Which Kestrel Weather Meter Should I Buy? (Updated for 2022)

Jump to: Top Rated | Kestrel Comparisons | Test Results | Kestrel Specifications | About LiNK

Kestrel weather meters are some of the best handheld weather stations on the market. Our favorite is the Kestrel 5000, but we can understand if that’s too expensive. There are a dizzying amount of options, making it difficult to choose. But all come with the same accuracy and reliability — and an outstanding five-year warranty, the best of any weather instrument manufacturer.

We recommend serious weather enthusiasts purchase either the Kestrel 5500 or Kestrel 5000 Weather Meter. These two models are 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 LiNK, which we review a bit later (you can also skip right to it using the menu above!).

However, most will be able to get by with one of the cheaper models. The Kestrel 3000 or 3500 are good options, as is the entry-level Kestrel 2000 if you have a limited budget.

Top Rated Kestrel Weather Meters

  • Measures:
    • Temperature, Dewpoint, and Wet Bulb
    • Wind Speed and Direction (when on a mast)
    • Barometric Pressure
    • Heat Index and Wind Chill
    • Relative Humidity
    • Compass Direction
    • Crosswind, Headwind, and Tailwind
    • Density Altitude
  • Measures:
    • Temperature
    • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
    • Heat Stress Index
    • Dew Point
    • Barometric Pressure
    • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
  • Measures:
    • 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 Spee
  • Measures:
    • Dew Point Temperature
    • Heat Stress Index
    • Relative Humidity
    • Temperature (air and water)
    • Wind Chill
    • Wind Speed
  • Measures:
    • Maximum Wind Gust
    • Average Wind Speed
    • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
    • Wind Chill
  • Measures:
    • Wind Speed and Gusts
Measures:
  • Temperature, Dewpoint, and Wet Bulb
  • Wind Speed and Direction (when on a mast)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Heat Index and Wind Chill
  • Relative Humidity
  • Compass Direction
  • Crosswind, Headwind, and Tailwind
  • Density Altitude
$525.98$419.00
Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
Measures:
  • 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 Spee
$259.00$194.00
Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
$159.00
Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
$129.00$99.00
Measures:
  • Wind Speed and Gusts
$99.00$79.00
11/26/2022 03:35 am GMT

Kestrel Company Profile

Kestrel has made handheld weather stations since 1996 when parent company Nielsen Kellerman first launched the brand. NK’s founders and lead engineers, Richard Kellerman and Paul Nielsen, designed the Kestrel weather meter in the 1990s, and during their research developed four patented measurement technologies for the Kestrel meter still uses today.

Nielsen Kellerman also owns two other high-profile weather brands, Ambient Weather, which it acquired in 2019, and pro-grade weather station manufacturer Rainwise, which it acquired the following year. ANielsen Kellerman assembles all Kestrel weather meters at its factory in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.

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. On the other hand, a Kestrel weather meter 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.

Kestrel Weather Meter Comparisons

Unsure of which Kestrel Weather Meter to choose? We compare the various options below and recommend which one you should buy.

Kestrel 5000 vs. Kestrel 5500

Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


Description:

The Kestrel 5500 is a top-of-the-line device, including just about any weather variable you can think of.

Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
Measures:
  • Temperature, Dewpoint, and Wet Bulb
  • Wind Speed and Direction (when on a mast)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Heat Index and Wind Chill
  • Relative Humidity
  • Compass Direction
  • Crosswind, Headwind, and Tailwind
  • Density Altitude
$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
$525.98$419.00
Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
Description:

The Kestrel 5500 is a top-of-the-line device, including just about any weather variable you can think of.

Measures:
  • Temperature, Dewpoint, and Wet Bulb
  • Wind Speed and Direction (when on a mast)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Heat Index and Wind Chill
  • Relative Humidity
  • Compass Direction
  • Crosswind, Headwind, and Tailwind
  • Density Altitude
$525.98$419.00
11/26/2022 12:05 am GMT

The Kestrel 5500 is the company’s top-of-the-line weather meter. Rugged enough for daily outdoor use and featuring a large green backlit display that you can read in any lighting, the 5500 measures wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity, dew point and heat index. The Kestrel 5500 also has a built-in altimeter/barometer.

