You’ve no doubt seen these around the place… An anemometer is a wind speed measuring device that is commonly used by weather stations and individuals or institutions interested in measuring changes in the wind speed. To give the best reading, an anemometer is typically mounted on a pole positioned in an open space so that they are not obstructed by buildings or trees.
They often contain a set of three or four cup-like shapes that catch the breeze and spin at a speed proportional to the speed of the wind. Other smaller variations of these “weather-station” varieties include hand-held models that contain a fan or miniature propeller that works in a similar fashion.
In sailing, many yachts have wind instruments located at the top of the mast – clear of any obstructions. However, dinghies typically do not have the same equipment installed, so many people find it handy to have a handheld anemometer in the sailing gear kit to give them accurate wind speed readings.
An anemometer is not necessarily a requirement for laser sailing or dinghy sailing in general, but a hand-held version can be a handy piece of equipment.
As these are not considered an expensive device, the best handheld anemometer for sailing may help in selecting different sails or rigging based on the wind speed it measures. Or it can be just used for interest to see exactly how hard the breeze is blowing.
Whatever your use, there are quite a few handheld anemometers that work well and are very reasonably priced.
Our Picks for the Best Handheld Anemometer
Here is a closer look at selected portable models of anemometers that are available for purchase online.
HOLDPEAK 866B Digital Anemometer
This product is promoted as providing highly accurate and steady wind speed measurements. It will record wind speeds from 0.3 to 30 m/s to a maximum of 69 mph / 111 kmh / 60 knots. The accuracy is said to be within 0.1 dgts with quick measurements to assist in determining conditions at any given moment.
There are many different functions built into this wind gauge. In addition to reading wind speed, this handheld device provides temperature and wind chill readings. All data is shown on an LCD display. Wind speed can be read in m/s, km/h, ft/min, knots, and mph measurements.
Extras include adjustments to read the temperature in either °F or °C and you can record and recall conditions. They include maximum, minimum, average, and current temperatures. There is also a low battery indicator and a built-in screw hole permits attachment to a lanyard.
Extech 45118 Mini Anemometer
The dual LCD display on this handheld wind meter provides the reading of air velocity along with temperature and wind chill. Functions include average and maximum readings with a one-second display update. There’s also a hold function and after 20-minutes the unit will shut off automatically.
The water and shock-resistant housing is rugged and makes the Extech anemometer durable. The fold-up, flip-style case acts as an extension handle and also protects the meter when flipped down for storage. This portable wind meter floats and has been drop tested to six feet.
The wind speed measurements can be displayed as ft/min, mph, m/s, km/h, knots, or Beaufort Force. Also, the selectable averaging feature has settings of 5, 10, or 13-second intervals. The plastic wind vane is replaceable and temperature/wind chill can be recorded from 0° to 122°F, and wind speed from 1 knot up to 54 knots.
ERAY Digital Anemometer
If you are one of those data nuts, this could be the best wind meter you will ever buy. It has several functions and can measure remote surface temperatures ranging from 0° to 536°F. The accuracy of this handheld anemometer is rated at 8:1 distance to spot ratio with a laser pointer.
It includes a low battery indicator and auto shut off function plus a dual function 4-digit LCD display screen. The measurements recorded will include maximum, minimum, and average with each having relative timestamps for tracking. Readings are updated each second.
The readout will simultaneously display airflow (eg. Cubic feet/min) or air velocity (eg. Speed) and temperature. Wind speed can be displayed as m/s, km/h, ft/min, mph & knots. The temperature accuracy is rated at 4.0°F with 0.1° resolution, and the whole unit, including angled vane arms, weighs just 240 grams. The package comes complete with a case, 9-volt battery, and user manual.
Do You Need A Handheld Wind Speed Meter?
As stated above, these instruments are not mandatory for sailing. However, they can certainly come in handy, and it can be interesting to know exactly what the weather is doing. You can’t always trust the forecasts, so it’s good to be able to know what is going on wherever you are.
The digital anemometer options mentioned above are able to quickly and easily provide a wealth of information and are very reasonably priced. So check them out and add them to your kit.
Have you got a favorite anemometer? What’s your pick for the best handheld anemometer for sailing?