Your RV’s thermostat might not seem like a very big deal, compared to all the moving parts, tanks, and appliances.
Yet when something goes wrong with your RV’s thermostat it can leave you so uncomfortable that it threatens to ruin the entire trip.
If your RV’s thermostat has been acting up, or you are just plain convinced that your current model is not as energy-efficient as you would like, this article will help you find the best replacement RV thermostat that will intelligently heat and cool your camper and save you money.
Along the way, we will take a closer look at how an RV thermostat works, how to use it best, and what goes into finding a replacement model that is more energy-efficient than your current system.
Though this will take a little bit more information about the nuts and bolts components of an RV thermostat and what can cause them to go wrong.
How Does An RV Thermostat Work?
Just like the thermostat in your home, your RV’s thermostat keeps a current measure of the temperature inside your RV.
While some older models used mercury switches and other physical components, most modern RV thermostats have digital sensors and touch controls that are easy to use.
If the temperature inside your RV’s interior temperature dips too low, the thermostat will activate the RV’s furnace to warm the interior up again.
If your RV’s interior temperature gets too high, the thermostat activates the rooftop air conditioning system.
In both of these scenarios the thermostat also activates the vent fans and other components that make the airflow as smoothly as possible through the RV’s interior.
How Are RV Thermostats Powered?
Some RV thermostats are directly tied into the RV’s house batteries and will operate correctly so long as there is a sufficient power supply.
Though in some small RVs the thermostat might be run by batteries like simple AA or AAA alkaline batteries.
What If The RV Thermostat Doesn’t Have Power?
If the RV’s house batteries are drained down too low or the alkaline batteries inside the thermostat’s housing are running out, it can cause a failure in the thermostat itself.
Some RV thermostats have some basic built-in alerts that will let you know if there is a power issue.
This might be a flashing digital display screen or a charge monitor built into the display.
Some of the most sophisticated RV thermostats even have remote controls or special wireless WiFi or Bluetooth apps.
Though there are more than a few older RV thermostats that have absolutely no battery or power level indicator.
So, if your RV thermostat isn’t acting normal, check the batteries that are powering it first.
It only takes a minute or less and can help weed out some very common RV thermostat problems.
Common RV Thermostat Problems
There are a few common problems that tell you there is a problem with your RV thermostat or the electronics that support it.
If you are experiencing one or more of the following issues, it might be time to consider upgrading or completely replacing your RV thermostat.
RV Thermostat Is Unresponsive
If you adjust the settings and nothing happens, or the lights on the display are blinking it could be a power supply issue.
If you replace the batteries or recharge the RV’s house batteries over 50% and it still doesn’t respond it might be a failure inside the RV thermostat itself.
The Heat Or Air Conditioning Runs Continuously
If you notice your RV’s climate control system seems to be stuck running continuously it might be that something inside the RV thermostat’s controls or temperature sensor has broken down.
Oftentimes it costs the same or less to simply replace the RV thermostat with a newer model than it is to bring in a mechanic to test and replace the malfunctioning components.
The Temperature In The RV & The Thermostat Don’t Match
You might not immediately notice a disparity between the interior temperature of the RV and the reading on the RV thermostat.
The RV’s climate control system might even be running intermittently, to give you the impression that everything is normal.
Then gradually over time, you start to notice that the temperature inside the RV is either significantly cooler or warmer than the RV thermostat indicates.
This is often a faulty temperature sensor that has further affected other components.
Tips For Troubleshooting A Bad RV Thermostat
Before making a wholesale reinstallation or upgrade of your RV thermostat, there are a few steps you can take to see if it’s just a simple mechanical problem.
Please note that while you are going through all of these steps, you should be keeping an eye out for things like burned-out wires, damaged diodes, and burned-out capacitors.
Are New RV Thermostats More Energy Efficient?
The good news is that some of the more advanced RV thermostats come with alerts and special features that can make them more energy efficient.
This is especially true for models with remote control apps and features that let you turn down your RV’s heating and cooling when you aren’t there to save energy.
Then you can set them to turn back up again an hour or so before you return from fishing, hiking, or touring the local attractions.
