What Are the Best Tips for Choosing an RV TV?

Jeremy Laukkonen

The two concerns that often need to be addressed when choosing a television (TV) for a recreational vehicle (RV) are the available space and power sources. In order to choose the best RV TV for any particular situation, the size and configuration of the available space needs to be considered. Many recreational vehicles have built-in space for cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets, though in many cases a flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD) unit is the right choice. Power is the other main concern because an RV TV may need to run on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). If a recreational vehicle has an inverter, it is important to choose a television that does not demand more wattage than it is capable of putting out.

An older RV might not have built-in space meant to house newer, flat-screen TVs.
An older RV might not have built-in space meant to house newer, flat-screen TVs.

Choosing an RV TV can be largely a function of the space it is going to occupy. Recreational vehicles can range from small tent trailers to huge diesel pushers, so they can accommodate a wide range of televisions. Many older recreational vehicles have built-in spaces that were originally intended to house bulky CRT televisions. These RVs may not readily accept a flat screen television, though it is sometimes possible to fabricate a bracket.

A power inverter might be used to run a TV in an RV.
A power inverter might be used to run a TV in an RV.

Another option when choosing a replacement RV TV is to convert the old television space to storage and place a flat screen LCD or plasma set elsewhere. These thin televisions can sometimes be built into existing cabinetry or hung in an available space. If this is done, a light unit should typically be chosen. The interior walls, cabinetry, or other surfaces of an RV may not be able to support a large, heavy plasma screen.

The other thing to consider when choosing an RV TV is the power source. Most recreational vehicles have two different power sources. The 12 volt vehicle power system can be used when the unit is in motion or camping away from utilities. When a generator set is turned on or the RV is plugged into utilities, AC power can be available as well. If the RV is commonly used where AC power is not available, the best television set is going to be one that can run on 12 volts.

Inverter units are another option that can allow television to be watched in an RV. Some recreational vehicles have inverters that are built right into the electrical system, while others have aftermarket units. In either case, these inverters can allow a regular television set to run on AC power that is converted from the 12 volt vehicle batteries. When choosing an RV TV to use with an inverter, it is a good idea to pay close attention to the wattage of both the television and the inverter unit. If the television draws more wattage than the inverter is capable of providing, the unit may shut off.

An RV.
An RV.

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