Which Kestrel Weather Meter Should I Buy? Consider These 5 Options

kestrel weather meterPhoto: Kestrel

Kestrel weather meters are some of the best handheld weather stations on the market. Our favorite is the Kestrel 5500, but we can understand if that’s too expensive. There are a dizzying amount of options, making it difficult to choose. Below, we’ve listed what makes each Kestrel weather meter unique and who we recommend each model for.

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There are two types of handheld weather stations that Kestrel sells, the wind meter and the weather meter. But what is the difference?

Kestrel Wind Meters vs. Kestrel Weather Meters

A wind meter does what its name suggests: it measures wind. However, some Kestrel wind meters measure additional variables, such as temperature. A Kestrel weather meter, on the other hand, is like a weather station in your hand: and will measure several weather variables, including altitude, wind speed, temperature, humidity, wet bulb temperature, Delta T, wind chill, and more.

The company produces specialized versions of some models for specific applications. For example, the Kestrel 3500 has specialized versions for in-field use that focus on Delta T, agriculture use (spraying), and fire weather.

Why Kestrel Weather Meters Are So Good

We’ve found Kestrel’s meters consistently score higher on accuracy and reliability than other handheld weather instruments we’ve reviewed, and that’s sensor quality. It does extraordinarily well with the basics like wind speed, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure for such a small device. Your success does depend quite a bit on using it correctly, however.

Getting Accurate Readings from your Kestrel Weather Meter

Getting accurate readings is pretty simple, however. You need to ensure the sensors aren’t obstructed, directly facing where the wind is blowing from, press the center button, and wait five seconds. You can then cycle through available readings using the directional keys.

(Editor’s note: you can also stand with your back facing the wind. However, you will have to either put the Kestrel well above your head or to the side so your body isn’t blocking the wind.)

severe thunderstorm watchPhoto: Nicola - stock.adobe.com

Specifications and Accuracy for All Kestrel Models

All Kestrel weather meters share the exact specifications and accuracy, regardless of model. The model differences are simply in their feature sets: no Kestrel is less accurate than another, and all models are waterproof. While the company does import some components from overseas, most of the manufacturing is done right here in the USA at Kestrel’s manufacturing facility near Philadelphia.

Kestrel meters are backed with a five-year warranty, which is generous for most weather gadgets we’ve had a chance to review.

Temperature: -20 to 158°F (-29 to 70°C) (+/- .9°F/.5°C)
Wind Speed:Up to 89.5mph (+/- 3%)
Relative Humdity:10-90% at 25°C
Pressure:+/- 1.5mb or .044inHg
Compass:+/- 5°

See each model’s user manual for specific information on the accuracy of derived measurements (Dewpoint, Heat Index, etc.).

The free Kestrel LiNK app gives you full access to advanced tools, including shareable reports, custom display options, threshold alerts, snapshot capture, and data visualization. The app is available for both Android and iOS operating systems.

  1. Open the free app on a compatible iOS or Android device with Bluetooth 4.0 enabled.
  2. Ensure the settings under “About” are set to “Bluetooth” on your Kestrel LiNK meter.
  3. Follow the prompts on each device to connect.
  4. You’re ready to go, with full access to advanced features that simplify reporting and improve data capture.

Which Kestrel Weather Meter Should I Choose?

We would recommend serious weather enthusiasts purchase either the Kestrel 5500 or 5000 Weather Meter. The feature set of these two models is as good as a weather station, and the 5500 can be placed on a special mount that allows it to act as a mobile weather station out in the field. These Kestrel Weather Meters also come with the above-mentioned LiNK (You can opt for a version without it, but we’d recommend you get it all).

However, most will be able to get by with one of the cheaper models that can (at a minimum) measure wind speed, temperature, humidity, and pressure/altitude if you need it. In that case, we recommend either the 3000 or 3500 as good options.

If you want an excellent wind meter, the entry-level Kestrel 2000 is great. While you’ll find that a pocket weather meter with the Kestrel name costs more than other options, it’s worth it, and a 5-year-warranty is undoubtedly a selling point.

Kestrel Weather Meters

As we mentioned above, Kestrel weather meters measure more than just wind or temperature and are more like handheld weather stations.

The Kestrel 5500 is currently Kestrel’s top-end model. This Kestrel weather meter is rugged enough for daily outdoor use and comes with a large green backlit display that you can read in any lighting. It includes the most critical weather parameters (wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity) and dew point and heat index. The Kestrel 5500 also has a built-in altimeter/barometer, which is used to predict upcoming changes in the weather.

