The RV Industry saw a 30% rise in sales in 2020. Experts are predicting another banner year for 2021 with sales and high rentals. Even though many RV campground security measures have stepped up their game, campers ask how do I protect my RV from theft? We’ll show you the best RV security systems for every category.
There are many options to choose from when shopping for alarm systems. Most are designed specifically for brick and stick houses. Those that translate well into RV security solutions aren’t necessarily ideal for every category. We’ll show you what features to look for and how to use one while your coach is in storage. You’ll also learn about the best alarm products on the market and how to use them on your RV. Some work better on smaller travel trailers, and we’ll explain why.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Security System for My RV?
In the past, home security systems required wiring the various components throughout a structure. Communication to security alarm monitoring services relied on the telephone landlines connected to the house or building. No matter how complex the alarm system, a pair of wire cutters made a break-in possible with the proper knowledge.
Today’s home security solutions rely on internal wireless communication like wifi and cellular communication. These systems allow you to see and hear what’s going on through your mobile device and professional monitoring services. You can buy many of these systems at affordable prices and their add-on components without signing a contract with a specific security company like ADT or Guardian.
Simple all-in-one RV security systems will have motion detectors, anti-tamper technology, sirens, panic buttons, and other detection tools built in. Complex brands will not only secure an RV, but they’ll also have components to pick up a fire, flood, carbon monoxide, and other smart detector system products.
Some systems pair with your favorite smart technology. The RV industry is in the early stages of adapting RVs to this type of system. Jayco’s Jaysmart App allows you to control the awning, jacks, climate-control, and monitor the holding tanks. Integrating it into your Alexa or Google Assistant isn’t there yet. You could have a virtual assistant compatible RV alarm system set up, but keep in mind that it won’t work for your coach features.
The best RV travel trailer security system products that accept wireless add-ons have window alarm sensors and various RV door alarm options you can install. Keyless entry door locks allow you to keep your keys and identification safe while you enjoy the campground beach. Video doorbells with audio let you see and communicate with anyone who shows up at your entry door through your mobile device, even if you’re not in your coach. Some video doorbells allow you to unlock the entry door while your away to let friends and family in while you’re away.
Is a Security System Worth It When I Store My RV Long-Term?
When you store your RV, you can rest easy knowing that all storage units have security measures in place to protect your coach. Outdoor RV storage facilities with or without covered RV storage spaces use security fencing, barbed wire, 24-hour video monitoring, night lighting, and having on-site managers protect the property. Indoor RV storage warehouse companies have the same outdoor security and additional measures to get inside the building.
Indoor storage facilities have additional services like keeping your house batteries fresh, turning on your RV once or twice a month, and other maintenance tasks that require them to enter your RV. Outdoor facilities usually don’t offer these services. If you feel you need added protection, a great RV storage tip is to keep your travel trailer alarm system active while in storage.
The biggest issue is keeping your RV’s house battery charged during storage. Many of the RV alarm systems offer solar panels and have built-in batteries. Instead of using your RV’s internet system, these alarm devices connect through cellular data communication. The cameras activate when they detect motion which saves you from having to buy a comprehensive data package.
If you have a web-based alarm system in your RV, a solar panel system can keep your on-board computer system going so the RV alarm system stays active. We recommend using a microcomputer and a data signal booster like WeBoost, Winegard, or something from your cellphone carrier for a situation like this.
3 Best Intruder Security Systems That Match Your RV Category
Before you start shopping for your RV alarm system, you’ll need to determine a few things. First, the category of travel trailer or motorhome will make a difference. Many of the systems are adaptable, but compared to a 40-foot Class A motorhome, a pop-up has different security needs.
Second, you want to consider your camping style. Suppose you primarily camp at secure campgrounds within driving distance of your primary house. In that case, your security risk is lower than a full-timer who boondocks on public land and commercial parking lots. Those who spend the day away from their RV have a higher risk of break-ins than those who stay close.
Third, it’s always a good idea to travel with someone. If you’re a solo traveler, having the peace of mind that your RV protects you will help you sleep better at night. If you get injured and need help, pushing the panic button sends first responders to your location.
Finally, bad guys look for easy targets. Have you ever noticed that houses have big lawn signs that tell others that a security company protects the property? All wireless alarm systems have security system window stickers. The companies sell extras so that you can place them on every side of your coach. Security experts have found that some type of signage (stickers in windows or lawn signs) is one of the best deterrents for break-ins.
Here are the best RV alarm systems on the market to keep you secure and give you peace of mind while you’re on the road.
1. Tattletale: The Best All-in-One Security System
- Benefits: Portable, All-In-One
- Wireless System: Verizon data service
- Add-On Components: Yes
- Monitoring Service: $20/month for mobile device alerts, $28.95 for monitoring services
- Ideal RVs: Class C, Class B, mid-profile & full-profile 5th wheels, small & mid-size travel trailers, hybrids, pop-ups, truck campers
The Tattletale RV security system is an evolution of the company’s Home Flipper version. Tattletale solved the required permanent address issue by partnering with Verizon Wireless. Previously, if you signed up for the full $28.95 emergency services monitoring service, it worked for physical addresses only. With their RV version, first responders will find you wherever you are.
