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Most RVs are equipped with lockable outside storage compartments, including our first motorhome, a 2002 Fleetwood Bounder Diesel. Since our basement doors had no central locking mechanism, we got used to carrying the keys whenever we were working outside around the RV. We got so tired of locking and unlocking compartments, that we put “Power Basement Door Locks” at the top of our “wish list” for a new RV, should we ever get one.
After two years of full-timing, we custom-ordered our current rig, a 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire. At the time, power basement door locks were not technically available on that model (they could only be ordered on the next model up, the Essex). But Newmar was (and still is) very good about accommodating requests for non-standard options and custom work, so they let us include the option anyway.
We’ve never regretted spending the extra money, as carrying keys around the RV is a thing of the past. It’s so convenient, a real guilty pleasure, to simply unlock all the doors at once whenever we have things to do outside. Whether hooking up or departing a campsite, looking for things in cold storage, or taking care of some repair or service work, it’s really nice to simply have every compartment accessible with one click, and them secure them all the same way when we’re done.
The locks work great, with the switch well-located right inside the entrance door. The only problem is the occasional lock actuator failure over 8 years of full-time use. We’ve had several of them stop locking and/or unlocking over the years. This video reviews both how our system works and how to replace the actuators (which we also refer to as solenoids). Sorry for any techs out there if one or the other term is technically incorrect, as we use them interchangeably.
Of course we realize that power basement door locks are generally only available on higher-end RVs, and that there are many different mechanisms, depending on manufacturer and model year. This overview of our particular set-up should give you an idea of the basics of one type of system, which, if we’re not mistaken, uses the same actuator as (older) Monoco and Foretravel motorhomes, and probably others as well.
Even if your system is different, or you don’t have power locks at all, this will hopefully give you some insight into how they work. If you don’t have power locks, this might make you happy that you have one less thing to break… or make you want to add them to the wish list for your next RV. ;-)
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.