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Old 07-12-2019, 10:19 AM   #1
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Aftermarket Smart RV Systems

I'd like to get a discussion going on aftermarket smart RV monitoring and control. From the research I've done so far, I've found some cool multiplex control systems in RVs but cannot be retrofitted to an existing RV (InCommand, OneControl, Airstream, Dometic IoT, etc.). I'm looking to retrofit one to our 2018 Winnebago Via. I did find a few that have some smart RV features (mostly monitoring, very little control).

RV Whisper
- iOS, Android apps, web access
- full time monitoring
- interior temperatures, humidity
- ref/freezer temps
- battery voltage/state of charge
- battery usage/current/amp hours
- shore power status/surges
- water leak detection
- propane levels
- door security
- more precise tank monitoring (coming soon) rather than just empty, 1/3, 2/3, full

RV Command
- Web, Android, iPad and iPhone apps
- Door switch or motion sensor alerts
- Battery voltage – Battery voltage monitor and alerts
- GPS tracking and area alerts with Geo-fences
- Internal temperature reporting and low/high alerts
- Shore power status and alerts
- Weather reports and forecast with wave heights and custom alerts
- Allow others to monitor your RV (unlimited)
- Perform lighting, security locks and more on demand
- Robust and customizable alerting
- Geofence alarm

Simarine Pico Monitor
- Access information from anywhere with mobile app
- Slick control panel and app
- Real-Time Battery Health for house battery bank (current, voltage and temperature)
- Main battery charging and usage percentage and time remaining
- Monitor voltage only for up to 4 other batteries (chassis, backup)
- Monitor temperature
- Barometric pressure - Monitor current and historical plot
- Monitor up to 7 tanks and up to 4 batteries

ANALYSIS:

RV Whisper pros/cons:
- more robust monitoring (tank monitoring, propane monitoring, etc.)
- third party integration (SeeLevel, PowerWatchdog, Mopeka Tank Check for propane, etc.)
- no control of lights, locks, thermost, etc.

RV Command pros/cons:
- geofence alarm
- activation of lighting and locks using relays
- GPS tracking of travels for logging purposes
- no integration with other products
- no thermostat control

Simarine advantages:
- REALLY slick control panel and app
- less monitoring capabilities - no propane, shore power monitoring
- if you replace current monitor panel, no control of water pump
- no control of lights, locks, thermost, etc.

If anyone has other systems they've tried, or thoughts on these, please post. Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-12-2019, 02:22 PM   #2
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Monitoring is fairly simple so that is probably why you see more monitoring than control features. Nowadays there's a sensor available for just about anything you want to monitor. Controlling other devices is a little more complicated.

I recently installed a Samsungs Smartthings HUB in our RV. I had bought it for the house and then learned of a device called Konnected that can turn old wired security systems into smart systems. So I ended up with a few wireless sensors that had no purpose.

I installed the sensors on the doors and windows. They monitor for open/close and temperature. I mainly did it to track temperature for when we leave the dogs inside. I set it up to alert me when temps are high. Plus if the hub goes offline I know that I either lost our hotspot or the power went out. My hotspot is set up to not shut off so I would know that we've lost power and we better head back to check on them.

I'm sure that if I wanted to turn off lights I could find a smart things relay that could do the job but I'm certain that the RV builders don't run the power wires in such a way that wouldn't require a lot of extra work. I haven't checked to see how many lights are on one breaker. I'm guessing its most, if not all on one breaker.

Machinery control and monitoring is my area of expertise and the RV is the one place that I prefer to keep it simple. It's different when someone else is paying for the upkeep!
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:15 PM   #3
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RVWhisper

I've been using the RVWhisper for about a month now. I like it so much I just ordered more sensors. The system is connected to my Sprint hotspot which runs 24x7 and reports back to the cloud for storing historic data. I can monitor for temperature in my coach, the fridge, the basement fridge as well as know the power usage from my Power Watchdog surge protector as it talks to the RVWhisper and is fully integrated, showing amps & volts on each leg of the 50A feed. I can also tell when the entry door has been opened, and if my kitchen and bathroom sinks,water pump or Aquahot leak. Its a great system, I highly recommend it.

