How to Watch TV in RV without Generator? (Easy & Safe Way)

watch tv in rv without generator

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Letting your kids watch TV is the best way to keep them inside your RV when it is pouring outside.

The TV will keep them occupied and out of your way.

Because of the wet condition, you’re not comfortable running your generator.

Then, how will you run the TV in an RV without the generator?

You can power your TV in your RV using the house battery system. For 120v residential-style TV, you need an inverter. Whereas, a 12v RV TV can be run by plugging it directly into a DC outlet.

In this post, we’ll take a detailed look at how to watch TV in an RV without a generator and answer a few more questions along the way. Read on to find out.

How to Watch TV in RV without a Generator?

Generators produce electricity which makes some people uncomfortable to run them during wet weather. Moreover, firing up a generator just to watch TV sounds like a waste while boondocking.

There are many ways to power your TV without a generator while boondocking. But the easiest and safest way is to use your house batteries to watch TV.

However, before you can power your TV using your battery system you need to find out if your TV uses a 120v or 12v system. It is usually printed on the label on the TV or you need to check the user’s manual.

Most RVs these days come with appliances that are RV-specific and the TV is one of them. RV-specific TVs use less power and run on a 12v system that can be plugged directly into a 12v DC outlet in your RV.

On the other hand, a residential-style TV uses a 120v system and needs an inverter to power it. The inverter takes the 12v DC and converts it into 120v AC to run your TV. You need to plug your residential model TV into a 120v AC outlet in your RV.

Alternatively, if your RV doesn’t come with an inverter, then you can get a portable inverter like the POTEK 750w and plug it in one of your DC ports to power your TV. For small van owners, you can use a portable power station like the Jackery 160 to run your TV and save the coach battery for other important appliances.

How Long can you Run a TV on a 12 Volt Battery?

The purpose of your coach batteries is to power all your RV appliances including your TV. But watching TV for an extended period can drain your batteries, maybe to an extent where your batteries don’t have sufficient charge to run other essential appliances.

This is especially a concern on cloudy days with solar panels not charging the batteries or the rain isn’t allowing you to run your generator to charge the batteries. To avoid such situations, you need to have a proper idea about how long you can run your TV on your 12-volt battery system.

The answer to the question depends on factors like the wattage your TV draws, the size of your battery bank, and the type of battery. Below is a table of a few TV sizes and the power they use.

TV SizeLEDLCDPlasma
30 inch50 watts60 watts150 watts
42 inch80 watts120 watts220 watts
50 inch100 watts150 watts300 watts

From the table above, a 30-inch LED TV consumes 50-watts of power which equates to 0.4 amps per hour (amps = watts/volts). On a single 100ah lead-acid battery, you can run this TV for about 250 hours.

However, lead-acid batteries can and should only be discharged up to 50% of their capacity. That gives you a total of 50ah of the total usable charge. That gives your 30-inch LED TV a total runtime of 125 hours of a single 100ah lithium battery.

On a 100ah lithium battery, the runtime will be 30-40% more as they can be discharged up to 80% depending on the brand. Moreover, with a large battery bank, you really don’t have to worry about drying out your battery bank with a TV.

On the other hand, a 12v TV will run significantly longer on a single deep cycle RV battery as they are more efficient. You don’t have to deal with the power losses associated with inverting the DC to AC power which reduces the power usage.

Note: The calculation above took only your TV into consideration, but you need to consider other appliances that will also draw power.

Can you Use a Regular TV in an RV?

Yes, you can use a regular TV in your RV or camper without any issue. All you have to know is if it is a residential or RV-specific TV.

When it comes to power usage, a 120v residential model uses more of it compared to a 12v RV model. This is especially important for RVs that have a small battery bank or don’t have a generator.

A 12-volt TV can be plugged directly into any DC outlet in your RV. Whereas, a 120-volt TV will need to be connected to an AC outlet in your RV. Connecting a DC appliance to an AC power source will instantly destroy the appliance.

Conclusion

The best way to watch TV in an RV without a generator is by powering it with your house batteries. Though 12v models can be directly plugged into any DC outlet, you need an inverter to run a 120v TV.

However, make sure you know the wattage rating of your TV to prevent drying out your battery bank while watching for an extended period. Though, you can use any type of TV in your RV but make sure you don’t plug a DC-powered TV into an AC outlet.