These RV gadgets will make your travel easier, safer, and more fun. While many of these items are good for occasional RVers, they are must-haves for the full-timers. This is a guest post by Shelley Trupert. (bio)
6 Must-Have RV Gadgets
Anyone who has spent time in an RV knows that for the most part, they are decidedly low tech. This is the case for a number of reasons. First, the manufacturers want to keep the costs down. More complicated systems also tend to add new points of failure which can be expensive to repair or replace.
Next, adding tech adds complication and some people prefer to keep things simple. Sometimes the whole point of traveling by RV is to get away from it all and take a break from technology. For most RVers, the lack of tech in an RV, whether it is new, used or rented, can be a good thing.
It will allow you to decide where tech gadgets are needed and choose the best ones for your needs. Here are some tech ideas for RVs that will still allow you to get away from it all but let you have an easier time doing it.
1. Tire Pressure Monitors
Whether you are parking at a campsite for an extended stay or traveling cross country, the RV’s tires take the brunt of the wear and tear on the vehicle. Tire pressure monitoring systems, or TPMSs, allow you to electronically monitor your RVs tire pressure and temperature in real time while you travel. Why is this important? Tire failure can be a significant issue on an RV, it can lead to control issues. When you are traveling in a large vehicle like an RV these situations can be deadly.
A TPMS system can alert you to tire issues before a major failure occurs, or before they become a major control issue. They are not a safety guarantee, but anything you can do to prevent a dangerous situation is a good thing. This one by EEZ RV comes well rated and has anti-theft sensors.
TPMS systems are generally very easy to install, they are made up of special valve stem caps that can read pressure and temperature and then transmit that information to a digital display that is mounted in the cab where the driver can see it.
2. RV Specific GPS Units
If getting there is half the fun, an RV GPS will help make sure you arrive safely so you can enjoy the other half. These units allow you to enter your RV's weight, length, height, width and number of onboard propane tanks. It uses that information for two things.
- RV Routes and Calculations: First, it calculates routes that your RV will fit, avoiding low bridges and roads that are too small for you to safely navigate.
- Propane Indications: It will also alert you to local laws regarding your propane system. If you enter a state that does not allow you to travel with the propane system on, it will let you know.
The best unit currently on the market is the Garmin RV 770 – LMTS. If you do not have one, they are definitely worth a look. Many RV rentals come with these units already installed and they make a big difference, especially when you are traveling on unfamiliar roads.
Of course, you could always use a compass.
3. Electronic Leveling Systems
Getting an RV level is not as simple as it seems and it can be hard to tell when you have it just right so that all doors, appliances, and equipment will work properly where you are parked. In the old days, you would slap a couple adhesive bubble levels on the side of your rig and use those to determine when your RV was leveled at a site. With modern tech, these unsightly gadgets can be tossed out and replaced with a digital leveling system, or even your smartphone.
Devices like the LevelMatePro can be mounted to any vertical surface inside your RV and they transmit the current state of level of your RV to an app on your smartphone. Once the smartphone software is set up, the LevelMatePro will tell you how far out of level front to back or side to side your RV is. It tells which sides are low and by how many degrees. This will allow you to level your RV very quickly.
There are some cell phone apps that do the same thing, and even some that will talk to a second phone via Bluetooth. This two-phone setup allows you to see what the phone inside is reading, while you are outside adjusting.
4. Security on the Road
Being in an RV does not mean you cannot have the same level of security you do at home. With modern wireless security systems, you can secure your RV just like a house.
For intrusion detection, a SimpliSafe system can be a great addition to your RV. This system is a fully monitored security system with a number of different types of sensors which can be installed throughout your RV.
The system works entirely wirelessly so installation is extremely simple. Whenever you move, you do have to update your address with the system but that is also a simple process.
Door monitors like the Ring monitor are also easy to install and can be used to monitor your door or alert you to when someone is at your door, even when you are not there.
5. Internet on the Road
Getting internet on the road can be tricky. There are several ways to do it including tapping into the RV park's Wi-Fi, using a cellular hotspot or even dedicated two-way satellite.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you would like to rely on the park’s internet connection, then a Wi-Fi booster may be needed. A good example is the Alfa R36 with an AWUS036H range extender. This will pull in and amplify weak Wi-Fi signals in your area. These do nothing for cell phone signals.
If you are using a cellular hotspot and have a weak cell signal, then consider a Wilson WeBoost – for Car and Truck.
These can boost weak cell signals (up to 32X) so you can get better performance out of your cell phones or cellular hot spots.
6. Lithium-Ion Batteries
If you are an RV owner, looking to take traveling to the next level, invest in some lithium-ion batteries for your RV.
Not only will you get more power for a longer duration, but these batteries last a lot longer than conventional batteries and no maintenance is required.
These new high-tech batteries are safer, lighter, and more efficient. They weigh about half the weight of typical batteries and they have a built-in safety feature that prevents that prevents them from overheating. Check out these 100AH 12V batteries on Amazon.
Although the batteries are not the flashiest or most exciting tech gadget on the RV, they are actually one of the most advanced changes in the RV industry in recent years. Quicker charge times, reliable, user-friendly, and better for the environment, these batteries will change the way you think of power in your RV. We saved this one for last because the batteries of your vehicle affect all of the other electronics.
Technology in an RV can do a lot to keep you safe, improve your ability to communicate and generally make RVing easier and more enjoyable. The items presented here are a small sampling of the RV tech products currently on the market. They give some good ideas on what is possible, which can guide you into finding the perfect RV tech solutions for your needs.
Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years and is always looking to find the next hike, off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.