but attractive, which makes it a great gift choice for anyone interested in tracking air pressure and weather changes. Note that the unit is calibrated for altitudes of up to 3,500 feet above sea level.

6. La Crosse Technology C85845 Color Wireless Forecast Station

La Crosse Technology C85845 Color Wireless Forecast Station is a great wireless set that measures air pressure and presents an animated color forecast. The unit also measures in/out temperature and humidity. Additionally, it has customizable alerts and includes a full calendar. Note that the unit is powered by five AA alkaline batteries. With its easy-to-read display with adjustable backlight, this wireless forecast station is a versatile and attractive unit.

7. Ambient Weather Fischer 6901-22 Instruments – Brass Dial Banjo Weather Station with Thermometer/Hygrometer/Barometer

Ambient Weather Fischer 6901-22 Instruments – Brass Dial Banjo Weather Station with Thermometer/Hygrometer/Barometer is a traditional decorative piece ideal for an elegant study, a library, or a trendy restaurant. This wooden-framed station can measure temperature (°C and °F), barometric pressure (mbar and inHg), and humidity (%), which makes it a great gift choice for collectors interested in science. Note that this barometer operates to 3,000 feet altitude.


Taking Care of Barometers

Barometers are precise scientific instruments, and as such, they require proper care.

  • Calibrate your unit to ensure accuracy. Make sure that your barometer can work at high altitudes if you are planning on using it high above sea level.
  • If the frame is made of wood, it’s recommended to clean the unit as you would clean furniture. Polish the frame with soft chamois leather but keep liquids away from the actual mechanism.
  • A damp cotton bud can be used to remove marks but do not get water behind the glass of the unit.
  • Avoid cleaning the dial or dissembling your unit. Seek professional help in case your barometer needs to be repaired.
  • As many barometers are designed to hang on a wall, make sure the wall is solid, and the fixing is strong enough. Avoid hanging units on an outside wall because damp, heat or direct sunlight can damage the unit.
  • Store barometers upright (particularly mercury units) in dry spaces and protect them from dust by wrapping them in soft and acid-free material (e.g., calico).
  • Handle mercury units with care. Keep children and pets away from mercury spills.


Barometers: Conclusion

Barometers are invaluable scientific tools used to detect changes in air pressure. They are used in a variety of settings, including meteorology, flying, diving, fishing, and mountaineering. As explained above, changes in air pressure can help to predict the weather. Note that there are two main types of barometers: mercury and aneroid units.

That being said, because of the wide variety of barometers on the market, choosing a new instrument can be a daunting task. Prospective buyers should consider three major factors: requirements, specifications, and total costs. While most units designed for home use are decorative, accuracy is essential. When it comes to outdoor adventures and fishing, portable aneroid models are recommended. Additionally, users should ensure a unit is calibrated and handled with care, especially mercury barometers.