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One major benefit of camping in an RV as opposed to a tent is that it allows you to enjoy a climate-controlled environment. Thanks to the RV thermostat that allows you to control and access its HVAC system. This allows you to easily turn up the heat when it gets chilly or crank up the RV’s AC when it becomes unbearably hot & humid. Interestingly, most RVs come with an inbuilt thermostat that you can use to regulate the airflow and temperature in your Recreational Vehicle to keep its indoor conditions comfortable. However, over time, you might want to upgrade it to a more advanced thermostat. For this, most RV owners are constantly asking; Can I use a home thermostat in an RV?
Well, that’s one of the issues I’ll be addressing in this post. In fact, let’s start from there!
Can you use a home thermostat in an RV?
Typically, most people don’t recommend using a home thermostat in your RV. This is because RVs have simpler heating & cooling systems, and therefore, need smaller thermostats. To be precise, RV thermostats use 12V DC power, while most household thermostats run on 24V AC power. Therefore, using a 24 V residential thermostat in your RV can lead to safety hazards and operational problems. To avoid these issues, RV owners are advised to buy a thermostat that’s specifically designed for RVs as it will give you precise temperature control of your RV’s interior.
However, in some instances, you can replace a 12V digital/ analog RV thermostat with a low-voltage digital home thermostat. One notable benefit of using home thermostats is that they’re more affordable than 12V RV thermostats. More importantly, digital home thermostats are equipped with inbuilt batteries. This allows them to regulate RV furnaces & ACs to create a versatile, temperature-accurate climate control system in your vehicle.
On the flip side, most home thermostats require a 120V power source, which most Recreational Vehicles don’t have. For that, you’ll need a converter to use a home thermostat like EcoBee in your RV. Unfortunately, running a converter in your Recreational Vehicle might use up its battery power. Therefore, you have to ensure that you’ve got enough batteries and a good converter to run it.
Another factor that may hinder you from using a home thermostat in an RV is that marine & RV thermostats work on different principles from house thermostats. Specifically, most home thermostats use a bimetallic strip, while RV models use wax-filled capsules that expand when the temperature rises adobe 98.6 deg F (37 deg C) to open up the contacts.
So, before you decide to use any home thermostat in your RV, make sure you double-check the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations before buying! Other than that, you can use a home thermostat in your RV, provided you’ve got a compatible model!
RV Thermostat Vs Home Thermostat
Without using DC-AC converters or inverters, RV batteries can only supply 12V DC power. However, this is adequate power for RV thermostats since both analog and digital models run on 12V DC. An RV thermostat controls the activation of the motor home’s AC (with low and high fan settings) and the propane furnace (& blower).
On the other hand, home thermostats, whether analog or digital, run on 24V AC power. The devices draw power from a transformer that converts 120 V AC power to 24V AC power, allowing it to switch between the furnace and the AC based on its temperature settings. This transformer can either be housed in the furnace, air conditioner, or electrical panel. However, both heating and cooling systems are equipped with a 24V transformer to power the home thermostat when each unit is activated.
Interestingly, new digital home thermostats come with inbuilt batteries (2 AA/ AAA alkaline batteries). This allows them to function fully without relying on any external power source (DC or AC). Such thermostats can be used to power gas heaters and electric coolers. More notable, they can be used to regulate the climate control of your RV. However, for that to happen, you’ll need a wiring diagram for your RV and a compatible low-voltage digital home thermostat!
Drawbacks of using a Smart Home thermostat in an RV
Installing a home thermostat in your RV can have some potential downsides. This may include;
Draining your RV’s battery
One of the biggest drawbacks of installing a smart home thermostat in your motorhome is that it may drain its battery. As already mentioned, a home thermostat requires a 12V DC to 24V AC converter to work. So, if you’re not careful, you might end up stranded in your camper with a dead battery. To avoid this problem, make sure you look for a home thermostat that runs on its own batteries.
Requires a converter
Another drawback of using a smart home thermostat in your RV is that you must buy a converter. Although converters are relatively affordable, this is something you need to consider when looking for a home thermostat for your camper.
Hard to install
Lastly, installing a smart thermostat in an RV can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners. For that, it’s recommended that you hire a professional to install the device for you. This will ensure that the task is done correctly and help you avoid potential problems in the future.
Best Home thermostat for RVs
One of the most interesting things about digital home thermostats is that they can manage various appliances of a climate control system including blowers, fans, ACs, and propane furnaces. Plus, they can regulate both 12V DC and 120V AC climate control appliances in an RV as they only draw DC power from their internal batteries.
