There’s more to owning an RV than you might see in movies like RV (2006) and We’re the Millers (2013). Owning an RV is both a great accomplishment and a great commitment. If you’re the new owner of an RV, there are some things you’ll need to learn: One of these things specific to RV-ownership is how to inspect, repair or replace the thermostat.
If you’ve bought a used or secondhand RV, it might be necessary to repair or replace the existing thermostat. The same is true if you’ve had your RV for a while and you start to suspect that the thermostat might be acting up.
The good news is that RV thermostat maintenance and replacement isn’t difficult. It also doesn’t require a trained expert or qualified auto mechanic: With the right advice and know-how plus a few basic tools that most responsible drivers should keep in their kit, installing, replacing or repairing an RV thermostat is something you can do yourself.
Here’s the complete guide on RV thermostats, including what to look for, how to diagnose any potential RV thermostat problems and a closer in-depth look at which thermostats on the market are best for your RV or camper.
Best RV/Camper Thermostat Reviews
The quest for finding the right thermostat can feel more difficult than choosing the RV itself. Typing it into a search engine or Amazon is going to give any new RV owner more possible thermostat options than they can handle – and here’s where the process of choosing an RV thermostat can start to feel confusing.
Confused about which type of RV thermostat to choose?
We’ve collected 5 of the best RV thermostat models on the market.
If you want to replace your thermostat with a better analog model or go the digital route instead, these are the best and most reliable options out there – including an option for any RV owners who might be buying on a budget
Coleman Mach 7330B3441 Analog Heat/Cool RV Air Conditioner Thermostat 24 V
The Coleman Mach Analog Single Stage Heat/Cool RV Air Conditioner Thermostat 24 Volt gets the vote as the best thermostat overall.
While it’s tempting to go straight for an electronic or digital thermostat these days, it might come as a surprise that an analog model can still come out on top.
The most important things a thermostat needs to be is (1) reliable and (2) long-lasting: The Coleman RV Camper Mach Manual Thermostat happens to be both.
It’s easy to install, easy to use and easy to repair in the unlikely event that something were to happen.
In short, the Coleman won’t let you down.
Pros & Cons
Dometic 3106995.032 Heat/Cool Analog Thermostat
The Dometic Heat/Cool Analog Thermostat might not have as many settings (or look as flashy) as some of the other digital thermostats available on the market – but it doesn’t need to be, and it’s not as “bare bones” as the Suburban model (#5).
If you’re looking for a great, reliable thermostat that won’t malfunction and should last for a long time, then the Dometic is your answer.
It’s easy to install even if you have never done the job yourself before, and it’s great for replacing the current analog model of your RV.
Pros & Cons
The Honeywell TH5110D1006 (or just “Honeywell” for short!) is one of the first options if you are looking to replace or install a digital or electronic RV thermostat.
One of the first benefits of installing a digital thermostat is better display accuracy of the temperature – and often, finer possible settings to change them to.
The Honeywell is made with a backlight, although the screen is smaller than you would expect.
Like most thermostats on this list, RV owners can count on the Honeywell to be easy to install with just the matching of the wiring required.
Pros & Cons
Coleman-Mach Thermostat, Digital, Heat / Cool / Heat Pump
Coleman-Mach thermostats have been installed in RV’s as a standard option for a long time – and that’s because they’re reliable.
If you want to upgrade to the digital version of what’s in your RV now (or it just needs replacing with something else), the Coleman-Mach thermostat is the electronic version with superior features and an additional sleek design.
The task of installing it is easy, even if you have no experience with DIY, thermostat maintenance or RV repairs.
It also allows for more setting flexibility than many other digital models you’ll find on the market.
Pros & Cons
Suburban 232306 Water Heater Thermostat Switch – 120V
If you’re buying your thermostat on a budget or you just don’t need something as “fancy” as some of the other options mentioned in this article, you might find that the Suburban is the best option for you.
