6 Smart Home Devices You Should Have In Your RV
If you are a full time RVer you may have thought that Smart Home devices would make life easier. You’d be right – just like these smart home devices make life easier at home, they make life on the road easier as well. As complicated as that may sound, you might be surprised just how easy it is to use smart home devices when your home is mobile.
Why Most Smart Devices Don’t Work When RVing
Most smart devices are not designed to be moved from one location to the other. Traveling to different campgrounds or even remote locations means new WiFI networks or no WiFi at all. Most smart devices are really only designed to connect to WiFi networks once – when they are initially set up. So of course, when you change locations you often need to completely reconfigure the device for the new location. For most RVers this simply isn’t worth the effort.
Another reason many smart devices don’t work when traveling is because campgrounds and other free WiFi locations have something known as a captive portal. A captive portal is the screen you see when connecting to a WiFi network, usually requesting you accept terms and conditions or enter some information about yourself. Many devices have problems connecting due to captive portals, including smart home devices and streaming sticks. Even for the ones that can connect, it may still not work well.
Being away from home in a RV has brings a set of different connection and network needs and a specific RV specific smart device; what you’d buy for your house just won’t work on the road.
Using Smart Home Devices In Your RV
Don’t worry, in addition to covering some smart home devices that go great in an RV we also help you understand where you need an RV specific smart device. While most smart home devices will work just fine on the 110v system in your RV, there are a few cases where the devices will be different for your RV than at home.
In addition, if you run a generator or rely normally on a power connection at an RV park, you may still want to use smart home products while traveling. This means getting products, and a WiFi or hotspot system that works on 5v/12v so you can use anytime.
Smart Assistant In Your RV – Amazon Alexa/Apple Homekit/Google Assistant
The most well known of all Smart Home devices, Smart Assistants offer a number of benefits including control of other devices, easy to access information via voice and the ability to manage things like shopping lists. They are generally easy to install and use, so they are also super accessible.
The challenge most RVers face bringing a Smart Assistant along is unless you run a full time cellular hotspot, Smart Assistants really are not designed to moved between locations because the WiFi network changed names. For that scenario a travel router is what you need.
Many smaller smart assistants can run off of 5v/12v USB power. Larger units, and those with displays and built in speakers will generally require 110v.
Smart Speaker – Sonos/Homepod
Being able to stream your favorite music or live event is a great way to enjoy time inside or outside of your RV. Smart speakers not only offer great sound, they make controlling the music easy. You can change the music from any device, they keep playing regardless of how close you are to them and you can even use voice control (from a smart assistant) to control them.
Like Smart Assistants, Smart Speakers are great to have in an RV, but they are not designed to work with changing WIFI networks or locations.
Also with the Sonos, even with the Roam or Move, you’ll only get access to the full app experience if using WIFi. While both speakers work great as Bluetooth speakers, if you connect them to a router or hotspot via WiFi you’ll get the usual in app experience, including the ability to walk away from the device.
Most smart speakers will only run on 110v power, so plan to use them only when parked if you rely on campground power or a generator.
Smart Lock In Your RV
One of the best Smart Home products for your house are also available for your RV. Smart Locks. Smart Locks make your phone your key. You can also easily share access to your RV with other members of your household or even guests. In addition most smart locks can be controlled by a smart assistant so if you can’t remember if you locked the door when going to bed, no need to get up to check. Just ask your smart assistant if the door is locked. If not, it’ll lock it for you.
Unlike Smart Assistants and Smart Speakers though, Smart Locks for your RV are different than the models you’ll purchase for your home. They install in place of your main door lock, which also usually means new keys.
Most RV smart locks will work with your systems battery power, so you’ll have access to the access features even if you are not plugged in at a campground or running a generator.
Smart TV and Smart Streaming Device In Your RV
Most RVs purchased today come with a TV. They are great for entertainment and even tailgating. But the disappointment of dealing exclusively with over the air TV channels, the need to stay at campgrounds with cable TV hookups or the cost and complexity of satellite means streaming remains the best options for entertainment on the go. No need for a separate cable subscription, no need to be tied to a campground with specific hookups.
Streaming, including full cable like options such as Sling TV, Hulu Live or YouTube TV are easy to get access to. If you have a smart TV you may already have the apps you need. If you are a more serious streamer, your TV doesn’t already have smart capabilities or you simply can’t get the app you need on your TV, there are lots of great streaming sticks for travel.
Of course, you’ll need access to WiFi or bring a cellular hotspot to use these streaming devices. You can get WIFi at most campgrounds and national parks. Cellular hotspots also remain a great option, though the cost of data when streaming makes the use of WiFI a little more appealing.
While most streaming sticks will operate on USB power, TVs are usually exclusively 110v. Since you need a TV for a streaming stick plan to use these only when running a generator or have access to 110v via your batteries.
Smart Plugs In Your RV
Smart Plugs are really easy to use and very powerful. If your RV uses 100% battery power and your 110v system is tied into it, Smart Plugs can be a great way to make sure you don’t accidentally leave something running and draining power. In addition the ability to use an app or voice to turn lights and small appliances on or off is really handy. They are also cheap, with devices running under $20 they are some of the most affordable smart home devices available.
Safety is a pro as well. If you use Smart Plugs with any appliance you may leave on that doesn’t include an automatic shutoff you can easily turn the outlet off, from anywhere. Even when away from your RV.
And while the benefit of a smart plug is that it can help you avoid an unneeded power drain or help with safety, a con is that smart plugs take a little bit of power to maintain their smart connection (so you can turn them on). That means they do take a little bit of power, so if you are on 100% battery you may want to limit how many you use.
Like all of the WiFi enabled devices on our list, you’ll need to have a travel router or hotspot to use them while moving around. Smart Plugs, like most smart home devices are not designed to change WiIF networks easily as you move between locations.
Smart plugs work in 110v outlets so these will mostly be used when at campgrounds or running the generator.
Smart Thermostat In Your RV
The last item on our list and another popular cross over from smart devices many people have in their home is a smart thermostats. Smart thermostats are great because they bring not only ease of use and the ability to manage the device from anywhere, but also can help make your RV more efficient. While at home this means savings, for RVers that may mean fewer stops to fill up propane or reduce demand on your limited battery supply.
One huge benefit to having a WIFI enabled smart thermostat in your RV is the ability to set the temperature while away. Lower (heating) the temp before heading out for the day and then turn it back up just before returning to your RV. Your home on the road will be nice and warm by the time you get back. You can also schedule temperature changes based on when you typically get up and when you typically get back.
Of course, RV thermostats are different than home thermostats. For one, in most instances they only control the heat. Also, they are wired different. So be sure to look for an RV specific smart thermostat.
Even RV specific smart devices like these Smart thermostats require a travel router or hotspot as they are not designed to easily change WiFI networks as you move around.
You RV specific thermostat will work off of your RVs battery system so you can use the features without being connected to land power or running your generator.
Smart WiFi Options
As we’ve mentioned throughout, to use smart devices in your RV you need a travel router or hotspot to provide WiFi and internet connectivity. As also we’ve noted you’ll want a travel router or hotspot that can work with your 5v/12v system so you have access to WiFi and internet even when not on 110v power.
What’s the difference between a travel router and a hotspot? There are quiet a few, but the biggest difference is a hotspot has cellular capabilities. You may also wonder why you might need a separate hotspot device at all, as opposed to just using your phones personal hotspot.