How Much Does a Weather Balloon Cost?


A weather balloon carries an instrument that will send back information from the skies such as the atmospheric pressure and the temperature.  The cost of this balloon is going to vary on a few factors.

Weather balloon released. by twig73010, on Flickr
Weather balloon released.” (CC BY 2.0) by twig73010

How much does a weather ballon cost?

On average, a weather balloon will cost anywhere from $5 to as much as $100 for a complete set.

For example, this 8-foot diameter professional weather balloon, manufactured by Kaymont, retails for around $100.  It has a maximum lift of 15 pounds, an ascent rate of 1000 feet per minute and a burst altitude of 109,000 feet.

This 8210 weather balloon weighs 10 grams and can retail for anywhere from $7 to $15.

This  8233 Weather Balloon weighs 100 grams and can retail anywhere from $13 to $19.

To successfully launch a weather balloon, plan on spending up to $450 once you factor in the helium, tape, payload boxes, zip ties and gas to follow it.




Weather ballon overview

Depending on the set, a balloon will be mailed and will generally have to be filled with helium upon arrival.

There are three common weather balloon sizes:  three, eight and 16 feet in diameter.  When filled with helium, the lift power will be 1/4 pound, 10 ounces and 2.42 pounds.  As the balloon flies high, it will grow more than four times in diameter and up to 83 times its volume.  The average balloon lasts 60 to 90 minutes before bursting.

A weather balloon is a scientific instrument used to help collect data about specific weather conditions.  These balloons are going to be used to help predict general weather trends and help track current patterns.

A basic simple weather balloon is going to be able to measure the current temperature, the atmospheric pressure and the humidity in the air.  Using a transponder, the data is then sent back down to the user.  Advanced balloons can also measure wind speed and patterns.

Most balloons are going to be made of a special latex or rubber material.  Inflated with helium, the balloon will be attached to a sturdy cord .  Once the balloon reaches a particular altitude, it will explode sending the radiosonde back to earth with a parachute.

Tips to know:

Be sure to know how high you want the weather balloon to go.  Each balloon is going to be able to reach a particular altitude.  Keep in mind different altitudes can reveal different amounts of data.

Most balloons can be painted with watercolors or a latex paint using a soft brush.

How high it will travel will depend on the time of year, the winds and how fast the wind will ascend.  In the winter, balloons can travel 40 to 75 miles horizontally and one to 35 miles in the summer months.

According to Stratostar, the United States permit flights carrying up to a 12-pound total payload, not including the weight of the balloon itself.

No license will be needed to launch a balloon; however, if you plan on launching one it’s important to follow safety guidelines.  High altitude weather balloons will have government guidelines.

How high can a weather balloon go?  High-altitude balloons filled with helium can reach 60,000 to 120,000 feet before exploding.

What are the extra costs?

Since you can’t blow these balloons up by mouth, helium will be required.  Using a helium tank or vacuum can usually get the job done.

To measure specific measures, certain devices are going to be required such as a height finding radar or flight computers.

How can I save money?

eBay is a great source to look for used kits of weather balloons.

Purchasing them in bulk can save you a few dollars.

Consider constructing your own.  There are various kits online that can help with putting one together.  The great thing about these kits is that you don’t even have to have the adequate experience.


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Average Reported Cost: $8

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Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Austin (Fort Worth,  Texas) paid $8 and said:

    I paid $8 for a simple weather balloon for school.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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