Building a Smart Van!


I’m getting my Amazon cart filled up and about ready to make the big purchase for all things VAN LIFE! I’ve got a 2015 MB Sprinter 170" and wanting it pretty comf. Wanting to make the van as smart as possible.

Do you have recommendations for which smart home accessories I should get? I have a iphoneX and macbookpro so I was originally thinking Apple HomePod, but its pretty big and doesn’t pair with ton of devices… and its doesn’t play as nice with Spotify I’m finding out. Alexa is integrated into a smoke/CO detector that I can embed into my ceiling which would be cool, but I guess it doesn’t connect with phones as well as the other assistants. I have a Google home in my current apartment and it works fine.

Simarine has a pretty interesting gadget as well that I guess you can get all sorts of readings on like fuel, water, propane levels, solar usage, etc.

Thoughts? What do you Smart Van Lifers use? Thanks!



While it’s certainly possible to go high tech, that’s just that much more stuff to go haywire. Personally I’m a big fan of low/no tech, because I prefer the reliability and lack of tinkering needed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that typically when you go to sell a rig, you’ll lose most if not all of the money you have put into your build. Non factory campers are extremely hard to sell for more than just the value of an empty van.

If it’s a hobby, maybe it’s worth it to you, but if you’re trying to add resale value, I’d advise against it.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


EverythingWill be much better if you utilize Google products rather than Apple products given that they are not only significantly more reliable and integrated but they are also much more lowfi compatible. Google is always better than Apple but I won’t get into that argument. I imagine you would like something like a nest thermostat, Philips hue lights, Google home hub, Google Chromecast, temperature detectors, humidity detectors, and general raspberry pi sensor setups - I want to have the same but I’m learning that all the added glamour might actually reduce the smartness of the vehicle. In order to have everything interconnected using IOT you will have to have a stable wifi connection which will rely on either a hotspot or a jetpack of sorts but the moment that is down the devices will disconnect and it will just add another layer of troubleshooting. A switch for lights, easy, a cell phone instead of hub, easy, a dumb thermostat is fine since you’re either in the vehicle or you aren’t and it changes temp rapidly anyway, and Chromecast is still ideal but it relies on WiFi so you may as well plug the TV into a laptop or just use the laptops. I want the same, as I said, but the more I think about it - it’s less smart to do so and it just adds complications (for me personally). Definitely excited to hear what you come up with.


Sounds like an amazing idea!

Goodluck with it and keep us updated.


I use Alexa daily. Wakes me up, plays my music. Raises and lowers my automated desk via voice command that i programmed with Amazon Lambda function and a solid state drive (DC to AC power), monitors my outside cameras that are WiFi enabled cameras by monitoring “suspicious activity” then sending me a push notification to look at who’s around the rig via the cameras app, deploys my rooftop drone lol. I’m a software engineer so the curiosity/effort to build is minimal. If you’re like me and like to code stuff together, go with Alexa as it’s the most easy when it comes to developer idea to execution. If you’re not, I suppose the more simple user friendly devices (google, apple) devices are better.