What You Need to Know About Digital Television for RVs

We have received numerous questions lately about digital television signals, HDTV, and upgrading the TV antenna for RV. So we thought it would be a good idea to provide information about the signal and how components in your RV can handle it.

Most of us grew up watching an analog TV signal that was delivered in the same VHF frequency as radio signals. As of June 2009, all TV signals switched to digital or DTV. There are 18 different digital resolution formats; however, TV stations are broadcasting in only three: 480p, 720p, and 1080i. 1080i is the most common High Definition Television (HDTV) signal and all of these are broadcasted in UHF frequency.

rv cockpit

An older antenna, such as the Winegard “Batwing” style, will receive all three formats as it only cares about VHF/UHF frequencies. According to Winegard, some of the older models may not perform as well since they are not tuned as well to the newer frequencies and newer models tend to have more powerful amplifiers. You can enhance the performance by adding the new “Wingman” UHF booster. Unlike analog signals, digital signals are either on or off – meaning you will need a certain signal strength and can’t “tweak” the antenna or get a fuzzy picture like the older models.

Related video: Wingman Boosts the Reach of Your RV TV Antenna

rv-sensar-range

The next question is the type of coax cable installed in your unit. Older units had RG59, a smaller cable which at greater lengths does not perform as well as RG6. However, in the short distances of an RV, the average viewer will not see much difference in picture quality. The longer lengths and splitters used in residential applications will require additional amplifiers or cable swap but not the typical RV.

Not all televisions will accept HDTV signal and not all towers broadcast in HD as well. According to several sources, ABC and Fox broadcast in 720p for their HD signal as it provides an acceptable image on medium sized screen up to about 40”. Others use 1080i while Blu-Ray, cable, and internet streaming uses 1080p.

And finally, do you need a HDMI cable? The determining factor is usually the receiver or television. Some receivers only have HDMI or RCA connections rather than coax. HDMI is also recommended for high data transfer such as video gaming.

Related videos:

Still Watching an Old Set? Replace Your Old RV TV
Install an RV TV Antenna in Just Five Minutes

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Discussion
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49 Responses to “What You Need to Know About Digital Television for RVs”
  1. Brian

    RV Make: Nexus, RV Model: 25P Phantom, RV Year: 2014

    Does anyone have one of these Class C’s in Texas?

    Reply
  2. Gary

    RV Make: American Coach, RV Model: Tradition, RV Year: 2004, Brand: American Coach

    I often have to press slide and light switches several times to get them to work…..Could all my switches be bad?:

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Gary. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?

      Reply
  3. Hb Canida

    RV Make: Itasca, RV Model: Sunstar, RV Year: 2014

    has anyone ran a HDMI cable from TV set located in living room to a satellite receiver located in bay above driver’s seat – – about 25 feet; and, so its out of view?

    Reply
  4. Brad Downs

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Rialta, RV Year: 1998

    Why will my analog tv work fine with an converter box through the antenna amplifier but my digital tv will not work with the amplifier? To use my digital tv i have to bypass the amplifier.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Brad. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your TV issue. To provide more specific troubleshooting information we need to know the make/model of the analog TV, year, the type of convertor box, and amplifier. All TVs brought into the US since 1997 were required to have a digital tuner so even the tube models would receive todays digital signal? Is your converter box one of the free boxes issued around the time of the switch from analog to digital or something from a cable or satellite supplier? Is your digital TV a flat screen LCD, LED, or plasma? And is your amplifier a Winegard version or an aftermarket? Many of these components don’t “play well together”! And finally, what antenna are you using? If it’s the old Winegard “batwing” crank up style, you can still use that but I would suggest adding the Wingman attachment for better reception or upgrading to the Razar Z1. Both are easy to install and match up to existing cable and amplifiers easily.

      Reply
  5. George

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Jamboree GT, RV Year: 2006

    Campgrounds that have upgraded to all digital cable systems require a guest TV to have a QAM tuner built-in to the TV to receive the signal. Unfortunately, lots of TVs 3 years and older only have the previous generation ATSC tuner built-in, as well as low-price NEW flat-screen TVs often don’t have a QAM tuner. Even high-end rigs (such as some of the Deluxe Mobile Suite 5th wheels) have SEIKI tvs on-board that do not have the QAM tuner.

