The rise of the Smart RV technology
Smart technology and app-controlled devices are changing caravanning and camping industry, allowing more diverse groups of people to travel more often, longer, further and smarter.
What is a Smart RV?
Smart RV is a recreational vehicle fitted with the technology to remotely monitor and control its various components and functions. Smart RV raise the level of comfort when travelling, allowing a broader traveller base to embrace caravanning lifestyle.
We all have heard about Smart Home, equipped with the technology for remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating. First, we read about it in Sci-Fi books, and then, from the beginning of this century, it started entering our lives.
While the concept of the Smart RV is relatively new, with first systems developed in 2015-2017, app-controlled devices for 4WD and caravan enthusiasts were around for a bit longer.
As you can imagine, it all has started with an app. An app able to remotely control and / or monitor external devices makes these devices to some extent “smart”. Smart devices have built in hardware and firmware, able to communicate with the mobile app wirelessly.
Apps to monitor 12V battery
The most important device used by 4WDers and RVers is their 12V battery. Before the apps, users were in the dark not knowing what was happening with their battery while they travel, use power, charge it or have it sitting idle, relying only on voltmeter or, in the best-case scenario, a display monitor built into their RV.
Nowadays, there are two ways to monitor your battery with an app – either via a retrofittable smart device, such as BatteryCheck, or using the smarts pre-built in the battery, such as Sentry Lithium BT range with built in Bluetooth.
BatteryCheck is a smart shunt that measures current, battery voltage, temperature, and other parameters, and sends signals to your smartphone via Bluetooth. While BatteryCheck is designed to monitor secondary batteries, there are options on the market to monitor the cranking battery as well.
Apps to control appliances
Long gone are the days when all we needed for camping was a swag, a billy, a box of matches and a couple of cans of spam.
Today, we’ve got our gadgets, making camping life comfier, and even the apps to manage some of them.
Among the apps monitoring single camping devices are, for example, myCOOLMAN Bluetooth app, to check the temperature inside your fridge and change its settings, and YETI, monitoring lithium power station with Wi-Fi.
Smart self-charging lantern with an app to adjust power, dimness, colour, turn on a light strobe; smart water bottle nudging you to hydrate; a camping stove that can charge your phone – you name it, they have most likely invented it.
Then there are apps to monitor caravan levelling, tow weight, brakes, and more. And there’s Alexa for voice control of the certain caravan functions.
The problem is we already have too many apps taking our time and space on our phone. We want the apps that add value, keep it simple, and make our lives easier.
Smart RV technology
Smart RV technology goes way beyond separate smart devices, and is a complete solution, ideally with one app doing all the jobs around your vehicle.
Smart RV solutions currently available on the market control and monitor RV battery, power, appliances and caravan features, as well as store relevant information.
Typically, a smart RV system consists of a central node, variety of sensors, fixed control panel (touchscreen), and an iOS / Android app.
A central node, or a distribution centre (multiplex), allows wiring loads (12V appliances) and connecting sensors wirelessly. It connects to the control panel via an RV-CAN cable (also known as RV-C). The node is powered by the house battery and manages it via the battery management system.
Touchscreen is either wall-mounted or portable, typically operating on android. Sensors can include propane level, temperature, open/close, levelling, tanks, and more.
Finally, an app is a portable user-friendly interface allowing to control and monitor the RV from the smartphone or other small portable devices, via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Typically, the user can pair several portable devices to the system.
Advantages of smart RV solutions
Controlling and monitoring caravan functions from one portable screen gives RVers the new level of comfort, allows more efficient energy consumption and more convenient mobile living lifestyle, including when free (dry) camping. For people with some types of physical disabilities or the elderly, a smart RV is more than just a convenience factor – controlling caravan functions from the palm of the hand instead of negotiating the stairs several times a day makes the travelling experience much easier. Knowing they can use sleep apnoea machine throughout the night and won’t run out of power gives them security and peace of mind.
Smart RV concept is also appealing to families with young kids and millennials, who are used to communicating with the world and objects around them through technology.
There are around a dozen of electronics manufacturers around the World developing and manufacturing smart RV solutions on a large scale. BMPRO is a pioneer of smart RV technology, having worked with Jayco Australia on the first product starting from 2013, and launching JHub in 2017. The company now boasts the large install base of smart solutions, currently offering four models: JHub, only available for Jayco Australia, Odyssey, RVMaster (designed for the American RVs), JAYCOMMAND powered by BMPRO (specifically for Jayco US). BMPRO prides itself as an independent integrator of appliances and brings everything into the one ecosystem creating a hassle-free experience whilst travelling during precious holidays.
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