We use our thermostats at home to easily control the environment in our house, and stay comfortable without wasting any energy. Why should an RV be any different? This post will tell you everything you need to know about picking the best thermostat for your RV, and then review some of the top products available on the market right now.
How to Choose the Best RV Thermostat
There are a few important factors to consider before you make your purchase. The best smart thermostats for RV control out there will be simple and easy to operate, with the right controls to keep your home environment warm and comfortable.
One of the first important factors to consider is the ease of installation in your RV thermostat. With all the work that you already need to do to keep your RV running and comfortable, there is no need to pay a professional for complicated installation of a thermostat.
Dometic thermostats, for example, generally come with clear, easy to follow Dometic wiring diagrams, making it simple to install the whole system yourself. You should bear in mind, though, that the more features your thermostat comes with, the trickier it will be to install. Heat only thermostats are much easier to install than thermostats that operate with both heating and cooling systems.
To access the wifi capabilities of a smart thermostat, you will want to be able to connect it to an appropriate smart device once it is installed. You may need to download a compatible app on your smartphone or tablet to be able to easily control the temperature in your RV.
Power – Hardwired, battery-powered, or both?
The power source of your thermostat makes a difference, too. A lot of the most popular models on the market right now are battery powered – this makes them a little more convenient, energy efficient and easy to install. The battery powered option will not use up any of the electricity in your RV or mobile home.
There are a few considerations for choosing hard wired over battery powered, though. Batteries tend to run down fairly quickly, and you will have to be prepared with backups to change them, or risk losing your thermostat. Low batteries will also cause the thermostat to beep, which can be annoying in the RV.
Hard wired thermostats, even though they will use up some of the power in your RV, will require less maintenance once they are installed.
Heat only vs. Heat and cooling
A lot of RV thermostats out there are heat only – in other words, designed to be installed in an RV or motor home that has a heating system, but not a cooling system. This is generally a more affordable choice, and the most common. In such a small space, it isn’t common to have an air conditioning system installed. Heat only RV thermostats are great for travel and camping in cooler areas – especially at night, it is helpful to be able to turn the heat up.
That said, if you have an air conditioning unit installed in your RV, you will definitely want to look for a thermostat that works with both heat and cooling systems. It will be a little tougher to install, but it is the best way to keep your home away from home comfortable in any conditions.
There are tons of different kinds of thermostats available on the market. A high number of them have basic options and functions, whereas others have other performance features. For one, there are quite a few models out there that have Wi-Fi capability. For the highest quality and the best degree of control over your heating and cooling system, this is a great choice – smart thermostats let you set the temperature and heating or cooling schedule through your smart device.
But then, if basic functions, like dominant cooling and heating, are enough, then you’ll want to opt for more simple option, either analog or digital models. Even without wifi capability, digital or analog thermostats can be programmable for hands-free operation.
At the very least, an LED digital screen helps to make your thermostat more user friendly and easy to operate. Screens allow you to view the exact temperature in the RV, set precise temperatures and monitor any changes.
As a final point, the reliability of your thermostat is one of the most important factors to consider. While we love digital and smart thermostats for their convenience, they are sometimes a little more prone to breaking down – when there is an electrical failure in your RV, for example, they may have some trouble starting back up again.
For the best reliability, we recommend choosing an RV thermostat with analog controls. Not only will these models be more affordable and more energy efficient, they are also much more durable, and likely to function perfectly through years of use in your RV.
To be sure about the reliability and quality of your thermostat, get in touch with the manufacturer before you purchase. All of the options on the following list come from well-trusted brands – if you choose a thermostat that is not recommended on this list, take a look at some comparable products and ratings to get a better idea of the quality you can expect. Fortunately, for these four products, we have already done that work for you.
RV WiFi Thermostat Buying Tip
Look for an RV WiFi thermostat with its own cellular connection. This frees you from relying on campground WiFi connectivity. This makes your RV smart thermostat functional in all conditions and any area with cellular coverage.
The Best RV Thermostats of 2020
Now that you have an idea of what to look for, here are some of the highest rated RV thermostats on the market this year. These products have a variety of features and capabilities, but they would all be solid, affordable options for controlling the environment in your RV, mobile home or camper.
The Dometic RV Thermostat makes it to the top of our list as the best RV thermostat on the market right now for its intuitive analog controls, super simple installation, reliability and affordable price tag. Like all Dometic thermostats, this model comes with a wiring diagram for easy installation in your RV. It operates with both heating and cooling systems, and allows you to set the temperature on a clearly marked scaling switch.
For RVs, we believe a simple system like the Dometic is all you really need. It is a hard wired system, but the analog controls ensures that it does not use up too much electricity while it is operating. It does not have wifi capability or programable settings, but it works to quickly adjust the temperature, turn on the fan, or switch between the cooling system and furnace. This is a reliable, sure-fire system for keeping your home away from home comfortable in all climates.
This digital Honeywell thermostat is rated as our best upgraded option. It comes at a higher price than the other options on our list, but has a few more special features, for easier, clear usability. The thermostat works with both heating and cooling options. It is programmable, to set heating or cooling schedules at certain times of day without having to manually adjust the temperature.
The LED digital screen displays the current temperature in your RV in large, easy to read text. You can also view the status of the fan, and the system that is currently operating, whether it is heating or cooling. Best of all, the thermostat can be powered by batteries or hard wired – so you can choose the system you are most comfortable with.
The downsides of this Honeywell thermostat are that it is a little pricier, and may be tougher to install than other options. That said, it gives you tons of versatile controls and makes maintaining the perfect temperature in your RV easy.
Next up is a reliable little wall thermostat that we have rated as our best value choice. This suburban thermostat is great for someone on a tighter budget who does not want to sacrifice quality. It has a simple, manual temperature scale and an analog thermometer on the body to read the current temperature in your RV.
This is a heat only thermostat, so it will not be the best choice if you have an air conditioning or cooling unit in your RV. It only works for turning up or down the heat. If you do a lot of travel and camping in cooler areas, this little budget thermostat could be the only tool you need.
Last up on our list is a practical little wall thermostat for heat only, single stage system. We have picked this Emerson model as the best heat only thermostat on the market right now because it is fairly compact and simple, but has an easy to read LED digital screen and is compatible with a variety of heating systems, whether fossil fuel or electric.
The thermostat is battery powered, which makes it very easy to install and means that it won’t suck up a lot of electricity in your RV. Additionally, the easy-mounting design ensures that installing it will not do any damage to the walls of your RV – perfect in case you want to switch it out for an updated model later on down the road. The digital screen allows you to constantly monitor the temperature and check whether the heating system is on or off, and the temperature can be easily adjusted with manual buttons.
All of these RV thermostats are great options, but for us there is one clear winner. The Dometic thermostat is the best for versatility, energy efficiency and ease of installation. This thermostat may look simple, but it is one of the very best out there for hassle-free temperature regulation in your RV. It allows you to switch between heating and cooling and easily adjust the temperature on a sliding scale – and it won’t drain your electricity, regardless of what kind of power source you use in your RV.
That said, the other models we showed on our list may be good choices for other needs. The Honeywell programmable thermostat gives you more technical features at a slightly higher price, and the Suburban wall thermostat is a great option on a budget.
You use your thermostat to stay comfortable in your home, so why should your home away from home be any different? Outfit your RV heating or cooling system with any of these thermostats, and you are set for a more comfortable, relaxing adventure.