    Reply
  6. garry

    RV Make: triple E, RV Model: commander, RV Year: 2004

    old tv not working we don’t have new stile antena

    Reply
  7. Douglas

    RV Make: Itasca, RV Model: Meridian, RV Year: 2014

    How can I gain access to the back of television mounted above fireplace?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Douglas. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your TV question. To provide more specific information on the access to the TV, I would need to know the make, model, and year of your RV as there are several different types of wall mounts. Most use a MoreRyde bracket but there are several of those such as the hook style which slides in from the top, or the pivot which allows a little access to get at the holding bolts.

      Reply
  8. Scott

    RV Make: Fourwinds, RV Model: Thor/ Funmover, RV Year: 20000, Brand: Onan, Model Number: Genset 5000

    What will cause the generator to shut off and will only restart while starter button is pressed in?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Scott. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your generator issue. The stop and start issue could be a few different things and also depends on the make and model. If it’s a KY series, it should give a fault code of 27 or 36 which is an AC output issue. Others could be bad brushes to the rotor or weak power to the brushes themselves. Onan has a site that you can get some service info at: http://www.quickserve.cummins.com. One more thing to check is oil level and pressure. Low oil will also cause this!

      Reply
  9. Laura

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Windsport, RV Year: 2007

    Our current set up has the 3 televisions going through a receiver above the passenger seat. We bought a new antenna (not yet installed), because the one that was installed when we bought it was broken during lowering. We bought a King Jack digital hdtv & mount. We also just bought a King tailgater satellite and plan to get service from Dish. The satellite came with 2 receivers, and we plan to put one in the front of the rig and one outside. I really want one for the bedroom tv as well. My question after all of that😬, is that possible? And do we need to remove the satellite from the roof before setting up the one we just got( which will not put on the roof)? If it will be complicated, should we have someone do it for us? It is football season and I don’t want my husband to have problems and then I can’t watch tv. We are full time in the Rv.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Laura. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your satellite question. If you are going to use a portable dish like the tailgaiter or other option, just plug the coax cable into the satellite feed that most RVs have in the service center. You shouldn’t need a third receiver in the bedroom unless you want to watch three different programs at the same time. You should have an entertainment center in the front that has switching for the back tv from antenna to aux or satellite?

      Reply
  10. Pete McMullen

    RV Make: National, RV Model: Tradewinds, RV Year: 1998

    Have been subscribing to Dish satellite service for several years. Converted to the Hopper 3 from Dish which was initially installed by a Dish Tech using a drag out dish. When we moved motor home I had to set up the dish without tech help. Took 3 hours and much luck. Discovered that the old signal meter from Wingard will not work on new hybrid LNBFs. Save the hassle and buy a signal meter designed for the new tech receivers. I ordered an Acutrac 111 on eBay. Will advise if successful.

    Reply
  11. Gregory

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Aspect, RV Year: 2012

    Our main TV (above the cab) quit working. How do we get it out? We need to disassemble the cabinet?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Gregory. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your TV issue. To provide the proper technical information we need to know the make, model, and year of your RV. Since you indicated it was above the cab, it seems to be a motorized? Most of the TVs installed in the center of the overhead cabinetry had an outside trim screwed in to hold it in place. If you can send a photo we should be able to assist in the removal.

      Reply
  12. Gary

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: Georgetown 350TS, RV Year: 2010

    I have a bad coax from roof antenna to wall booster switch. Doesn’t seem like the coax wants to pull either way. I’m looking for suggestions if I can’t remove bad coax. I’m also looking for help as to where the coax would run in the roof. I’ve contacted Forest River and waiting for a answer. They replaced my roof about 4 months ago and must have damaged coax in the process. Any help is appreciated. I want to do this myself.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Gary. You will have a tough if not impossible time trying to “pull” the old cable and new cable to replace as the block foam insulation is prerouted, the cable is laid into the track created, adhesive is applied for the luaun layer and everything is vacubonded so it’s stuck in there. I would suggest running new cable inside a protective track on top of the roof! Lowe’s and Home Depot sell tracks that wires and cable can be routed in and one side has a peel off adhesive. Just connect to the antenna and run it to the front cap or wherever your booster is, drill a hole and route the cable into the compartment. Use a good putty sealer for the hole and then some DiCor sealant that is designed for your type of material which should be fiberglass in the front cap but would be rubber membrane if it’s further back on the coach.