Unique to the 5500 is the measurement of crosswind and headwind/tailwind. This may be useful in flying, kiteboarding, kitesurfing, or yachting, any activity where winds blowing from a particular direction may be an issue.

In addition to all these features, the Kestrel 5500 also has a USB connection to send your readings directly to a computer. It’s a highly versatile device, but you pay for all this functionality.

The Kestrel 5000 is a step down from the Kestrel 5500. This makes the 5000 perfect for the weather enthusiast or professional meteorologist that’s on a bit of a budget since it doesn’t include the crosswind and headwind/tailwind functionality — which we’re guessing a majority of you will rarely, if ever, use. Otherwise, this Kestrel weather meter can do everything that the 5500 can.

Other features that make it better than our other recommendations are Bluetooth connectivity, data storage, graphing functions, and in select 5000 series models, a computer interface technology called LiNK. The LiNK interface allows you to sync data from your weather station with a smart device like an iPhone.

The Kestrel 5000 is best if you are interested in taking accurate, professional readings or you plan to use your device in more extreme conditions. However, the price of this Kestrel weather meter might be a bit too much for some. In that case, you’d want to consider our other recommendations.

Kestrel 3500 Weather Meter
$259.00$194.00

The Kestrel 3500 can measure:

  • Altitude (Barometric)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wet Bulb Temperature (Psychrometric)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed/Air Speed
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All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
05/21/2022 12:02 am GMT

The Kestrel 3500 is the next model down from the Kestrel 5000. The main difference is that this device does not have data storage or connectivity options. As a result, it’s not as expensive as the 5000.

The Kestrel 3500 is best for accurate weather readings but doesn’t care about connectivity. If you plan to use your Kestrel weather meter in severe conditions or wish to track your data, opt for the Kestrel 5000 instead.

Kestrel 3000 Weather Meter/Heat Stress Monitor
$159.00

The Kestrel 3000 can measure:

  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
05/21/2022 12:01 am GMT

The Kestrel 3000 is an excellent step up if the 2000’s feature set if you’re looking for a little more than just temperature and wind readings. It can measure humidity, allowing you to determine dew point temperature and potential heat stress.

Kestrel Wind Meters

Kestrel wind meters only measure wind and/or temperature.

Our Pick - Best Handheld Wind Meter
Kestrel 2000 Wind And Temperature Meter
$129.00$99.00

The Kestrel 2000 measures:

  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
05/21/2022 12:01 am GMT

The Kestrel 2000 is the first Kestrel meter below $100, but it also doesn’t have a lot of the functionality that its more expensive brethren, the Kestrel 3500, has. It can only measure temperature and wind speed and provide a wind chill value if cold enough.

Despite its price, it’s not built any different from the other Kestrel meters (although it might be less durable). The lack of functionality might be an excellent reason to consider the Kestrel 3500 instead since it can do so much more.

Kestrel 1000 Wind Meter
$99.00$74.00

The entry-level Kestrel 1000 measures wind speeds only and is perfect for budget-conscious weather watchers.

Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
05/21/2022 12:02 am GMT

If you’re looking for the best handheld wind meter, then the entry-level Kestrel 1000 is a great pick. It only measures wind, and that’s it. While it retails for the same price as the Kestrel 2000, it’s often on sale. Of course, we’d recommend looking at other cheaper wind meters instead (see our favorites here) for the best deals.

Wrapping Up

If you want something more advanced than the Kestrel 2000 but don’t care about connectivity or data storage (the Kestrel 5000), choose the Kestrel 3500. It’s a great “middle-ground” model, with tons of functionality, just not the connectivity that the 5000 series models provide. If budget is a concern, choose the Kestrel 2000: if it’s not, consider the 5500 instead. Either way, they’re “made in the USA” is a definite plus for us no matter which pocket weather meter you choose.

We hope this helped clear up the differences between the various Kestrel weather meters, and we hope to have detailed reviews of many of these models available soon on the site. And if you’re looking for a personal weather station, be sure to check out our recommendations there!

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Ed Oswald

Ed Oswald has nearly two decades of experience in technology and science journalism, and specializes in weather stations and smart home technology. He's written for Digital Trends, PC World, and TechHive. His work has also appeared in the New York Times. When he isn't writing about gadgets, he enjoys chasing severe weather and winter storms.

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