As a driver, and certainly as an RVer, you no doubt recognize the value of a GPS Navigation System. The question is are there Navigation Systems that are better for RVs or even GPS units that are specifically designed for Recreational Vehicles? The answer is a definite yes!
A GPS for your RV basically works the same way as any GPS Navigation System. The receiver obtains signals from satellites in geo-synchronous orbits around the Earth, and uses those transmissions to pinpoint location in real time. However an RV is not a car, nor is it exactly a truck. There are physical features and road requirements specific to motor homes, which one should consider when looking for a Nav System.
There are many good quality low-cost GPS's out there right now, from names you are probably familiar with, Magellan, Harmon/Kardon, Garmin etc. You may even have one of these units in your family car, and while these are all good units, they have not been specifically designed to handle the needs of RVs. For example, RVs obviously cannot maneuver the same as cars. So, if you get 'off track', your 'car' GPS may prompt you to 'Make a U-turn, 100 ft up ahead' ' that cannot be negotiated by a vehicle the size of an RV. Or the friendly computer voice may direct you to an access road that it does not 'realize' is not open to trucks or RVs. Many an RVer has had the experience of relying on the directions form a 'car' based GPS, only to lose an awning or antennae from trees or other obstacles on 'low clearance streets', not realizing they needed a GPS that shows 'truck' routes.
Here, offered in no particular order are some of the most highly recommended GPS Nav Systems for Recreational Vehicles.
Probably the most popular and the most accurate Navigation system specifically designed for RVers is the CoPilot System. Originally created for commercial truckers, CoPilot Live, is not a GPS unit, but software that can be loaded onto a laptop or other mobile device - i.e. PDA or Smartphone ' that transforms that device into a powerful GPS and mapping system designed specifically for trucks and large vehicles. CoPilot is programmed to notify drivers about truck routes, height restrictions, and for RVers it alerts for propane locations, campgrounds etc ' and it always 'knows' you are driving any oversized vehicle.
In the stand-alone unit category Garmin has introduced its first specifically truck friendly model in their popular Nuvi line. The Nuvi 465T features a preloaded National Truck and Trailer Services (NTTS) Breakdown Directory, specialized truck routing options throughout the lower 48 states, and truck and Recreational Vehicle friendly points of interest. RVers who have used this product say, 'This is a full-featured navigator that just seems like it was built for life on the road.'
TomTom, another popular manufacturer of portable GPS units also introduced a trucker specific product in 2008. Like the Garmin unit the TomTom Truck go720 includes information of specific use to those operating trucks and RVS, such as clearance heights and weight restrictions.
In Dash or Portable?
This is a good question, and the answer really depends more on what exactly you are looking for your GPS unit to do, than cost or features. When we are talking about cars most consumer electronic forums recommend a portable GPS ' the kind that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and affixes to the dash. They tend to be significantly cheaper than the in-dash units, and have the added flexibility of being taken out of the vehicle and used while walking, or placed in another vehicle. However in an RV ' it may be desirable to have your GPS be a multi-function digital device and not merely something to get you form Point A to Point B. In that case, multimedia in-dash devices such as the Pioneer AVIC-N3 may be preferable. The pioneer and units like it, not only have truck/RV friendly mapping capabilities, but are full entertainment centers that can play, CDs, DVDs and MP-3's.
Then again, the portable unit has distinct advantages to the RVer as well, since you can take it out of the RV when going off on that nature hike, or place it in your tow vehicle or rental car for day trips. No matter what brand of GPS, or what type of Nav System you purchase for your RV ' once you have installed an RV friendly system, you will find that comforting 'Turn Right on Elm Street up ahead', a welcome additional voice on any RV adventure.