Best 12 Volt TV for RVs in 2018
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
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.
Best 12 Volt TV
Supersonic 12v LCD TVs
When it comes to a 12-volt TV for RVs, the Supersonic 12-volt TV line is an affordable way to go. They offer RV compatibility right out of the box with their 12-volt 'cigarette' lighter style power adapter (all but 22" TV) that plugs into an available 12-volt outlet in your travel trailer, motorhome, camper or toy hauler. With sizes ranging from 13 to 24 inches, Supersonic has a 12 volt television to fit your camping needs.
Continue Reading Supersonic 12-Volt TV Review
Supersonic 12-volt LED-backlit LCD TVs are affordable, with the largest (24 inch) being available for well under $200. They all include the inputs you would expect (HDMI, USB, RF, Coax, etc), have VESA mounts so these 12-volt flat screen TVs can be wall mounted, and include both a traditional 120-volt outlet power cord as well as a 12-volt outlet power cord (22 inch TV doesn't include 12-volt cord, but you can buy one separately).
The Supersonic 12-volt LCD TVs come in 5 screen sizes - 13", 15", 19", 22" and 24". All sizes include HDTV at 1080p resolution. If you want a larger screen in a 12-volt camper TV, you have to go with a Jensen TV. Unfortunately, Jensen TVs are very expensive for what you get.
These are pretty affordable 12-volt LCD flat screen TVs and are not what one consider to be top of the line televisions. But when it comes to what is available for RV televisions, the Supersonic line of 12-volt TVs are comparable to other brands available. In other words, when it comes to 12 volt televisions, there is no such thing as blow me away picture and sound quality.
While Supersonic 12 volt televisions get overall very favorable consumer reviews, there are a few reoccurring themes that pop up. These include poor sound quality, low volume levels (even at full volume) and narrow picture viewing angles.
The sound quality/level issue can be fixed by plugging in external speakers, which can be had for cheap if sound quality turns out to be an issue for you.
The narrow viewing angle may be confined to only the 13 and 15-inch 12 volt televisions, as they have a MUCH narrower viewing angle than the larger screen versions. The 13 and 15 inch have a 90º horizontal and 50º vertical viewing angle. The larger screen sizes have a 170º horizontal and 160º vertical viewing angle. If this is a concern, go with a bigger screen.
Supersonic also offers 12 volt TV/DVD Combos in the same screen sizes (using the same basic TV, so all the specs are the same) if you are looking for a DVD player and don't want to take up any more valuable space in your RV.
Supersonic 12-volt TV Features and Specs:
- LED-Backlit LCD Screen
- Available in 5 screen sizes - 13", 15", 19", 22" and 24"
- Dual TV tuners
- Built-In Speakers
- Digital Noise Reduction
- HDTV Resolutions: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 720i, 480p, 480i
- Color Capacity: 16.7 million colors (13 and 15": 262,000 colors)
- Viewing Angle: 170º Horizontal, 160º Vertical (13 and 15": 90º H and 50º V)
- Input Terminals: HDMI, RF, USB, PC Audio, CVBS & Audio L/R
- Output Terminals: Headphones & Coaxial Out
- 4 Picture and 4 Sound Modes
- Separate Bass, Treble and Balance Controls
- Sleep Timer
- Multi-Language Support on Screen
- VESA Wall Mount Compatible
- Full Function Remote Control
- 12-volt (DC) and 120-volt (AC) Power Adapters
Best 12 Volt TV/ DVD Combo
Supersonic 12v TVs with DVD
Looking for a 12 volt RV TV/DVD combo (say that 5 times fast!)? Supersonic has a full line of 12-volt TVs with DVD player built right in. The advantage of going with a 12 volt TV/DVD combo is that you get the benefit of having a DVD player without taking up any more of your precious space, which is usually at a premium in an RV.
Continue Reading Supersonic 12 Volt TV DVD Combo Review
The Supersonic 12 volt TV/DVD combo models come in the following screen sizes: 13", 15", 19", 22" and 24". These are the same screen sizes of the non-DVD Supersonic 12 volt TV models reviewed above (in fact the actual TV screen is identical).
