The Best RV Thermostats (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
RV thermostats that’ll keep you at the perfect temperature while you’re out and about.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON February 26, 2021
There are plenty of huge perks to camping in an RV instead of a tent, but in inclement — or even just unpleasant — weather, there’s one standout benefit. You can enjoy a climate-controlled environment, all while still enjoying the sights and experiences of nature. When it’s unbearably hot and humid, you can crank your RV’s AC, and when temperatures fall and get chilly, you can turn up the heat. But to control your RV’s interior temperature, you need one pretty critical part: an RV thermostat. You can’t access any part of your RV’s HVAC system without a thermostat. If you need a new thermostat or want to upgrade your current one, we’ve rounded up some of the best RV thermostats available.
A simple, straightforward, and reliable wall-mounted RV thermostat.
- Easy to install
- Can solve an array of HVAC issues in RV systems
- Direct replacement part
- Does have a shelf life
An affordably priced replacement thermostat that’s easy to use.
- Runs smoothly
- Straightforward installation process
- Easy to read and use
- May require adjustments for some RVs
- Not very durable
An upgraded RV thermostat that doesn’t require modifications on installation.
- Easy to install
- The digital format works seamlessly
- Easy to read and adjust interior temperatures
- May require longer screws
- Best for Coleman HVAC systems
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of RV Thermostats
- Built to last. When you invest in a quality RV thermostat, you can expect it to last you throughout many uses and many miles on the road. These HVAC controls can last for years once they’re installed.
- Easy to replace. You don’t need to be an RV HVAC expert to swap out your current thermostat. It’s an easy upgrade or update to make, with a few wires and simple screws alone.
- Can Work on any RV system. Whether you have a heating system only or a heating and cooling system, you can benefit from the easy controls an RV thermostat offers you.
- Can be smart or simple. Today, you can choose from a selection of RV thermostats that do a little or a lot. Some are straightforward and simple, while others feature smart technology and energy-saving features.
Types of RV Thermostats
Analog RV Thermostats
Analog RV thermostats are the simplest and most “traditional” type of thermostat you’ll find. An analog thermostat will work with both heat-only systems as well as heating and cooling systems. Older RVs tend to use analog thermostats, but some RV owners simply prefer their straightforward simplicity. However, that simplicity comes with a drawback: there’s no way to set an analog thermostat to an exact temperature. You can only pick within a sliding range.
Digital RV Thermostats
Digital RV thermostats are the updated and upgraded version of analog thermostats. Also called electronic RV thermostats, these products work just like analog thermostats, but they include electronic microprocessors that offer a more accurate temperature reading. This makes digital models more accurate overall, as they’ll start and stop your heating and cooling system more effectively. Digital thermostats also allow you to see the exact temperature inside your RV — and the temperature you’re setting the thermostat to — with ease. Their clear display screens can also highlight other information.
Programmable RV Thermostats
Programmable RV thermostats are the most advanced kind of RV thermostat you can buy. They offer more features than digital thermostats, and they give you both flexibility and convenience. You can program your programmable RV thermostat, saving your preferred temperature settings in the device, and then adjust them for different times of the day. This allows the thermostat to automatically turn the furnace or air conditioner up or down depending on your preferences, all without you having to change the thermostat each time.
First started in the 1920s under a completely different company with a focus on household electronics, Dometic earned its name in the 1960s. And today, the brand is known for meeting the needs of those who live and work on the road. Products made just for RVs, like the Dometic 3106995.032 RV Analog Thermostat, are a great example.
If there’s a brand that’s synonymous with camping, it’s Coleman. Since creating the first gas-powered lantern in 1900, Coleman has continued to innovate and provide an array of items for every kind of camping enthusiast — including thermostats like the Coleman 83303362 Thermostat and the Coleman 8330-3862 Digital Thermostat made just for RVs.
First founded in 1890, Emerson is a large company that covers all kinds of different tools, appliances, and more. One area of Emerson’s expertise is consumer electronics, and some products like the Emerson 1C26-101 Mechanical Heat/Cool Thermostat are a perfect pick for campers who need home-like technology made for an RV.
RV Thermostat Pricing
- Under $25: You can find an array of basic, typically analog, RV thermostats within the budget-friendly price range of under $25. These thermostats are simple, but they get the job done.
- $25 to $50: Most RV thermostats fall into this price range, totaling somewhere between $25 and $50. You can find analog, digital, and programmable thermostats for all types of RV HVAC systems here.
