22 May 2023
 | 22 May 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Calibrating low-cost rain gauge sensors for their applications in IoT infrastructures to densify environmental monitoring networks

Robert Krüger, Pierre Karrasch, and Anette Eltner

Abstract. Environmental observations are crucial for understanding the state of the environment. However, current observation networks are limited in spatial and temporal resolution due to high costs. For many applications, data acquisition with a higher resolution would be desirable. Recently, Internet of Things (IoT) -enabled low-cost sensor systems offer a solution to this problem. While low-cost sensors may have lower quality than sensors in official measuring networks, they can still provide valuable data. This study describes the requirements for such a low-cost sensor system, presents two implementations, and evaluates the quality of the factory calibration for a widely used low-cost precipitation sensor. Here, twenty sensors have been tested for an 8-month period against three reference instruments at the meteorological site of the TU Dresden. Further, the factory calibration of 66 rain gauges has been evaluated in the lab. Results show that the used sensor falls short for the desired out-of-the-box use case. Nevertheless, it could be shown that the accuracy could be improved by further calibration.

Robert Krüger, Pierre Karrasch, and Anette Eltner

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gi-2023-7', Rolf Hut, 15 Jun 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on gi-2023-7', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Dec 2023
Robert Krüger, Pierre Karrasch, and Anette Eltner
Robert Krüger, Pierre Karrasch, and Anette Eltner


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Short summary
Low-cost sensors could fill gaps in existing observation networks. To ensure data quality, the quality of the factory calibration of a given sensor has to be evaluated, if the sensor is used out-of-the box. Here, the factory calibration of a widely used low-cost rain gauge type has been tested, both in the lab (66) and in the field (20). Results of the study suggest, that the calibration of this particular type should at least be checked for every sensor, before put into duty.