Is the dog OK?

We travel with Mickey, a friendly little terrier mix who is Tothie's dearest companion (even over me, I think). Those of you who are dog lovers understand, and you know that you would probably rather cut off your own pinky than see your beloved pet get hurt.

When we're in the Airstream during hot weather, this is a big concern. Tothie has a shoulder carry bag for Mickey, but it's not always practical to take him while we're exploring. If we're visiting some place that doesn't allow dogs, Mickey has to stay in the Airstream. And since we travel in the summer, heat inside the Airstream can be an issue.

How we keep Mickey safe

Now, of course we know that the air conditioner will keep the interior temperature controlled. But what if something goes wrong? Air conditioners can fail. The power plug can overheat and melt. The power can go off in the campground. If one of those things happened, we'd want to know right away so we could rush back to the Airstream and save Mickey.

September daytime temps were around 80 at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico, but the interior of our unshaded Airstream was much higher

So over the past few years I've been testing various products that are supposed to alert you when the temperature gets too high in your RV. Generally speaking, most of them work. But all of the ones I tested had issues:

  • they are pretty expensive ($100-200)
  • some require a subscription fee (for example, MarCELL)
  • setup can be a royal pain (I'm looking at you, RV Whisper) 
  • they aren't trustworthy (it's difficult to know if they've stopped working)
  • they require batteries 
  • they have a phone app that sucks

Let me save you a lot of hassle and time. Don't buy any of the dedicated RV monitors or pet monitors. Instead, just upgrade the thermostat in your Airstream to a Micro-Air EasyTouch model. Doing so solves two issues in one product: improved thermostat usability and functionality and a way to monitor the temperature in the Airstream for your pet while you are away. 

Why we chose Micro-Air EasyTouch

The Micro-Air thermostat is worth buying just for the additional features beyond what the Airstream-supplied GE or Dometic thermostat offers. You get a really bright and colorful touch screen, a ton of useful features, and it is super-easy to install. 

But beyond all that, the device also allows you to remotely monitor the interior temperature of Airstream or other brand RV. That means you can see exactly how comfortable your pet is via the Micro-Air phone app. No subscription fee, no added cost, and no batteries needed.

The remote monitoring feature works when you connect the thermostat to WiFi that you have in the RV. The WiFi can come from a cellular hotspot device from Verizon, AT&T, etc., or Starlink, or any other method you have for connecting to the Internet. As long as the thermostat can connect to WiFi, and your phone has service, you can open the Micro-Air app and see what's happening.

(For more detail, our friend Brad from Thirteen Adventures made this video that explains how to set up remote monitoring using the Micro-Air app.) 

You can also set notifications, so that when the temperature goes higher or lower than you'd like, you will get a warning on your phone screen, like this:

My favorite feature of all is that you can change the setting on the air conditioner or the furnace from your phone. (As long as you are connected to the Internet, and you've set up the app features properly.) So if you're out touring mid-day and decide your pet would be more comfortable with the temp at 72°, you can turn down the thermostat without going back to the Airstream. No "pet monitor" on the market can do that!

Admittedly, we've only recently begun to use the Micro-Air EasyTouch thermostat for remote monitoring. We'd been enjoying its ease-of-use features, but just hadn't thought to use it to manage Mickey's comfort while we were out. After two years of searching for the best "pet monitoring" device, and hundreds of dollars wasted on monitors that didn't work well, the solution was right under my nose. 

Now, the Micro-Air thermostat is what we use for peace of mind on a hot day. It's "Mickey tested—Mickey approved"! 

3 comments

Glen Johnson

Glen Johnson

Rich:

I have the Micro-Air (thanks to you and Tothie!) but you hit on a big point: It needs a Wifi connection to be controlled when we’re out of immediate Bluetooth range.

What’s your experience and recommendation for providing Wifi in a trailer?

A cellular hotspot? Starlink?

We’re not full-timers and only seasonal users now, so I can’t justify Starlink yet, but I’m exploring hotspots. FYI, I have T-Mobile cell service for my cellphone.

I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on that front, too.

Glen

Darrall Henderson

Darrall Henderson

Brilliant idea! Thanks

Rich Luhr

Rich Luhr

Glen, that’s a huge question … I could write a long blog on the subject of getting Internet on the road. But the short answer is that for most people, a cellular hotspot is the most cost-effective solution. Our Verizon hotspot costs us about $25 per month as an add-on to our existing cell phone plan.

Starlink is great, but it will cost over $100 per month, so it makes sense mostly for heavy users or people who frequently travel outside cell phone range.

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