What To Look For In A New RV Thermostat
There are a few key factors to consider when it comes to choosing a new replacement RV thermostat.
There are a lot of different models out there with different features like wireless alerts, digital controls, and sophisticated programming.
Each of which can influence the overall price tag.
Choosing Between Analog & Digital Controls
Older RV thermostats simply had analog controls, which might have been little more than a physical dial.
These analog RV thermostats do still exist, and they have a much cheaper initial purchase price.
Though they generally don’t have the sophisticated features needed to optimize your RV’s HVAC system’s energyefficiency.
If you want things like wireless alerts, digital displays, and energy-efficient programming, you will need to prioritize an RV thermostat with digital controls.
Energy Efficient Programming
Some of the best RV thermostats have programmable controls. They let you set up the air conditioning system or the propane furnace at specific times without you having to remember to dial the system down or up.
They are especially handy for seasonal campsites where you might want the HVAC system to run when you aren’t there during the week to help manage humidity or prevent freezing the water lines.
Some newer RV thermostats have sophisticated alert systems, with apps, WiFi, or Bluetooth connectivity.
As long as there is sufficient signal where you are, you can receive pre-set alerts that let you know if the temperature is too high or too low. You can then control the RV’s thermostat remotely.
Compatibility & Ease Of Installation
Some newer RV thermostats aren’t always 100% compatible with older RV HVAC systems.
At the same time, some models might be harder to install than others depending on the type of system.
So, take the time to learn the basics of your RV’s HVAC system and read online reviews. Especially if you are thinking about attempting to install it yourself.
Can I Install An Replacement Thermostat In My RV Myself?
If you are particularly handy and you have some basic electrical tools like a multimeter, soldering iron, and wire stripping tools, you might be able to uninstall your old RV thermostat and install a new one.
Though if you are a little concerned about your skills or you don’t have the most extensive electrical tool kit, you might want to recruit the services of a professional.
Most of the time the cost of professional installation is relatively cheap when it comes to hourly labor costs.
Especially if you buy the replacement RV thermostat yourself, rather than suffering the usual markup cost that a lot of professional mechanics put on the parts they provide.
5 Best RV Thermostats for Efficient Heating and Cooling
We took a good hard look at some of the best RV thermostats on the market today and tried to look for units that stood out either for their value or the sophistication of their features.
Along the way, we also kept an eye out for things like intuitive interfaces, special energy-efficient features, and programmable alerts.
Find out why the following models are top options for many RVers.
1: Dometic 38453 wall RV Thermostat
At first glance, this is a very bare bones RV thermostat with a mercury switch and mercury display.
The analog control is simply a slider that lets you adjust it into a specific temperature range.
This thermostat is meant more for older RVs that need to replace an outdated or broken-down analog thermostat.
Thankfully, it’s simple enough that you can probably install it yourself and durable enough that it will last for years with minimal maintenance.
2: Coleman Camper mach Manual Thermostat
This is an arguably “Old Fashioned” analog RV thermostat. Though it was designed by Coleman, who is an industry leader in RV appliances.
When a manufacturer like them gets something right the first time they tend not to mess with a good thing.
It’s designed to be versatile as well as simple. This one-wall thermostat can operate the RV’s air conditioner, heat pump, gas, hydronic, or electric strip heating and fans from one convenient analog panel.
The individual switches let you choose which system is engaged, and how you want it to run.
It’s also thin enough that you are at little risk of bumping your shoulder on it in the middle of the night walking to the bathroom. You also have to like the very friendly price tag.
3: Honeywell TH4110U2005/U Programmable Thermostat
The Honeywell TH4110U2005 is one of the most sophisticated programable digital thermostats for RV use.
It is a low voltage RV thermostat, that has different stages you can program into it.
Though there is also a non-programmable mode that makes it easy to run for people who are more comfortable with analog controls, but want digital readouts as you see on the 5.44 square inch LCD.
It can also be used backlit for times when you want to check the thermostat at night and don’t want to turn on the lights.
If there is an arguable drawback to this RV thermostat, it’s that the installation has a reputation for being somewhat complicated.
