It seems like everything is going “smart” these days. It’s common to see smart cars, smartphones, and smart TVs. We now see smart RVs traveling down the highway thanks to technological advancements.
Over the years of owning 4 different RVs, we have made a lot of smart RV upgrades and want to share more about them with you! So what are smart RV systems and RV products? Let’s look and see!
What Exactly Is a Smart RV?
A smart RV uses technology to enhance a user’s experience using their rig and the products inside it. RVers can operate lighting and awnings, monitor batteries, water tanks, and temperatures, or turn on or off a generator. While previous generations of campers may have embraced a more “technology-free” approach, modern camping looks more futuristic.
We’re not saying one approach is better than the other. A smart RV makes it easier for campers to adopt the “work smarter, not harder” approach to camping. There are many happy campers as long as everything works correctly.
What Are Some Benefits of Having a Smart RV?
Having a smart RV makes monitoring various aspects and products in your RV easier. You can see how your RV is performing and if there is anything that demands your attention. Some smart RV systems alert you when the internal temperature reaches a certain point, tanks get full or fuel gets low. This can help you know if there are any issues with your rig while you’re away from it, which is especially important if you RV with pets.
Many of these RVs can let the owner control some functions from their smartphone. Turning on lights, extending and retracting slides or awnings, and even operating the leveling system are all possible from a smartphone or tablet in many new RVs. Why get up from the campfire when you don’t have to?
In addition with smart connected systems, you can create routines that run during certain times. For example, our RV turns on exterior lighting, changes interior light colors, and can even lower shades all automatically when the sun goes down.
Since an RV is a home with added systems for power, water, and waste automating these systems can make RVing more enjoyable. Examples of this are automatic generator start and stop based on battery needs and automatic dumping and flushing of tanks on full hookup with water metering and alerts.
What Are the Drawbacks?
Smart RVs are excellent, but only when they work. The more technology you throw into an RV, the more likely something will go wrong.
The more complex an RV, the more expensive it will likely be when it eventually lets you down. You may also have trouble finding a qualified mechanic or service center to work on your RV if they’re not familiar or comfortable with a specific technology.
Many remote features for monitoring and operating an RV will require some signal or connection, typically BlueTooth or cellular. However, many RVers enjoy the freedom of taking their rig to remote locations where cellular connections may not be available.
The constant need for the internet will also use much more power. If you’re planning to spend time off-grid with your RV, you may use more of your batteries than you expect.
Pro Tip: Cellular and internet connectivity is a must for RV travel. Learn How To Get Reliable RV Internet On The Move.
How Are Smart RV Systems Different From Traditional RVs?
Traditional RVs have some pretty fancy features but aren’t as high-tech as smart RVs. A traditional RV could still have electric awnings, auto-leveling systems, and open and close slides. However, you’ll likely have to activate them at an access panel around the RV. This is where Smart RV systems take the RV experience to the next level.
Smart RV owners allow the RVer to complete all of the tasks we’ve mentioned by pulling out their smartphone and opening an app. They don’t have to get out of their chair or step away from the campfire to change a setting or adjust their RV.
Many of these RVs also allow the RVer to monitor batteries, interior temperatures, and tank levels from the app. Tracking the status of your RV can be helpful in various situations.
Are Smart RV Systems Expensive?
Manufacturers recognize that smart RV systems are beneficial to most RVers. As a result, many manufacturers are installing smart RV systems and products on their rigs from the factory.
This allows them to work with trusted companies to ensure that the systems are straightforward for their customers to use and do what they require. You don’t want a system to work incorrectly when it practically has a mind of its own.
Keep in mind that many components used to build smart home systems can be used in RVs. Our RV runs a custom computer with a home assistant and various different controllers to integrate with the RV’s native smart system and other components that are controlled by radio or IR.
You can purchase smart RV components for $160 to $600+. Naturally, the more features you want or expect from the smart RV system, the more it will cost.
The disadvantage of adding a smart RV system onto a rig after the fact is that you’ll have to do all the hard work of connecting the sensors and running the necessary wiring for connecting your smart RV system.
Pro Tip: Upgrading your RV systems is part of the cost of ownership. Make sure you understand How Much an RV Costs to Own and Maintain, and budget wisely!
What Are the Best RV Systems On the Market?
RVs haven’t changed much over the last several decades. Many manufacturers typically lag a decade or two behind. For example, how many RV manufacturers install Blu-Ray players in their rigs instead of DVD players?
However, not all manufacturers are delaying taking a step into the future. Let’s examine what a few RV manufacturers are doing to change how RVers use their rigs.
