I was originally recommended the RV Whisper from someone at Hughes Autoformer when I mentioned wanting to be able to see the data from the Watchdog from somewhere other than in Bluetooth range. That is the one major flaw I see with it, as it does not alert the user if power goes out while they are away from the RV. It’s great at its power protection, and it is easy to figure out what is wrong from the error codes if you are there, but once you get too far away, you lose that ability.
Enter the RV Whisper
The RV Whisper works by connecting to sensors through Bluetooth and creating a web page that can be viewed from anywhere. It has the additional bonus of being able to set up alerts and if certain conditions are met, the RV Whisper will send you and email, text, or both, to let you know something has changed.
The RV Whisper itself is a Raspberry Pi Zero W. It comes contained in a small black box with a power connection accessible for USB, and a label on it. If I didn’t already know what a Pi Zero W was, I would just think it was some small electronic device. That doesn’t make it any less useful though, as the designer and programmer took something that was built for stuff like this and made the coding to make it work.
Could I have done this myself with freely available hardware? Well, probably not.
While I can assemble and set up a Pi, and have done several times for different uses, the Bluetooth interaction, the web portal, and bringing it all together, is a lot of work for me to do myself and some it is likely beyond my skillset currently. I’m sure given time, I could have done it myself for cheaper, but that would have required days, if not weeks of figuring out which sensors to use, which ways to interact with them, making the data setup to display it all, and building a website to display it all.
I’d much rather spend about $175 for someone else to have done that already.
The base RV Whisper is available at their website rvwhisper.com and costs $156. For us with tax and shipping, it came out to about $175. That model comes with one temperature sensor. There are also packs with more temp sensors, battery sensors, and more. I did notice that it is cheaper to buy a kit with all the sensors you’d want initially instead of buying each sensor individually. If you have the money and know what you want, buy the one with all the sensors you will use. More can be added later, but it is more expensive to add them.
The RV Whisper uses wifi and has one power cord. It comes with a USB to micro-USB cord and wall adapter, so its as easy to power up as it is to charge a smartphone. The instructions that come with it are thorough and well written, so following them is a breeze. Each RV Whisper has its own serial number and wifi network, so you download the app, connect your phone to the RV Whisper, set up an account, and login.
Setting up sensors is easy as well. The instructions walk you through the steps, but it’s basically adding a sensor, entering the serial number that is on the sensor, and giving it a name. That’s about it. The sensor and base station start talking to each other and displaying data.
Connecting to the battery
The best way to power the RV Whisper is through USB connected to the battery. If you have the old cigarette lighter power outlets in your RV, you can just get an adapter for that and plug it in. RVWhisper.com even sells those.
If you don’t have one of those or they are all used, you can connect a USB car adapter to a DC power line for a light and plug it in that way. That is how I did it for ours. If you are not comfortable with electricity and do not know what you are doing, hire someone else to add the outlet. Better safe than sorry.
With the RV Whisper plugged into the battery, as long as the battery has enough charge, the RV Whisper will work. That way if your power does go out, you can still get notifications assuming you have internet access. Since we also have a USB powered hotspot, I plugged that into the same outlet as the RV Whisper, and now we have internet all the time as backup, and we get notifications if it gets too warm, the power goes out, or there is any weirdness with the power.
The RV Whisper has a variety of sensors available to connect to and monitor. Each sensor says it is limited to ten sensors, but I’m not sure if that means ten sensors total, or ten sensors of each type. I’m pretty sure it means ten total as that may be a limitation of the Pi, but I could be wrong.
The types of sensors currently are:
- Hughes Power Watchdog
- Door open/closed
- Battery Voltage/Temp
- Battery Amps, Amp Hours and Battery State of Charge, two DC Voltages
- Water Leaks
- Propane levels (2 pack)
We are currently using two of the ten sensors, but I plan to buy a door sensor and a few more temperature sensors so we can see how the fridge and freezer, as well as the rear of the RV are doing. Right now we have one temp sensor in the middle of the RV, but our back bedroom gets hotter as the A/C doesn’t seem to reach back there as well.
The RV Whisper does have a yearly subscription to be able to access the data from anywhere you have wifi or a data connection. It is $42 and comes included for the first year with the purchase of a monitor station. I’ve seen other pet temp monitors that come with cell service, and they are usually around $200 and ONLY monitor the temperature.
If you do not pay for the yearly subscription, the RV Whisper will still work, but only as a local device, not across the internet.
If you already have a hotspot, then the RV Whisper is both more affordable, and more capable.
I high recommend the RV Whisper. It is easy to setup, easy to customize, and works well. It is small, can be hidden out of sight, and with the option for connecting to more devices, it is very useful. You can use it to monitor your RV while it is in storage or while you are away. With the addition of a Power Watchdog, you can see how the power is being utilized in your RV and see a timeline of how it has been performing from the campground.
It is a protective device and preventative device, but one that is well worth the cost. I highly recommend it.
I do not get any benefit from you purchasing the RV Whisper, no affiliate links, no bonus, nothing free for me. This is just a product I really like.