So, if you aren’t adept with wiring electronic devices, this is probably an RV thermostat you can source yourself, then have a professional install it.
4: Hunter Home Comfort 44378 Digital Thermostat
The Hunter Home Comfort’s 44378 is a programmable RV thermostat that is very affordable, and engineered with enough quality to be installed in a home.
It is 5-minute as well asa 7-day programmable universal thermostat that is compatible with most RVs and has a reputation for being very easy to install.
Some people claim an amateur can install it in less than 10 minutes.
It features a seven-day programmable max capability and it can retain four programs for each day of the week.
This RV thermostat also comes with an energy guide that gives you instant savings through superior energy efficiency.
It has a maximum-contrast LED backlit touchscreen that is easy to read in all lighting conditions.
Best of all, when you compare this model to a lot of the competitors that can do the same thing, the price is lower, while still offering easy installation, as well as versatile compatibility.
5: Honeywell TH9320WF5003 Wireless WiFi Thermostat
The Honeywell TH9320WF5003sits in the sweet spot of being one of the most sophisticated RV thermostats with wireless controls that also touts the most affordable price tag.
It offers WiFi connectivity to let you stay tuned in to the camper’s interior conditions so long as there is a reliable signal.
The large backlit, white on blue display tells you a wide range of information. This includes the temperature, the relative humidity, the current mode, and the outdoor conditions.
You can then use this information to set up the program to the relationship between the outdoor conditions and the desired interior comfort level.
This level of sophistication and the onboard customizable features translates into greater energy efficiency with optimum comfort.
Though the level of sophistication in the Honeywell TH9320WF5003 also means it’s a good idea to have it professionally installed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can I Find The Best Deal On A New RV Thermostat?
You can find RV thermostats for sale at most retail hardware stores. Though the best deal on a new RV thermostat is usually going to be found through an online retailer like Amazon.
If you are in a pinch and short on time, dealing with a bad RV thermostat in the middle of your trip, the hardware store is the easy answer.
If you just want to upgrade your RV thermostat in between trips, then your best deal will likely be to shop online and wait the few days it takes to ship to you.
How Long Will An RV Thermostats Last?
The average lifespan of an RV thermostat is around 8 to 12 years. Keeping it clean and dust-free might help extend its lifespan.
Properly maintaining your RV’s air conditioner and heating system so they run properly can also help reduce wear and tear on the RV thermostat’s internal electrical components.
Is It Cheaper To Buy A New RV Thermostat Or Get One From A Mechanic/Dealership?
A lot of RV dealerships and a fair number of RV mechanics will tack on a markup charge that can be anywhere from 10 to 25% of the wholesale purchase price.
Though if you do your research and come with your own replacement thermostat new in the box, you can shave a lot off of the final price passed on to you.
Will Wireless Thermostat Apps Work Anywhere?
Wireless apps and controls that use WiFi or a Bluetooth signal are certainly handy.
Though Bluetooth can have a limited range, and WiFi is only feasible if you are somewhere with a good signal or a third-party connection.
If you are going to be boondocking a lot of the time away from things like RV park WiFi hotspots, then you might want to deprioritize these features, as you are likely to use them.
If your RV thermostat has been acting up, or you are looking for something to optimize the overall energy efficiency of your RV’s HVAC system, then you should consider upgrading the RV thermostat.
If budget is an issue and you don’t need to prioritize alerts, programmability, and wireless controls then a newer analog model like the Coleman RV Camper Manual Thermostat might be the best RV thermostat to meet your needs.
If you are having a hard time figuring out if a thermostat will be compatible with your RV’s heating and air conditioning system, but you still want to upgrade to a programmable digital model, then the Hunter Home Comfort 44378 7-Day Digital Programmable Thermostat might be the best option for your RV.
It has a reputation for being highly compatible with most home and RV HVAC systems. Best of all it’s remarkably easy to install.
If you are looking for a programmable RV thermostat with wireless connectivity, that lets you optimize your RV HVAC for energy efficiency and comfort then the Honeywell TH9320WF5003 might be the best model to meet your needs.
It has a friendly price point compared to the shoulder to shoulder competitors. Though you should strongly consider professional installation.