Tattletale RV alarm is worth your consideration if you have a camper, small, or mid-size RV. Its built-in rattlesnake tamperproof device was the inspiration for the product’s name. After the 30 second setup, you’ll have 360-degree motion detection, warning strobe light, siren, and a key fob to turn it on and off. The device plugs into a 110v outlet and has a 20-hour backup battery in case of power loss.
The motion detector reaches 30-feet, so placing it on your cockpit pedestal table will give you the maximum coverage. The Tattletale has add-on components like extra motion sensors, smoke detectors, and entry point sensors. You can also purchase outdoor motion sensors as your first layer of protection.
Best of all, if someone does manage to get in, Tattletale has examples of the alarm surviving sledgehammers, shotguns, and tornados. From the beginning, Tattletale uses military-grade materials in the construction of their alarms. It may not be the cheapest alarm system, but its pricing is reasonable. The Tattletale security system reviews rank high.
2. Reolink: RV Perimeter Security System For All Categories
- Benefits: Works on wifi and/or cellular data networks, Easy to set up, Has A/V capabilities with storage
- Add-On Components: Yes
- Monitoring Service: No
- Ideal RVs: All RV categories
If you want a simple system that takes care of itself, the Reolink Go is a perimeter alarm system perfect for RVs. The 4G LTE primarily works on the T-Mobile data network and can stream video with two-way audio. Each camera comes with night vision capabilities, a 110-degree view, and different ways to store what it captures. Best of all, the Reolink Go cameras are weatherproof.
When you receive an alert on your mobile device, you’ll see the video and have the opportunity to communicate with whoever’s on the other side. Each camera has a slot for an HD card. You can purchase a hard drive to store up to 24-hours of video or purchase space on the company’s cloud-based system for a monthly fee.
Reolink has a magnetic mount that allows you to remove the cameras as you get ready to travel. You install the bracket where you want (for example, over your entry door) and place the camera’s arm on the bracket’s magnet connection. The magnet itself is strong, so you don’t have to worry about wind or other things knocking it down or out of place.
To keep the battery charged, the company sells small solar panels for its cameras. The mini panels are easy to place and keep the cameras independent from your RV’s electric system. If you choose to use the wifi camera system, those cameras have rechargeable batteries you’ll have to replace regularly as they drain.
If you want a professional monitoring service subscription, the Reolink alarm system doesn’t offer this feature. You can use your cellphone to contact emergency services as the events are happening. Yet, a significant amount of people don’t mind because besides security, the Reolink cameras record some great wildlife moments as they pass by your travel trailer. Although, you’ll also find out who or what left those claw marks on your SUV last night (remember, if you’re in a national park, even the raccoons are protected).
3. Ring: The Best Customizable RV Security System
- Benefits: Affordable components that tailor to your RV floor plan, No residential address required, Products create a connection to the hub
- Add-On Components: Yes
- Monitoring Service: Yes
- Ideal RVs: Class A, Class C, destination trailers, expedition vehicles, fifth wheels, large travel trailers, and toy haulers
The Ring RV security system is one of the most popular alarm systems in the RV community. It doesn’t require a permanent address, so it’s great for those living in an RV full-time. Ring has a professional monitoring service with a low monthly fee, and you can create the best wireless alarm system that fits your coach with their many devices for all situations.
The Ring security system allows you to design your RV alarm system as simple or complex as you want. As you can see from the video above, the couple chose to install a video doorbell only. Others may decide to create a more complex system. The ring alarm system’s most significant benefit is the ability to customize the system to your needs and wants.
Before you buy anything, you want to figure out what you need to secure and the components you’ll need. We’ll use the Forest River Rockwood Ultra-Lite 2899KS mid-profile fifth wheel as an example. For our example, you’ll see how we’d design a complex alarm system to take full advantage of the Ring system.
The 2899KS is a 36.6-foot long half-ton with a queen-size front master suite. The dual slideout in the back gives the rear kitchen plenty of room for any master chef to prepare their culinary delights. What makes this fiver unique is the 1960s-inspired bar area in the mid-coach living room area. It has a separate LED TV from the main living room, a beverage fridge, and plenty of storage. The bar and stools can double as an excellent RV workstation using the TV as a monitor.
The fifth wheel has ten windows, and it’s a single entry towable. The Ring system uses a Z-wave mesh network where each component connects to the next. Each piece acts as a connection to the other devices around it. This spiderweb-like connection allows all of the alarm sensors to connect to the base station wirelessly.
