Traveling in an RV means often being in unfamiliar areas. While most RVers probably aren’t particularly vulnerable to thieves, the reality is that RVs do get broken into from time to time, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Just as many homeowners have invested in an alarm system to protect their home, many RVers choose to install an RV alarm system to protect their home-on-wheels.
Today we’re taking a look at the RV alarm system – what to look for in a good system, and three of the best options available on the market today.
What Should I Look for When Buying an Alarm System for My RV?
- 1.1) Is the Alarm System Easy to Install?
- 1.2) Does it Offer Smartphone Monitoring and Detection Alerts?
- 1.3) Does the Alarm System Include Motion Detection?
- 1.4) How Many Door and Window Sensors Are Included… and Are They Wireless?
- 1.5) How’s the Battery Life or Battery Backup?
- 1.6) Does It Require 120V(AC) Power?
- 1.7) Does It Include a Panic Button?
- 1.8) Is the Alarm System Affordable?
- 2) What Are 3 of the Best Alarm Systems to Keep You and Your RV Safe?
- 3) Do You Need an RV Alarm System?
What Should I Look for When Buying an Alarm System for My RV?
There are a number of things you should be aware of when shopping for an RV alarm system. Depending on the size of your RV and how you tend to use your rig, some of these factors may be more important to you than others.
But in general, you’ll want to consider the following questions when you set about shopping for your RV alarm system.
Is the Alarm System Easy to Install?
Ease of installation is always an advantage with any system we bring to our RVs. An RV alarm system doesn’t need to be complicated. If you look at a system that’s particularly complex and its installation is difficult to understand, it may be best to keep looking.
There are RV alarm systems on the market that require professional installation. We’d steer clear of those as well because we prefer to do as much of our own work on our RV as possible. But for some people, a professional installation may be seen as a benefit.
Just be aware that there are many RV alarm systems that are easy to install, and it may be in your best interest to keep ease of installation on your priority list as you shop. These aren’t 3,000 sq ft homes you’re securing here. Installation should be pretty simple.
Does it Offer Smartphone Monitoring and Detection Alerts?
Many RV alarm systems currently on the market allow you to monitor your RV while you’re away from it. You can actually check in on the cameras from your smartphone, and if sensors detect activity, the system will send an alert to your phone to let you know that something’s up.
This allows you to look at what your security cameras are seeing back at your RV, and you can contact law enforcement from where you are, or even call a neighbor and ask them to look out and note a license plate number, for example.
Many RVers especially appreciate monitoring ability if they have pets. Smartphone monitoring ability allows them to check on the well-being of their pets frequently while away from the RV.
Does the Alarm System Include Motion Detection?
Motion detection is an important component of an RV alarm system for many people. If your RV security camera(s) detects motion outside the RV (where there shouldn’t be any if you’re inside), you’ll be alerted to the situation and can monitor whether it’s a raccoon or a human who shouldn’t be hanging around your RV.
Motion detection is often the first alert, preparing you to take action if necessary. If you had reason to feel uncomfortable in your location, you could either shine a light outside, make noise, call someone for assistance, or even drive away, depending on the type of RV you have.
How Many Door and Window Sensors Are Included… and Are They Wireless?
You’ll want to be able to add sensors to all of your RV doors and windows that could allow a thief entry to your RV. Depending on the size and type of RV you have, you may want several sensors or you may only need a few.
If the sensors are wired, they’ll be far more complicated to install. But if they connect to the system wirelessly, it allows for a more seamless installation. Also, wireless sensors can be moved from one location to another very easily.
How’s the Battery Life or Battery Backup?
Some RV alarm systems run on a battery (generally lithium-ion) that needs to be recharged when it runs low. The longer the battery life, the more protected your RV will be, and the less you’ll have to deal with recharging.
Some systems run on your RV’s power, but what if power to the RV is lost? Or your RV is in storage and you’ve disconnected the battery(ies)? This is where a battery backup comes in handy. If the power to your RV’s alarm system is lost, you’ll want a backup battery to kick in and take over so that your alarm system continues to monitor your RV until power is restored.
Does It Require 120V(AC) Power?
This is very important. If you tend to camp where you have access to shore power, you can buy an alarm system that requires 120V(AC) power which will be provided by the power pedestal.
But if you tend to boondock a lot (like we do), you may want to make sure you’re buying an alarm system that doesn’t require constant 120V(AC) power. Otherwise, you may have to run a generator or have a very generous solar & battery system to keep your RV alarm system running.
And as noted above, if you do buy an alarm system that requires 120V(AC) power, you’ll want to make sure that it also has a battery backup in case you lose your shore power connection.
Some RV security systems include a panic button option. This allows you to press a button to call police, paramedics, or the fire department in an instant.
A panic button could also be used if you were involved in a dangerous situation like a hurricane, flood, or mudslide and you were stranded.
Is the Alarm System Affordable?
And as always, we need to consider the budget. There are some very expensive RV security systems on the market, but RV alarm systems don’t have to break the bank. The technology available today allows for a small RV alarm system to be set up at a reasonable cost.
