Understanding and optimizing the Visual Crossing Weather Pay-as-you-go plan

The Visual Crossing Weather Pay-as-you-go plan (also known as the Metered plan) is one of the easiest-to-use and the most cost-effective weather data plans available today. It is designed to meet the needs of many different types of weather data users and also be a great way for new users to get started using weather data without making any commitment.

In this article we will review the plan features, explain the optimal user groups for this type of plan, and finally discuss ways to get the most value from the Pay-as-you-go model.

Plan Features

The most obvious and eye catching feature of the Pay-as-you-go plan is the incredibly low price of only $0.0001 per weather record. That means that you can get 100 records for a single penny with no minimums. Even better, the plan offers 1000 records every day for free (100 if you don’t add a credit card to your account). So many users will never even pay a cent.

What exactly is a weather record?

One weather record is defined as a single row of history data or one complete forecast for a single location. A single row of history data is rather self-explanatory. For example, one row is a report of the weather conditions on Friday, 9/11/2020 in Herndon, VA. If you query multiple days, each day would be a single record. If instead you query hourly data, each hour in a given day at a given location would be one record. A full day of hourly data at a single location would be counted as 24 records. If a query makes that same hourly request for two location, the number of result records doubles to 48.

Forecasts are even more generous in the Metered plan. A full 15-day forecast for one location counts as only a single record. This is true even for an hourly forecast. This means that you can get a forecast for 1000 locations or for the same location 1000 times per day every day without any cost ever. For this reason, the Pay-as-you-go plan is often seen as a great option for forecast-heavy user cases.

Standard features that lead the industry

The Pay-as-you-go plan offers all of the features that make Visual Crossing Weather the most powerful and complete weather data solution in the industry. These feature include:

  • Worldwide historical weather data back to 1970
  • Full 15-day weather forecasts for anywhere on the globe
  • Web-based interface for query creation and weather data download
  • RESTful API for use in code, scripts, and business processes
  • Data available at daily, hourly, and sub-hourly intervals where available
  • Standard weather metrics include temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, and many more
  • Advanced weather metrics include precipitation cover, heat index, snow depth, etc.
  • Universal output formats include CSV, JSON, and OData
  • Support for date ranges and multiple locations in a single query
  • History summaries summarize years or decades of historical data to give climate change details, historical weather overviews & ultra-long-term weather estimates
  • Weather station detail reports show exactly which reporting stations are used for every record
  • Scalable from single-user home-brew projects to a high-volume, mission-critical business apps

Who benefit most from the Pay-as-you-go plan?

This plan is designed to ideally suit the needs of several different types of customers and use cases. These include:

The one-time user – If you just need data for one specific project or only a single task, signing up for a monthly plan just to cancel it later is both a hassle and a waste of money. Paying a small price using the Metered, provides the data that you need immediately and prevents you from worrying about a recurring payment in the future.

The occasional user – Some weather data use cases need data only intermittently. With pay-as-you-go pricing, you only pay for the exact data that you need when you need it. There is no need to pay for an idle account month after month or to cancel and then reactivate an account and plan. With the Pay-as-you-go plan, your account never expires so it can sit idle for months or years without incurring any cost. Then, when you need weather data, simply log in and get what you need instantly.

The low-volume user – If you need data for a low-volume website or app, this plan is ideal. There are no concurrency limits, so you can automatically handle traffic peaks and our service grows right along with your user-base. On days when your traffic is below our 1000-record free threshold, you pay nothing. On busier days, you can pay only pennies.

Developers – Do you have an idea for the next great weather application? Then this plan is uniquely suited to help you realize your vision without you having to pay up front. Your allotment of 1000 free records daily is typically enough to cover your development needs and even beta testing. As your application’s success grows, our weather scales right along with you. You can gradually move from paying nothing to paying pennies to paying dollars based as your application takes off. Of course, it is also a seamless transition to our monthly plans where you can get unlimited weather records for the lowest prices available.

Early-stage weather projects – When you are trying to convince your boss or organization leaders that weather data can add value to your business, you don’t want additional hurdles to jump. Prototype your idea, test it with your coworkers, and demo it to business leadership all without having to justify paying data fees. Our daily free limit will cover your initial work, and, after your business leaders are convinced that weather adds value, you can continue on the Pay-as-you-go plan or upgrade to a monthly plan that meets your expanding needs.