      Reply
  13. kenneth

    RV Make: montana, RV Model: 3731fl, RV Year: 2017

    How can I play a dvd using the entertaiment console? The documentation does not provide enough help. I thought I had the correct source etc. selected but no display or sound.

    Reply
  14. john Rico

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Minnie Winnie, RV Year: 2015

    I need a video of the specific Winnebago Minnie Winnie 2015 How to de-winterize and winterize, I must know where the valves are located specifically and how to complete. Please help

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello John,

      We do not have a video on dewinterizing and winterizing a Minnie Winnie specifically, however our videos on using air to blow out the water and anti-freeze to fill the lines videos should be generic enough for you to follow the type of process you choose. Most RVers add anti-freeze, I am not sure if your 2015 has a winterizing kit which would be an extra tube that allows you to fill anti-freeze using the water pump. The brochure for that model does not indicate one was available? Your owner’s packet should have a diagram of where the valves are located? Typically there are some in the service center outside and possibly a few inside under the bed? Visit the Winnebago website and you can download a plumbing schematic for your model which will help locate them.
      http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/2015/2015_Plumbing_Models.htm

      We did several videos on winterizing a ‘92 Itasca Suncruiser built by Winnebago and process would be very similar.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  15. RONAL

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Journey G36, RV Year: 2007

    I was expecting a more comprehensive and informational article.

    Reply
  16. Jerome Imbriani

    RV Make: Jayco, RV Model: Eagle, RV Year: 2003

    I am looking to replace my old analog tv with a new digital one. Can any newer TV handle rough roads and bumps while traveling or are there special ones mad to handle the ride.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jerome,

      First I would recommend an LCD over plasma as the plasma takes more power and does not work well in high altitude or cold weather. There are a couple of TVs built specifically for RVs such as the Jensen sold by Camping World and most RV dealers, and Furrion which is a product of Lippert Components Inc (LCI) These are made with a more durable module board and sealed for condensation issues. They also cost about twice as much! I have replaced several old tube TVs with flat screen models purchased at Best Buy and even WalMart and never had a problem, although I did not buy the bargain brand. Rather I went with a Vizio, Samsung, Sony, and just recently an LP. I see several RV manufacturers using Toshiba and Samsung and have not heard of any issues with them. The problem comes from road vibration as you stated, but also with temperature changes. If you are not running an air conditioner or heater keeping a constant 68-72 degrees, the inside of your rig will get as high as 120 degrees in the summer and as low as 0 degrees in the winter! Most bargain brand TVs can not handle that.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  17. Larry Brauer

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Storm, RV Year: 2016, Brand: Winegard Trav'ler , Model Number: SK-1000

    Has anybody did a video on installing the SK-1000 on a Fleetwood Storm and videoed the procedures from start to finish.

    Reply
  18. Tim Flowers

    How do you get it across to the RV Owners that with a High def Signal that you have to auto scan when you move to a new location. Durning our Walk Thur I explain this then the first Camping trip out we will get a call my TV is not working I can’t get ant Channels. Most recently I took a call like this I ask the customer when you set up at the lake do you do a channel . The answer to the question I Guessed I did, I kindly said there is no guessing did you scan for channels in you new location in which the answer was Guess not. I went over the steps to do this and we scanned the TV for channels she became very excited as she watch the TV log in the 24 TV channels the she was able to pick up in the area she was camping . At the end of the Channel scan I stressed that each time she moves this will need to be repeated , I dont know how to make it ant clearer to understand.