NOTE: The Supersonic 12 volt TV/DVD combo models DO NOT have a Blu-ray player. These are purely standard definition DVD players.
The Supersonic 12v TV/DVD combos have the same specifications (same basic flat screen LED-backlit LCD HDTV) as the Supersonic 12 volt TVs reviewed above, with the following additional features and specifications.
Features and Specs:
- Available in 5 screen sizes: 13", 15", 19", 22" and 24"
- Built-In DVD Player
- Format Compatibility: DVD, CD, CDR, CDRW, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, VCD, SVCD
- Built-In SD Card Slot
Best Made for RV TVs
Jensen 12 Volt RV TVs
Jensen 12 volt RV TVs are fairly common in the RV world since it is the go-to brand for motorhome, travel trailer, 5th wheel and toy hauler manufacturers. Jensen is the only manufacturer of 'true' RV televisions. And you are going to pay for the 'pleasure' of having a Jensen RV TV in your rig.
Continue Reading Jensen RV TV Review
Jensen 12v RV TVs are available in the following screen sizes: 19", 28", 32" and 40". The 19" TV is actually a TV/DVD combo with a built-in, DVD (not a Blu-ray) player.
If you want a true 12 volt RV TV, you really have only one choice - Jensen. When it comes to RV flat screen TVs, Jensen is the only manufacturer who states they make their TVs for the harsh environments of RV use. Of course, they have some skin in the game, so they want to make it seem like you HAVE to purchase their brand of 12-volt RV TV or else the world will end (or your TV will fail the first time you hit the road).
But let's slow down for a minute. Do you really need to spend the big bucks on a Jensen RV TV? (Yes, they are substantially more money than our top rated 12 volt TVs and you don't necessarily get a better product from a picture and sound quality standpoint.) Read more about the difference between RV TVs versus 'regular' TVs.
Most likely you will be better off with one of our top rated 12 volt TVs, which will perform just fine in your rig. I (Marshall) have a 24 inch Jensen RV TV in my Lance Travel Trailer. It came installed from the factory and does just fine. Its sound and picture quality are both acceptable. Definitely not the best out there, but it gets the job done. But it also cost a lot of money! Had I known, I would have purchased a cheaper unit and installed it myself. Lesson learned!
Consumers have complained that the sound quality is iffy with a Jensen 12 volt camper TV (it's fine in mine, but I'm not too picky). Also, the viewing angle is a point of contention, and is definitely much less than Supersonic 12 volt TVs offer. I (Marshall) don't have this complaint about my Jensen RV TV, but I have a swiveling and tilting TV mount so I can angle it just so and pretty much look straight on. At angles, especially vertically, the picture noticeably degrades quickly.
Why would you buy a Jensen RV TV? If you must have a larger 12-volt TV (the Supersonic TVs only go up to 24 inches), or absolutely need the ruggedized chassis and components offered in a Jensen, or you really just have money to burn. Otherwise, go with a Supersonic 12 volt TV, which you can pretty much buy two of for the price of one Jensen.
Jensen RV TV Features and Specs:
- LED-Backlit LCD Screen
- Metal TV cabinet reinforced for vibration
- Components tested to withstand vibration and harsh environments
- TV Tuner
- Built-In Speakers
- HDTV Resolutions: 1080p, 720p, 480p
- Color Capacity: 16.7 million colors
- Viewing Angle: 89º Horizontal, 89º Vertical
- Input Terminals: HDMI, RF, USB, Component Video, S-Video, RCA
- Output Terminals: PC Audio, RCA
- VESA Wall Mount Compatible
- Full Function Remote Control
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!
RV TV Wall Mount Bracket (VESA)
To the right is a Master Mount RV TV VESA mount articulating arm. This is the TV mount that came with Marshall's Lance travel trailer and has a locking arm suitable for TV storage when your RV is in motion.
The Master Mount VESA TV mount comes in a couple of different arm lengths - 16.5" and 25" extension. Marshall has the 25" extension in his trailer (above pics). The distance you need the mount to 'reach around' a corner (if you need it to at all) will determine the length you need.
Model 403L - 16.5" Extension
Model 404L - 25" Extension
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.
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!