Leisure Travel Vans
Starting in 2020, Leisure Travel Vans began using the Dometic Multiplex System. This system uses a touch screen, but it can also connect with a smartphone or tablet. The RVer can utilize the Dometic Multiplex System to control and monitor various components at the touch of a finger.
The system allows the owner to control the lights, awnings, and climate, plus monitor batteries, inverter status, and tank levels. Luckily, Dometic works with multiple companies, so this system will likely appear on several brands.
JAYCOMMAND Smart RV System
Jayco released the smart RV system that they call Jaycommand. This system allows an RV owner to control and monitor tank levels and many of the essential features and amenities that RVing requires. For RV owners who are tired of not being in command of their rig, the Jaycommand system makes it possible.
This system allows an RV owner to control a generator, water pump, tire pressure monitoring system, slideouts, leveling, and more. It’s a tool that makes RV life more manageable for newbies and veteran RVers.
Airstream Smart RV
Airstream may be a name that’s been around for decades, but they’re not living in the past. Their Smart Control Technology makes new experiences possible for RVers. Airstream has listened to the owners of their RVs and created a smart RV system that enhances RVing.
You can adjust your lighting and awning, set the perfect inside temperature for you and your pets, and even open and close window shades or turn vent fans on and off. Airstream is one RV company that’s not afraid of taking a step forward.
How Can You Turn Your RV Into a Smart RV?
Just because your RV doesn’t have all the fancy features of newer RVs doesn’t mean you can’t install some of them. There are aftermarket systems you can install, like auto-leveling systems, and many features that these new RV owners love.
One company, YoLink, offers smart sensors compatible with RVs. You may not gain all the features that a truly smart RV provides, but you can help your RV take a step into the future.
One super easy smart upgrade we did was add a Broadlink RM4 controller and wireless 4G router. The Broadlink controller can emulate radio frequencies to control some of our lighting shades and awnings.
Easy DIY Smart RV Projects Anyone Can Do
There are a couple of very manageable DIY smart RV projects that almost anyone can do. A straightforward upgrade that we think every RVer should do is to replace their RV’s door lock with an RVLock. These replace the cheap locks that manufacturers install from the factory. You can lock and unlock your door at the press of a button and by using a numeric code. They’re worth every penny!
- Keypad and Key Fob Entry – Created by a small family business...
- Durable Metal Construction – The RVLock V4 is the Industry's...
- Easy and Fast Installation – Designed for ease and including...
Another easy RV project is to install water leak sensors. These water sensors from YoLink can send an alert to your phone when they detect water. You can install them under sinks, in an under-storage compartment, or near any other water source to help catch a leak as quickly as possible.
- Easy to install. Scan, Plug and Play. Full installation and setup...
- Protected and informed, with Realtime phone app notifications,...
- FAIL/SAFE: Patented technology! Pair your leak sensors to battery...
A Google Nest or Amazon Alexa smart speaker in an RV can frequently integrate with other smart plugs and lights natively, or other smart controllers. In our RV, we can ask google about the status of almost anything, have it turn lights on and off, and control our shades and awnings.
We also use smart TVs that Google can control so we can ask it to play something on the TV. Those additional tasks are done through the Broadlink RM4 controller.
- Support RF (433MHz+315MHz) controlled devices such as...
- NEW BROADLINK APP CONTROL - New App named BroadLink is available...
- VOICE CONTROL AND IFTTT - Compatible with Alexa to voice control...
Smart RVs Are the Future
Technology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s essential to embrace it. The goal of these RVs is to make it easier to enjoy RVing by making difficult or time-consuming tasks less challenging. For example, an alert when your waste tanks are full can help you avoid a frustrating situation if you overfill your tanks.
Manufacturers will likely continue to listen to what customers want most in a smart RV and related products. We’re excited to watch these manufacturers embrace technology and make RV life easier for all of us.
How do you use technology to enhance your RVing experience? Drop a comment below with your favorite smart RV systems and products!
Become A Mortons On The Move Insider
Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!
Saturday 5th of November 2022
When our original equipment manufacturer’s along with the RV builders, going to incorporate more contemporary, smart features into their RVs as they’re built. It seems like you have to do a lot of modifications once you own a brand new RV. What are your thoughts?
Mortons on the Move
Saturday 19th of November 2022
We're hoping smart features become standard in newer RVs because you're right. It sometimes takes a lot of modification to add them after the fact.
Saturday 5th of November 2022
Hi Tom and Caitlin, You said above you are using Yolink. It looks to me like it is only cloud based. Do you have local control over it? Does it interface with home Assistant for total local control, or does it still rely on the AWS Servers? Thanks very much, George