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Is a 12V TV the Right Choice for Your RV’s TV?

Is a 12V TV the Right Choice for Your RV’s TV?

In today’s post, we’re looking at the RV 12V TV. Already popular with travelers in camper vans and other vehicles without 120V power, 12-volt TVs can also be great for any boondocking RVer.

Let’s take a look at the concept of the 12-volt TV to see when and why it might be preferable to a regular 120-volt TV for RVers.

Why Would I Need a 12 Volt TV in my RV?

Most RV manufacturers install 120V AC RV TVs because they’re cheaper and more readily available. But that means they can only be used when 120V AC power is available such as when you’re connected to shore power, when you’re running your onboard or portable generator, or if you have an inverter.

A 12-volt DC TV eliminates the need for all of that.

The single greatest reason to use a 12V DC TV is to avoid having to use an inverter to power a standard 120V AC TV (like a common household TV) in your RV. (For more information on inverters, see our post entitled, “What is an RV Inverter?“)

An RV 12V TV can run directly off the battery system in your RV. Not only do you save some space, weight, and cost by not requiring an inverter, but you also save power.

This is because you’re avoiding the need to convert 12V DC battery power to 120V AC power using the inverter. You’re also saving the conversion the TV’s electronics do from 120V AC to whatever DC voltage they require. It’s just more efficient overall.

A Xantrex 806-1206 inverter

An inverter like this Xantrex 806-1206 converts 12V DC power to 120V AC power for use in your RV. While many of us have inverters in our rigs, the more efficient approach is to use a 12V electronic device or appliance to eliminate the need for power conversion.

Those conversion savings can make a 12V TV the more efficient option.

So, if you enjoy boondocking as we do and your style of camping doesn’t find you connected to shore power full-time, you may be interested in a 12V TV.

Are There Any Downsides to Using a 12V TV?

The main downside is that there are fewer 12V options available to choose from than there are 120V options. 12V TVs also tend to be smaller.

This is likely because manufacturers are under the assumption that most people buy a 12V TV for vans, campers, and RVs to save weight and space in compact rigs that don’t have the room or need for a large television.

However, the landscape has been changing where size is concerned and we’re seeing more options emerging for larger 12-volt TVs.

What Are Some Things to Look for in a 12 TV?

If you’re in the market for an RV 12V TV, there are a few things you may want to consider.

Screen Size

First, of course, you’ll want to consider the space where you’ll be placing or hanging the television and choose a flat-screen TV that fits well in the space.

Mounting Options

If you plan to set your television on a TV stand, you’ll want to make sure that the 12V TV  you buy has a pedestal of some sort included with it.

If you’re planning to mount your TV to a wall or cabinet, make sure to take a look at the mounting options for the television you choose, to make sure you buy a TV mount that matches up.

For lots of information about mounting a TV in an RV, see our post on that topic!

Viewing Angle

It’s important to consider the viewing angle of any TV you buy for your RV. Consider where the watchers will be sitting with respect to where the television will be situated.

You can buy articulating wall mounts that can put your TV at just about any angle. So keep that in mind when you’re checking out your mounting options as well. That way, you can adjust the viewing angle as necessary.

A man lounging on a sofa using a TV remote

Viewing angle is important to your TV-watching experience. While viewing angle numbers are of interest, sometimes the best way to assess a TV’s viewing angle (if you can’t try out the TV in a store) is to read user reviews.

Picture Quality

Picture quality is generally the most important feature of any TV you’re considering.

While you don’t necessarily need a 4K TV to watch your favorite shows in your RV, you’ll probably want a television that offers you 1080p resolution at the very least.

Input Options

Be sure to check the input options on the televisions you’re considering. These days it can be pretty important to have an HDMI input in particular because this affords you the option of connecting things like a phone or tablet, a computer, a gaming system, or a DVD player.

Speaking of DVD players…

Built-in DVD Player

Many RVers like to have a TV with a built-in DVD player. While many people stream their content, this is a reasonable way to go if you have DVDs that you like to watch occasionally.

A TV with a built-in DVD player saves space and weight, preventing you from having to install an additional piece of equipment that needs to be hooked up to your TV.

The other great thing about having a DVD player on board is that if you happen to be camping in an area where your ability to stream content is compromised by a poor (or non-existent) connection to the internet, you can always pop in a DVD of a favorite movie or show.

Speaking of the ability to bring movies or TV shows into your rig, you can also check out our post on RV TV antennas.

Now let’s take a look at a few 12V TV options for RVs.

