You may find yourself wondering why anyone would want to get a Satellite Navigation system for their motorhome when smartphones have become so prevalent in society and they all have pretty robust navigation systems built-in. Not to mention the navigation apps.
However, smartphones don’t even begin to cover some of the things you’ve probably never considered while traveling in a motorhome. There are some apps that you can use, so long as you are aware of what you need to look for.
There are three types of sat nav types/apps that you can choose from:
- Dash-mount sat nav
- In-dash sat nav
- Sat nav app
You will get the most out of your dash-mount and in-dash mounts, mostly because they come with additional features and hardware that are specifically designed for certain situations and vehicles.
Why Are Motorhome Sat Nav Devices So Important?
They’re important because we’re not just talking about a small car or even a truck. If you’re driving around in a motorhome, there are safety features that come with most sat-nav devices that are generally going to be far more useful in a motorhome than Google maps is for your smartphone. Some of those features include:
- Entering motorhome weight
- Input height and weight
- Most come with a reverse camera
- A much larger viewing screen
Entering your motorhome weight may seem sort of silly until you realise that in many places, your weight may exceed a restricted weight limit or the sat-nav can warn you if the grade is too steep for your current weight.
Height is also something that you want to input into your sat-nav system. The system will either reroute you or give you a fair warning if you are approaching a bridge that is low enough over the road that your motorhome will impact it.
The reverse camera that comes with many of these devices is essential as well. However, most newer motorhomes come with their own reverse cameras so this feature may be neither here nor there to you.
The much larger viewing screen is especially nice, considering the fact that a motorhome is a much larger, spacier, more difficult to control, and heavy. You don’t want to have to squint at the small screen on your mobile when a much larger screen will be far more accommodating.
Pros and Cons of a Sat-Nav System
There are some cons to utilising sat-nav systems, however, there are certainly more benefits. Sat-nav/GPS falls into one of those strange “middle-areas” where some people absolutely have to have it and others will never use it unless they’re forced to do so.
So long as you keep up with the maintenance—as in keeping the firmware/software updated frequently—and are always mindful of keeping the latest maps downloaded, you’ll never get truly lost. Sat-nav systems are extremely reliable, even in areas where it may seem like no one has lived in centuries.
Trip times will always be cut down because you’ll be able to find—or be guided to—the quickest available route. That includes traffic information. You may feel like the navigation is taking you the long way around, however, these devices are designed to get you around traffic fluctuations and save you time.
You will usually get an entertainment system to go with your sat-nav as well. Most of the mid-tier and premium devices also come with CD and DVD drives as well as USB ports for transferring and using multimedia features.
Now, a smartphone will give you most of these things as well, however, some of the added features that come with a sat-nav—especially where motorhomes are concerned—are essential and distinctly underwhelming on a smartphone.
Sat-navs are incredibly reliable but that doesn’t mean that they are entirely infallible. Just like a GPS app on your smartphone will guide you down a wrong path, mistake your address, forget to tell you about that massive traffic blockage ahead, a sat-nav is also every bit as culpable.
Expense is also another concern. While sat-nav devices aren’t usually going to blow your entire bank account, they can get costly. Premium models are going to cost hundreds of pounds and there’s no way around that.
However, sat-navs are a distinct case of getting exactly what you pay for and premium devices are going to give you a whole lot of premium features for the cost.
Dash-Mount Sat Navs
Your dash mount sat navs are exactly what they sound like, satellite navigation/GPS devices that mount on your dash. Some of the most popular options come from Garmin, a company that is renowned for its work in the GPS consumer electronics industry.
As aforementioned, the Garmin Camper 780 takes into account the height and weight of your motorhome as it plots your route ahead of you. You can also sync your smartphone with the sat-nav for updates when you’re out and about, hands-free calling, and smart notifications on-screen.
The Garmin also offers a preloaded database of campsites so you’re never stuck trying to find one out in the middle of nowhere. You also get all of the typical things that you expect from a GPS system, like weather alerts, live traffic alerts, accidents, construction, lane closures, and more.
If you need an additional backup camera, the Camper 780 comes with one and is also compatible with several more, namely the BC 30 and BC 40.
TomTom devices have been around since the beginning of the personal GPS device revolution. Their innovations and devices are known for their quality and longevity. The Campervan is no exception.
All of TomTom’s services that you expect are built-in to the device, along with the same heads-up features that the Camper 780 has, including height and weight reroutes and warnings. It also includes camper and caravan POIs and traffic light warnings.
Its voice control is operable and compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. TomTom services come on a built-in SIM card and it includes WiFi updates and world maps for campers and caravans.
The NavPal Europe edition includes preloaded maps of Ireland, Europe, and the UK. You get a lot without having to subscribe to anything, including lifetime map updates. Its intelligent route optimisation includes the height and weight of your motorhome with turn-by-turn navigation in multiple languages.
It’s great for both night and day driving with modes for both, along with three-dimensional viewing. The built-in FM transmitter can relay everything through your car radio along with driver warnings and the full gamut of alerts and notifications you need to know about well ahead of time.
It also has a USB port and a MicroSD slot for expandable storage and a long-lasting battery if you ever need to pull it off of its primary power source.
There are a lot of great reasons to purchase a sat-nav, especially for your motorhome. The benefits far outweigh any reason you have for trying to navigate around the country with a mobile instead of a legitimate sat-nav device.
While there are some drawbacks to sat-nav devices, their features that they come with far outweigh any negatives. If you decide to go with a Garmin, TomTom, NavPal, or many others, you’ll find that it’s probably one of the most productive purchases you’ve ever made.
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