How to care for surveying equipment in the winter

How to care for surveying equipment in the winter

Posted by Hitechniques Team on 12th Dec 2022

Regardless of the season, surveyors always have projects to complete. While warmer months are usually the busiest with construction projects in full swing, the work doesn’t always stop when the weather changes.It simply shifts more to topographic and land title surveys in the winter.

Weather always impacts your work, if you’re working outside and it’s especially true when it turns for the worse in the autumn and winter. Heavy rain or snow can impact visual capabilities and make it difficult for surveyors to make measurements. In most cases, though, you can continue working as long as you make sure to take proper care of your equipment.

We already covered basic surveying equipment maintenance in one of our previous articles. The rules outlined there apply all year long, and following them is a great way to keep your survey instrument in perfect working condition for years to come .There are some additional steps to follow in the winter, though. See below our tips on how to care for survey equipment in the winter.

Know your instrument’s recommended operating temperatures

User manual or product brochure from your equipment’s manufacturer should always clearly state the recommended temperature rating for your GNSS receiver or total station. Make sure you know these numbers and always check expected weather conditions before planning your work for the day. While weather forecasts are not 100% accurate and nature can be unpredictable, in most cases you can easily estimate the average temperature for the area you’ll be working in. If your instrument is not rated for those conditions, do not take your chances. Not only will you be risking serious damage to your equipment but also costly issues caused by inaccurate data.

Always secure your freestanding equipment properly

Winter often brings storms and strong winds that can knock over and damage your equipment. Always make sure that you use the right accessories and secure everything properly. Keep in mind the type of the terrain you are surveying as well, and take extra care when working on an uneven, slippery surface. When in doubt, tie the equipment down or use a tripod star. You can even drill it down into the ground if necessary (we have a short video showing how to do it here).

Keep your batteries charged and remember to bring spares

Cold temperatures can affect the batteries and significantly cut the usual operating time of your surveying instrument. If you’re planning for a long day out in the field, make sure all your batteries are fully charged and bring spare ones if you can. Keep the backup ones out of the cold if possible to avoid any issues.

Avoid water damage

While most surveying instruments can withstand some rain or snow, they are not completely waterproof. Keep that in mind when using your GPS rover or total station out in the field but also when you’re done for the day and it’s time to pack up. Always remember to wipe your surveying instrument and all accessories clean and dry them off properly before storing. Make sure the storage case is clean and dry, too.

Don’t skip these steps even if it isn't raining. The temperature change after you bring the equipment in from the cold will cause water condensation which can result in some serious damage. To be on the safe side, take everything out of the case once you’re back home or in the office and leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Keep the case open as well and let it dry completely before putting everything back in.

Last but not least

With business slowing down in the colder months and around holiday season winter is the perfect time to schedule an annual service and calibration for your instrument. Let professionals run all the checks and install any necessary firmware updates for you.


Want your instrument serviced and calibrated to make sure it performs perfectly in any conditions? Contact us today and let our technicians run necessary checks and updates for you.