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.

Jensen 12 volt RV TV

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 12 volt RV TV

Marshall's Jensen TV That Came With His Trailer

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?

Insignia 12 volt TV installation

Yup. A regular TV in Kelly's RV

Most of them answered:

"Yep."

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.

Marsha

Marsha Gledhill

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.

Insignia RV TV Installation

Camp Addict's Kelly, feeling smug after installing the bracket for her new Insignia TV.

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.

Watching Netfix on Roku

Kelly's Finished Insignia Installation

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.

Conclusion

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.

Camp Addict Kelly
Kelly Beasley

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.


Marshall Headshot
Marshall Wendler

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.

  • Was wondering if you can hook up or to an adapters for running regular TV into or with separate battery packs of some kind so you don’t have to be tied to 120 shore power? Because I’ve found that most 12volt tv’s have really crappy picture quality and the sound quality is junk. Like our furion that came in our 2019 GeoPro RV.

    • Hey Rose,

      Do any small TVs have really good speakers? I’m not sure you’d be any better off with a 120-volt TV, but maybe I’m wrong.

      You might consider hooking up a sound bar or other external speakers to the existing TV to improve the sound. That may be the easiest route to take.

      You can always get an inverter that converts 12-volt power to 120-volts to run a ‘normal’ TV off of, but that would drain your RV house batteries pretty well (especially if you only have one). I wouldn’t really want to go with this option.

      Or you could buy a stand-alone lithium battery pack to plug the TV into. Not a cheap option, but it’s an option.

      Or you could just go with Option A and see about improving the speaker setup with your current TV.

  • Dec, 28, 2020

    Our last RV had a Furrion TV and the trailer had a cigarette lighter type hookup to plug it in to and it of course worked off the 12 volt solar charged battery. Fast forward, we purchased a new RV with a TCL Hulu TV and things have changed. It never crossed our mind to check to see if this was the same type of setup. We got accustomed to have the TV when we were dry camping and would like to continue doing the same with this trailer without having to replace the TV with a 12 volt set. So my question is…..Is there anyway to make the unit work by adding a different type of connection? As you may have guessed I really don’t know much at all about this subject. We do have a solar hookup on the roof that gives us power for out lights.

    • Hi BJ,

      Congratulations on your new RV! We sure hope everything runs smoothly for you.

      Regarding your TV, check the manual or the back of the TV where the power cord connects. If it or the manual says 12v for the input, you’re gold. You simply need to change out the power cord and hope you have a 12v outlet close by. (Or if you’re familiar/handy with electricity, add a 12v outlet close by) (Marshall did this with the new TV I put in my RV way back when. It happened to be 12v friendly.)

      Or, you need to get a small inverter to run it, unless your RV comes with one built-in. (We’re assuming it does not since you asked this question.)

      I don’t know if smaller TVs come smart. I connected a ROKU to mine to enable it to watch Netflix, etc.

      Good luck, hopefully your TV has a 12v input! If not, TVs are SO cheap these days, it should be an easy and inexpensive upgrade for you. Cheers!

  • My 5th wheel came with a Jensen TV. died within 2 years. It was a 120v version, had poor resolution. First it wouldn’t respond to the remote then the manual buttons ceased To function. Technically it still worked if you only wanted to watch the channel is was stuck on. Replaced with a Samsung that worked flawlessly for the 3 years I owned it. When mounting I added several Velcro straps to buffer vibration and protect against the mount failing (it never did).

    • Thanks for the input, Will!

      My 12-volt Jensen is still ticking along after 6+ years of full-time use and many miles. But it is far from the pinnacle of TV technology.

      Glad to hear you had good experience with a non-RV specific TV.

  • I just got a used RV with a Continou-US brand TV. On our first outing, we found bolts on the floor and the TV hanging sideways on the wall mount after 3 of the 4 VERSA mount points on the back of the TV housing cracked and broke. We will have to replace the unit and are looking to confirm that the next TV has more robust mount points as well as ensuring our wall system is appropriate for an RV

    • Hey Joe,

      Whoa! The TV lasted one whole trip? I wonder how long ago the previous owner installed it?

      If you want a TV that’s designed for RV use, then you have few options. Jensen is the one we review on this page.

      You’ll notice that they are considerably more expensive than other 12-volt TV options. So you have to weigh the pros and cons and how much risk you want to take (of a non-RV specific TV having VESA mount issues).

      As for the actual attachment to your RV’s wall. My TV mount fell off the wall on my Lance trailer, which is actually a decent RV manufacturer. So if better brands can’t get it right…

      I ended up remounting it (original screws were put in with just drywall style anchors) with anchors that spread out behind the wall and gripped from behind. Not coming out now. BUT this may not be possible depending on what type of wall (i.e. what it’s made of, hollow, foam filled, etc) the TV is currently mounted to.

      Not sure what to tell you about how to best secure your TV mount since I don’t know your exact mounting situation. That is other than what I did in my particular situation.

  • I just have a older conversion van with no 110 outlets but am considering getting a 12 volt tv using a 12 volt 300 watt inverter off my vehicle battery, I do not have solar nor do I have extra power to run the tv..How long could I watch a 19 in 12 volt tv off my vehicle battery.?

    • Hey Becky,

      I can’t answer that question as there are waaaaaay too many variables:

      -How many amp hours does the current battery have?
      -What is the condition of the current battery?
      -How much power (amps) does the 19 inch TV that you are interested in draw?
      -What other 12 volt draws does your rig have?
      -Probably other variables I’m not thinking of right now…

      (I don’t expect answers to the above – they are just variables one has to consider.)

      I wouldn’t plan on using my TV if you have no way to charge the battery (solar). I’d get an iPad and watch shows on it. That’s the way to go if you have power issues. Otherwise you are going to kill your house battery and get really, really irritated.

    • If you get a 12V TV, you don’t need an inverter – at least not for the TV. That’s the whole point of getting a 12V TV as opposed to a 120V “home” TV.

      • Hey Greg,

        Good catch! Not sure how I missed that part of the comment.

        Yes, you don’t need an inverter when you have a 12-volt TV. The rest of my answer also still applies.

        • Side note: Most 12v to 120v portable inverters that plug into cigarette socket (12v )have a low battery cutoff so you don’t drain vehicle battery too much.

          • Hey Michael,

            Power usage numbers are kind of hard to come by as most manufactures either make it difficult to discover, or just don’t provide that information. What I was able to find indicates power consumption in the 24-36 watt range for the smaller screen sizes. Obviously, the larger the screen, the more power it is going to consume.

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