While there are lots of names people use to describe weather vanes, people in the market to buy a new one should learn about the brands, models, and features they come with. In this buyers guide, you’ll be learning pretty much everything there is to know about selecting the right weather vane for you. This includes weather vane terminology, available features, accessories, tips and tricks, care/maintenance, and more.
By reading this guide, you’ll gain a firm understanding of weather vanes, and be able to make a smarter purchasing decision based on what you’ve learned. We’ll also be listing some of the best weather vanes on Amazon. These are the best we could find.
Armed with the knowledge in this guide, you’ll know how to start shopping for weather vanes right away! Choosing the right weather vane will save you lots of time, effort, and headache. So, without further adieu, let’s get started!
About Weather Vanes
A weather vane is an instrument used to signal wind direction. Consisting of a gravity-centered asymmetric object, usually a rooster or arrow, it moves freely about its vertical axis. By having complete freedom of movement, a weather vane will always display wind direction correctly.
Greek astronomer Andronicus invented the first weather vane in 48 B.C. It sat high atop the Tower of the Winds in Athens, designed to pay tribute to the Greek god Triton. The vane was created in the image of Triton himself, made of bronze and featuring the head/torso of a man with a fishtail.
Modern-day weather vanes are much different but still serve the same purpose that they did in ancient times. Weathervanes can even be used to predict the weather when coupled with other weather indicator tools.
Weather Vane Terminology And Tips
Some of the most commonly used names for weather vanes include Weathervane, Weathervain, Wind Indicator, Windvane, Weathercock, Wind Gauge, Vane, Windsock, Cock, and Anemometer. Usually, companies will use different terminology in relation to their weather vanes, based on the fact that competing companies are already using a specific terminology to sell theirs. So for example, if buyers are using a certain weather vane terminology to find one, competing companies will use the same terminology to be found in the search listings alongside the most successful sellers. It’s just simple common sense.
But whatever term a company uses to describe their weather vanes, they all work in pretty much the same way. Below, you’ll be learning about their many features/options, and how to pick one based on the features you need. For example, there’s no need to buy a weather vane that comes with tons of includes you’ll never use. Less full-featured weather vanes can serve the exact same purpose, and cost a lot less too. Additionally, it helps to know going in which manufacturers are making the highest quality weathervanes at an affordable price. You don’t want to buy one that’s going to break in a week’s worth of use or be designed from cheap materials that will make you worried about breakage. It pays to read the Amazon reviews associated with the weather vane you’re considering from customers providing their actual experiences.
Weather Vane Features/Options
The first step in making the right purchasing decision is to learn about what features/options weathervanes come with. Below is a listing of all the most common features/options, and what you find may surprise you. Modern weather vanes feature high-quality materials and craftsmanship and are years beyond weather vanes of the past. They come with handy new features that outperform vintage models by a landslide. Here we go!
Decorative Ornament – There are many different decorative ornaments you can choose to exhibit your own unique sense of style. Some common decorative ornaments include Flying pigs, birds, arrows, dogs, horses, rabbits, fish, flags, banners, dragons, whales, roosters, motorcycles, and lots more. They can be swell-bodied (hollow), or full-bodied (solid). They’re also very well balanced on both sides.
Compass Rose / Directional – The directional displays the 4 compass points. North, East, South, and West. 99% of modern weather vanes come with a directional included, so there’s no need to pay extra. While they may vary slightly, directionals show the direction of the wind with the letters N, E, S, and W. They almost never display the words, only the first letter. They also remain in a fixed position on the weather vane.
Globes – Weathervanes come with two different globes as part of its construction. On top, you’ll find a smaller globe, and towards the bottom, a larger globe. The function of the globes is to separate the directional and ornament from the remainder of the parts.
Rod – You’ll find a rod included in every weather vane setup out there. The rod facilitates with mounting and provides it with extra height as well.
Mounts – There’s more than one type of mount to choose from, including fixed brackets, adjustable, and more. Make sure you select a weather vane that comes with mounting hardware that matches your needs. If the stock hardware won’t work for you, you can always purchase an aftermarket mount that will.