    Reply
  19. David M

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: WF329B, RV Year: 2003, Brand: JVC, Model Number: JTV4015DC

    That ^^ is a 12VDC input 40″ LCD TV/monitor I bought just under a year ago. The pro-audio / office PC (it’s 2 separate SSD’s with Win-7×64 on each, plus a 750GB data HDD) is currently ALSO 12VDC input, but will be changed back to it’s normal & much QUIETER 120VAC, adding a 1KW inverter. And a very small wattage is also taken directly from the 2 coach 12V batteries. Now here’s the problem: About 4 months ago, that TV started to shut itself OFF occasionally, & ever since the problem has grown steadily worse. This ONLY happens when the PC is running & the TV is on that input (HDMI)… never when the TV is on TV & the PC is off. And now that I’ve written this out, it appears my first job is to change the PC’s PSU back to 120VAC, get the inverter, and THEN see if the TV still shuts itself off. It almost ALWAYS does when I open Firefox or IE, open a new window, or DO other actions in the PC… not usually when PC is idling (but it HAS). I’ve just signed up for a year Premium Membership to RVRC.
    Any input you have about this situation would be greatly appreciated ! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello David,

      You have provided quite a bit of information on the systems, however the description of your TV has some characters that did not translate? Do you actually have a 40” LCD running off 12-volt DC power? Or is it supplied by an inverter? Either way, I’d like a little more info on the TV and also what you found changing the PC back to 120-volt power? I think what might be happening is you are running to many items off the house batteries and as they drop in charge, you are not getting a full 12-volts to the components and the TV might have a built in voltage safety device?

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  20. Luke Luikens

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Siesta, RV Year: 2106

    Want to know about inexpensive satellite systems

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Luke,

      The cheapest option is getting either Dish or DirectTV and a stationary dish that usually comes as part of the package and making a portable stand to go outside. There are several options, however I would recommend visiting Winegard here: http://www.winegard.com/portable-satellite-antennas?q=mobile
      The next step up would be to get a portable system like the Pathway or Tailgaiter which is also provided by Winegard.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  21. Steve Hepfer

    RV Make: Monaco, RV Model: Diplomat, RV Year: 2008, Brand: Sharp, Model Number: LC-2057U

    The TV set in the Bedroom does not pick up the same level of channels that the front TV set does. How can I correct this to enhance my wife’s viewing. Remember – Happy Wife Happy Life

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Steve,

      You probably have a different brand TV in the bedroom and it requires a stronger signal to get certain channels than the front one? You might try doing a channel search on the bedroom TV? Each time you go into a new area with different tower locations, you need to have the TV “learn” the new locations. This also means moving the antenna around to find the best direction for the most channels. Some times you get signal lose from the antenna to the entertainment box or switch box and the coax way back to the bedroom. There are times that a separate antenna installed at the back dedicated to the rear TV produce better results. This would mean mounting the antenna on the roof and drilling a hole in the roof to the bedroom if you feel comfortable with that. You might want to look at Winegard’s portable antenna which I have used several times, it connects to the TV and hangs in the window. Not as appealing but works really good.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      http://go.rvrepairclub.com/C8824

      Reply
  22. Robert George

    RV Make: Winnebaggo, RV Model: 38R, RV Year: 2004

    My two TVs are Analog and I would like to convert to two new digital TVs. This model RV has a connection box for TV, Radio, Aux., etc., above the TV in the living room. How do I convert to digital TVs without having to rewire everything?
    Robert

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Robert,

      If your old analog TVs were built after 1996, they had a digital tuner and could receive a digital signal without any conversion. You should be able to just connect the same coax to the new TV and get a great picture. The only issue you might run into is if you want to connect to the HDMI cable input, you will need to run new HDMI cable vs coax. However, if you are not “gaming” meaning playing video games, you probably will not need the speed the HDMI offers for that and your other pictures will look good with coax.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      http://go.rvrepairclub.com/C8824

      Reply
  23. Chuck Borcher

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Sunrise, RV Year: 2008

    I disagree that you cannot tweak the antenna to improve digital signal strength. If you are getting a digital signal that is breaking up some or all the time, turning your batwing antenna more toward the sation will improve signal strength and possibly stop the breaking up of the picture.

