Motorhome Gadgets – must have tech for van-lifers

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The world relies on technology these days and van life is no different: we all need gadgets in our vans – and ways to keep them charged.

In this section of our van life shop, we’ll look at RV and motorhome gadgets – the types of things that some of us can’t do without.

We’ll look at satnavs, solar panels, wifi antennas, leisure batteries, power inverters, dashcams and lots more.

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Motorhome satnavs

You can pay a fortune for a motorhome satnav, costing several hundred pounds. New motorhomes have them built in but older vans obviously don’t.

The thing is that with a motorhome, you want a satnav where you can program in the dimensions of your van so you can avoid routes with low and/or narrow bridges and the like. Not all satnavs have this option and most that do are expensive.

Although we’ve put off ever using one – preferring our trusty old road atlas – this Aonerex touchscreen satnav has 4 star reviews and it costs less than £80 – a fraction of the price compared to most motorhome satnavs.

See what other vanlifers say about it. It’s definitely the one we’d go for if we finally embrace 21st century tech and put our old maps away.

aonerex satnav for motorhomes

The best wifi for motorhomes

We live in an age where having wifi is as important as having food! This is certainly the case with youngsters who seem to spend most of their time online.

And if you’re a fulltime van-lifer and work online from your RV you’ll need a decent system that is able to pick up a good internet signal.

One of the best motorhome wifi systems on the market seems to be this Avtex AMR985. It scores 4.5 stars on Amazon and nearly all of the reviews are very good. It’s certainly the one we’ll be getting.

Best wifi for motorhomes: Avtex AMR985

How to charge motorhome gadgets

We’ll often write our blog posts and newsletters whilst on the road, which means we need some way of charging our computers and phones.

We use this Bestek Power Inverter which works off either the 12V battery, the EHU, or the solar panel. It has two 3-pin plug sockets and USB ports.

Whilst on the go (plugging into the cigarette lighter) we’ll use this to charge up our phones, laptops and anything else that needs a booster.

At a campsite on Electric Hook Up we’ll plug it in so we can charge several things at once and when off-grid we connect the inverter to the solar control panel and use the energy of the sun!

If you use a lot of gadgets you’ll probably want a more robust power station/generator.

bestek power inverter for motorhomes and campervan gadget charging

Solar panels for motorhomes and campervans

If you’re in two minds about fitting a solar panel to your van’s roof, we say ‘don’t hesitate’! If you use tech a lot it means you can charge things up without having to plug into the grid at campsites all the time.

Here is the set-up we use…

We have a 160W Photonic Universe solar panel.

This is connected to a solar charge controller which regulates the power coming from the solar panel. (Without a controller you could overcharge your leisure battery and kill it!)

And we used this solar panel mounting bracket to secure the panel to the roof. (It took our friend, Dom, just a couple of hours to set it all up for us).

If your van isn’t big enough to have a solar panel fitted to the roof (such as the smaller campervans with pop-top roofs) you might like to go for portable, folding solar panels instead. These make a great alternative and give you just as much solar energy to power up all your gadgets.

solar panel being fitted to the roof of a motorhome
That’s our mate, Dom, fitting the solar panel to our van’s roof

Motorhome leisure batteries

Motorhomes need a leisure battery to power things like interior lighting, the fridge, the water pump and all your gadgets. Some motorhomes have two or even more leisure batteries, some of which cost over £1000! (Lithium batteries are reported to be the best but these cost big money).

Our old VW Cree uses just the one leisure battery (which is charged when we’re driving, on EHU at a campsite, and via the solar panel on the roof).

We bought this Numax motorhome leisure battery back in 2019 for just £84 and it’s been money well spent. It’s still going strong several years later.

numax motorhome leisure batteries

IMPORTANT! Your leisure battery won’t be able to power too many electrical gadgets without a means to charge it. If you’re not using an electric hook up (EHU) you’ll drain the battery if you’re using too many things at once. And a leisure battery that drains too low could easily be damaged beyond repair. This is why we recommend getting a solar panel (or two) so you can keep the leisure battery topped up. And it’s eco-friendly too!

Generators for motorhomes

Most of the big RVs from the States come supplied with generators. Most UK motorhomes do not.

Generators can be heavy and cumbersome, not to mention very noisy which is not ideal if you’re wild camping and trying to remain inconspicuous.

Fortunately technology has improved enormously in the last decade or so. Generators are now much smaller, lighter, and quieter than they used to be.

