RV 12 Volt Lighting Automation Options?

So I had my folks down for Thanksgiving, and they love the automatic lighting all around the house. They also loved playing around with Alexa. They picked up an echo, even tho I told them it won’t be much more than a Bluetooth speaker for them.

I would like to set them up with a HA system, but the problem is they are retired and spend most of their time in the RV. All of the lighting in the RV is 12 volt. Is anyone aware of any zwave/Zigbee 12 volt switches or relays that could be using for lighting control?

Thanks in advance.

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That’s a good question. I know of some ZigBee relays that would switch 12v on or off but they have to be connected to 110v AC. So they won’t work for what your looking for.

The lighting in the RV is 12 volts, but I’m sure they use shore power (120) when parked right?
You would need to be landed anyway to have decent internet, which the Echo requires…, and wifi…
So in the end all you need is dry contact relay devices to control the lighting, not going to be easy to deal with…
To do this right, you need to also allow local control of the lights when on house battery.
Or just get them an inverter to run all the zwave and HA stuff…

Some people do this, there are even some NASCAR teams with Control4 RV systems. (Super expensive)

At a more realistic budget level, most people seem to use elk relays to allow for the HA controller to control the 12 V lights. But you’re only talking about on/off, no dimming.



It’s unlikely that any voice control will work, they all require actual Internet access because the processing is done in the cloud.

On the other hand, harmony works really well on local Wi-Fi, a lot of RV owners have it. You need full Internet access to set up the original account, but after that it will run locally very well.

So just depends on what they want to accomplish and their usual setup. If they can watch streaming Netflix, they probably have good enough access for Echo. If not, they’ll have to run locally. A lot of people still like it, but it’s not quite the same experience as apartment living.

Yes, they use shore power when parked, but all the lights are still 12 volt. I know the RV I used to own was about 50/50 on 12 vs 120 volt lighting, but there’s appears to be all 12 volt. So even when plugged in, the 120 is converted to 12 for lighting.

The elk relays look like they might work, but probably beyond my skill level. I’ll have to look more into how they work and see. I was hoping something was available that was zwave and could easily be integrated with Smartthings. Internet for them is not a problem. They are typically parked in one location for a good while and have cable or DLS.

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Yea, there’s no getting around a DIY on this one, you need to find your self a wire nut to give you a hand.

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All the elk does is provide a step down between the 12 V and a lower voltage device in the form of a dry contact so that you can use a switch on either side of that connection to then close the circuit and power what’s on the other side of it.

So it’s not that complicated. The elk relay itself doesn’t have a radio component.

You’re just going to wire it to whatever it is that you want to be the RF switch. Then you control that RF switch from either SmartThings or harmony.

If it was me, I would probably put harmony into the mix just so it would still run even if the Internet was not available. You’d have more scheduling options when the Internet was available through SmartThings, and you could also toss echo into the mix as long as you had good internet. But the harmony would still work even when you didn’t have good Internet.

Of course you do have the question of how you’re going to power the switch. And SmartThings. And harmony. But I assume you’ve got that part figured out. Use of the relays just means you don’t have to replace all of the existing 12 V lighting with new stuff. :sunglasses:

One way to get around this problem is to get a 12 to 110v inverter. This will power all your 110v toys( hub, echo, WiFi etc). To solve the lighting problem you would get a 110vac to 12dc adaptor similar to a usb charger. Then get a bunch of smart plug. You plug in the 110v to 12 adapter to the smart plug for light control.


It’s a brand new RV, so an inverter is already there. The thing is a monster, a beauty. Problem is all of the lighting is wired through 12 volt switches. Just imagine your house as it is setup now. All your receptacles are still there and work the same, on 120 volts, but all of your lighting and switches etc is converted at the breaker box to 12 volt and ran to all your rooms.

So pretty much the only options would be as JD has spelled out, as best as I can tell. Unless of course someone offered an actual 12v switch. Something that companies should look into. As the boomers and younger are the HA freaks of today, but retired RV owners of tomorrow.

The Fibaro rgbw device can control/dim four channels of 12v DC with no need for any 120vac power.

The above solutions are overly complex. The Fibaro part is simple to wire for this use case.


Does this work with smartthings?

Many years have passed since the original post, but even so I believe most of the responders have severely underestimated what RV means. They are no longer the equivalent of tent camping on wheels! Even mid-range RVs include pro-sign inverters, whole-house generators, radiant floor heating, full internet and all the other comforts of home. However for the home to function while moving down the road all of the lighting fixtures are 12Vdc. To convert these units to a smart home, we simply need Wi-Fi switches operating on 12Vdc line-in while switching 12Vdc power. There are now some 12V over 12V switches, but I’ve been unable to find any three-way versions. There are also some smart switches for dimming, latching, inching etc. Most of them can be used for timing the momentary-on function which would be necessary for operating blinds, shades & awnings. Still, with all of this available there seems to be nobody on Amazon making it simple… These switches should be a plug and play set up of the appropriate dimensions to replace the very common style of switch used in RVs… The rocker switches that are manufactured by Carling Switch and Cherry Switch. Ideally we should be able to remove the existing switches from the panel and replace it with a Wi-Fi/smart switch. There is a large market for this, certainly not huge as compared to stick-built homes.