BloomSky SKY1 Solar Powered Weather Camera Kit + Solar Panel Review

We’ve reviewed several weather stations in the past, but the BloomSky SKY1 is in a class of its own. Not only does it give you up to the minute weather info from your chosen location, it creates a time-lapse movie of the entire day, and it allows you to share your info and movies easily with others.

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Originally introduced on Kickstarter in 2014, the BloomSky SKY1 has quickly gone on to become a premier crowd-sourced weather tool. You can not only access the weather at your home while traveling, you can access live BloomSky weather information from other users all over the world!

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I received the complete BloomSky SKY1 Solar Powered Weather Camera Kit + Solar Panel kit; it includes the SKY1, a mounting bracket, and a solar panel for $299. Each of these components is available separately, so if after reading this review you decide that you only need certain parts, that is also an option.

So let’s take a look!

The Solar Panel and Mounting Kit sells for $119 by itself. It includes a mounting kit (which sells on its own for $39). The mounting kit is made of a rustproof aluminum alloy, and it comes with a built-in clamp and predrilled holes so you have a couple of mounting options — whether it be on your roof, fence, railing, or other structure. One of the biggest benefits of using it is that it helps maintain a consistent focus of your BloomSky HD camera.

The Solar Panel measures 15.35″ wide by 11 tall by 1.14″ thick; it’s composed of a rust-proof aluminum alloy covered with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) solar panels. The solar panel is designed to “power your station through day and night, sun, and clouds.” Once you’ve set up your BloomSky, you’ll be able to place it in areas that aren’t accessible to a wall plug, which is pretty handy. There is also a metal fold-out stand built into the solar panel, so it can be placed in spots where the mounting bracket wouldn’t be practical. The solar panel requires just seven hours of sunshine per week to power your BloomSky, so even if you’ve been getting overcast and rainy days, your system should still be able to get the sun-power it needs to operate.

Now we come to the brain of the operation, the SKY1.

In the box, you’ll find the SKY1, a two-part mounting stake, and an AC wall charger.

The BloomSky Sky 1 features:

The BloomSky SKY1 has a 45º angle fisheye lens, and anti-reflective coating, an automatic time-lapse generator, and it shoots in high color fidelity. Inside the SKY1 are weather monitoring sensors that measure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, UV exposure and precipitation. It has rainfall sensors that have been strategically spaced to accurately trigger rain notification. The SKY1 is spherical in shape to allow it to better withstand wind; a silicone band around the middle keeps moisture out, and the buttons and charging port are also weatherproof.

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The SKY1 is also available on its own for $199.

Powering up the device and installing it are pretty simple. I planned on using the solar panel, so I figured I’d start with a full charge. I plugged it in inside my home, and I let it sit for a couple of hours. Then I downloaded the BloomSky app.

It took only a few moments to create an account, power on the SKY1, and connect the device to my home network (the SKY1 requires a 2.4GHz WiFi connection); then I got this notification …

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What followed were some tips on placement of the SKY1, whether you were using the mounting bracket or not.

Here’s a video to walk you through the setup …

Here’s the complete BloomSky SKY1 user manual, if you’d like to check it out.

Before walking outside to install the SKY1, I inserted the top portion of the stake into the weather station’s bottom.

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Since the BloomSky’s solar panel needs to face due south to get the most benefit from the sun, I finally got to put the iPhone’s built-in compass to use.

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You should keep these things in mind before placing or mounting your BloomSky:

Your BloomSky Weather Station will perform best when it’s fully exposed to the elements. Try to install your device where it will see direct sunlight and is as far as possible from tall obstacles (like trees, buildings, or fences), artificial heat sources (like ventilation ducts and air conditioning units), and moisture sources (such as garden irrigation systems and roof gutters). Accordingly:
• Install your BloomSky in a location with a clear view of the sky. Trees, roof eaves, or other obstacles can cause the pictures to be overexposed.
• Keep your BloomSky raised above paved surfaces, especially blacktop. Blacktop radiates heat and could confuse the sensors.
• Be sensitive to sprinklers triggering the precipitation sensor.
• Try to place your BloomSky at least 10 feet away from any artificial heat or cooling source (this includes air conditioning units, heating vents, chimneys, etc.) to aid in accurate reporting.
• Finally, the higher your device, the better!

It’s important to place the SKY1 so that it is in range of your WiFi, so unless you’ve got amazing coverage outdoors, you’ll need to keep it within a certain amount of feet from your home.

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I wanted to capture the view seen over our hilltop, as it faces due west and receives some pretty amazing west Texas sunsets.  So, I hammered the bottom portion of the BloomSky’s stake into the ground, placed the solar panel facing due south; I turned the BloomSky SKY1 to face due west, and then I plugged the solar panels cable into the charging port on the SKY1 For now, I have the SKY1 mounted in the ground, but as soon as the office we are building is completed, I’ll be bracket-mounting it there.

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After placing my SKY1 and solar panel, I looked on the app — and yep, there’s my BloomSky.