This model is water-heater specific. This means that it’s not going to cater to any needs other than controlling the temperature – if you need something more comprehensive, the other thermostat models on this list are going to be way more suited to what you need.
But for going back to basics, you can’t get a lot more basic than this.
Pros & Cons
What To Look For in An RV/Camper Thermostat
One of the first things any RV owner should know about their purchase is what to look for in an RV thermostat.
While it might come as a surprise to a first-time owner, not all thermostats are the same – and just like anything else you would buy, not all brands match up to the same standards, either. It’s not as confusing as it might sound!
Important factors in replacing or repairing an RV thermostat includes understanding the different types of RV thermostats, the ease of installation for the specific model, the brand’s overall reputation and – of course – the price that you’ll pay for it.
All of these factors determine which type of RV thermostat is the best fit for your next purchase.
An RV thermostat doesn’t just measure the temperature: It helps to adjust it when necessary. This is one of the most important factors for keeping the parts of your RV in good condition over time. When a thermostat doesn’t work right, you’re risking more than just heating issues – you’re risking damage to the finer parts of the vehicle (including its interior) due to changes in temperature and humidity.
Here are the most important things to know about choosing a new or replacement thermostat model for your RV.
RV Thermostat Types
First, let’s talk about the different types of RV thermostats.
While some sources list as much as five different types, there are actually only three of them: Analog, digital (or electronic) and programmable.
Older RV models are more likely to have analog models, while newer models are digital or programmable. If you intend to replace the thermostat in your current RV, digital and programmable models tend to be recommended as a replacement even in cases where the existing thermostat is an analog one.
Digital thermostats are considered to be more accurate, reliable and easy to use than their older, analog counterparts.
Ease of Installation
Ease of installation always matters, whether we’re talking about the replacement or repair of an RV thermostat or the purchase of a new couch or computer.
Why do people all over the world choose furniture from Ikea? Why do people still choose Microsoft?
The answer is ease of installation. The same applies to your RV thermostat.
Some thermostat models are easy to install and maintain. Others are notoriously difficult to install instead. This doesn’t make them worse models, but it could make them ones to avoid if you’re new to RV ownership or maintenance.
There isn’t a single thing bought or sold where price is not an object for the majority of people.
Again, the same is going to be true for choosing the right RV thermostat.
Most RV owners would say that they want to find an affordable RV thermostat that functions well but doesn’t cost more than their vehicle maintenance – or the vehicle itself!
This guide recommends some of the best RV thermostats on the market, ranked by factors like Best Overall and Best Budget Option.
A practical RV thermostat doesn’t have to be the most expensive model on the market in order to be a good one.
Usually, it also shouldn’t be the cheapest one that you can find: There are many knock-offs, replicas and just badly made thermostats on the market. Use our guide to find the right thermostat matching up with all of your needs.
Most of the consumer products that you buy are covered under a warranty or guarantee. This means that the product is “covered” against any manufacturing damage – or damage and wear that happens in a certain time-frame.
Always make sure that you check the warranty information for the product you intend to buy.
Usually, the majority of products have either a manufacturer’s warranty or a store warranty where the first option is not the case.
Check this warranty information (and always keep your receipt!) to see (1) how long the warranty covers the product for, (2) exactly what it’s covered against and (3) what possible actions (including wrong installation) might void the warranty in question.
Sometimes it’s worth buying something “for the name” so to speak.
When you buy specific brands over other ones, it’s about more than just simple brand loyalty. It’s about the fact that the brand is known for providing a good product overall.
We’ve made sure to consider the most reliable RV thermostat brands for this guide.
Don’t buy thermostats that might have a bad reputation – and won’t work the way you expect them to.
Instead, stick to reliable and trusted thermostat brands like the ones mentioned in our guide.
The Tech Edge
Thermostats have come a very long way since analog models.
If you have an analog thermostat model in your RV, it might be time to change it out for a more modern digital option.