    Reply
  24. Steven

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Palazzo, RV Year: 2013, Brand: Jesen flat screen TV

    I have a potable water leak behind my outside Jensen TV panel. How do I remove the outside mounted tv so i can access this panel? I know it is mounted at the top on a J hook type rail. but how is the bottom mounted? I dont feel any other clip or screw to release the TV so I can remove the TV to get to the access panel behind it

    Reply
  25. Nancy

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: A.C.E, RV Year: 2014

    We just bought our RV and don’t know how to get the TV’s to work. Have one in the living area, bedroom and outside.

    Reply
  26. Jacque

    RV Make: Newmar, RV Model: Dutch Star 3852, RV Year: 2002

    Wanting to know how to remove front TV frame and the TV. What I’ve seen on here is very general, and not so professional-looking in a Winnebago….

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jacque,

      To provide more specific information on how to remove your TV frame and TV we need the make, model, and year of your RV. The video I believe you are referring to was designed to show generic information on upgrading from the old tube style TV to the newer flat screen TVs and our demo coach was a 1992 Itasca Suncruiser which had a small 12” overhead TV. The challenge we face in shooting content for specific installation and removal is the wide variety of RV products, floorplans, options, and design changes so some of the videos need to be somewhat “general” to give an overview and hopefully prompt questions that can give us the opportunity to be more specific to your design.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Videos Membership

      Reply
  27. Bill

    RV Make: Holiday Rambler, RV Model: Endeavor 40D, RV Year: 2018, Brand: DISH, Model Number: VIP211Z

    In June 2017, we purchased a 2018 HR Endeavor 40D and took our DISH VIP211Z Receiver and installed it in our new motor home. We got a picture, but with no sound. After talking to DISH, they replaced the 211Z with a brand new 211Z and it didn’t help. We temporarily solved the problem by using an HDMI cable I had purchased for another project and we got both sound and picture. Last weekend, I met a couple at a campground who told me they solved the same issue by programming the DISH remote to work with the TV we have, but our DISH remote was already programmed to work with our LG TV, so that wasn’t it. After 3 months, we decided that the FIX would not work with the 211Z. We narrowed the problem down to the new HDMI cables not being compatible with the receiver, so we ordered a WALLY and are waiting for it to arrive. I’d be curious to know if anyone else has had this problem and if so, how did you solve it? DISH hasn’t a clue, and I can’t find anything on the Internet about it.

    Reply
  28. Luann Overby

    RV Make: Keystone , RV Model: 29fk sprinter, RV Year: 2017, Brand: Furrion tv, Model Number: FEHS32D9A

    Signal fine at home, at campground, where we had signal before, now channel scan repeats itself, can’t get signal. What is wrong? No signal booster anywhere that I can see.

    Reply
  29. Todd

    RV Make: Rockwood , RV Model: Mini lite 2507, RV Year: 2018, Brand: Furrion, Model Number: Fehs32d9q

    Removing my tv for winter and want to know if I can lay it down flat under bed or if it has to be upright

    Reply
  30. Karen

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Windsport 35M, RV Year: 2018

    Trying to figure out where to start on adding a direct tv receiver and satellite. There is no place to plug coax cables; all mine are HDMI.

    Reply
  31. don

    RV Make: Forest river, RV Model: 2017 wildcat max 282rkx, RV Year: 2017

    Tv make and modal

    Reply
  32. larry

    RV Make: forest river, RV Model: georgetown, RV Year: 2003, Brand: lg o westinhouse 32"

    which of these is the better one?

    Reply
  33. glen53

    RV Make: dutchmen, RV Model: 295 BHGS, RV Year: 2013

    it has a tv bracket that lets tv be viewed in bedroom an living area in other words it rotates 180 degrees no markings as to brand can’t figure out how to get it to turn

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      To provide more specific information on your TV bracket issue we need the
      make, model, and year of your rig to determine what manufacturer they
      used. There are several on the market such as Kwikee and
      MoreRyde. Somewhere there should be a locking mechanism that holds
      the TV in place while traveling and then allows for it to swivel when
      stationary.

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  34. Sandy

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: ACE, RV Year: 2014, Brand: Dish TV

    How do I run the cable to outside cable hook up and get it to hook up to receiver inside for TV in living room?

    Reply