How to Choose a Smart Thermostat for RV Climate Control

How to Choose a Smart Thermostat for RV Climate Control

Most RVs on roads and camping grounds today are fitted with analog thermostats; it is one of the ways that automakers ensure the RVs come to you at a lower retail price. These old fashioned thermostats can only be adjusted minimally, they are inaccurate most of the time and they come cheap. However, if you need to control your heating and air conditioning system in your RV accurately, you need a smart thermostat for RV.

This guides shows you how to pick the best smart thermostat for your RV.

Product Summaries

1. Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat: Our Top Recommendation

This is a thermostat for RV owners who needs a thermostats that can adjust to their locality and their preferred temperature settings. Designed smart, you can connect this unit to other smart devices in your RV such as Amazon Alexa and your smart phone.

2. Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat: The Upgrade Option

Ecobee Lite is a thermostat offered with a horde of smart features to meet the needs of your RV succinctly. You can control it from your mobile device and you can also connect it to other smart devices.

3. Honeywell RTH636D 1002/E Programmable Thermostat: The Value Option

This is a budget option for RV owners who need a programmable and smart thermostat. It adjusts to your preferred temperature through smart learning.

Smart Thermostat Buying Guide for RVs

Because these smart thermostats are not prohibitively expensive, you need to get one to add to the comfort of your RV. A good smart thermostat can be controlled remotely from your phone or computer.

Pre-programming makes the RV comfortable

Smart thermostats can easily be controlled from a remote device and can also be controlled from their device settings. Settings on these devices, unlike their analog counterparts, are more refined allowing you to set temperate changes an hour or a day before. You do not have to be near the thermostat as you can adjust the changes from your smart phone.

When you program these units, they are much more accurate than analog units. Usually, analog thermostats are off by 10 or more degrees leaving your RV to freeze or fry. When you program a smart thermostat, it is highly accurate, typically within a degree.

Does the unit control heat and air?

Most smart thermostats for RV control both heat and air. However, some cheap models will control only heat. Carefully check the device specifications before buying to ensure that it offers both hear and air conditioning control.

Again, there are digital thermostats that are not programmable but come with a horde of features and buttons to confuse buyers. Check that your unit can be programmed.

Check for Compatibility

The smart thermostat you buy needs to be compatible with your heating and air conditioning system. At times, thermostats and air conditioners from the same manufacturer may not be compatible. While substitute boards are available to make the units compatible, it is advisable to ensure the thermostat you buy will fit comfortably into your existing HVAC setup.

It is easier to find if the thermostat is compatible with your HVAC system when you are buying from a brick and mortar store. When shopping online, you need to contact the manufacturer and ask which setups the unit is compatible with. If you can get the manufacturer’s phone number, you can call them and enquire. Some online retailers also answer customer questions via live chat.

When checking compatibility, community FAQ boards might not give you the right information. Instead, call our technician (the professional who will install your thermostat) and ask them about compatibility.

Some questions to ask before buying a smart thermostat:

  • Can I mount the thermostat on the wall? When you mount the thermostat on the wall, you are more likely to get accurate readings seeing that roofs get a considerable amount of heat from the sun and heat will rise up from the ground.
  • Is the unit compatible with my HVAC system, my furnace or my heat pump? Here, you need to look for the make and model number of the unit you are buying and then conform from the manufacturer or from a professional.
  • Does the unit require you to change any control panels? If so, which control panels need to change? Smart units are mostly controlled from a mobile device over the internet. Some are controlled from a mobile app and others from the web. Check how your device is controlled before buying.
  • Does the thermostat need a wiring harness? If it needs a harness, is the harness offered with the purchase of the thermostat?
  • How do I power the thermostat? Most smart thermostats for RV are designed to run on 12V from the vehicle’s battery. However, others are designed to be fitted with batteries or run on telephone line. The unit that runs on 12V is better as you are assured it will always be on as long as your car’s battery is charged.
  • Does the unit come with backlit display? Back light ensures that you can operate your thermostat in the dark. Most units feature a digital screen with back light making them easy to operate in the dark.
  • Can I install it myself? You can install a smart thermostat with basic wiring skills. However, the problem comes when the thermostat’s warranty gets void because of DIY installation, If the warranty is not affected when you install the unit yourself, go ahead and do it.

Consider Innovative Features

Most thermostats on the market have basic features; they allow you to control heat and air conditioning systems. However, some smart units feature advanced features such as control from mobile apps and Wi-Fi compatibility. While units with more features are more expensive, they are more accurate and easier to manage.

If you only need a unit that controls your RV temperature, pick one with basic features. If you need an advanced system, pick a pricier unit with all features and modern innovations.

