Getting Smart in Isolation

Thu May 07 2020

With a little time on our hands, and stuck in isolation unable to travel, I've been spending some time making our RV smarter.

Getting Smart in Isolation
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In this article...

  1. 14-Day Isolation
  2. Smart RV

14-Day Isolation

It's hard to believe that it's been two weeks since we arrived here near Boise, ID! Since we arrived from out-of-state, we were obliged to self-isolate for two weeks, and our time is up!

We're free!

Well, except not really because there are still restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

The truck hasn't moved since we parked it here after our epic 900-mile drive up from Quartzsite, AZ. Other than some short evening strolls along the trails near where we're parked (and Diana running on the same trails), we haven't left the immediate vicinity of the trailer.

Our Longest Ever Travel Day

Ordinarily we try not to travel more than 200 miles in a day, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way - like yesterday's 900 mile journey!

Our Longest Ever Travel Day

We haven't been grocery shopping since stocking up over 3 weeks ago, although the fridge is starting to look a little empty. And we haven't filled propane since April 2 (5 weeks ago), but we're getting pretty low! It's also been almost 2 months since we last went to a laundromat, and while we have hookups now, we've lost the hot dry weather desert weather that helped us wash clothes by hand.

So, in the next couple of days I think we're going to have to venture out to fill propane, do some laundry, and buy some fresh produce!

Grocery Shopping - Quarantine Style

While we're trying to avoid traveling as much as possible, the inevitable finally happened - it was time to go grocery shopping.

Grocery Shopping - Quarantine Style

Even though Idaho has begun to reopen, we're still going to avoid contact with people as much as possible for the time being. It's only minimally inconvenient to us, and it's safer all round, so it seems like the sensible option.

Smart RV

Which all begs the question, are we getting bored being stuck in our tiny RV and unable to travel?

Well, we're making great progress on the blog posts and video editing - working our way through the backlog of content we built up before the lockdown. And we're beginning to plan out the remodel of our RV, which is keeping us busy too!

But in addition, I've been working on making our RV smarter!

If you've seen our RV in person, or watched the video interview we did with RV Lifestyle, you'll know that I have a real passion for adding technology to our RV to make living in the RV more enjoyable and comfortable. And just a few weeks ago, Jason and Rae from the Getaway Couple released a video that featured the smart thermostat they installed in their RV inspired by one of our mods.

In recent years, smart home devices have swept the marketplace - Nest thermostats, smart door bells & locks, WiFi-controlled lights and countless more such devices. Yet very few are suitable for use in an RV, where 12V systems render most of them incompatible. Not to mention the unique opportunities in an RV - power management, tank level monitoring, fridge temperature adjustment, etc.

Since we first hit the road in 2018, I've been working on better understanding some of these use cases and then finding, or more usually, building solutions in our RV. We've added a lot so far: temperature sensors scattered around our RV, a high resolution power monitoring system, WiFi control over our lights, fridge, water heater, thermostat and more.

Upgrading to a Smart WiFi RV Thermostat

Most RV thermostats are cheap, low-end units - certainly nothing like the fancy domestic WiFi models. Find out how we added a WiFi-controllable thermostat in our RV.

Upgrading to a Smart WiFi RV Thermostat

But there's lots more we want to do, and in particular, a lot of intelligence we want to start integrating - helping us to make best use of what we have available and be as comfortable as possible.

So that's what I've been doing this week. I've been prototyping a few new smart devices - one to interface with our new fridge and freezer temperature sensors to monitor long term trends, one to help us understand how full our hot water tank is and how quickly it cools down, and one to monitor our tank sensors over time and provide alarms.

For a while I've been wanting to write some blog posts about what we're doing in this space, but I couldn't work out where to start. I've been at it for so long that everything is interconnected!

But now, with a little bit of time to focus, I'm going to push to try and get some blog posts live about what we've been up to. Some will be inherently more technical in nature, and others will be a little higher level.

So let us know in the comments below if you've added any smart devices to your RV, and which Smart RV topics you'd be most interested in hearing about from us.

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