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 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.

If that’s out of your price range, stepping down to the Kestrel 5000 makes sense. It doesn’t include the crosswind and headwind/tailwind functionality which we’re guessing a majority of you will rarely, if ever, use. But otherwise, the Kestrel 5000 measures everything that the 5500 can. Both models include 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.

Between the two, we recommend the Kestrel 5000 to most as it is $70 cheaper (MSRP), unless you have a use for the extra wind functionality, or plan to use your Kestrel weather meter as a mobile weather station.

Kestrel 3500 vs. Kestrel 5000

Description:

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


Measures:
  • 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 Spee
Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
$259.00$194.00
$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
Description:

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

Measures:
  • 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 Spee
$259.00$194.00
Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
11/26/2022 04:20 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, yet measures everything that more expensive model does. We’d recommend this to weather enthusiasts who are on a tighter budget.

The Kestrel 3500 is best for those looking 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, as those meters are the only ones with LiNK compatibility at the moment.

Kestrel 3000 vs. Kestrel 3500

Description:

For those in the heat, the Kestrel 3000 offers heat index readings to make sure you're staying cool.

Description:

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
Measures:
  • 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 Spee
$159.00
$259.00$194.00
Description:

For those in the heat, the Kestrel 3000 offers heat index readings to make sure you're staying cool.

Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
$159.00
Description:

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

Measures:
  • 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 Spee
$259.00$194.00
11/26/2022 12:45 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. But it’s missing quite a bit from the Kestrel 3500, but for most general weather observers will be more than good enough.

We’re still quite partial to the Kestrel 3500, and strongly recommend you opt for it over the 3000 if you have the budget for it.

Kestrel 1000 vs. Kestrel 2000

Description:

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

Description:

The Kestrel 2000 adds a temperature sensor to the Kestrel 1000, which we think makes it the better deal.

Measures:
  • Wind Speed and Gusts
Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
$99.00$79.00
$129.00$99.00
Description:

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

Measures:
  • Wind Speed and Gusts
$99.00$79.00
Description:

The Kestrel 2000 adds a temperature sensor to the Kestrel 1000, which we think makes it the better deal.

Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
$129.00$99.00
11/26/2022 03:10 am GMT

The Kestrel 2000 is the first Kestrel meter below $100, but it also doesn’t have much of the functionality that its more expensive brethren have. 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 than the 5000 series meters).

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 if price is a concern for you..

Kestrel Weather Meter Test Results

Below we’ve shared our scoring for the Kestrel weather meters that made our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022. Six weather meters made our final rankings this year, with the Kestrel 5000 ranking best overall. To learn more about our scoring methodology, click here.

Total Score
Kestrel 5000
kestrel weather station kestrel 5000Photo: Kestrel
86
Kestrel 2000
kestrel 2000 pocket wind meterPhoto: Kestrel
86
Kestrel 3500
kestrel 3500 weather meterPhoto: Kestrel
84
Kestrel 3000
kestrel 3000 pocket weather station 1Photo: Kestrel
84
Kestrel 1000
kestrel 1000 handheld anemometerPhoto: Kestrel
83
Kestrel 5500
kestrel 5500 weather meterPhoto: Kestrel
77

Kestrel Weather Meter Specifications

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 imports components from overseas, most of the manufacturing is done here in the USA at Kestrel’s manufacturing facility near Philadelphia.

Kestrel backs all of its weather meters 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. With Bluetooth enabled on your iOS or Android device, download and open the Kestrel app.
  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.

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, 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 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

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 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, check out our recommendations there.

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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Don't miss a thing from The Weather Station Experts. Be the first to know about sales and limited-time deals. Unsubscribe at any time.