Consider product quality

You do not want to buy a smart thermostat that will break a week after installation. Ensure that the unit is made up of strengthened ABS plastic and not just weak plastic that breaks easily. You can also tell the quality of your smart thermostat by reading online reviews from customers.

Top Smart Thermostats for RV

1. Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat: Our Top Recommendation

Advantages:

  • Compatible with most HVAC systems.
  • Easy to install and comes with instructional videos in the phone app.
  • Offered with an intuitive mobile app that adjusts settings to match your RV.
  • Works perfectly with the wires already in your RV.
  • It is compatible with smart home assistants including Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit and Google Assistant.
  • Can be controlled remotely from a mobile device.
  • Alerts you in case of extreme temperature and humidity levels.

Disadvantages:

  • It is still not compatible with some systems.

The Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat is designed to be controlled remotely from anywhere across the jungle or anywhere outside your RV for the comfort of your RV. Just download the free iOS or Android app and you are good to go.

For ease of installation, the Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat is engineered to work with the wiring already in your setup and does not require a C-wire. The manufacturer shows a list of systems that are compatible with the thermostat on sensi.emerson.com/compatibility.

Once you have installed the app, it will walk you through the installation steps. This way, you can install the unit in 30 minutes or less. Once installed, you can create 7-day heating and cooling schedules to meet your RV heating and cooling needs. It also works with geofencing to set temperatures based on your locality.

This smart thermostat is designed to integrate with home assistant devices you might use in your RV including Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Wink and Google Assistant. This way, you can use your voice to control the temperature settings in your home.

2. Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat: The Upgrade Option

Advantages:

  • Easily controlled from a remote location.
  • Easy to install and offered with easy-to-follow instructional videos.
  • Fitted with an easy-to-use touchscreen display.
  • It is compatible with room sensors to set your temperature based on prevailing weather.
  • It works well with other smart devices such as Amazon Alexa and Wink.
  • Compactible with gas, oil and electric heating systems.
  • Comes with a power extender to connect with ease.

Disadvantages:

  • Relatively pricier.

The Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat was designed for a smart home. Thanks to its compatibility with different HVAC systems, the unit can comfortably be used in your RV. It is fitted with a lithium metal battery making it self-sufficient and to ensure that it runs even when the power in your car battery is low.

If your RV is fitted with room sensors, this unit will work comfortably with them to create the most conducive temperature in your RV. It also works with home assistant devices you might have in your RV including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings and Wink. You might need to convert your RV power from DC to AC for the smart thermostat to function.

You can schedule the settings of your smart thermostat to run for a week, to switch off when you are not home and to run based on the location and prevailing temperature. This way, your system run time is minimized and this lets you save energy for lighting or other activities in your RV. Again, the unit offers alerts and reminders when maintenance is needed.

3. Honeywell RTH636D 1002/E Programmable Thermostat: The Value Option

Advantages:

  • Sports a large backlit display showing room and set temperatures.
  • Smart response learning to adjust to your temperature liking.
  • Gives off filter change reminders to save your energy.
  • Offers alerts when you need to change the AA batteries.
  • Its program is retained in system memory and continues after a session of no power.
  • It is easy to install following the installation guide.

Disadvantages:

  • Does not connect with smart devices such as smartphones and voice assistants.

The Honeywell RTH636D 1002/E Programmable Thermostat is a simple smart thermostat designed to fit within a wide range of budgets. It sports a large backlit display that shoes the prevailing temperature in your RV and the temperature settings. With time, using the smart response learning feature, the thermostat learns your temperature cycle times and preferred temperature settings to deliver to you the right temperature at all times.

When the battery is low and the filters need changing, the thermostat will alert you to ensure that you keep it operating optimally at all times. On the large display, you can schedule temperature settings for 5-2 or 1-week programs. You can program it temporarily to run for a few days or you can program it permanent. Set programs are retained in the system memory and remains even in instances where the batteries are out of charge. Each unit is designed with strengthened ABS plastic to enhance its lifespan.

This thermostat adjusts automatically from heat to cool to match your HVAC needs. Besides temperature, it is fitted with a 12/24 time display.

Conclusion

There are many thermostats on the market today, some analog and others digital. Among the digital devices, not all are programmable and not all work with other smart systems in your home or RV. A good smart thermostat for RV should meet all your heating and cooling needs and fall within your budget.

The Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat is our top recommendation thanks to its simple design and range of smart features. The unit is designed with durable materials, it is easy to set up, is compatible with a wide range of HVAC setups and is reasonably priced for its features. You do not need to be a skilled electrician to install the unit as all you need is to follow the simple installation video offered with the thermostat app.

When choosing the right unit for you among the three above, consider your needs and your budget. If your budget allows, go for our top recommendation. If you need more features and a sleek looking thermostat, pick the upgrade option and if you are running a squeezed budget, pick the budget option.