How to Power a TV Without Electricity

Let’s get one thing straight – you can’t watch TV without electricity. What we’ll be discussing in this article is how to power up a TV when there’s a power outage at the campsite or otherwise.

What are the gadgets you need to have in your camper in the event of a power outage to still enjoy some luxuries such as watching your favorite shows?

Necessary Items

  • Inverter
  • UPS
  • Solar panels
  • Generator

Step-by-Step Instructions and Explanations

Inverter

If you’re running your TV and other camper appliances on a generator, you likely don’t have a 12-volt portable TV. If that’s the case, when you run out of generator fuel or when the generator fails to start, you can still watch TV if you run it off the RV’s battery.

For this, you will need an inverter which can be clamped to the battery. You can then plug the TV into the inverter’s outlet and enjoy a few hours of downtime while you plan your next move. The inverter converts the battery’s low voltage and DC current into 110V AC current with which to power your TV.

UPS

Having a UPS is not something exclusive to office workers or work-from-home freelancers. For life in a camper, you may need a backup power source in the form of a UPS.

These tools can give you up to 1000W of backup power when your generator fails and all, such as when you’re at a remote campsite with limited facilities – as in, with no electrical outlets.

Solar panels

Solar panels are the bread and butter of most modern motorhome owners. Granted, they’re not as useful in some states, nor are they super useful all year round. But, at the end of the day, solar panels save space and help cut down on fuel costs.

If you have enough direct sunlight, you might be able to watch TV (not an overly large and power hungry TV, though) and connect to your favorite streaming websites.

Solar panels can be easily mounted on the roof of the camper, which is a big help when trying to maximize interior space. If you’re using a generator instead, you’ll need to dedicate or build an extra compartment for the battery or generator unit.

Opting For a 12V TV

12V TVs may not be anywhere as big as large-screen HD TV, but you’re no longer limited to those handheld portable TVs full of lines and flickers. Today’s 12V LED TVs might be as large as 22” or so, big enough for comfortable viewing in RVs. You won’t need a generator or inverter generator to run them. 12V TVs can run directly off your camper’s DC battery.

Tips and Warnings

  • You might want to go for a pure sine wave inverter. Those are less likely to damage sensitive electronics like your TV.
  • Consider using an older flat screen TV in your RV instead of the latest rage on the market. They don’t have superfluous features so they’re less power hungry. If you’re relying on your UPS to run multiple gadgets, the TV may drain it too quickly. (We’re not talking about really old TVs with tubes; these are power hogs compared to any flat screen TVs.)
  • Solar panels are still preferable to a generator setup, if you can afford the initial investment. With one or two 100W solar panels and a good power bank, it’s easy to always have enough juice to run essential and luxury gadgets
  • Use non-conductive gloves when connecting an inverter to your battery. You may also want to consider the alternative of using an interior inverter which you can plug into the cigarette lighter socket
  • If you’re using an inverter and your RV isn’t running, avoid watching the TV for too long or falling asleep with it on for obvious reasons
  • Invest in an RV cover if you’re using solar panels. Some of them can be quite sensitive and get easily damaged in storms or hail

Final Thoughts

In an ideal world, your RV would be equipped with everything when it comes to energy and energy storage. Even in smaller motorhomes, you should have enough room to house a UPS, an inverter, a small generator, and a few solar panels.

But, unless you’re committed to the RV lifestyle, getting all these gadgets and tools may be costly and not even necessary. Two solar panels are always a good investment. And, a regular pure sine wave inverter is good to have on hand if you need to perform some repairs on your RV, or if you want to watch some TV in the middle of nowhere.

So now you know. There are plenty of ways to get around how to power a TV. Without electricity at all, it can’t be done, but there are ways to generate that electricity without the convenience of campsite outlets.

Last Updated on September 2, 2019

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