Can You Watch TV in an RV While Driving?

Sometimes, your partner or the kids wish to power up the TV and catch up with their latest favorite programs. But can you watch TV in an RV while driving?

The answer is that it’s possible to some extent.

However, there are safety and legal concerns in keeping it outside the eyesight (and earshot) of the driver. Also, getting a reliable TV signal is complicated too.

Furthermore, there’s the issue of power requirements.

We’ll cover each of these points in this article to clear things up.

Also Read: Do RV Outlets Work on Battery?

Can You Watch TV in an RV While Driving?

Firstly, understand that having a TV turned on for the passengers to enjoy, while the driver is focusing on the road ahead, is problematic.

Many states have laws that strictly prohibit the TV from being within the eyesight of the driver. In most cases, a TV is attached to an RV TV bracket on a wall away from them anyway.

But it’s good to be aware of the legal position.

Beyond that, it’s also useful to think about the noise factor too.

TV programs can be distracting if they’re in the background and you’re a driver trying to concentrate. A distracted driver is a major cause of road accidents each year.

So, using wireless headphones or another solution to almost eliminate the TV program audio is a good thing.

Also Read: Do Outlets Work in an RV While Driving?

How can I run my TV in my RV while driving?

Some TVs are designed for 110-volt/120VAC power systems used in a residential home.

However, other TVs use 12-volt outlets that are integral to your RV. The latter requires less power, tends to be smaller in size, and can be powered through the house battery bank.

So, as long as the batteries have a reasonable charge, they possibly can keep the TV running while the motorhome is underway.

Our recommended 12-volt RV TV is below:

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

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Read Also: How to Watch TV with a Generator

Read Also: How to Watch TV in RV without Generator?

Can you watch TV in a motorhome while driving?

TVs that have come factory-fitted will include electrical wiring to the set that prevents it from being used when the RV is being driven.

This relates to laws in many states about keeping the TV out of the eyesight of the driver.

There are ways to change the wiring to get around this limitation, but it’s not advisable.

Read Also: Do RVs Have VIN Numbers?

What About the TV’s Power Requirements?

Supplying power to a TV in the main living area is not a small matter.

The 12-volt TVs often max out at around 19-inch or 20-inch in size, so a larger one may be preferred.

However, these will undoubtedly require 120VAC (120 volts) to power them.

How do you get 120 volts (120VAC) in your RV while driving?

We covered this more broadly in our “Do Outlets Work in an RV While Driving” article.

To summarize though, running a 12-volt TV (subject to the restrictions on powering them when the engine motor is running) is doable using the battery bank.

These batteries get recharged either from shore power at a campground, through solar panels on the roof, or when plugging back in at home.

However, if you own a larger 120VAC TV for that immersive movie-like experience, then it’s more complicated.

You’ll require greater power, but also it needs to be 110-volts/120-volts otherwise a regular type of TV won’t power on! To handle that on the road, it’ll be necessary to have an RV inverter installed and turned on.

An RV inverter (pure sine wave, not modified sine wave is required) does the job of converting the stored charge in the house battery bank from 12 volts to 120 volts.

This power is then supplied to the RV electrical outlets and the TV should then turn on.

There is a power draw when the inverter is running, and you’ll need enough wattage to run everything required in the coach area besides just the TV.

Here’s the best RV inverter to power an RV:

Can I Get a Decent TV Signal While Driving?

Even with an excellent antenna, it’s likely that the TV signal will be spotty at best. This is because it’s either not angled towards the nearest TV tower or due to the continually changing location.

The TV will struggle to hold onto the selected channel when passing through different towns or cities, making it quite impractical at times.

It’s possible to use AntennaWEB to punch in your current ZIP code and it can confirm the free-to-air local TV stations in that area.

That’s great when you’ve arrived at an RV campground, but it won’t be as useful when still traveling.

Are there better options for TV viewing? There are…

Look at Alternative Media Sources

With the difficulties in keeping a good TV signal while driving, it’s best to seek other sources of entertainment.

For instance, a DVD player will allow travelers to watch a movie or have a TV series marathon while the miles go by.

Another approach is to use a Roku box, Amazon Fire TV, or connect to Amazon Prime or Netflix as a streaming service.

The 4G LTE cellular signal will need to hop from cell tower to cell tower as you pass them by likely interrupting the signal periodically.

However, it’s also possible to download a movie or TV episode from the Amazon Prime or Netflix apps on the smartphone or tablet for later viewing.

Roku Express 4K+ 2021 – Streaming Media Player HD/4K/HDR (Roku Voice Remote)

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When using this feature, the kids or the adults can watch what they want with or without an internet signal.

If the TV doesn’t directly integrate with Chromecast, Apple AirPlay, or another beaming service, then purchasing an add-on works well.

Then the phone or tablet can beam the media from the Amazon Prime Video or Netflix apps to the TV, and it can be played.

Cable Hookup Might Be Available at RV Park

When you’ve finished driving for the day, the RV park may have cable hookups available.

It will depend on the reserved spot as to what cable TV services or channels are available if any.

This way, the kids can catch up on the TV programs they’ve missed if the signal reception was poor on the road.

When hooked into shore power, the RV will receive either 50-amps or 30-amps. This will help to provide sufficient power to run a 120VAC TV.

Generator power is possible too. Use an existing RV inverter to clean the power produced by your RV’s generator.

Alternatively, owning a portable generator with a built-in inverter to regulate the power can run a TV and other electronics while away from hookups.

Below is an example of a reliable one, the WEN 56203i with 2,000 watts of inverter generator power:

WEN 56203i 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator – Super Quiet (Lightweight, CARB Approved & Fuel Shut Off Safety System)

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