Powder Coat / Finish – Powder coats and finishes can help your weather vane stay looking brand new for longer. The latest technology allows for multiple coats. It’s helpful to remember that multiple coatings provide a much higher level of protection than just one. Triple powder coating is more or less the best you can get. Powder coat finishes prevent rust, enhance beauty, and deliver years of fade-free performance.
What Size Weather Vane Do I Need?
Understanding what size weather vane you need is “half the battle” in making the right choice. Weathervanes traditionally come in three different sizes :
Small – A small weather vane is ideal for smaller structures like tool sheds. A tool shed roof doesn’t rise very high up in the air, and thusly, a smaller weather vane is more than adequate. They cost a lot less than larger sizes, so it makes sense to make use of how a smaller weather vane can save you money. A small weather vane will be around 23″L x 11″H x 2.5″W in size.
Standard – A standard size weather vane works well for medium size buildings. The average standard size weather vane is about 24″L x 17″H x 4″W in size.
Large – For structures such as large buildings, farmhouses, garages, barns, and more, you’ll be needing a large size weather vane. Because large building structures can rise high into the air, a small weather vane would be nearly impossible to see. A large vane provides you with enough size to see it clearly from high up, as well as a long distance away. The average large weather vane measures 48” L x 42″H x 18″W in size.
What Material Construction Should I Choose?
Most modern weather vanes are constructed of lightweight materials, which are also more durable than weather vane materials of yesteryear. Some of the most popular construction materials include :
- Copper – Copper is by far one of the most popular construction material used in weather vane production. It’s a raw material that is plentiful in the ground, so the cost to use it is affordable in weather vane construction. It naturally resists corrosion, is shiny/easy to see, and comes with a surprisingly useful feature naturally. When it oxidizes, it forms a bluish-green layer called a patina. It acts as a protective layer that helps protect the remaining copper. Here’s great example of a copper weather vane: 100% Pure Copper Galloping Horse Weathervane
- Wood – Wood is a traditional material that stands up well to outdoor conditions. Together with a few coats of varnish or paint, a wooden weather vane will resist the elements and provide you with years of trouble-free use.
- Steel – Steel is a popular choice for weather vanes because it’s so lightweight and strong. It’s both harder and stronger than iron and resistant to rust. Where iron will begin to corrode quickly, steel provides a much longer lifespan.
- Brass – Made from copper and zinc, brass is a strong, long-lasting, decorative choice. It’s also exceptionally durable, tolerates high temperatures (direct sunlight), and resists corrosion. A brass weather vane will provide you with years of service under normal conditions. But be careful, it can be hard to get paint to adhere to brass for protection against the elements. Instead, use polyurethane with ultraviolet protection ingredients.
- Nickel Silver – This material is stronger and more durable than copper and provides the benefits of enhanced corrosion resistance. Nickel silver is a great choice for weather vanes and is also known as German Silver. However, nickel silver doesn’t actually contain any real silver at all and is comprised of 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. It gets its name from it’s “silvery” appearance.
- Gold Leaf – Gold leaf is lightweight and one of the most malleable metals known to man. It’s also completely rustproof, but due to the fact that it’s a precious metal, it’s more expensive than other materials and a rare find. With gold leaf, you get many more years of service in comparison to other weather vane designs because it’s simply will not rust.
It’s not unusual to find vintage weather vanes crafted from iron, bronze, and zinc, but these have long since been replaced by new age materials with higher durability. And just like with any product that has stood “the test of time”, it’s best to stay on the cutting edge. Buy your weather vane new, and you’ll be glad you did. There’s much less maintenance and you get a great warranty along with it.
What Weather Vane Accessories Are Available?
There are many different accessories available for weather vanes these days. They provide added style, functionality, and value. A lot of a weather vanes value can be inserted through accessorizing.
