In most cases we would prefer perfect scenarios for anything life has to offer; but it’s not a perfect world when owning an RV. We’re used to frequent maintenance and repair procedures. It’s the unexpected hazards when roaming unknown territory (like driving under an overhang that’s just a little too low for our rig) that can ruin your day — ouch!
A new product on the RV scene, Giraffe G4, was developed in response to the many overhead obstacles RVers encounter, leading to misadventures that can not only sideline trips but empty pocketbooks paying for expensive repairs. The Giraffe G4 is an RV overhead protection device designed to warn drivers of unmarked or mismarked low-hanging hazards, like archways/signs, trees and older service station canopies.
The Giraffe G4 is contained in a fairly compact, durable plastic housing with an in-cab programmable LED display screen. Coupled to the bright monitor is 8 feet of special coaxial cable to connect to the external aerodynamic sealed sensor, providing the necessary signals to the display. The unit receives 12-volt DC power through the common accessory outlet built into most dashboards. There’s plenty of cable so the screen can be placed in a number of convenient locations for the driver.
Installation is DIY-friendly, even for those with limited mechanical expertise; there are only a few steps and some minor programming involved. First, attach the sensor in one of two locations: either to the highest point on the passenger mirror or the top of the tow vehicle cab. Using the mirror mount has limitations. Unless your tow vehicle is equipped with the old-style round, metal tube extension mirrors, you’ll need to use the optional magnetic roof mount. I suppose it’s possible to screw the mirror mount into a plastic encased mirror, but I can’t recommend that, especially since it will likely impede the mechanism and leave holes in the housing if you ever remove the system. With that said, place the magnetic mount on the roof where it will be easy to run the coaxial cable to the cab and secure the sensor to the mount with the four supplied screws. A built-in bubble is used to level the sensor. Motorhome owners can order a suction-cup mount for installation on the front window.
After routing the cable to the cab and avoiding any hard angles, the 12-volt DC power supply cable can be plugged into the display screen and power port. There’s only a small amount of information needed for programming, which is loaded before the system can be employed. You’ll need to measure the height from flat, level ground to the top of the mounted sensor and the distance from the ground to the top of the trailer. Make sure to measure to the highest point of the trailer, almost always at the top of the air conditioner or satellite dish.
To program the Giraffe G4, the three buttons on the right side of the screen are used to make selections and lock in the choices. It’s just a matter of following the prompts. Options include measurements in feet or meters. This is when you lock in your measurements taken earlier. Once programmed, the G4 is ready for use and will remain on standby. The alarm will sound if you approach an overhang lower than the input limits. For a one-minute interval, the feedback on the screen can be viewed by pushing the left button once.
How did it work? Although the G4 provides an accurate height reading, it works best at very slow speeds. When it comes to slow-speed maneuvering and parking in areas with low-hanging overhead obstacles the Giraffe G4 excelled in warning us before possible impact. It’s not designed to warn drivers of low overpasses at highway speeds. The device is limited to warning while driving up to 30 mph. At faster speeds the readout values jump around. Undoubtedly, a big benefit for RV owners is the ability to maneuver in campgrounds without guessing whether the RV will clear obstacles.
The RV kit sells for $189.95; the magnetic mount is $19.95, and the suction cup mount is $44.95.