Just because you’re living life on the road, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a little comfort time to kick back and watch your favorite shows on TV. Having a 12 Volt TV for your RV or camper makes it possible to enjoy the same relaxing entertainment no matter where you are. In addition, having a TV comes in very handy for those rainy days when there’s nothing to do but wait it out.
So whether you are looking to install a new television or replace a factory-installed unit with a more updated version, there are many models from which to choose. That being said, knowing which 12-volt TV to buy can be a bit daunting if you don’t know much about RV TVs. Quality can range greatly, as especially with sound and picture quality.
Here we review what we feel are the five best units for 2018, along with answering some common questions about RV TVs.
Top 4 12V TVs for RVs:
This Jensen TV comes in as the clear top of this list for us, and is why we have one in our converted camper, mounted right to the side of our cupboard. It’s designed specifically for RVs and boats, and is apparently one of the most durable on the market.
It has a lot of mounting points, which was refreshing to see, but if you need a table top stand, you can purchase that separately. Has a well-designed remote control, too (pet peeve of mine). We ended up putting velcro on the back of it and having a spot on the wall to stick it while driving.
Lastly, the picture quality is actually awesome, and it has a pretty full sound. Other TVs can sound “tinny”, but voices in movies are clear and crisp, and deep bass still comes through.
Made specifically for RV, motorhomes, and boats
Great picture/sound quality
Little on pricey side
Stand sold separately
12 Volt Compatible TV DVD Combo
We’ve seen a few of these AXESS TVs at camper meetups, all with generally positive reviews. A big differentiator: the built-in DVD player. I realize it’s 2018, but in RVs and campers, DVDs are still very prevalent, because you don’t need wifi, and they take very little space (pick them up cheap at Walmart for a couple bucks!).
That being said, it ALSO has a USB input for using something like a Chromecast or Firestick for modern streaming. Picture quality is excellent- very dark blacks and a highly versatile contrast. It’s sound is maybe just a little bit below the Jensen above, but too close to call for us.
If there’s any drawback is that while it runs off of 12V, it is not specifically designed for RVs/boats. And because it’s a DVD combo, it’s pretty thick/deep, so if you’re wall-mounting this RV TV, prepare for it to jut out a bit from the wall.
Good value for screen sizes (and lots of choices)
TV and DVD in one
Consumer complaints about DVD player freezing
The final model that we recommend is the SuperSonic HD TV. Also has the built-in DVD player (and also slightly slimmer!). It comes in a variety of available sizes from 13 inches up to 24″, and the price and features are comparable to the other two TVs above.
For those who like to play console or computer games on the road, this can easily serve as a second monitor with built-in ports. Make no mistake, the others above are also capable of this, but may require a separate adapter cord.
The one concern here is the warranty/customer service. Because SuperSonic was acquired, it has been difficult for some to reach someone about warranty replacement. Just know that like any budget electronic device, there’s also chance of a defective unit. Out of all the TVs on the list, this probably has the poorest side viewing angle, however in a narrow space like an RV or boat, this isn’t really a concern for most.
DVD combo (and slim, too)
Excellent energy efficiency
Poor viewing at angle
Complaints about customer service
Larger, Wall-mounted Option:
This 12V TV from Transit might be the most expensive on the list (coming in around $280), but for good reason.
Off the bat, unlike the SuperSonic above, Transit is revered for its awesome customer service. So that’s peace of mind in it’s own right, but it’s also a much larger model (32″), so if these other TVs have seemed tiny for your potentially larger space, this might be the solution for you.
It has all the bells and whistles (ISB, HDMI, built-in Digital Tuner, etc.), although it does not have a DVD slot. This means, however, that it is very slim and perfect for wall-mounting, which is reportedly very easy to do by yourself.
Like the Jensen (#1), this is specifically designed for RVs and 12V applications, so it includes both a cigarette lighter plug as well as a direct 12V DC wiring cord, which is extra convenient for those hard-wiring.
Small caveat: this TV is not 1080p, unfortunately, but unless you’re a true resolution snob, we think the picture and contrast still looks very, very good.
Easy wall mounting
One-year warranty with good customer service
Designed for RVs/12V, and Big size
No built-in DVD player
Common 12V TV Questions:
Why Use a 12-Volt TV?
12-volt, battery-powered TVs are more convenient to use in RVs and motorhomes, and as an alternative, many 12-volt TVs come equipped with an AC adaptor.
What’s The Difference Between A Regular 12-Volt TV And An RV 12-Volt TV?
There are really no differences. As long as you have a newer model LCD TV – not the “boxy” CRT model that isn’t designed to handle the vibrations from moving around – it should work perfectly fine. In addition, LCDs are more equipped to sustain changes in temperature and humidity.
Another feature to consider is having a TV with an anti-glare screen, so it will never be difficult to watch in the sunlight.
What Is The Ideal Size of TV For My RV?
When selecting a TV to fit in your RV, space becomes the primary concern. If you plan on mounting your TV to the wall, make sure you know your exact measurements of space before you make your purchase. You will most likely be purchasing a TV that is much smaller than the one you have at home, but your RV has limited space, so you will likely be viewing at a closer proximity, so it makes more sense to purchase a smaller unit. TVs can run as small as seven or eight inches, and can be an inexpensive, yet very functional solution. For more info about life in a proper RV, check out RVLivingNow’s great little guide to living in a TV full time.
What Is The Best Way To Mount My TV?
If you need to install a TV in your RV where there wasn’t one installed before, you might consider using a mount that has an articulating arm. Oftentimes, a 12-Volt TV does not provide the best picture quality when viewed at an angle, so an articulating arm mount can lock in place so it allows you to adjust the angle for the best view.
When you are in the market to buy a new 12-volt TV for your RV, it isn’t necessary to buy one that is specifically made for recreational vehicles. For many years, consumers, as well as RV manufacturers, have been using regular 12-volt TVs without any issue. The most important things to keep in mind are:
1. Buy a model that works best for your particular lifestyle.
2. Make sure you have sufficient room to securely mount your TV
3. And most of all, enjoy!