Extension Rod – Extension rods do just what they say. They provide added height for your weather vane. Popular extension rod lengths for weathervanes are affordable and more than pay for themselves in terms of functionality if you really need them. Good Directions 11 Inch Extension Rod
Mounting Hardware Upgrade – There are a few mounting options available as an upgrade from the standard hardware that comes in the box. Mounting hardware upgrades can provide you with additional strength and peace of mind. This is a beneficial upgrade for people who live in very stormy areas. Here’s a great example of one such product : Good Directions 4-Sided Weathervane Roof Mount
Wind Cups – Wind cups catch the wind and spin, giving you a way to approximate wind speed at a glance. You can also hook wind cups up to electronic measuring devices to get a 100% accurate reading.
Cupola – A cupola is an accessory that provides not only a solid surface for mounting your weather vane to, but also a weatherproof internal area. Resembling a super-small rooftop attic, cupolas are equipped a protected internal space, and can even come with tiny windows. There are thousands of different styles and designs to choose from, and you can customize them any way you like.
Clear Lacquer – When you purchase a weather vane, one of the first things you want to do is protect your investment. Clear lacquer ensures your weather vane is protected from the elements and isn’t going to corrode or degrade prematurely.
Basic Rain Gauge – You can add a rain gauge to a weather vane quickly and easily. Most come with easy installation features like slide on brackets that fit over the weather vane pole. Look for gauges built from high-quality materials like 14 gauge steel.
Deluxe Wireless Weather Center w/GPS – This is one of the coolest accessories out there, but you won’t find it in standard weather vane packages. With the help of a wireless weather center, you can monitor all atmospheric conditions from the comfort of your home, with the added benefit of the sensors being too high up for anyone to steal!
Not All Weather Vanes Are Created Equal!
One of the biggest buying considerations when it comes to weather vanes is COST. Because weather vanes vary so much in price, the number of features they come with and the quality of the build vary greatly as well. Much of the asking price is dependent on the kind of material used in the construction.
For example, a solid copper, polished weather vane is going to cost you a lot more than a simple wooden one. And, if you want multiple layers of powder coating to ensure a long lifespan, expect to pay more for this as well. Here’s a great example of a well-designed weather vane with powder coat finish: Beautiful European Dragon Weathervane
Finally, realize that there are ultra-high priced / ultra-quality weather vane manufacturers, but the average home/barn/shed owner isn’t going to need a luxury build. A lot of these manufacturers help high-income people represent their status in society, while the difference in actual quality isn’t all that much different than mid-priced models.
Weather Vane Tips, Tricks, And Advice
Home Treatments – However, there is something to be said for home treatments of retail weather vanes. While you won’t need to treat the parts during the first few years, nature will eventually “take its toll”. Clear lacquer or paint will extend the life of your weather vane significantly, and keep it looking beautiful at the same time. But if you don’t have time to be maintaining and conditioning it, then just replacing it when the time comes makes the most sense.
DIY Weather Vanes Are A Bad Idea – And here’s a great tip that will serve you well regarding weather vanes. Unless you have some kind of expert experience, you’ll find it challenging to create your own DIY weather vane. Retail weathervanes are weighted to be perfectly balanced and crafted from long-lasting materials. Being able to duplicate their performance and quality, as a Do It Yourself beginner, would be nearly impossible. And imagine the trouble you’d have trying to make adjustments after it’s been installed on the roof!
Get Everything Correct Before You Install It! – Because you may have to climb a ladder, or even risk your life walking on top of your roof to access the vane, paying a high price tag may be worth it after all. You would have to spend more than just a minute or two on the roof with the time it takes to unhook the vane from its mount. And that is positively DANGEROUS! You may even consider hiring a professional to install it for you.
Learn How To Predict Weather Changes – Your new weather vane is capable of way more than just telling you what direction the wind is blowing. You can even use it to predict the weather! Here are a few examples: A weather vane that’s swinging signals unstable air erratically, and that the climate is changing. A new south wind (that has just turned to south), indicates warmer air on the way. If the wind shifts from west to east, this is a reliable indicator that storms may be on the way. And these are just a few! Using a weather vane to predict the weather is one of the most accurate tools available to us, so learning how to use it is a great idea!