If you look at the Rockwood’s layout, the only potential dead zone is the bathroom. Ring has a signal booster to connect the bedroom and main living area. After some consideration, we’ve decided to use the following devices to secure our example fifth wheel:
- Ten window sensors (one for each window)
- Two small solar panels to power the outdoor cameras
- Two outdoor weatherproof cameras with spotlights and sirens
- Two indoor wireless cameras with spotlights and sirens
- Two-pack of smoke detectors that listen for the carbon monoxide alarm
- A flood and freeze detector
- A video doorbell with keyless and remote entry
- A keypad for the bedroom
- Two key fobs
- A range extender
- A base station
For our example RV, the 10-piece kit is an excellent place to start. It comes with the keypad, base station, two motion sensors, and five contact sensors for the windows. The cameras are motion-activated, so we don’t need the motion sensors, but the overall savings make the kit worth the price.
We can purchase the other pieces separately. The cameras come in multipacks, reducing the price compared to paying for each one individually. As we mentioned before, having the outside cameras connected to solar panels make them independent from the RV’s electric system.
The cameras have a 140-degree field of view, so one on the door and off-door side should be sufficient. Ring’s equipment only uses wifi connections, so we will have to keep a microcomputer running if we want the alarm system to work while the fifth wheel is in storage.
Inside the RV, we’ll place the cameras towards the ceiling on the coach’s back and front walls. The rear camera we’ll center, but the bedroom camera we’ll line up with the hallway to maximize coverage.
We’ll replace the RV’s smoke detectors with the Ring versions. The listening feature is programmed to activate if it specifically hears the CO detector. We’ll place the flood and freeze detector at floor level and the keypad above one of the nightstands of the master bed.
The base station will connect to a microcomputer in the bar. The bedroom signal may reach the base station, but we’ll add the signal booster above the bathroom hallway door to keep it strong. The two outdoor cameras and video doorbell are close enough to the base station, so we don’t need a booster for them.
With everything installed, we’ll have clear views of the outside and inside of the fifth wheel. We can activate the alarm from the keypad next to the master bed, the main entry, and our keychain key fobs. While we’re away from the RV or storing it, the fifth wheel can operate in a minimal electric “grey-mode” that keeps the microcomputer running. The outside cameras will have their solar panels to stay powered, and our main solar panel will keep the house battery going for the computer.
We may add a panic button in the kitchen and/or living room just in case. We’re not only thinking of our security; as we get older, we’re considering those rare moments when our bodies decide not to cooperate with us, and we need help.
Pet-Friendly RV Security Systems
Many of the best wireless alarm systems with cameras and audio have pet-friendly features. While it’s not ok to leave your dog in the RV alone for long periods, many RVers will use the alarm systems to check in with their pets. Hearing your voice and seeing what they’re doing can calm them down if your dog or cat shows high anxiety signs.
You can purchase pet monitoring cameras that dispense treats with the push of a button on your mobile device. Most include a night vision option, lens adjustment, and barking alert texts. If you have to leave your pet at home with a babysitter, you can keep in touch wherever you are.
RV security systems don’t directly connect with pet monitoring cameras. Still, if both systems connect with your virtual assistant, Alexa, Google Assistant, or whichever version you have, they can keep it all organized for you.
Is the RV Lifestyle Really That Scary?
With all of this talk about RV security systems, we feel we must put things into perspective. If you create an internet search for the bad things that have happened to RVers and keep clicking on each article, the web search engine will start showing you every bad thing continuously.
The more you click, the more the algorithm thinks you’re interested in it. Therefore, it will keep finding those articles and videos for you. That’s the downside of how search engines work (in a simplistic explanation).
The reality is, yes, there are certain places in this country where you shouldn’t set your jacks down for the night. Using a good trip planner like RVLife’s Trip Wizard or The Dyrt Pro’s tool can help you avoid these situations. Boondock in well-lit places.
You may not like the drone of gas generators, but staying grouped in commercial parking lots is safer than sticking out from the pack. Communication is as essential as water, fuel, and food. Ensure your signal booster works, so your alarm and mobile device have a signal to call for help. Veteran RVers always have backup plans, emergency kits, and someone has an idea of their route.
The reality is, RVers should be more concerned with breakdowns than break-ins. The great thing about the RV Community is that we take care of each other. With the rise of many first-timers who are still learning the ropes, there is some hesitation, but many veterans will pull over to help out.
Experienced RVers pull over to help out because once upon a time, they were in your shoes. They were the ones broken down, and some other veteran RVer helped them out. All they’re doing is paying it forward- No hidden agenda or scheme.
About the Author:
Although he’s from Motown, Brian Newman is a legacy RVer that grew up on I-75. He, his wife, and two working-class fur-babies have enjoyed the full-time RV lifestyle since 2017. Like John Madden, he hasn’t “worked” in years because he gets to write about his passion. When he’s not working, he supports his daughter’s dog rescue efforts and disability causes.