Assessing the Security and Durability of Smart RV Locks


As an RV owner, securing your home on wheels is a top priority. RV door locks help deter break-ins and theft, but not all locks are created equal. Standard RV door locks can be flimsy and easily picked or broken. Upgrading to a smart RV lock offers advanced security features and durability. But is it worth the investment?

I’ve owned RVs for over 20 years and tried my fair share of locks, so I want to walk through the key factors to consider when deciding between standard and smart RV locks.

Security Considerations

Security is the primary reason folks look to upgrade their RV door locks. You want the sturdiest lock possible to keep your belongings safe and deter thieves from getting inside. Standard RV locks leave a lot to be desired in the security department.

Vulnerabilities of Standard RV Locks

Most RVs come equipped with a basic cylinder lock similar to what you’d find on any residential front door. These cylindrical tumbler locks are notoriously easy to pick and bump with simple tools you can buy online. And recreational vehicles often have flimsier doors overall than houses, offering less structural security.

My first RV had a standard lock that my brother was able to pick open with a paperclip on his first try. That flimsy chrome lock offered zero real protection. I might as well have left the door wide open and put up a sign saying “Come on in and take my stuff!”

How Smart Locks Improve Security

Smart locks offer advanced security features not found on standard RV locks:

  • Remote access control – Smart locks allow you to control access to your RV remotely through a smartphone app. This allows you to lock and unlock from afar and monitor who comes and goes.
  • Activity logs – The best smart locks log activity so you can review a timeline of exactly when your RV was accessed and locked. Handy for confirming cleaning service or maintenance came by when scheduled.
  • Temporary access codes – You can assign temporary codes to give friends or family access to your RV for certain time periods when you can’t be there. No need to hand out copies of keys.
  • Encryption – Communication between the lock and your phone is encrypted for data security. No one can intercept the wireless signal to gain unauthorized control.
  • Tamper alerts – Smart locks can detect and alert you to potential tampering events, like multiple failed unlock attempts that could signal someone trying to break in.
  • ANC Certified grade 1 – Select smart RV locks boast ANSI/BHMA grade 1 certification, the highest commercial-grade rating for durability and security. Most standard RV locks don’t come close to this level of security.

Upgrading to a smart lock was an absolute game-changer for securing my Airstream. My lockout tagout has been lowered substantially since getting a lock I can monitor remotely. I get alerts to my phone anytime someone accesses the door, giving me peace of mind when I’m away from my home on wheels.

Durability Considerations

Beyond security, you also want an RV lock that is built solid to last. Key factors to evaluate are the design, materials used, weather resistance, and installation method. Cheap locks can literally fall apart with normal use over time.

Materials Matter

One weakness of standard RV locks is they tend to use inexpensive materials like tin or zinc. These degrade much faster than sturdier metals like stainless steel or hardened steel.

Look for smart locks constructed from robust materials, like the MasterLock Vault eLock made from hardened steel and designed specifically for RVs. Lock bodies made of thin tin may be easier to cut through by thieves. Solid build quality ensures the lock will hold up to real world use without failing.

Weather Resistance

Since RVs live outdoors and travel all over, weather resistance is a bonus for smart lock durability. The Vault eLock has a silicone gasket seal and an IPX5 water resistance rating, meaning it can withstand heavy rainfall and still function normally.

Circular locks will inevitably get some water and dust exposure that can degrade the internal mechanisms. Smart locks designed to handle the elements offer longer service life on an RV.

Easy, Non-Damaging Installation

Part of durability is proper installation. Many standard RV locks require drilling holes in the door to mount the lock cylinder. This permanently alters the door and risks cracking fiberglass if not done carefully. Proper spacing is critical to align with the latching mechanism.

Installing a smart lock like the Vault eLock requires no new holes – it attaches with adhesive using the existing deadbolt screws. This makes assembly easier with no permanent modifications. The adhesive distributes force evenly to reduce chances of cracking or warping the door over time.

Smart lock manufacturers have put thought into the installation process to maximize security without damaging RV doors. Avoid locks needing custom drilling that could weaken the structure and integrity around the opening.

Smart Lock Features & Capabilities

Beyond basic security and durability, smart RV locks offer advanced features that enhance functionality. Let’s look at some key advantages smart locks provide beyond traditional keyed locks.

Keyless Entry & Remote Control

One of the biggest perks of smart locks is ditching keys altogether. Instead, you gain mobile control to lock and unlock through an app.

My RV locking routine goes like this – as I’m finishing up my campsite for departure, I press the lock button on the app before walking to my tow vehicle. The lock clicks shut, indicator light flashes red, and I get a push notification the camper is now secure. No fumbling for keys or worrying if I locked up properly.

I can also check the lock status remotely anytime. The app tells me if the door is locked or unlocked from anywhere. This peace of mind carries over when my rig is in storage. I’ll randomly open my phone just to check the door is locked so I know my belongings are safe. Try doing that with a standard lock!

Activity Logging & Access History

Another advantage of smart locks is the ability to view a log of who accessed the door and when. I can pull up the app and see that the door was locked at 8:05am when I departed but then unlocked at 11:37am while a service tech came by to winterize plumbing. Activity logs bring visibility to comings and goings.

