A question many newcomers to ‘van life are likely to have is “can you use a normal TV in a motorhome”? After all, the chance to relax in your motorhome and catch up on your favourite television shows and films can be an enticing prospect.

Before you can do this, however, you need to sort out your setup. The best motorhome TVs allow us to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer, as well as providing excellent picture and sound quality. So should you buy a 12V TV or will a domestic television be suitable? Thinking about a few factors will help you decide.

If you’re always staying at one of the best campervan sites in the UK with access to hook-up, there is nothing stopping you from taking your domestic model with you. However, the issue arises if you decide you want to pitch at a festival or go off-grid. This is where a 12V TV comes in. Tougher and rugged, these are designed to work on a voltage of on or around 12V DC so if you’re using battery power, you can watch TV no matter where you decide to pitch up.

Buying a small plug-in inverter offers a solution but this would still drain the 12V battery faster than a 12V TV and there is also the issue that it doesn’t offer a 100% efficient conversion either. Then there’s the price to think about.

It’s also worth mentioning that while every TV can run on DC voltage, as it is stepped down from the mains, it doesn’t automatically mean each TV can be plugged into a 12V socket. Instead, you would need to buy a compatible adaptor online. This contrasts with a 12V TV, which come with its own 12V adaptor.

12V TVs are also available in a smaller size. This will be particularly important for those with more compact ‘vans, who are unlikely to want a 40-inch screen dominating their motorhome’s interior. This would not only result in a bad viewing experience but also take up valuable space.

The smaller screen size of a 12V TV also makes it easier to store – a larger screen will not necessarily fit in a locker when you’re not using it, subsequently making your ‘van a more attractive prospect to would-be thieves.

The verdict on whether you can use a normal TV in a motorhome

Before you buy a TV for your ‘van, we’d say the most important factor to think about will be where you intend to tour. If you will always have access to mains hook-up, a domestic TV could do the job, so long as the size suits your motorhome. However, if you’re after the freedom to go wherever you want, a 12V TV from a well-known brand such as Avtex or Cello would be our recommendation.

Future Publishing Limited, the publisher of practicalmotorhome.com, provides the information in this article in good faith and makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Individuals carrying out the instructions do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement in determining the appropriateness of the advice to their circumstances. Individuals should take appropriate safety precautions and be aware of the risk of electrocution when dealing with electrical products. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future nor its employees or agents shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information. You should check that any van warranty will not be affected before proceeding with DIY projects.


If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Motorhome magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things motorhome related.