While it might seem like a wasted expense to some if their existing thermostat works fine, realize that RV thermostats are prone to wear just like everything else in your vehicle. When left alone and unmaintained, an older thermostat is much more likely to start malfunctioning – especially in harsh weather conditions.
Modern thermostats are not only more reliable than older ones, they give you what we’ll call the tech edge.
This means more control over temperature changes than an analog thermostat would have, and more options at your fingertips than your older thermostat can offer you.
Some thermostats even offer programmable options (like pre-set settings) and the benefit of being able to control changes remotely through smartphone apps.
Can your older thermostat do that?
We bet not.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean analog thermostats are all bad: Newer-made analog thermostats like the Coleman RV Camper Mach Manual Thermostat are ultra-reliable without being pricey.
How To Install an RV Thermostat
Installing or replacing an RV thermostat isn’t as complicated as the majority of new RV owners might imagine.
If you can handle a screwdriver and see what you’re doing with a flashlight, you can probably do a good job at replacing an RV thermostat – and you should be able to do the job yourself.
Tips for Installing an RV (Camper) Thermostat
1. Read the Manual: Most different types of RV thermostats (including the ones on this list) are shipped with an instructional manual – and when they aren’t, there’s usually a YouTube video online of a previous installation. Make sure that you start by reading these resources first.
2. Ready the Tools: Replacing or repairing an RV thermostat usually requires only a screwdriver at most – but you’ll have to make sure that it’s the right one, and you can’t “improvise” by using the end of a knife if you want your screws to stay un-stripped.
3. Power Off: You wouldn’t work on a live power connection in the home, so why would anyone take the risk when it comes to their RV? Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that everything is turned off before beginning any kind of DIY work.
4. See More Resources: Always check out one or two YouTube videos – even if you’ve already read the manual from one cover to the next, and even if you’ve done this before. It’s a good idea to be model-specific in your search: It can provide you with a clearer idea of how to install the specific thermostat model.
5. Color Coded: Color coded is the way to do it. Even when it comes to older RV models, the majority of thermostats have been color coded according to the right wire to match up – and you can expect what you’re connecting to the other side to have the same coding. In the very rare event that this isn’t the case, revert back to the manual or call in some expert help.
Useful Thermostat Links
Need a little more help?
Here’s a YouTube video that provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to install a Honeywell RV thermostat.
There are more useful guides out there if you need assistance or you happen to be doing it for the first time.
Can I Use a House Thermostat in My RV?
This is one of the most common questions about thermostats according to Google – and it seems logical to most people that a house thermostat and RV thermostat might be interchangeable just because they serve more or less the same function.
Unfortunately, you can’t.
It’s like attempting to stick bicycle wheels on a car just because they do “more or less the same thing.”
A house thermostat is meant to be wired to the voltage of a house, while an RV thermostat is meant for a vehicle’s power supply: The two aren’t interchangeable, and you shouldn’t try it!
How Do I Know If My RV Thermostat is Bad?
The first sign that your thermostat has seen better days in the past is when it goes unresponsive – or when your settings no longer achieve the expected results. A thermostat that has been in the RV since you can remember (or before you bought the RV) is one that generally needs replacement – even if it hasn’t “gone bad” just yet, it might soon.
The easiest, no-fuss way to test an RV thermostat is by using a multimeter: It’s a simple tool available at most hardware stores online and off – and it’s a good idea to have one around anyway, so get one if you don’t have one of these!
Simply, no reaction to touch with a multimeter means that there’s no electrical connection – and it could mean that it’s time to replace your thermostat.
The maintenance of your RV isn’t just about keeping essential components such as the wheels, brakes, interior and engine in good nick: It also counts for smaller components such as the thermostat and the wiring – and like anything, it might be time to jump in with repair or replacement work every once in a while.
It’s not hard, and it’s luckily not complicated – but it is important for the longevity of your RV (and of course, the comfort of the people in it!).
Need more help?
Take a closer look at this link for a selection of RV manuals that is likely to include yours.
When you take good care of your RV, it’ll take care of you!
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