This Jackery portable power station is a solar-ready generator and when hooked up to these 100W solar panels gives you a very impressive supply of clean and quiet eco-friendly power.

jackery explorer 240 portable power station generator for motorhomes and campervans

Dashcams and reversing cameras

Dashcams are becoming increasingly popular as insurance evidence. Or they make great video recordings of your epic road trips so you can relive those fabulous drives.

The technology has developed even further, making parking a motorhome easier by providing us now with reversing cameras. If you’re not confident about driving backwards into parking spaces or along narrow country lanes, these dash cams and reversing cameras can make all the difference.

The dash cam with best ratings (and the one we use) is this Orskey Dash Cam.

And if you want a camera to help with reversing, this Urvolax Wireless Reversing Camera has excellent reviews.

The best action cameras for road trips

On epic road trips you’ll want to capture memorable moments on camera. We have our dashcam facing straight ahead but now Hobo Trudi uses an ‘action’ camera out the side window.

We had researched Go-Pros but were put off by the price; even older models cost up to £200.

This Akaso action camera has over 4500 reviews, many of which state that it’s a great little camera for a fraction of the cost of the latest Go-Pro. It does a fine job and the neat little remote control means you can capture great pics and videos at the press of a button.

motothome gadgets: akaso action camera for epic road trips

A gadget to help park your van level

Many modern motorhomes (especially the more expensive ones) have hydraulic systems that can level your van at the press of a button.

But if you’re like us and don’t have such luxuries, you’ll rely on good old-school levelling chocks and a spirit level to help park your van if you’re on uneven ground. (So long as we don’t roll out of bed when we’re parked up, we don’t worry too much if we’re not 100% flat).

However, if you’re into your electronic gadgets, this Digi-Pas Smart Level Cube has 4 star reviews. It links up to your smartphone so you can keep manoeuvring the van back and forth until you’re parked just right.

didi-pas levelling gadget for motorhomes

Motorhome tracking device

With theft of motorhomes on the rise it makes sense to use some kind of security device to either deter thieves or help get your van back if it has been nicked.

We’ve been researching tracking devices for the last couple of years and it looks like we’ve finally found the one to go for…

The reviews for this TruTrak GPS Tracker give it top marks. It’s easy to install, customer support is first class, and at less than £35 it’s a snip! Just connect it to the battery (we suggest the leisure battery) download the app and you’re done.

If the reviews are anything to go by, this is probably the best cheap tracking device for RVs on the market.

tru-trak motorhome tracking device

Motorhome damp meter

And here’s an item that is indispensable if you’re viewing a used motorhome.

No matter their age, these vehicles are prone to D.A.M.P. Ours was certainly no exception and the repair bill came in at £1500!

This damp meter will save you the guesswork. Simply prod the offending area and you’ll see whether or not water ingress is eating away at your van’s habitation skeleton. You can fix the issue before it becomes too costly an exercise.

motorhome gadgets: damp meter for checking for water ingress, damp, and condensation problems

RELATED CONTENT: 13 things you must check when viewing an older motorhome

Pop grips and phone holders

Hobo Gav’s son, Isaac, introduced us to ‘pop socket pop grips‘ – a really handy little gadget that sticks on the back of your phone, making it far less likely to drop.

The one we bought has the classic slogan, ‘Never underestimate an old man with a motorhome’. Love it!

pop sockets pop grip: never underestimate an old man with a motorhome

If having a satnav and dashcam isn’t enough, you can stick your phone on the windscreen as well…

We don’t actually use a satnav but we will use Google Maps on Trudi’s phone sometimes. And this Vanmass Phone Holder Mount makes it handsfree and secure.

Snowflake multi tool

And finally, another gadget that doesn’t rely on batteries or electric…

This ‘18 in 1 Snowflake Multi Tool‘ is simply brilliant.

Not only is it versatile for a variety of jobs around the van, but it means you won’t have to carry a heavy toolbox filled with different screwdrivers and spanners, helping lower your motorhome’s payload.

snowflake multi tool  - a great, space saving gadget for motorhomes

We hope you’ve found this page helpful and that it fulfils your love of gadgets!

Remember to check out the other sections of our Motorhome Gifts and Accessories shop, including kitchenware, clothing, motorhome cleaning products, hab area items, and our RV extras.

And if you’ve just started out in van life, see what we always take with us in our road trip essentials page.

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