In addition, most digital home thermostat manufacturers use a universal circuit configuration. This makes them compatible with various heater and AC models and brands, including those fitted in Recreational Vehicles. For instance, popular Air Conditioner brands for RVs like Furrion, Dometic, Mach, and RecPro can be controlled by digital home thermostats. Similarly, RV furnace brands like Truma, Atwood, and Suburban are compatible with battery-operated digital home thermostats.
Some of the best digital home thermostats that you can use to regulate your RV’s climate control system include;
Honeywell RTH2300B is one of the most popular options for RVers whose camper has a compatible home RV thermostat wiring. Besides, it’s loaded with many incredible features and it’s quite easy to operate.
To start, this programmable thermostat is battery-powered. This eliminates the need for a direct power line and provides power to the device display. On the same note, the unit has an easy-to-access battery replacement door and reminders that keep you updated on the battery life & filter power.
Still, on the display, this unit comes with an easy-to-read digital interface. Moreover, it has a large LCD screen that displays various features like time, ambient temperature, and more. This unit has a backlit display that allows you to easily use it at night or during the day. Plus, it incorporates scheduling features, allowing you to preset the interior temperature of your camper for up to 7 days.
Overall, this Honeywell Home thermostat is a great pick for your RV. It works with conventional cooling (AC), heating (furnace) & heat pumps to provide reliable performance in your RV’s interior. Best of all, it comes at a very budget-friendly price point and has many user-friendly features.
The Emerson NP11 is an excellent thermostat for your RV as it comes at an affordable price, yet it offers some incredible features. Also, it’s slightly larger than most RV thermostats as it measures 1.5” X 6” X 4”. Plus, it comes in a neutral white color design that will blend well with the interior of your RV.
Another interesting feature of this thermostat model is that it has a backlit digital display. Although this display isn’t that huge, it provides adequate space for essential information. More importantly, the temperatures are easily readable, especially due to the backlight feature.
In addition, this device is quite simple to operate as it comes with 4 mechanical switches. This eliminates the need for touch screen functionality and offers accurate temperature adjustments of 1 deg F. Even better, this unit is compatible with single-stage cooling, heating & heat pump systems that don’t use auxiliary backups. However, it doesn’t work well with 120 or 240V electric baseboard heating or multi-stage systems.
Although ELECTECK programmable thermostat isn’t specifically designed for RVs, it’s another reliable option, especially for more advanced RV setups. It combines a simple white design, reliable temperature control, and user-friendly features in one unit. On top of that, it comes with a large 4.5” display LCD screen with a blue backlight. This helps you to easily read the temperature, even when it’s dark.
The other benefit of this RV thermostat is that it runs on 2 AAA batteries. Alternatively, you can connect it to a 24V AC power supply, as it has a dual-power operation. At the same time, this device can work with both single-stage electric and gas systems. For that, it will work exceptionally well with both the cooling and heating systems of your camper.
Moreover, this unit comes with large, mechanical buttons that you can use to adjust the temperature settings according to your needs. Specifically, the device provides precise temperature control of up to 1 deg F. Better still, it’s quite easy to install in your RV’s heating & cooling system.
How to choose the right Home Thermostat for your RV!
Now that you know more about using home thermostats in your RV, there are a few factors you need to consider before choosing one for your motorhome. Some of these factors are;
If you are looking for the best home thermostat for RV, the first thing you need to check is whether that particular model is compatible with your camper. This is because not all home thermostats can be installed in RVs. So, if you’re not careful, you might end up with a home thermostat that doesn’t work with your RV’s heating & cooling system.
Analog or Digital Thermostat
There are various types of RV thermostats including analog and digital thermostats. An analog RV thermostat is a more convection option and is generally more affordable than its digital counterpart. On the other hand, digital thermostats are much easier to use and more accurate. Therefore, if you want a device that is easier to use and provides more accurate temperature readings, digital models are the best option. But if you want a device with a more traditional look, you can choose an analog RV thermostat.
Finally, before you settle on a specific home thermostat for RVs, check out the features it comes with. Remember, different thermostats are equipped with different features. Therefore, you have to decide the features that are more important. Some key features you might want to look out for include; energy-saving, automatic schedules, backlit display, etc.
To answer your question, yes, you can use a home thermostat in your RV. However, not all home thermostats are compatible with RV’s heating and cooling system. More importantly, RV thermostats are designed to work on the 12V RV electrical system, while most home thermostats run on 24V power. Therefore, you must look for a home thermostat that is designed to work on a 12V system if you intend to use it without too much adaptation. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to look for a 12V DC to 24V AC converter that you can connect to your home thermostat.