Hydreon RG-11 Optical Rain Gauge

Hydreon RG-11 Optical Rain Gauge


The RG-11 Rain Gauge is a maintenance-free optical rain sensor that can be used for a wide variety of rainfall monitoring and control applications.


  • Self-contained, maintenance-free rain sensor with no moving parts
  • Sensor can be completely mobile and mounted in any orientation
  • DIP switches allow sensor to be set for mode of operation to best match application
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The RG-11 Rain Gauge is a maintenance-free optical rain sensor that can be used for a wide variety of rainfall monitoring and control applications. The Rain Gauge senses water hitting its outside surface using beams of infrared light, which is the same sensing principle used in millions of automotive rain sensing windshield wiper controls. The complete sensor package is about the size of a tennis ball and completely sealed from the environment.

The optical sensing technology overcomes many of the shortcomings of conventional tipping bucket rain gauges. The sensor works in mobile environments, there is no collecting funnel to clog with leaves, and the round shape makes it essentially self-cleaning. While the sensor is not as accurate as a tipping bucket rain gauge, the low cost and compact size of the RG-11 makes it ideal for wet weather notification systems or remote rain gauges where periodic maintenance is not possible.

The RG-11 includes a DIP switch that allows it to be set for the mode of operation that best matches the application. Select from the following modes:


  • Tipping Bucket: Emulates a tipping bucket of the specified size
  • It's Raining: Turns on the relay to indicate that it is raining when the rainfall has reached a given intensity
  • Condensation Sensor: Detects condensation or frost formation on the surface
  • Wiper Control: Rain sensing wiper control at various speeds
  • Irrigation Control: Rain Gauge output to inhibit watering
  • Drop Detection: Produces a pulse for each drop detected
Image Part # Product Description Price Stock Order
Hydreon RG-11 Optical Rain Gauge RG-11 Optical rain sensor with relay interface
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NexSens 8 Conductor PVC Cable C8P-24-P 8 conductor 24 AWG cable, PVC jacket, priced per ft.
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Questions & Answers

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How does the Rain Gauge sense condensation?
Generally the RG-11 will sense condensation as if it were rainfall, but this seldom amounts to a significant accumulation of water. The built-in low power heater (DIP SW 8 off) will tend to reduce condensation. If condensation or frost measurements are desired, the rain gauge can be set to high sensitivity to detect slight shifts to and from "clear" conditions.
Can bright sunlight damage the optical rain gauge?
The RG-11 is almost completely immune to the effects of ambient light, and may freely be mounted in direct sunlight.

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The Hydreon RG-11 optical rain gauge was born from the same technology that automatically triggers automobile windshield wipers.  The technologic overlap enabled the production of a low-cost optical precipitation sensor. Hydreon engineers built the sensor due to public demand. “There wasn't one single inquiry that got us to develop the RG-11, but after some time and so many inquiries, we decided it was time to develop a standalone rain sensor,” said Ben Gryskiewicz, Hydreon’s technical office manager. The gauge is a compact, maintenance-free package that is easily mounted on a structure or pole to measure rain.  It uses beams of infrared light shining through a clear domed surface to measure precipitation.

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Scientists now know that much of the African drought in the 1980s was partly due to pollution that traveled from the Northern Hemisphere, according to a release from University of Washington. The drought was severe enough to cause Lake Chad to very nearly dry out. At the time, Lake Chad’s problems were blamed on overgrazing and poor farming practices. But experts now say that aerosols emanating from U.S. and European factories influenced tropical rain bands, causing them to no longer reach the area. Following clean-air legislation, scientists say the rain bands shifted back, causing the drought to lessen. The University of Washington researchers used historical observations and multiple climate models to determine why the global shift in rainfall occurred.

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