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And here’s what I see when I open the app …

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You can add favorite cities or locations to the Favorites list; right now I am the only public camera for Eldorado, Texas, so a picture from my BloomSky is what others will see if they click on the town. Tapping the photo for SKML Ranch HQ will bring up the current view at my location …

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You’ll note that the Ultraviolet Index, Humidity Dew Point, and Air Pressure levels are prominently displayed and easy to access. Those three boxes serve as clickable tiles; for instance, when you click the Ultraviolet Index tile, the flip side will display “Low”, since 2/11 is a good score. Clicking the Humidity Dew Point tile will display “Moderate”, indicating that 78% at 69º isn’t too severe; clicking the Air Pressure tile will display “Avg”, indicating that 1012 mbar isn’t extreme.

You also get a forecast for the next five days and one of the features I find coolest of all — your past Time-Lapse videos.

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Here are a couple of time-lapse video examples:

August 18, 2016

and here’s August 20, 2016

The BloomSky SKY1 camera turns on 30 minutes before sunrise and turns off 30 minutes after sunset; it captures “sky pictures around every 5 minutes or upon sudden change of temperature, humidity or precipitation.” A “compressed time-lapse video of sky view generated at the end of the day.” The camera turns “on at dawn and turn off at dusk based on sunrise and sunset in your area.”

If you have your account set to public, you’ll want to make sure that you haven’t aimed your SKY1 at your pool or other private spots — assuming you’d rather not share personal photos with strangers.

We’ve been having a lot of wet weather this week, and things are finally cooling down here. I love being able to see time-lapse videos that show the rain coming and go-ing, and the movement of the clouds across our sky as the sun rises and sets.

Best of all, these movies are easy to save to an album, share via email, Twitter, or other social media channels.

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Here’s a video walk-through of the BloomSky app …

One of the BloomSky features that I really like is the ability to check the weather in other parts of the country (or the world), and see what’s actually going on. To do this, you simply need to access their interactive map.

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You can do this from your computer or from the Explore feature in the BloomSky app. You also have the option of making your information private, but I love the sense of community and contribution that you get while being a visual representation of the weather in your area for anyone who is interested. In fact, you don’t even need to have a BloomSky system to get benefit from the app: Simply install it, and you’ll have access to real weather as it happens.

I like that when BloomSky rolls out a firmware upgrade, my outdoor station is “automatically updated through its Wi-Fi connection to the BloomSky Cloud.”

There are only a few things that this weather station can’t do: it doesn’t measure how much rain you’ve received, and it doesn’t measure wind speed or wind direction. If these are measurements that you’d find good to know (as I would!), then you’re in luck! BloomSky is set to release the BloomSky STORM soon, and it will handle those measurements and more! In fact, there are still a few days left to get in on the BloomSky SKY2 and STORM bundle on Kickstarter!

Features of the new SKY2 and Storm include:

SKY2 is our second generation weather camera station measuring:
– Temperature
– Humidity
– Barometric pressure
– Precipitation
– Bluetooth enabled setup
At the heart of it, SKY2 features an HD camera capturing real-time images every 5 minutes. At the end of the day, you’ll have a time-lapse, telling a clear story of your sky.

STORM is an all new accessory device measuring;
– Rainfall total
– Wind speed
– Wind direction
– UV
It is a wireless add-on device paired with your SKY1 or SKY2 only, providing you with more data that matters.

I like my SKY1 so much, that I’ve put in my backing order for the $240 2016 Holiday Edition SkyPro set which will include the SKY2, STORM, two solar panels, a mount and tripod stand.

Best of all, if you’ve already purchased a SKY1 and want to add a STORM to your setup after they are released, that will be an option from the BloomSky site.

With full integration with ITTT as of August 10, 2016, you can do even more with your weather data …

Imagine being able to control your thermostat at home when you realize the temperature has dropped or risen significantly, or stopping your automated sprinkler system while traveling because it’s raining and there’s no need to waste the water.

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The BloomSky SKY1 has changed the way I think about the weather; it has made the whole process of looking at local and non-local conditions much more interactive, vibrant, and real. I like getting notifications from the app when rain has started. I love being part of this weather condition gathering community and contributing to the process, and I hope that many more people who read this review will do the same. I’d love to fill in some of the blanks on the map!

The BloomSky SKY1 Solar Powered Weather Camera Kit + Solar Panel retails for $299, and it is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Extremely easy to put together and set up; Components included to fit almost any installation scenario; A community of other BloomSky users contributing to live, local weather with pictures, video and easy to read conditions displayed; Automatic updates through the BloomSky cloud; Ability to add the STORM to either the SKY1 or SKY2; Notifications when rain has started on your BloomSky’s location; I could go on and on …

What Needs Improvement: I would like rain measurement and wind speed, and that is coming with the STORM

About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
I've had a fascination with all types of gadgets and gizmos since I was a child, beginning with the toy robot that my grandmother gave my brother - which I promptly "relieved him of" in 1973. I'm a self-confessed gadget magpie. I can't tell you how everything works, but I'm known world-wide for using a product until I have a full understanding of what it does, what its limitations are, and if it excels in any given area ... or not.

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