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How We Roll: Our New Security System for our RV

| Updated Feb 28, 2016

Ever since we were broken into last May, Jennifer and I have been looking for just the right security system for our RV. And now that we have a new puppy, it's even more important, because there will be times we leave him alone in our Roadtrek motorhome and we want a way to keep tabs on what is happening when we're not there.

We have found the solution. Here's our How We Roll video:

We’ve ended up with the Canary Security System for our Roadtrek RV. It is a complete security system in one device. It’s marketed as a home security device but it works just as well in an RV. All it needs is AC power and a connection to the Internet, which is provided to us by the Verizon Jet Pack MiFi Mobile Hotspot.

The Canary device works through a free app and it provides live, wide angle streaming video and audio. We set it up before we leave the RV and we can use our smartphones to check up on what’s happening and how Bo is doing from anywhere.

Setup could not be easier. You first download the Canary app – free from Google Play or the Apple App store – and then plug in a black power code. This automatically turns the unit on,  you don't have to push any switches or anything. Then, following the instructions on the app, you plug in a yellow cord between the Canary and the audio jack on your smartphone. You are then prompted to enter the password for the Wi-Fi. That does it, pairing the Canary to your Internet Wi-Fi network. You then unplug the yellow cord and shouldn't have to use that again. The Canary is activated.

Now in a home situation, you'd leave it plugged in and “on” all the time. Your WiFi data at home is unlimited,

In an RV, though, most of us do our best to control data usage. So we only turn the unit on for the times we are in need of it, when we go out to dinner, when we leave the dog alone while we take a short hike. The unit does consume data and since we just got ours, I have not had the opportunity to see exactly how much it gobbles up on a typical trip. I'll update this after I have had some more experience with it.

Bo in RT
A still lifted from the streaming video of Bo our RV

Something else we realy like about the Canary: It provides realtime readouts of the temperature, humidity and air quality so we can be sure the AC is working.

The Canary camera sensors and memory adjust to normal conditions… like when Bo moves from the front to the back. But when something unusual happens… if he gets too rambunctious or an intruder enters – it will send an instant alert to your smartphone. You help it “learn” by entering in tags, or short descriptions of the video that is saved when an alarm is triggered.

If a real emergency, say a real breakin, you can activate an ear piercing siren from your smartphone that will sound the alarm… and you can even program it to call authorities wherever you happen to be.

Canary records the video, too, which you can then download. And it keeps a running list of when it was activated and when you come and go from the vehicle. An you can tien the audio and video off for complete privacy.

The cost is $200. There are premium fees that you can upgrade to that archives your video, a feature more suited to fulltime use in a fixed residence. Since we are in an RV and only use the Canary from time to time while traveling, I'll stick with the free service for a while. The Canary is available everywhere, from Verizon stores, online at Amazon and at most big box stores.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2016-02-28

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

7 Responses to “How We Roll: Our New Security System for our RV”

October 11, 2017at10:24 pm, Jon Eisenberg said:

Suppose someone breaks in and smashes it and the hot spot with a hammer? Then you get no notice and no video connection either. (Protection for this in more traditional systems is called “smash and crash” technology – even if the visible equipment is smashed, the signal is sent if the system is not disarmed within a set time.) I’m looking for a review of a system that has actually gone through a break-in and how it responded in real life.

March 22, 2017at9:17 pm, William said:

120v System what good is that for a RV? So what good is a alarm when it doesn’t work when your not using it? Should of gotten a 12v system.

December 21, 2016at7:38 am, Interstate Blog said:

Update to what I wrote three weeks ago – I bought a Canary and so far have been testing it in my office. The manufacturer definitely seems to have improved the over-sensitivity issue because I have gotten no false alarms. I do reliably get text messages when someone enters my office area who the device does not recognize (thus far those have been legitimate entries, not burglars). So, for less than $200, I’d say that this device does perform a worthwhile function. I’ve not done any Class B trials yet, but that will happen in the next few months after we get our lithium retrofit completed.

November 30, 2016at7:53 am, Interstate Blog said:

This thread is a few months old but that in itself leads me to wonder whether there have been further improvements in the Canary in the intervening time, and Mike might be able to comment on that. My question is the same as Jamie Smith’s below, except I can elaborate. While researching the Canary, I noticed that CNET gave it a thumbs-down because of the motion sensor. As they put it, “The over-sensitivity all but renders the thing unusable”. In their tests, they had as many as 22 false alarms in a single night’s use, from motions as simple as a passing car’s headlights, and no amount of system tagging would negate the over-sensitivity. Well, the *data* that the thing must be chewing through is probably substantial, I would think, with that volume of mis-activity. So for us potential RV users, one of two things is probably true at this point: Either Canary instituted system improvements in the past year or so (since the time of CNET’s review) to tame the over-sensitivity, or there are potentially better choices out there (CNET recommended the Piper NV or the iCamera Keep). I sure would like to determine which is the case.

December 01, 2016at2:20 pm, Bill Goldman said:

About 18 months ago, I tried both systems in our Class B and chose the Piper NV . . . see

May 23, 2016at10:58 am, Jamie Smith said:

Hi Mike and Jennifer. My husband and I are new FT RVers and enjoy your podcasts. We just purchased the Canary and were wonderig if you’ve determined yet how the Canary affects your data usage? Have you been able to hook it up to campground or a business-provided wifi (Starbucks, erc)? We will be leaving our cat in the RV/campground during the day while we visit relatives. Since our biggest concern is electricity interruptions, I guess we’ll have to hook it up to the car battery via the accessory outlet. Also, do you have any new insight or suggestions regarding use and limitations of the Canary? Thank you.

February 28, 2016at8:47 pm, Rico Muscatel said:

Seems perfect.

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