- $50 and up: If you’re looking for the most premium, most specialized, and most advanced RV thermostats, they’ll run you more than $50. Some can even reach $100 or more.
RV thermostats tend to work with one of two power source options. A thermostat can be hardwired, or wired directly to the wall — and HVAC system — of your RV. Or, a thermostat can run on battery power. You’ll want to opt for the power source that best suits your needs. Battery-powered thermostats tend to require monitoring, as the batteries can run down quickly. However, they’re very energy-efficient and often include smart features. Hardwired thermostats are very reliable, but they aren’t energy-efficient and can be challenging to install in some cases.
Another important feature is the type of system an RV thermostat works with or its system compatibility. Some RV thermostats are heat-only, meaning they can only work with RVs that have heating systems — not heating and cooling systems. Other thermostats are heating and cooling compatible. Make sure you’re looking at thermostats that are compatible with what your RV has. If you don’t have air conditioning, you’ll want to consider heat-only options. If you do have AC, you’ll want something different.
Precise Temperature Selection
One of the most critical features of an RV thermostat is the temperature selection — or, how you choose how warm or cool you’d like your RV’s interior. Analog thermostats tend to use sliders, which aren’t as accurate but are very easy to use and adjust. Digital thermostats tend to feature display screens or dials that let you pick an exact temperature. Both offer benefits, but increased precision can be a huge help if you’re looking for comfort.
- Always Consider a Thermostat’s Ease of Installation. While many RV thermostats are simple to install, more complex models tend to have more challenging installation requirements. Make sure to consider the installation process — and whether or not it’s easy to tackle — before choosing a new thermostat.
- Smart RV Thermostats Need Wi-Fi or Smartphone Connectivity. Before picking out an advanced, hi-tech smart thermostat for your RV, make sure you have the right kind of connectivity. These thermostats typically need a Wi-Fi connection or connectivity via a smartphone app, so you’ll need to be able to employ either of these while you’re on the road with your RV.
- Analog Thermostats Tend to Offer Best Reliability. With fewer moving parts and less complicated internal structure, analog RV thermostats can last for years and years without encountering issues. They tend to be the most reliable because they’re the simplest, which is great for anyone who wants to invest in a long-lasting thermostat.
- Always Check the Thermostat Requirements. There’s nothing worse than buying an RV thermostat only to find out it won’t fit your RV. Double-check the installation steps and requirements before buying to ensure the thermostat you like will fit your RV, wire to your HVAC system properly, and be easy to install.
Best RV Thermostat Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- RV thermostats don’t change often, so don’t be afraid to opt for a basic analog model. These simple, easy-to-master choices never go out of style, and they’ll work for many different RVs.
- Smart thermostats are newer, and that means new models with newer technology are coming out regularly. You may need to replace a smart or digital thermostat sooner to keep up with technology’s pace.
- Most RV thermostats come with a warranty of some kind. Always check the warranty before buying so you know you’re covered in case you experience problems right after installation.
- It’s easy to install an RV thermostat on your own. You don’t need to pay for a professional’s help — with a few screws and a set of instructions, you can save money and tackle it yourself.
Q: Can a house thermostat be used in an RV?
Typically, you can’t use a house thermostat in an RV. RVs tend to have simpler heating and cooling systems, and they often use smaller thermostats. However, some thermostats will work in both — and many RV thermostats will also work for mobile homes. Double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications to be sure before buying.
Q: How do I know if my RV thermostat is bad?
There are a few different ways to spot an RV thermometer that’s failing. Look for problems when you’re running your HVAC system, like the system running continuously without ever shutting off or the temperature inside your RV being different from what’s set on the thermostat. Your thermostat is likely going bad if it’s unresponsive, without power, or won’t turn on or off.
Q: Are RV thermostats different?
Each RV thermostat is different, but the differences between devices can be small or significant. For example, there’s a much bigger difference between an analog thermostat and a digital thermostat. However, most analog thermostats are almost identical to one another. RV thermostats are also designed to work with different types of systems, which is an important distinction.
The Dometic 3106995.032 RV Analog Thermostat is our choice for the best RV thermostat, and it’s a well-rounded choice for most RV’s HVAC systems. The Emerson 1C26-101 Mechanical Heat/Cool Thermostat is another great option, and its affordable price makes it a solid addition to just about any RV.