Best 12 Volt TV for RVs 2017
Whether you are installing a new 12V TV in you RV or replacing an old one, you might not be sure what brand is the best. You might be familiar with the brand of 12V RV TV that comes factory installed in a motorhome, travel trailer, 5th wheel, camper or toy hauler, but is that the only option out there?
Do you need to worry about purchasing a 12 volt TV that is specifically made for RVs, yet costs a lot more than other 12v televisions? What's the difference between a normal 12 volt TV and an RV specific 12 volt TV?
Read on and have all these questions, and more, answered!
12 Volt RV TVs Compared
12 Volt RV Television Reviews
We chose Supersonic as our overall best 12 volt TV brand because they offer the best availability for a wide variety of screen sizes and have comparable (if not better) consumer ratings than the competition.
Here are our reviews for which brands of 12 volt TVs are best overall. If you're looking for information on RV TVs, simply jump to the 'Guide to RV TVs' below.
Guide To RV TVs
Many people ask, "Can I just get a TV from anywhere to use in my RV?" The good news is yes. The bad news is that you still have to know a few things about the TV and how it can or cannot work in your RV. There are things to consider such as will you be running it off shore power (120-voly) or off your batteries (12-volt)? We cover these things and more in our RV TV guide.
Do I Have To Get A TV Specifically Made For An RV?
It's a very good question. Can you use a 'regular' TV in your RV or do you have to get a RV TV brand that is 'made' for RVs? The answer is an overwhelming 'No, you don't need an RV specific brand TV." We will dive into this further below.
First, let's point out that some people claim TVs don't belong in an RV whatsoever. After all, aren't you going camping to get into the great outdoors? Why would you get to a campground and then simply sit inside watching TV?
Don't be so quick to judge, people! There are many reasons to have a TV in your RV if you so desire.
Good Reasons To Have A Television In Your RV
We can certainly name a few.
Well, first, most RVs already have a TV installed, so you're kinda stuck with having an RV TV.
What about rainy days? If you're stuck in a campground with your family with nothing to do, well, a TV can come in very handy for entertaining.
Also, people still like to have their evening entertainment. What's better than snuggling up with your partner in bed and watching a good movie after a long hike? What about those who live in their RV's full-time? They surely want some entertainment here and there as well.
You can argue it if you want but one thing is for sure, televisions are here to stay in the RV industry. Heck, some RV entertainment systems are better than the systems in most people's homes!
Can I Just Get A Regular TV or Does It Need To Be An RV Brand TV?
If you DO choose to have a television or two in your RV, or if you are looking to replace a television, you might have come across this valid point:
"Do I need a TV made specifically for RVs?"
It's a good question. We have done a lot of research regarding RV TVs and we are going to share our conclusion on the subject regarding if you need to get an RV TV, or if you can simply get a regular 'home brand' television.
RV TVs Versus Regular TVs- What's The Difference?
The biggest RV TV player we have come across is Jensen. This brand is made by ASA Electronics. They are by far the leading manufacturer of electronics specifically designed for marine and RV applications.
According to Jensen's website, their RV TVs differ from 'regular' television sets in a few ways:
1. They say that they build quality by "expertly designing each product from the ground up and validating all designs through extensive testing that is primarily conducted in our own on-site test lab".
2. They claim that their products are "strenuously tested to endure real life conditions such as high vibration, UV exposure, humidity, water spray, and extreme temperature fluctuations commonly encountered in mobile environments."
Jensen has a rep (listed only as JensenRVdirect) who has, more than once, replied very professionally in online forums about the ways that they differ from regular 'house' televisions.
Some highlights from his comments are as follows:
- "One of the first things (we do differently) is the internal chassis, where the wall-mount brackets attach to the TVs substructure. This is significantly strengthened to allow us to make sure that the TV will not break-free of the mount due to a major impact (such as a bad pothole or a bumpy road)."
- "We test both our TVs and some competitors TVs in a vibration chamber that shakes the TV while mounted in RV fashion. We have seen many 'home' TVs break free during this comparative testing, specifically units that mount only to the plastic housing."
- "Our TVs are also tested to verify they will hold up to the common temperature & humidity extremes that our RV customers may experience from summer through winter. Specifically, we test our TVs to these conditions: Operating Temperature Range -4°F to 149°F (-20°C to 65°C); Storage Temperature Range -22°F to 158°F (-30°C to 70°C); and a maximum 90% relative humidity."
- "Robust internal electronics, including conformal coated circuit boards, add to the durability of the product."
- And finally, "TVs made for 'home' use are fine when used in the climate-controlled, stationary installation of a home's living room. Will they hold up as well while traveling through the various road and weather conditions that many RVs encounter? Possibly."
Huh. Ok... that sounds good and all, but how well do 'home' TVs perform in an RV? Do they really ever break from usage in an RV? We needed to find the answer to this frequently asked question. And guess what? We found what we were looking for.
Using A 'Regular' TV In An RV
We asked the question, to many of our fellow RVer friends: 'Have you ever used a regular off-the-shelf TV brand in your RV? Something you got from Amazon, Target or Wal-Mart?
Most of them answered:
It's true. Many people have used 'regular' TVs in their RV's for years without issue. Over and over again people have concluded that they have had a regular TV in their RV for 3, 5, even 10 years with no trouble.
Not once have we heard or read a person saying their regular TV 'broke' off of its mount in their RV. Or that it 'froze' during the winter and didn't work again after that. Or that the internal components got too wet from condensation, killing the TV. We're not claiming that such scenarios have NEVER happened before, but we haven't found a single case yet.
