by | Oct 29, 2020 | Gardening, Reviews, Z

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2020 @ 7:58 pm.

What's the best rain gauge? As a certified weather enthusiast, I tested 9 rain gauges to find the best bets. What's most accurate? Easiest to read? Wireless?

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep things independent, we don't take money or freebies from brands we review! Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Budget-Friendly Rain Gauge

Simple to set up, easy to read
Nothing fancy, but gets the job done. This gauge is great for gardeners—you can mount it on a post or stake into the ground. Numbers are magnified by 35% to make it super easy to read the gauge.
$6.47

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Best Budget-Friendly Rain Gauge: AcuRite 00850A2 5-inch Capacity Easy-Read Magnifying Rain Gauge

Let’s talk the best rain gauges!

Accuracy, of course, is important—after all, that’s job #1 for any rain gauge! 

Beyond this simple principal, rain gauge options boil down to analog versus electronic. The latter are wireless and let you monitor rainfall from the comfort of your dry home. On the other hand, simple analog rain gauges tend to be more accurate.

We tried out several rain gauges, measuring for accuracy. Then we looked at how easy they are to read—some are better than others.

For the best budget-friendly rain gauge, we’d recommend the simple AcuRite 008-50A2. Super easy to use and read. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Can read it from a distance. The numbers are magnified by 35%, so it is easy to read.

• Mount to a poll, fence post or stake into the ground. (The most accurate would be a pole away from any building or obstruction. The problem with mounting it on the ground: it’s easy to knock over and your lawn sprinklers may bias the reading!

• Affordable.

• Measures up to 5″ of rain.

What Needs Work

• Frozen water may break the gauge. This gauge is made of acrylic . . . and if left outside in the winter, it may break when iced over.

• Screws for mounting are not included.

• Not very sturdy—even when staked into the ground, it can be easily tipped over. We’d recommend mounting on a post.

• Not the best choice if you need a reading down to the hundredths of an inch. In that case, we’d recommend the next rain gauge.

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Best Precise Analog Rain Gauge

Polycarbonate tube = sturdy and strong!
Yes, this rain gauge measures rain down to one-hundredth of an inch. Built to NWS standards, this rain gauge is easy to mount (hardware is included). Holds up 11" of rain—very good overall quality!
$37.99

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Best Precise Analog Rain Gauge: Stratus Precision Rain Gauge with Mounting Bracket

If  you need precise measurements of rain—say, down to the hundreth of an inch—we’d recommend this rain gauge: Stratus Precision Rain Gauge.

Yes, this is the rain gauge this is used by NWS cooperative observers and measure up to 11″ of rain. If you are looking for a gift for a weather enthusiast, this is the rain gauge we’d recommend.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

 Precise measurements down to .01″.

• Made of polycarbonate = heat and frost resistant.

• Interior tube measures 1″ of rain; outer tube catches overspill. You can decant the larger cylinder into the smaller one for rains over 1″ . . . or just read the water level on the outer tube with the inner markings and then multiply by 10. Clever design!

• Funnel is easy to clean.

• Comes with quick connect bracket and mounting hardware.

What Needs Work

• A bit pricey for analog rain gauge.

• Tube can crack if water freezes. But this is a risk with all analog rain gauges which collect water. You can always bring it inside in the winter if this is a concern.

• Decanting larger tube into smaller one for measurement takes practice. And that puts off some folks. But as we mentioned above, you don’t need to do this. 

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Best Wireless Rain Gauge

Easy to set up
Large rain gauge can be read from 50 feet away, thanks to clever design: a red float marks the current rain level. Also nice: includes mounting bracket and hardware. Funnel keeps out debris, a plus.
$28.82

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Best Wireless Rain Gauge: AcuRite 00899 Wireless Rain Gauge

Analog rain gauges are nice . . . but they have one major flaw: in order to measure the rain, you have to go outside and measure the rain in the gauge. If it is still raining, that can be a soaking proposition.

Electronic wireless rain gauges are one solution: these self-emptying rain collectors transmit rain amounts every 16 seconds. Inside the house, you get a display that shows rainfall today—as well as the last 7 days. 

If this is what you need, we’d recommend AcuRite’s 00899 Wireless Rain Gauge. It was the most accurate of the electronic rain gauges we tested . . .  with the caveat that it needs to be recalibrated from time to time to ensure accuracy.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Easy to read display lets you track rainfall from inside your dry, cozy home.

• Track daily, weekly and even yearly rainfall. The display has two resettable totals—you can use one for the month and the other for an annual total.

• Flood watch alarm.

• Transmits every 16 seconds.

What Needs Work

• Must be level to be accurate. This is true for all self-emptying rain gauges, however.

• Bugs can get inside the rain gauge and build nests—that will throw off your measurements. This rain gauge isn’t a set it and forget it thing . . . you’ll have to make sure it is clean and draining properly.

• Battery life could be better.

• No static memory. When you change batteries, you lose your historical data.

• Complicated for non-techies. Example: you have to calibrate this gauge from time to time. If you want something simpler, check out this next recommendation.

Best Oversized Rain Gauge

Made in the USA
Large rain gauge can be read from 50 feet away, thanks to clever design: a red float marks the current rain level. Also nice: includes mounting bracket and hardware. Funnel keeps out debris, a plus.

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Best Oversized Rain Gauge: EZRead – Jumbo EZRead Rain Gauge with Float

Sometimes simpler is better—we liked this jumbo-sized rain gauge by EZRead for its simplicity. It can be read at a long distance—thanks to a red float, you can see the total amount of rain collected.

What We Liked

• Easy to install.

• Can easily be read from a distance.

• Includes mounting bracket and hardware.

• Made in the USA.

What Needs Work

• Tube can crack if water freezes. 

• Not very precise. This rain gauge is marked in increments of .25″. That means you have to guess somewhat as to the total amount of rain. However, if you need a rouge estimate of rain, this gauge will do the trick.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here's another key point: we don't take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no "partnerships." Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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