12V TV Options for RVs

There are a number of TVs on the market that run on 12 volts. Most offer both AC (120V) and DC (12V), but there are a few that are 12V only so you’ll want to watch out for that if you want a TV that has both power options.

Let’s take a look at several of the most popular 12V RV TVs currently on the market.

Supersonic SC-2212 22′ 1080p LED Widescreen HDTV with Built-in DVD Player

The Supersonic 22-inch HDTV with 1080p resolution is a feature-rich option for RVers.

In addition to HDMI, it’s also USB compatible and offers PC Audio, CVBS, RF, and VGA, as well as left and right audio inputs.

What does all that alphabet soup mean? Essentially it means that you can use this TV with digital streaming devices, as a computer monitor, or as a screen for gaming consoles. You can even plug in external speakers or a sound bar for improved sound or even surround sound.

Perhaps one of the best features of this particular 12V TV is its built-in DVD player which saves space and weight in your RV while giving you an extra option to watch your favorite movies or shows even when you’re in areas where the internet signal isn’t good.

Even with all of these features, this 12-volt television is extremely lightweight at under 6 pounds.

This 12V TV/DVD player can be wall-mounted or it can be used with the included legs and is compatible with both DC (12V) and AC (120V) power.

The unit includes a remote control, an AC power adapter, and a 12V DC power cord.

This might be the best “bang for your buck” of the 5 options we’re highlighting in this post, but as always be sure to read reviews from real-life users.

Supersonic SC-2212 LED Widescreen HDTV & Monitor 22", Built-in DVD Player with HDMI, USB, SD & AC/DC Input: DVD/CD/CDR High Resolution and Digital Noise Reduction
  • 📺 DETAIL 📺: Supersonic HDTV brings you a crisp 1080p picture quality for stunning detail and contrast. The colors projected from the monitor...
  • 📀 BUILT-IN DVD PLAYER 📀: Supersonic HDTV comes equipped with a DVD player built into the television set. This will allow you to play your DVDs...

Free Signal TV Transit 28″ 12 Volt DC Powered LED Flat Screen HDTV

Free Signal RV Transit televisions are made for mobile use. They’re vibration-resistant and shock-resistant, while also being pretty lightweight at just over 9 pounds.

It’s important to note that this is strictly a 12V DC-powered television, though you can purchase a power brick separately from the company for conversion to AC use.

This television, also available with an integrated DVD player (model FSTV-2819DVD), has three HDMI inputs and a high resolution of 1366 x 768 with a 150 x 160-degree viewing angle.

This flat-screen TV can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk or table with the included stand.

FREE SIGNAL TV Transit 28" 12 Volt DC Powered LED Flat Screen HDTV for RV Camper and Mobile Use
  • Mobile High Performance 28 inch LED TV - Get HD picture quality from this superb DC-powered 12 volt television with 1366 x 768 resolution....
  • The Easy-to-Set-Up and Versatile RV Flat Screen TV - Simple 12V connection. 3 HDMI Inputs. Can also be used at home by converting to AC with the...

Free Signal TV Transit 40″ 12 Volt DC Powered 1080p LED Flat Screen HDTV

Free Signal TV Transit also has a 40″ 12V DC-powered television for RVs with the space to accommodate a larger television.

This is a fairly high-resolution TV at 1920 x 1080.

These Free Signal TV Transit TVs come from a company based in Burlington, Kentucky that reportedly specializes in televisions for mobile use. But we’ve noticed that reviews are somewhat mixed, so take note and read reviews before committing.

This model is also 12-volt only, although you can purchase an AC brick adapter from the company if you’d like to use it on AC power.

Free Signal TV Transit 40" 12 Volt DC Powered 1080p LED Flat Screen HDTV for RV Camper and Mobile Use
  • Mobile High Performance 40 inch LED TV - Get HD picture quality from this superb large screen DC-powered 12 volt television with 1920 x 1080...
  • The Easy-to-Set-Up and Versatile RV Flat Screen TV - Simple 12V connection. 3 HDMI Inputs Can also be used at home by converting to AC with the...

Jensen JTV19DC HD Ready 19 Inch 12V DC RV LED TV with Integrated HDTV (ATSC) Tuner

We should first note that this is a 12V DC-only television. In order to use this model with 120V AC power, you’d need to purchase a power converter separately.

This unit is HDTV-ready and has an integrated HDTV (ATSC) tuner. The resolution is 1080p, 720p, or 480p as needed.

