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


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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55 Responses to “What You Need to Know About Digital Television for RVs”


    I have a winnegard 2.0 unable to get it to work

  2. Terry

    I have a 2017 HR Endeavor, my TV plays thru my Bose Solo 5 but when I switch to satellite I get the picture but no sound. Can anyone explain what I'm missing.

  3. Mark Binz

    I've been experimenting trying to find a way to use the existing coax cable and media switch in the RV and HDMI TV's. Right now I'm using wireless HDMI but would really like to use the media switch. Please let me know if you have found a solution for this. Thanks

  4. Bobby Richardson

    I have cable reception in the living area, but I cannot get reception in the bedroom. I have tried with booster and withot the booster. I also installed a cable splitter to connect loose wires undneath but still no reception in the bedroom.

  5. Dan Van Erem

    My main tv seems to be attached directly to the wall and I have no way to get to the mounting bolts. Behind the wall is the shower. How do I get the tv off the wall?

  6. Rick Bulman

    I am having trouble with getting a good picture from my Dish and Wally. I have read that you basically can not use the pre-pulled cabling since it has splitters. Do you have a Class/Video of putting in Cable for TV hook ups?

  7. Kevin Beasley

    My king jack tv booster wont power up, any suggestion

  8. Brenda Kalis

    Hi what would be the recommended 42” smart TV to purchase for a travel trailer? Tks. B

  9. Linda G Freeman

    What is the best way to watch TV at a campsite?

  10. Jim Johnson

    Do you park your RV seasonally? And do you have trouble receiving 'local' over the air (OTA) stations with your built-in RV antenna from this location? You can save a LOT of money using a residential roof or attic mount . https://nocable.org/ will tell you what stations are available for the address you enter and the distance/direction to the tower. Or you can install the RCA Signal Finder app on either Android or Apple phones. Purchase a directional HDTV rated for the necessary distance - without amplification. This last part is important for a no-hole installation on your RV. You should also purchase an antenna mast (basically a thin-wall 1.25" metal conduit about 4 feet long) and a couple U bolts to attach the mast to the outside edge of your RV roof ladder. (My RV doesn't have a roof ladder so I rigged a means to use additional mast sections clamped to my rear bumper). Do not allow your antenna mast to touch the ground or you will have to electrically insulate the mast from your RV AND install a ground rod (which your RV park may frown on). You will also need to find your RV's external cable-TV input port and purchase enough RG-6 coax to reach from the antenna to this port. The last part is pretty easy. Follow your rig's instructions for connecting to a camp site's cable TV; only connect your antenna instead. Usually the most pertinent point in the instructions will be to turn off the RV's antenna amplifier (usually a button next to one of your internal TV antenna connection ports with a LED to indicate on/off status). Use a compass or the RCA Signal Finder app to point your antenna toward the tower(s) for the stations you wish to receive. Most cities group TV antenna towers in a common higher altitude area. Last, run your TV(s)'s channel auto-search function. We stay at the same RV park year-to-year over the winter. Our RV's built-in antenna is rated for 25 miles (with the amplifier). We got a whopping one station. The TV towers were all about 39 miles away according to the mentioned site/app. We installed a residential antenna rated for 50 miles without amplification. I've never bothered to count the stations we now get (lots) because we don't watch most of them.