On our recent 3,500 mile trip from Texas to Savannah and back again traveling with our two dogs, we used our new RVNanny
. This device monitors the temperature (and other things) and sends an text message alert if it detects a problem (more details below).
Our motivation for finding such a device was, on a previous trip in a different trailer, the air conditioner had a mechanical failure and quit working while we were out and the dog was in the camper. All ended well since I went back to check on the dog, but it could have ended badly in the Texas summer heat.
On this trip, I was quite impressed with how the unit worked, how easy it was to setup, and how the peace of mind it provided was worth every penny. Of course it is not a completely infallible solution since it relies on the monitoring technology and wireless service. But, it is MUCH better than nothing, and we frequently (every 20 minutes or so when it was very hot) would query the system to make sure all was well.
I will also say that we try not to leave the dogs alone in the camper often, and when we do, not for long periods of time. However, when going out to eat, or going to venues were dogs are not welcome, having this device is great.
The unit is self contained, and about the same size and shape as a wireless router, including a single antenna on the unit. It is basically a cell phone that can send and receive text messages. You can also call the unit to listen. It works on both Verizon and AT&T networks.
You configure the unit by sending it text messages. You can also send a text message asking for the current status. The main things it monitors are:
- Power (either AC power or DC voltage)
- Sound levels
- The unit's internal backup battery condition
You can configure limits for the following monitors, and it will send a text message when that limit is exceeded:
- Hi temperature
- Low temperature
- Sound levels
- Motion detection
It will also send an alert if the AC power is interrupted or the DC power falls below a certain threshold (it only monitors the power source it is plugged into).
The unit uses SMS (or text) messages to communicate. A few others we looked at used data. I think text may be better because we have found that when we have a poor signal, we can still get text messages, but not data or voice.
A few notes on how we used it
- We disabled the motion alert since it is a table-top device, and we haven't found a place to put it where it wouldn't also pickup our two 100-pound dogs.
- We set the Hi temperature alert to 85 degrees, and made sure we were always close enough to get back quickly if we got that alert (we never did)
- We would make sure we could send/receive texts at the base unit before we left the dogs.
- We would frequently check the status while we were out to make sure we could still contact the unit, and that the temps were ok.
- When we would get a sound alert, we would call back to listen in and make sure the dogs were not barking incessantly.
The cost is a consideration, of course. The price if the unit is a bit high (around $950), and you have to have cell service for it (from around $10/month probably). But as I said above, for us, the peace of mind was worth every penny.