What About Cold And Condensation Issues?
Now, Jensen does proclaim to use parts that are resistant to corrosion. The only time you really are going to deal with the possibility of condensation is during temperature changes.
When a cold TV warms up quickly, condensation forms throughout the device. If you plug it in or turn it on at that time, it could result in short circuits, shock, or have some other type of terminal failure.
If you simply keep this in mind, you never have to worry about that. Simply give it about 24 hours to acclimate. Now you don't need a special TV with components that are 'more' resistant to corrosion.
Sure, TVs occasionally die, for a variety of reasons. but had lots of 'regular' TVs (in RVs) been dying due to things like too much humidity, heat and freezing temperatures, or excessive shaking, you would hear about it through blogs, forums and word of mouth.
I have been a full-time RVer for the last 20 years. In that time, I have never had a 12 volt “RV brand TV”. I have had the old CRT style TV and I presently have 2 flat screen TVs; a Sanyo and an Insignia. All 3 have worked perfectly for me.
The famous “RV vibration” that occurs during a road trip has never affected any of my TVs. For most of my RV life I have lived in Florida. I worked 40+ hours a week. I would put my thermostat at 90 degrees when I left and would return after dark. Heat never affected the TVs.
I have crossed the United States twice with the TVs. I spent September through January in Montana. There, my water pump, my water lines, and my battery all froze but the TVs were fine. I've also had my share of rough roads through the years. Never affected the TVs. I've been very happy with my 'regular' brand 'house' TVs.
Thousands of RVs with regular TVs have been down endless paved and dirt roads. They have been left out in the Minnesota winter without issue. They have sustained extreme heat and cold.
It is our finding that you do NOT need a special RV TV for your rig. Even Kelly, Co-founder of Camp Addict purchased a 19" Insignia TV and installed it in her rig in April of 2014. It has worked fine ever since and has been down a ton of washboard dirt roads.
We've given you the facts. It's up to you decide for yourself whether you want to go with an RV TV or a regular TV for your RV.
How Cold Is Too Cold, For ANY Camper Television?
Any device can fail in super extreme temperatures.
Think about this point: Manufacturers of regular TVs have "cold storage ratings", and they vary somewhat. The ranges are usually between -4 to -40 for cold. VIEWING temperatures are usually higher. Jensen claims that they test theirs for viewing from -4 to 149 degrees.
Really? Let's think about this for a second... WHO in their RIGHT MIND is going to be viewing a TV in a -4 degree room??
You got it. No one. When we watch TV, it is almost always in a very temperate environment... let's say somewhere between 60 degrees and 85 degrees. That's a perfectly safe range for any TV to be operating in.
As long as you don't get in your RV on a freezing day, pump up the heat then turn your TV on ten minutes later, you should be fine as far as not killing your TV goes.
If you live where the temperatures dip below the cold storage rating of the TV you choose, you can always bring the TV into your home or garage to store. Even the Jensen RV TV is only rated to -40.
If you're still worried about getting a regular TV, keep in mind that many of the display monitors in today’s cars use LCD technology, without issue. Aren't cars notorious for reaching extreme temperatures? Those monitors keep plugging away.
What we're still getting at is that you don't really need an 'RV' TV for your rig. The good news is that you are free to choose whatever brand of TV you would like to have.
12 Volt Television or 120 Volt Television?
What's the difference between a 12 volt television and a 120 volt television? 12 volt TVs run off of D/C power, which is from your RV's house batteries. 120 volt TVs requires for you to either be running an inverter or to be hooked up to city power or a generator.
It mostly depends on how you RV. If you boondock and rely on your batteries and solar, a 12v TV is a good choice. If you are ALWAYS at a campground no matter what, then 120v is fine.
Can't Decide Between a 12 Volt TV or 120 Volt TV? You Don't Have To!
Simply get a 12 volt TV! (A TV powered directly by your RV house batteries) That way you can plug it into either a 12v (cigarette lighter) plug OR a 120v plug. You only need the two different cords!
Our top pics for 12 volt TVs come with both a 12 volt and a 120 volt power cord.
You can visit a big box store and see if they have any 12v TVs in stock. Just check the specs on the back or on the box and make sure it's a 12 volt TV and bingo- you can choose to use it as a 12v TV or a 120v TV. This way you can pick which energy system you want to use if you are both a boondocker and a campground dweller, or if you also want to use the TV in your house.
Check out this video to see what we are talking about.
How To Identify A 12 Volt TV For RV Use
NOTE: The Insignia brand of 12 volt TV mentioned in the above video is a Best Buy house brand, so it's only available from Best Buy stores.
If you chose to purchase a 12 volt TV from a big box store, it most likely isn't going to come with a 12 volt power cord. The above video mentions cutting the existing cord and splicing on a cigarette lighter style power cord end. This is fine if you have the skills to do that. Or you could just purchase a 12 volt power cord similar to the one on the right - it has the correct end to plug into a 12v TV and a cigarette lighter adapter to plug into a 12 volt power source. Easy!
If you are in the market for a 12 volt RV TV, you don't have to get one specifically made for RVs. Consumers (as well as RV manufacturers) have been putting regular brand televisions in RVs for decades without issue.
They key is to get what you are comfortable with and that works for your RVing lifestyle. Always make sure you have the room to mount it in your RV and that it is securely mounted. It's that easy, really.
Now on your lazy days or your rainy days, enjoy that 12 volt TV in your RV.
Camp on, Addicts!