For standard locks, you have no record of whether it was properly locked up unless you’re physically present to check. Smart locks provide digital breadcrumbs helpful for both security and accountability.

Keypad for Backup Access

Some smart locks have a keypad for entering access codes as a backup to unlocking with your phone. This provides redundancy just in case your phone gets lost, runs out of batteries, or loses connection.

I set a memorized 4-digit pin code on my lock’s keypad to cover any situation where the phone app fails. Even if my mobile can’t connect or gets bricked, I can still get inside with the code. Nice to have a backup plan.

Automatic Re-locking

For extra security, advanced smart locks come with an auto re-lock feature. If you unlock the door but fail to open it within a certain number of seconds, the system will automatically re-lock.

This gives an added layer of protection in case you hit the unlock button but don’t end up gaining entry right away. I’ve definitely unlocked my door and then gotten distracted by a phone call or forgetting something in my car. The 30-second auto re-lock kicks in so the door isn’t left inadvertently unlocked.

Lock-Out Tag-Out

Smart locks enable temporary lock-out modes which disable normal access. My lock has a maintenance mode that locks out me and my family’s codes during service calls. The tech can gain one-time entry with a temporary code without my normal pin being active.

This short-term lockout feature ensures the techs can’t mistakenly access my RV later on because they still have my pin code saved. It provides limited access for just the duration of their work.

This mode can also be used when lending your RV to friends. You temporarily lock yourself out and provide them a different code during their rental period. It limits chances of your main code being leaked or used beyond the agreed rental dates.

Tamper Alerts

High-end smart locks can detect tampering such as multiple failed unlock attempts and alert you a potential break-in is being attempted. My lock triggers an alert if someone repeatedly enters invalid codes trying to guess the pin.

This real-time monitoring is extremely valuable. A standard lock gives you zero indication someone is messing with it until it’s too late. Smart tamper alerts clue you in while a potential crime is in progress.

Cost Comparison

At the end of the day, deciding whether to upgrade your RV lock comes down to cost. Smart locks have added security benefits but how much investment is truly needed? Let’s run the numbers.

Standard Lock Cost

An inexpensive standard cylindrical RV lock will run you about $20-60. The Vault eLock runs around $299, so roughly 5-15x the price of a standard lock.

You’re definitely paying a premium. But in an ideal world, security is more important than saving a few bucks. As my grandma Ruth always said, “There’s no price on peace of mind.”

Consider Total Cost of Ownership

Looking beyond just MSRP, the total cost equation changes a bit. Key factors to weigh:

  • How much would it cost to replace stolen gear if your RV gets burglarized? Easily several thousand dollars’ worth of possessions.
  • What about depreciation? Getting ransacked could hurt resale value big time.
  • Insurance rates may increase following a claim. Plus, there’s the hassle of filing police reports and replacing everything gone missing.
  • Smart locks also offer convenience advantages that save time and hassle. No fussing with keys or relying on hide-a-keys means less headaches.

So while smart locks come with higher sticker price, the value of enhanced security and convenience is difficult to quantify. In the big picture, spending 4-5x more for a smart lock can be well worth the money both financially and peace of mind.

Based on my years of RVing, here are two smart lock models I recommend considering to upgrade security:

MasterLock Bluetooth Vault eLock

Topping my list is the MasterLock 5900D Vault eLock. Highlights include:

  • ANSI Grade 1 certified for max security
  • Works completely keyless with smartphone control
  • Weather resistant IPX5 rating
  • Attaches without drilling holes
  • 9V battery backup system

I’ve used the Vault eLock for 2 years and counting without issue. Install was a cinch with the adhesive stickers and it has held up solid even with heavy use. MasterLock is the most trusted name when it comes to secure, durable locks.

Kwikset Halo WiFi Smart Lock

For a simpler smart lock option, check out the Kwikset Halo. Primary features:

  • ANSI Grade 2 certified
  • Works with Alexa and Google Home
  • Advanced WiFi connectivity
  • 30-day activity log
  • Uses 4AA batteries

Kwikset also makes high-quality residential locks. While not as robust as MasterLock, their Halo model offers solid smart security in a streamlined design. Worth considering if you want a budget-friendly introduction to smart locks without paying top dollar.

Either of these options will serve you better than bargain locks from Amazon or big box chains. Spend a few extra bucks to significantly upgrade your RV security and avoid the pitfalls of flimsy standard locks.

The Verdict

After reviewing all factors – security, durability, features, and cost – investing in a smart RV lock proves well worth the money. You gain way more advanced protection by ditching those crummy standard locks.

While I wish smart locks came cheaper, their benefits outweigh any difference in price both for security and convenience. Once you start controlling access to your RV from an app, you’ll never go back to the dark ages of metal keys again.

Upgrading our RV lock with a smart lock was one of the best upgrades we made. Not only can I check on the safety of our home on wheels remotely, I have the peace of mind that comes from maximum security. I know my gear and belongings are protected even when I’m hundreds of miles away.

For any RV owners still using the crappy standard-issue locks, do yourself a favor and step up to a smart lock. Your wallet and your nerves will thank you, especially at night! Having a top-notch lock lets this restless RVer finally sleep easy on the road.

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