What is an Anemometer and How Does It Work?

You often hear in weathermen giving information about the speed of the wind, the direction of the wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure. Did you ever wonder how these weathermen can give such meticulous intel? The speed of the wind is conventionally measured by specialized bodies such as meteorological departments.

They gather information about these particulars and relay it to the masses. But how do they measure it? The enhanced technology has enabled the human race to virtually know about everything and anything under the sun. For measuring the components of weather, a specialized device, namely, an anemometer is used.

how does an anemometer work

What is an Anemometer?

An anemometer is a device that is used to measure various weather components, primarily, the speed of the wind. It gives you a general idea of the kind of weather that is about to ensue. Anemometer is of several types as well as the operation of each is different in many ways. 

Now, not only the climate-concerned bodies can deduce the weather conditions, but it can also be done by you. This is done through a little device called the handheld anemometer. Having a lucid idea about the weather is wise if you have plans to be indulged in outdoor activities, this is precisely the function of the anemometer. 

Most outdoor activities such as kite flying, surfing, fishing, sailing, running, cycling, gliding, hiking require favorable wind conditions. A anemometer can prove to be infernally useful in such a situation.

How Does an Anemometer Work?

Apart from the handheld anemometer, there are several other kinds of anemometer. In this article, we will discuss some of these anemometers and how they are operated.

Working of Anemometer:

Anemometers are highly portable and can be held in the palm of your hand. They have a simple design, and they are extremely easy to use. It can come in handy for personal use, say, if you are taking your family out for a fishing trip and want to assess the wind speed and direction, the anemometer will come to your aid. 

Several elements, such as wind speed, direction, temperature, wind chill, etc. can be measured by it with sheer accuracy. That is why they are infernally popular across the states. For measuring wind speed using a anemometer, all you have to do is hold the device in such a way that it faces the wind direction. 

Most weather devices have certain sensory units, and it is these units that measure the concerned components. Such is the case with an anemometer, the sensory unit of the device will register the wind speed, and within a few seconds, the result will appear on the LCD.

If the anemometer is of a good brand, you will get spot-on results in no time. Pretty easy, isn’t it? You can choose your preferred unit of measurement from the set of 5 units incorporated in the device.

However, it should be noted that if you are in a certain region that has several physical obstacles such as tall buildings and abundance of trees, it may intercept the link, and the device may prove to be fallible. These particulars need to be taken into consideration whilst measuring the wind speed. 

Working of Vane Anemometer:

Vane anemometer can be considered an offspring of what is called the mechanical anemometer. Vane anemometer has a little traditional design as it was manufactured way before the trend of the handheld anemometer. It can be associated with a windmill as it has a similar design to it, with a turbine playing a prominent role in its structure.

The blades of the turbine at the top of the structure will rotate at speed proportional to the speed of the wind. Vane anemometer is awfully accurate as it follows the traditional idea of the anemometer and is also designed in such a way. The range of coverage varies from .15 m/s to 40 m/s, and some devices can even go higher.

They can be used for a multitude of reasons, the main domain being professional. They even work well under harsh weather conditions due to which you can count on its structure at any time. 

Working of Ultrasonic Anemometer:

You may be familiar with how the sound travels. There is an oscillatory movement between the air molecules, which facilitates the movement of sound. The speed of this movement is intertwined with the speed of the wind. This idea is applied to the functionality of the ultrasonic anemometer.

The ultrasonic anemometer has built-in sound transmitters and receivers, situated parallel to each other. The mutual working and co-ordination of transmitting and receiving sound beams enable it to draw relevant figures about the wind speed. The circuits that perform the fundamental function assesses how fast the wind is blowing.

The functionality of the ultrasound anemometer is in stark contrast with Van anemometer, which has a moving turbine to take the measurement. The ultrasound anemometer has parts that are stationary at all times. Because of this, the probability of a technical issue to occur is considerably less when it is compared with a vane anemometer.

The ultrasonic anemometer is also more accurate than either of the devices mentioned above. This is why, despite the comprehensive design of the ultrasonic anemometer, it can be relied upon for accurate information much more than the two above. 


While there is an assortment of other methods of measuring wind speed (yeah, there is plenty sill!) with variant functionality, the above ones are considered to be the most popular and widely used ones. However, anemometers have edged a little more than the rest due to the infernal convenience it offers to the user. 

With a simple design, portability, lightweight, and easy usage, they have been an ideal choice for many families, and this device has made trip planning extremely easy. Due to their versatility and applicability, anemometers have been the primary subject of many electronic manufacturing companies. 

Hence you can find unnumbered anemometers in the market, all possessing the key features and additional features to stay ahead of their competitors. Once you get the hang of its operation, you can have a great outdoor experience, carrying out any of your preferred activities.

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About the Author


I am Tim, a weather enthusiast who loves to watch hurricanes and all other harsh weather conditions. I studied B.Sc(Meteorology) at the University of Miami. With excellent knowledge of Weather Forecasting, Meteorology, and Environmental Science, I am currently working in San Francisco as a Meteorologist. Also, I am a member of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. In this blog, I will write a detailed review of Weather instruments that you need for survival and other activities.