The Pros and Cons of Smart Locks for RVs

As an RV enthusiast, I’m always looking for ways to enhance the security and convenience of my vehicle. Recently, I’ve become intrigued by smart lockskeyless locking systems that can be controlled via smartphone. The idea of being able to lock and unlock my RV remotely is certainly appealing! But before installing smart locks, I wanted to better understand the potential benefits and drawbacks.

The Convenience Factor

One of the biggest allures of smart locks is the sheer convenience they offer. Imagine being able to check if your RV door is locked while you’re sitting at a campfire 20 feet away. Or being able to let in a delivery person when you’re not physically present. With a smart lock, you can do all of this and more right from an app on your phone.

I’ll never forget the time a few years back when I was camping with some friends in Vermont. We had driven separate RVs to the campsite and planned to spend three days exploring the Green Mountains. On the second day, my buddy realized he had left his keys sitting on the kitchen counter – a two hour drive away. Since I was the only other person with a set of keys to his RV, I had to leave our hiking excursion early to retrieve his keys.

Obviously, this could have been avoided if he had a smart lock on his door. He could have simply locked up remotely once he realized his mistake. Then, I could have sent him a digital key or unlocked it for him from wherever I was. No lost time or wasted trip required!

Little conveniences like being able to check if the door is locked as you’re wandering around the campground are nice too. Plus, if you grant digital access to friends and family, they can let themselves in even if you’re not there.

Of course, you can only take advantage of these conveniences if you have reliable WiFi or cellular connection. More on that later.

Enhanced Security

Another major benefit of smart locks is the added security they provide. Most feature solid construction and heavy-duty deadbolts to prevent break-ins. Some even have alarms that will sound if someone tries to force the lock.

I was a bit skeptical about this at first. Aren’t these locks still vulnerable if someone can hack into the system? Turns out, most smart locks have encrypted connections and lock down if they lose connection. Even if a lock loses power, the physical deadbolt remains locked. Pretty cool!

My neighbor at home recently had her RV broken into while it was parked in her driveway overnight. The thieves smashed her standard door lock and stole several valuables from inside. If she had a smart lock in place, the added layers of digital security may have deterred the criminals. Or at least notified Barb of the break-in attempt.

Of course, no lock is 100% foolproof. But smart locks provide much more security than flimsy factory installed RV locks in my experience. The peace of mind is worth it alone!

Keyless Convenience

One of the most convenient perks of smart locks is that they are completely keyless. No more fumbling for keys when your hands are full. Or worrying about hiding a spare somewhere for emergencies.

For absent-minded folks like myself, not having to remember where your keys are at all times is game changing. Just ask my buddy Steve from the Vermont story! I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve lost keys over the years.

Keyless entry is especially helpful when you’re accessing your RV in the dark. There’s nothing worse than struggling to jam a key into a lock when you can barely see. I’ll never forget the time I was trying to unlock my door after a late night campfire. Everyone had turned in for the night and I was using the light from my dying cell phone to see the lock. After multiple failed attempts, I dropped the keys in the dirt and couldn’t find them until morning.

If I had a smart lock back then, I could’ve just tapped a button on my phone to get in. No loose keys needed. Some smart locks even have backlit keypads for nighttime visibility.

That said, you do need to take precautions in case your phone dies. But most systems allow you to set up multiple access points. For example, adding a wireless keyfob as backup.

Flexible Access Options

Smart locks give you so much flexibility when it comes to granting others access. You can send virtual keys that only work for a set timeframe, like if you rent your RV out. Or you can create permanent digital keys for family members.

Some lock brands even let you control how many times a digital key can be used. This is great for restricting access for cleaning crews, dog walkers, delivery workers and the like. No need to change codes or make copies of physical keys.

I have a buddy who lives in his RV full-time. When he house sits for his brother occasionally, he just sends a digital key via the smart lock app. And the key deactivates as soon as the housesitting gig is over. So much better than having to meet up to exchange keys!

One word of caution though – make sure anyone you’re granting digital access to is tech-savvy enough to utilize it properly. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with calls from your 70 year old Uncle Bob who can’t figure out the app!

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

While smart locks can be incredibly handy for RVs, they aren’t without some drawbacks to consider as well. Here are a few potential downsides:

Technological glitches – Like any tech gadget, smart locks can malfunction or lose connection intermittently. I recommend having a backup way to get in, like a hidden physical key, in case you get locked out. Resetting glitchy connectivity often fixes issues quickly.

Upfront cost – Smart locks will cost you more on the front end, with most quality options ranging from $200-$500. However, the benefits outweigh the costs over time in my opinion. And you’ll likely recoup some of the cost by avoiding locksmith fees.

Power needs – Smart locks require battery power or hardwiring to function. Battery powered options will need the batteries replaced every year or so. And power outages can affect connectivity. Having a backup way in is critical.

Learning curve – It may take some time to get the hang of operating the lock and app. Patience is key, as is choosing a lock with an intuitive interface. Making sure your WiFi connection is strong will also minimize headaches.

DIY installation challenges – If you’re less than handy, installing smart locks yourself may prove frustrating. Hiring a pro is recommended to ensure proper setup and avoid damage. Thankfully, most RV locks use standard deadbolts for easier installation.

Privacy concerns – There are some privacy risks associated with any smart technology relying on wireless connectivity. Make sure to choose reputable brands with adequate security features to minimize risks. Disable any features that seem unnecessary or intrusive.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying

If you’re tempted to upgrade to smart locks for your RV after weighing the pros and cons, here are some recommendations for choosing the best product:

  • Connectivity – Look for locks that operate on WiFi and cellular data for constant access. Bluetooth enabled options offer more limited range.
  • Power Source – Batteries, hardwiring, or solar panels can power locks. Hardwiring provides the most consistent power. Battery operated models offer better flexibility.
  • Device Compatibility – Many locks only sync with iOS or Android. Choose one compatible with all devices you or users own.
  • Display – Backlit keypads and screens make locks more visible in low light. This is especially helpful at night.
  • Smart Features – Remote access and monitoring, digital keys, auto-locking, alarms, and such will enhance convenience and security.
  • Ease of Installation – Find an option made to fit standard RV door preps that replaces existing deadbolts easily. Minimal wiring and programming make installation simpler.
  • Smart Home Integration – If you have other smart devices, select a lock that integrates with smart home platforms. This allows centralized control.
  • Customer Support – A reliable brand with strong customer service helps troubleshoot any issues. Look for extended warranties for extra peace of mind.

Based on my research and personal experience, here are a few smart lock models I recommend considering for your RV:

LockState Connected Keyless Entry – This versatile lock operates on WiFi, Bluetooth or cell service for flexible access. The weatherproof design stands up to the elements. It’s easy to install in just minutes too!

August WiFi Smart Lock – For seamless smart home integration, the August lock syncs with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and more. Digital keys and auto-locking add convenience.

Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt – Schlage is a top lock brand trusted for decades. Their smart deadbolt features advanced encryption and 24/7 monitoring for maximum security.

Kwikset Halo Touch – With just a tap on the lock, this option senses your unique fingerprint to unlock. There’s no fumbling with keys or even phones!

Level Lock Touch – Sleek and slim, the Level Lock hides away discreetly. But it’s packed with nifty features like keypad auto-lighting and an anti-jam lock mechanism.

Adding smart locks to your RV door can certainly provide more convenience, flexibility and security. However, the tech doesn’t come without some downsides to weigh. My advice is to choose a highly reputable brand known for robust security features. Start with one door to test it out. And make sure you have backup power sources or spare keys on hand in case the technology fails.

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