A 12V TV can be a game-changer when you’re RVing. Do you like watching your favorite shows, sports, movies, or news programs even when you’re boondocking? This TV can make it happen whether you’re RVing off-grid or connected to electricity.
Let’s take a look at how you can stay entertained on or off shore power. We start by discussing what a 12V TV is and how it works.
Table of contents
- What Is a 12V TV?
- How Does It Work?
- What’s the Difference Between a 12V TV and a Regular Television?
- Why Do RVs Use 12V TVs?
- Are 12V Models More Efficient?
- Can I Use a Regular TV in My Camper or Motorhome?
- What Is the Biggest 12V Television?
- Are There Any Smart 12V TVs?
- Why We Think It’s Worth the Investment for Your RV
What Is a 12V TV?
12V TVs are exactly that, a TV that operates on low voltage 12V DC electricity as opposed to 120 or 230V. It can be hard-wired or plugged into a DC power outlet to run off your RV battery. Like a regular TV, you can hook it up to cable, satellite, and a streaming tool like Apple TV.
Twelve-volt televisions come in various sizes. The biggest you can find is 40in. Modern versions are flat screens that you can mount to a wall or place on a TV stand.
How Does It Work?
Twelve-volt TVs work just like regular TVs except for how they get power. A standard TV plugs into a 110/120V or 230V plug. Whereas this television draws 12V, and you can wire it straight into a 12V or sometimes 24V battery. You don’t need an inverter to run it, as it can run directly off your RV house battery.
Since most 12V TVs require a DC outline, determine if your RV has one and if you need a connector plug. We recommend knowing what equipment you’ll need before selecting the television, so you know it’s compatible with your electrical system.
What’s the Difference Between a 12V TV and a Regular Television?
The main difference between a 12V TV and a regular one is their power draw. The former draws much less power than the latter. This means you don’t need to hook up to electricity to use one in an RV. The television can draw power from your house battery. You can use the TV as long as you have a charged battery.
Many household 120V TV’s actually have a converter inside them to drop the voltage down. So these TVs actually eliminate this step altogether.
One drawback to 12V TVs is that there are much fewer options available and not as many features built into them.
Why Do RVs Use 12V TVs?
A 12V TV can withstand an RV that’s driving down the road. The TVs go through testing to ensure they’re strong and safe for a mobile environment. Ultimately, they’re less likely to break than a regular TV.
And the most crucial reason RVs use these screens is that they draw less power than a regular TV. They’re compatible with most RV’s electrical systems, so they’re safer and more reliable for your home on wheels.
Because they operate off the batteries they are capable of operating without the need for shore power, generator or inverters. This makes them much easier to run on solar power too.
It’s also important to note the efficiency of 12V TVs in varying weather conditions. Regular TVs can form condensation in cold weather, but these RV-friendly models can hold up in extreme temperatures and humidity. It’s an important feature when you’re on the move and lends itself to efficiency.
Are 12V Models More Efficient?
As we mentioned before 12V TVs skip the voltage conversion step most higher voltage household TVs have. This inherently makes them more efficient. If you are using an inverter to convert battery power for your TV, this too adds electrical losses and reduces efficiency on the battery.
If however, you use the TV on shore power, a regular 110V TV may be more efficient–sometimes than 12V versions. This is because a 12V TV will run on battery power that is being charged by the shore, again incurring electrical losses.
Overall if you are using the TV off-grid on battery a 12V version is more efficient and will run on battery much longer. If however you do not camp off grid and are plugged in you may actually save power with a standard TV.
Look for the EnergyStar ratings to determine how or if the manufacturer has increased the TV’s efficiency.
➡ Want to know more about what your 12V battery can do? Learn more: Is There Such a Thing as a 12V RV Air Conditioner?
Can I Use a Regular TV in My Camper or Motorhome?
Yes, you can use a regular TV. However, you will need an inverter or generator to power the AC outlet when unplugged. A 12V TV works without an inverter. It also can withstand the bumps and shaking that an RV goes through while going down the road. So a regular TV isn’t as simple to use in an RV as a 12V option.
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What Is the Biggest 12V Television?
Since the market for 12V TVs is limited, there’s not an extensive selection. Most range from 19in to 24in. However, Jensen makes a 40in version.
The Jensen JTV4015DC widescreen 40in LED DC television is HD ready. It’s HDMI-equipped and has a DVD player. The resolution is 1920 x 1080. It weighs 22 lbs 8 oz, which is in line with a regular TV’s weight.
Are There Any Smart 12V TVs?
Unfortunately, there are no smart 12V televisions. However, most come with an HDMI port. You can connect a Firestick, Roku, or Apple TV to play streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.
➡ Keep in Mind: Living off the grid successfully with home comforts requires some planning. Read more to ensure you can successfully live off the grid: Important Lessons RVing Can Teach Us About Living Off The Grid
Why We Think It’s Worth the Investment for Your RV
A 12V TV gives you the most flexibility for where you stay in your RV. You could be off the beaten path with no electricity and still watch your television–a luxury that’s not possible with a 110V TV. For this reason alone, we think it’s worth the investment.
You can find some 12V televisions for between $100 and $200, so they’re not all priced higher than a regular TV. The flexibility and assurance that they provide while going down the road in a bumpy RV makes them a worthwhile purchase!
Could you see yourself adding a 12 V TV to your RV? Drop a comment below.
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