RV Central Electronic Control Offers Benefits To All

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August 13, 2009

Touch screens are showing up in many applications including RV’s.

Some GPS navigation screens are touch type and higher end RV’s are often equipped with control centers that are touch screen operated.  Units like the Crestron touch panel controller that is used by many conversion builders, and the E-Plex multi-control, make electronic management a breeze.

While currently these types of control devices seem reserved for the high end vehicles, it is possible that we may see them start appearing on lower tiered products.  They may well be spiffy but, in reality, they offer benefits to both user and builder.

creston2For the user, the touch screen is far more user friendly than some of the conventional controls.  Reading and identifying the correct selection is far easier.  Touch screen controllers also take very little space yet can offer a multitude of switches and control options.  Additionally, graphic display readout pages can offer temperature readings, water and holding tank levels, generator hours and status, etc.

On the builder’s side, the touch screen control center may provide some worthwhile benefits. First, by mere appearance, it will probably appeal to their buyers, thereby helping to support their sales effort.  These are also far more user friendly reducing the client learning curve substantially, thereby requiring less customer support.  Far less wiring both in material quantity and wire size would be required to install during the manufacture procedure.  As these units are driven with proprietary software, the after sales service for the manufacturer, or the dealer, are protected from losing the service to an outside repair shop.  Trouble shooting and repair is simplified using a laptop computer and replacement plug-and-play modules.  This reduces service time and requires little to no technical employee training.   The control center also replaces many switches and display readouts while containing them in a very small install space.   Additionally, the control center’s functions could be scaled or expanded as needed by the manufacturer to meet such things as product separation, new on-board options, component changes, etc.

Adding to all of this is the cost of touch screen equipment has dropped as the applications and availability have grown.  Builders may also actually save on their warranty costs as these units replace many mechanical switches, electrical sensors, and multi-wire harnesses.

I believe, for the RV maker, a software driven main control center that handles virtually every RV house control and sensor is the way to go.  It is quicker to install at the time of build and an ideal service model.  Plug in laptop computer, the fault is revealed, plug in a new module and you are done.  Literally no skills required; any service person can do it.  There is never a come-back.  Software diagnostic programs have a high reliability and flawless repeatability.

So, how reliable are touch screens? Well, there are generally three common types: resistive, surface acoustic wave and capacitive.  All of them have basically no moving parts.  As far as standing up to repeated use over the years, look at a cash register in a restaurant or a bar.  They are used nearly non-stop 24/7, and they keep ticking day after day.  So, I guess it will work this application just fine.

Just as air conditioning and power windows were once thought of as reserved for luxury autos, the touch panel controller may well find its way to RV’s of all sizes, price points and models.

With A Touching Tale     –     Lug_Nut   –      Peter Mercer

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  1. Pingback: Tatuaggi

  2. AKAIK you’ve got the aswner in one!

  3. John, I don’t think the manufacturer shutting would be an issue as the software would be available at the dealer level. Additionmally, I would think that such service software would be released by the maker prior to closing. Thanks for your comments John, and your always great input.

  4. John

    Hi Lug_Nut,
    Great article! Looks like the RV industry is going as the auto industry went years ago. Sounds like a much faster and accurate method to troubleshoot and repair.
    With proprietary software though, what happens if the company goes out of business as we have recently witnessed? I have been using a laptop to interface with my previous cars ECM. I Like this new control panel, very compact.


  5. Chris Bryant. Glad you like the topic. The standizing of all RV electronics, for all price points, could simplify servicing and product support substantially. Thank you for your participation on this topic.

  6. S.C. Okie

    Chris, you mention “the standard”—-just so long as A L L RV manufacturers adopt the same standard, everything should work out. I’m sure you know that when different standards are adopted, well that just create a giagantic mess. Hard for the ‘techs’ to learn and understand, much less the rest of the dealers personnel. Then there are the owners that try to learn the systems. Wot a mess! Feel sorry for everyone! 🙂

  7. Great subject!
    IMHO, RV manufacturers and systems and appliance makers are way behind the times. There has been a standard available, the RV-C networking protocol, which is an RV specific ethernet type networking standard for quite a while.
    Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of interest in it, other than from a few vendors. Given the complexity of today’s systems, adding networking would be fairly trivial, and (something near and dear to me :)), make troubleshooting much easier.
    The possibilities are really infinite, at not much cost, but manufacturers need to adopt the standard and build to it.