Matt
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:38 PM   #4
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Digging up an old thread but figured this would be better than starting a new one.
I believe that the core of the issue is that in newer coaches that have multiplex wiring. All the lighting power, or relay “signal wires” for the higher draw loads, goes back to the Multiplex “hub”.
In coaches that don’t have this, I’ve found that most wiring on each 12v circuit make a big loop, kind of like landscape lighting in your yard. The switches for each light (or relayed load) just tap into that 12v loop.

This means that for us to retrofit smart lighting control, we have to treat it like the smart lighting folks do in a regular house. Each switch would need to have continuous power to the “brain” of the switch that simply awaits a signal to turn the load on or off and periodically (maybe a few times a second) sends its status to the central hub. The signal to turn on or off could come from a central display, a connected app, or likely most often a physical interaction from your finger pushing it.

This is how my Lutron Casetta lighting works in my house. There is a downside that all the switches being powered all the time would have a load drawing battery power but it doesn’t draw much and all of it would be turned off when you hit your master 12v switch when putting the RV into storage.

I currently have a Thor Coach and I am spoiled with their surprisingly good Firefly Multiplex System. I’d like to upgrade to a Newmar Coach but Newmar is so old school that they don’t even offer the “Silverleaf” multiplex (their Firefly equivalents) in anything but their highest line coaches. Meanwhile, Thor offers the firefly on even their lower line gas coaches.

So, if I want the build quality of the Newmar, I have to give up a factory installed modern control system and hodgepodge my own together.

All my rambling being said and it having been some time since the thread was started, has anyone heard of a retrofit that can accomplish what we are all looking for?
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:42 PM   #5
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The Lippert One-Control system can be retrofitted, it just is not officially supported. All the components are available through the Lippert parts department to any certified Lippert repair technician. The basic Lippert technician course is a only a 2 day course and is fairly cheap to attend (I think a couple of hundred dollars). The component parts are set up to be plug and play so that when they are added to the data bus the function the control just magically appears on the control panel.


For example if you have an RV with the white light only lighting module controller and want to replace it with color changing LED lights, all you have to do is remove the white light only controller and insert a color changing light controller and the appropriate support wiring and color changing LED bulbs. And the function will just appear on the menu when the system sees the color changing controller on the data bus.


About the only function you can not get through this plug and play lego like assembly is branded content, custom manufacturers logos on the menus, digital owners manuals, etc.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:52 PM   #6
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Interesting! I’ll look into the Lippert 1 system.
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:00 PM   #7
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Just keep in mind the downside to these multiplex systems is that when something goes wrong with the main control hub everything stops working. I much prefer the individual control switches on my older coach, if a light switch were to fail, I could buy a new one at any hardware store. Also how often do you need to turn off the bathroom light from the drivers seat, or from your smart phone.
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:07 PM   #8
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Maybe it is a product of having the convenience but I do quite a bit of controlling from bed in the morning and at night with my firefly. I also use the system for controlling the ACs when driving down the road. Another use is that when someone is blinding me from behind with their brights in my mirrors for 10 miles, I flashing my rear docking lights at them.

I looked into the Lippert one system and it has the same limitations as the Firefly. Signal or control wires must be run from a central location. That isn’t really practical unless you are doing a VERY invasive full remodel. The quick answer is that won’t work for most of us. The long answer is explains by this gentleman on his website: RV Remote Control System.

I’m still hunting for that Unicorn wireless retrofit system!
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Old 06-29-2020, 01:25 PM   #9
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Simarine pico one

I really wanted to like the RV Whisper, but it lacks a refined UI. And I was excited to hear about their Tank Whisper since my tanks are those ridiculous empty, 1/3, 2/3, full levels. I thought it would give me more resolution in my tank levels, but it only makes the 1/3, 2/3 more accurate.

CORRECTION: In my OP I wrote the Simarine Pico doesn't monitor propane, it does as long as you have a sensor on it.

I'm currently looking seriously into the Simarine Pico One. It's not a "smart" controller per se, it's just a much smarter MONITOR that can monitor multiple banks of battery voltages and state of charge, multiple power inputs like solar, etc., multiple power consumers like fridge, lights, etc., multiple tanks, and multiple temperatures. It's a really slick system with a great UI and really low power draw. IMO it's the best pure monitoring system out there.