Websites and applications focused on weather forecasts – Since a full 15-day weather forecast for any worldwide location counts as only a single record, you can get 1000 forecasts per day without any cost. The next 1000 after that cost only 10 cents. This includes both daily and hourly forecasts. And since there are no concurrency limits, you can get thousands of forecasts in just a few seconds if needed for data science applications or to handle peak website traffic.

Pay-as-you-go doesn’t fit everyone

There are other types of customers who are better served with a traditional monthly service plan. These are typically users who require large volumes of data, more consistent daily users, those with use cases more strongly focused on historical weather data, and businesses who have custom needs. Luckily, it is very easy to change from the Metered plan to any of our monthly plans. Just go to your account page and change your plan type in seconds. All of the APIs and features remain the same.

Here are a few specific weather use cases and users who are typically not well suited for the Pay-as-you-go plan.

Data science and business intelligence – While the pay-as-you-go option may be a great way to get started for projects such as these, in the longer run, the costs will typically be lower with a monthly plan. This is especially true for projects that are heavily reliant on historical weather data.

Production business applications – Serious business applications often demand additional features beyond data alone. For example, businesses often need SLAs, custom invoicing, and have specific support requirements. All of these are outside the domain of the “dead simple” pay-as-you-go plan. As your weather projects become more important to your business, Visual Crossing Weather has various monthly plan levels starting at $35 all the way to full enterprise support.

Tuning your use of the Pay-as-you-go plan

There are various ways to maximize your value from the Visual Crossing Weather Pay-as-you- go plan. Here are some way to get the most weather data and highest benefit for your weather data use case.

Stay below the daily free limit – One obvious way to maximize your benefit from this plan is to keep your usage below the daily free limit of 1000 records. As long as you remain below the free limit, you will never be charged. In some applications this is easy with a bit of planning. For example, if you are making a demo weather project for a business presentation or writing some Raspberry Pi code for home use, it is usually easy to set the number of requested records below 1000. In the case of a business demo, your weather data can seamlessly expand as your project gets approved and deployed. In the case of a home or hobby project, 1000 rows may cover your weather data needs entirely.

Maximize your use of weather forecasts – Since the pay-as-you-go plan counts a full daily or hourly weather forecast as a single record, you can get a lot of forecast data for little or no cost.

Learn and use weather history summaries – One of Visual Crossing Weather’s most powerful features, weather history summaries, allow a query to summarize years or even decades or historical weather data in a very succinct result set. The weather engine may need to process hundreds or thousands of historical data records, but you only pay for the actual rows that are returned in your final result. For example, a monthly average of conditions over the past 50 years would need to analyze nearly 20,000 daily weather observations to produce a final output of only 12 rows, one for each month. By using weather history summaries, you pay only for 12 records, not 20,000. If you need climate data, averages for historical periods, or any other type of weather summaries, you don’t need to fetch all of the raw data and do the processing yourself. Let the weather engine do the calculations for you and pay only for the final summary rows.

Pay attention to the query cost estimates – Most query options in the web interface will give you an estimate of the number of records that will be returned. You can use these as guidelines to adjust your queries. Make sure that you get all of the weather data that you need without fetching unnecessary records.

Query cost estimator

Watch your account usage dashboard – On your account page you will find the link to your usage dashboard. This dashboard shows you the number of records that you have used against your account limits and the summary of any billable queries that you have made.

Weather usage dashboard

Use the weather data cost calculator– The Weather Data Cost Calculator tells you how much the data you need will cost when using the Pay-as-you-go plan. Where appropriate, the estimator will also recommend monthly plans that may be a better fit.

Final thoughts

We believe that our Pay-as-you-go plan represents the easiest-to-use and most cost competitive weather data plan in the industry for many weather users. Get 1000 records per day for free, pay only a tiny fraction of a cent after that, and benefit from weather features that are found only in other vendors’ top-of-the-line, expensive plans. What could be a more dead simple way to get started with weather data for any project? Of course, our monthly, annual, and enterprise plans are still in available allowing you to transition at any time to the best plan as your needs evolve.

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