RV TV Guide: What You Need To Know About Camper TVs
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
Whether you are installing a new RV TV in your rig or replacing an old one, you might not be sure what brand is the best.
You might be familiar with the two most popular brands of camper televisions that comes factory installed in a motorhome - Jensen and Furion. But are there other brands that will work in your travel trailer, 5th wheel, truck camper, van, or toy hauler?
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? Or can you buy any brand?
What's the difference between a normal television and an RV specific 12-volt TV?
This page will teach you all you need to know about TV's in your RV, whether you want to add a new TV or you want to replace one.
Looking for a new RV TV? Want to know what are the best camper TVs? Click the button below to read our reviews.
Guide To RV TVs
Many people ask, "Can I just get a TV from anywhere to use in my RV?"
The good news is that the quick answer 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 mostly running it off shore power (120-voly) or off your batteries (12-volt)?
We cover these things and more in this 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, we want to shut down people who feel compelled to comment that '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, smarty pants! There are many good reasons to have a TV in your RV if you so desire.
We will even indulge you.
Good Reasons To Have A Television In Your RV
We can certainly name a few.
Just know that most RVs already have a TV installed. If you're that adamant about not having one, uninstall it and move on.
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 even nicer 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 great 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 couple of 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:
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 expressed 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.
Had lots of 'regular' TVs (in RVs) died 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.
Full-Time RVer for 20 Years
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. Neither heat or humidity ever affected the TVs.
I have crossed the United States twice with the TVs. I spent September through January in Montana.
There, my water pump and my water lines 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 watching TV in a -4 degree room??
You got it. Nobody.
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's perfectly ok to use any brand TV in your RV or camper. You only need to know whether you can wire it for 12 volt use, or if you need to use it while using 120-volt power.
Keep in mind that your mount should be VERY sturdy as not all roads are perfectly smooth.
Temperatures should not matter unless you cool down or heat up your RV quickly and turn the TV on before it has caught up with the new temperature.
If you are in the market for a TV, we have reviewed a few below to help you decide what to buy.
If you have any questions about TVs in your RV that were not answered on this page and haven't been asked below in the comments, feel free to comment below the reviews and ask us.
We will answer all relevant and reasonable questions that haven't already been asked. Please provide us enough information to give an educated answer, and we will answer if we can.
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.