Check it out on RV with Tito's channel:
Also a GREAT write-up about installing here: https://sprinter-source.com/forums/i...threads/65967/

Drawbacks:
1. It's for fairly advanced DIYers (which I'm not).
2. Fairly expensive for just monitoring: about $500-550 for the PICO One Blue package
3. You have to get your own tank monitor sensors (resistance or ultrasonic) and calibrate them for empty, full, etc.
4. It creates its own wifi network for status/settings/SW updates but does not (yet) connect to a wifi network for remote monitoring.
5. It does not control anything, like charger voltages, etc., so you still need another solution for that, like the Victron ecosystem (which doesn't do other things like tank monitoring).
6. It is NOT a smart home controller so it doesn't control things like locks, thermostats, etc.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:58 PM   #10
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Thanks for the follow up. Mention of the Samarine just reminded me of the other low voltage field out there, Marine equipment. Many low voltage devices handle 12v-24v so maybe a marine solution would work for us controlling lights, relays and such.
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidahn View Post
I really wanted to like the RV Whisper, but it lacks a refined UI. And I was excited to hear about their Tank Whisper since my tanks are those ridiculous empty, 1/3, 2/3, full levels. I thought it would give me more resolution in my tank levels, but it only makes the 1/3, 2/3 more accurate.

CORRECTION: In my OP I wrote the Simarine Pico doesn't monitor propane, it does as long as you have a sensor on it.

I'm currently looking seriously into the Simarine Pico One. It's not a "smart" controller per se, it's just a much smarter MONITOR that can monitor multiple banks of battery voltages and state of charge, multiple power inputs like solar, etc., multiple power consumers like fridge, lights, etc., multiple tanks, and multiple temperatures. It's a really slick system with a great UI and really low power draw. IMO it's the best pure monitoring system out there.

Check it out on RV with Tito's channel:
Also a GREAT write-up about installing here: https://sprinter-source.com/forums/i...threads/65967/

Drawbacks:
1. It's for fairly advanced DIYers (which I'm not).
2. Fairly expensive for just monitoring: about $500-550 for the PICO One Blue package
3. You have to get your own tank monitor sensors (resistance or ultrasonic) and calibrate them for empty, full, etc.
4. It creates its own wifi network for status/settings/SW updates but does not (yet) connect to a wifi network for remote monitoring.
5. It does not control anything, like charger voltages, etc., so you still need another solution for that, like the Victron ecosystem (which doesn't do other things like tank monitoring).
6. It is NOT a smart home controller so it doesn't control things like locks, thermostats, etc.
Actually, Victron DOES have a solution for tanks. They started the "GX" line some time ago, and keep adding more capabilities.
The CerboGX ( >link< )has inputs for Temperature, Tanks, and lots more, plus it connects to your own WiFi, so you can do remote monitoring of everything in your Victron installation, and even some remote control (e.g. change settings).

That said:

For homes, there's been a huge boost in SmartHome products, including light switches that can be controlled via WiFi. I'm not sure they exist yet for the 12V market though, but you could easily install some lamps on the 120V circuit. But that would require the inverter to be running.
Perhaps it's a good opportunity for someone to make smart light switches for RVs and boats on the 12V circuit? :-)
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:21 PM   #12
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I just added the BMV-712 and an MPPT from Victron, and our tanks currently are using the SeeLevel I (not II) system.
I'm actually curious how I could find out which measurement values are used by SeeLevel to determine the tank levels. If I know that, I could easily input those in another system, without having to do manual testing at different fill levels of a tank.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:20 AM   #13
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I think you will find that it is the capacitance difference between the ends and tank level on the strips glued to the sides of the tank. We have had ours, self installed, for 12 years without any problems. They measure in 6% steps which is accurate enough for me. The propane tank has a large offset. Full is 120% and empty is 40%. So at 60-50% I refill.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:35 AM   #14
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I have been think this also, but getting at some of the wiring is gonna be a PIA,, I am a big DIY in both mind and body LOL
I can design and make up 80% of my own stuff if need be or inter connect after mkt stuff..
When I started to look at a central wall to mount stuff ,, I am like dang I need to get to here or there to moniotor or splice,, OMG..
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