Depending on what is affordable to your pocketbook and the size of the RV you need to alarm, you should be able to find a system that works for you.
What Are 3 of the Best Alarm Systems to Keep You and Your RV Safe?
Following are three of the best-rated RV alarm systems currently on the market. There are many others as well, but these three receive high ratings from folks with experience using them over a reasonable amount of time. Let’s take a look.
Tattletale RV Alarm System
The Tattletale RV Alarm System is one of the highest-rated RV security systems available. It’s an all-in-one system and highly portable. Tattletale has partnered with Verizon Wireless to use Verizon’s data service to fuel its wireless system. This may not seem all that important but here’s the thing:
Tattletale’s home systems relied on a permanent address for instant notification to first responders. This partnership with Verizon Wireless removes the permanent address requirement, and first responders will find you wherever you are located based on Verizon’s data.
Tattletale’s RV alarms are not only wireless but also portable and, based on the experience of hundreds of users, highly reliable.
There’s no installation involved for the core comments of the system, so the Tattletale system can be set up in a minute or less, as it simply plugs into any outlet. But if you want to extend the system, you can add additional components/features like door/window sensors, smoke/heat/freeze detectors, and more… all of which will require a bit more installation/configuration time.
The system lasts 20 hours on a single charge and protects your RV even when your rig’s electricity is off.
The system has a built-in motion detector, siren, and strobe light, and is made in the U.S.A.
You’ll pay $400 for the system, including 24/7 monitoring with no contracts, and then a per-month fee depending on the add-ons you choose.
For example, for text and email notifications when the alarm is tripped you’ll pay $21/month, and for the service that contacts fire, police, ambulance, your contacts, and sends an emergency text in 0.3 seconds you’ll pay $34/month.
Additional details can be found here.
The Reolink Argus 2 + Solar Panel is a far less expensive, and simpler, RV alarm system. It doesn’t include all of the same features and add-ons as the Tattletale system, primarily serving as an outdoor camera and motion detection system to alert you to unwanted activity outside/around your RV.
Reolink’s system with the solar panel will run you about $85, and the camera without the solar panel costs $60. At the time of the writing of this post, just in time for the holidays, coupons are offered on both for 20% off.
One of the most strongly touted features of the Reolink system is the quality of its night vision/picture. Reolink’s “starlight sensor” is strong in low-light conditions providing excellent, detailed images.
The camera is charged by the solar panel (if you choose that option) and is also USB rechargeable. You can record to an SD card (the card is not included), and can also record to the cloud from where you can view your footage on demand.
The Reolink systems offer two-way communication which means that you’re able to communicate with the person being recorded by the camera, and they’re able to respond and you can hear them.
Another benefit of this system is that it doesn’t require a subscription, so after purchase, there’s no ongoing costs/fees. It’s compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
We feel we should mention that while the Reolink systems do have a very large number of good reviews, both Reolink options note about 9% negative ratings, with a number of reviewers noting that the cameras become damaged by rain. We’d encourage you to read the reviews and questions prior to purchasing.
This is the Reolink Argus 2 system with the solar panel:
- Starlight Night Vision: With a starlight CMOS sensor, 1080p Full HD high resolution presents up to 33ft crystal and sharp images and videos even at...
- Free Rolling 7-day Cloud Storage: Event videos are securely uploaded to SD card or Reolink cloud via end-to-end encryption. Live view and playback the...
Without the solar panel:
Simplisafe 9-Piece Wireless Home Security System w/HD Camera
The Simplisafe wireless home security system is RV-capable (with the likely exception of the optional 24/7 professional monitoring).
The system requires no contract and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Simplisafe system is easy to install, with no tools required. You’ll simply plug in the base station and then place each sensor wherever you want them. Once you plug in the camera (called “SimpliCam”), the system starts working.
You can monitor what the camera is seeing through your Smartphone, tablet, or computer. Motion sensors detect motion within 30 feet and have a 90-degree field of vision.
The system offers dual Wi-Fi and cellular connections (the cellular connection would be most likely used by RVers) and a backup battery keeps the system running in the event of lost power.
Again we encourage you to carefully check reviews and contact the company with any questions prior to purchasing. While there are a number of very good reviews, there are also a number of complaints, and you’ll want to be aware of these prior to depending on any security system to protect your home-on-wheels.
- Simple to set up. Seriously secure. Get ready to protect right out of the box. Just plug in the Base Station and camera, place your sensors, and start...
- 1 FREE Month of 24/7 professional monitoring with Fast Protect Technology for fast police response - With optional monitoring services, our agents...
Do You Need an RV Alarm System?
Whether or not you need an RV alarm system really depends on how and where you travel. If you generally camp in locations such as RV parks where you’re close to fellow RVers keeping an eye out for each other, you may not have any interest or need in an RV security system.
Likewise, if you generally camp in the middle of nowhere, you may or may not be interested in an alarm system or monitoring system. It takes people to commit a crime, after all, and if there are no people around, you’re probably as safe as you can be.
But if you tend to travel in areas where you feel vulnerable in your RV, an RV alarm system may give you the gift of peace of mind, which we all know is priceless.
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