Jensen does make an HDMI-equipped DVD player that can be connected to this television, but it isn’t included.

This 12V TV has a durable metal cabinet and includes a dual-function remote control for use with the TV and external DVD player (again, NOT included with the unit).

Inputs/outputs include NTSC/PAL composite video, component video, a stereo audio input, VGA with audio, RF, USB media play, one HDMI input, line-level audio out, digital SPDIF audio out, and a headphone output.

This TV comes as a wall-mountable unit. An optional tabletop stand is separately available (item STDJE1914). Jensen also has other model 12V TVs available.

Jensen JTV19DC HD Ready 19 Inch 12V DC RV LED TV with Integrated HDTV (ATSC) Tuner, HD Ready (1080p, 720p, 480p), 1366 x 768 Full HD, Dual Function Wireless Remote Control, Black
  • This is a 12V DC Product Only, A Power Inverter is required to connect to 120V AC (Not included), Integrated HDTV (ATSC) tuner, HDTV-ready (1080p,...
  • High performance wide 16:9 LCD panel, 16.7 million colors, JCOM function with JENSEN HDMI-equipped DVD player (Not Included)

SYLVOX 12V TV 24″, 1080P with Built-in DVD Player

This 24″ 12V/24V TV offers a built-in DVD player as well as a built-in FM radio function so you can play your favorite DVDs and radio stations in your RV. In addition to 12/24V power compatibility, it can also be powered at 110V with the included adapter.

Resolution is full HD at 1920 x 1080 with an ultra-wide viewing angle (178°H/178°V) for clear viewing from multiple angles.

This TV can be wall mounted or placed on a tabletop. It offers 3 HDMI inputs and an antenna (RF) input as well as VGA, Composite AV, USB and USB Power output. 

Included with the TV is a dock bracket, remote control, 12V power cord, AC/DC adapter, and mounting accessories.

This TV/DVD combo weighs in at just under 9 pounds.

Sale
SYLVOX 12V TV 24 inch, 1080P RV TV 12 Volt DC Powered Integrated HDTV(ATSC) Tuner, Built-in DVD Player Speaker FM Radio, with HDMI/USB/AV/VGA Input, Suitable for Motorhome, RV Caravan and Boat
  • 【Built-in DVD Player and FM Radio】 RV TV with DVD player allows you to enjoy your favorite DVDs, and the Hi-Fi sound box speaker provide with...
  • 【1080P Full HD Quality】 Sylvox RV TV with 1920 x 1080 Full HD screen provides immersive picture, 178°H/178°V ultra-wide angle provides...

How Do You Watch TV in Your RV?

If you enjoy watching television when you’re on the road in your RV, we’d be interested in knowing what type of TV you have and whether you also use an integrated or non-integrated DVD player at times.

Do you use an RV antenna? Cable at the RV park? Do you stream your favorite shows?

And for those inquiring minds among us… what’s your favorite show to watch while relaxing in your rig?

Drop us a comment!

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Flip

Sunday 4th of December 2022

Most TVs nowadays are DC-powered. They have a brick to convert it to 17v or more. That is why I looked into a 12v tv. I love mine it is nice when you are without shore power. It is smaller though.

Mark

Sunday 4th of December 2022

I'm still doing research pre-RV life so I really appreciate your take on the full-time world and curious why so many TV's discussed here are under 30" and even under 20" since screens that small are basically PC screens which means up close viewing and I don't consider that a good way to watch movies or other long format videos, especially when sitting on a couch or easy chair. Are more standard sized TV screens in the 40"+ range, whether 12V or 120AC, rare or just impractical for RV'ing?

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 4th of December 2022

Hi Mark. We sure do remember being in that phase of RV life! Hope you’re enjoying doing all your research as you plan! Most 12V RV TVs tend to be small, most likely because the biggest consumers for them are the smaller RV manufacturers… small towables, Class B, and small Class C units. That’s because, due to their size, they often don’t come with inverters to provide 120V power to a TV. So, having a 12V unit eliminates the need, and makes the RV more fully livable, even without a hook-up or generator.

On larger RVs, like big fifth wheels and Class A motorhomes), they not only have the ROOM for larger TVs, but also often have bigger battery banks and a built-in inverter to power a 120V AC TV, even when not hooked up. So, the bigger the RV, often the bigger the TV in it, too. We have a 42” 120V AC LED TV in our living room… and other floor plans often have a “televator” (powered TV lift) to raise/lower an even bigger TV from behind a couch or dinette.

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