How To Watch TV When Boondocking


Boondocking out in the wilderness has a special appeal, but there comes a time where you may want to relax and watch some TV. What is the best way to hook up a TV for some entertainment while dry camping with limited power options?

You can watch TV when boondocking by using a low power consumption LED TV. The TV can be connected to your 12-Volt system if it is 12-Volt, but otherwise, it should be run through an inverter. An inverter generator can power a TV or a normal generator combined with a UPS to clean the waveform.

You can watch TV while boondocking, but you need to select the right TV for the job and consider connectivity if you want to stream movies or TV series. Depending on your dry camping location, you may have to plan ahead and get creative to get your entertainment fix in a remote location!

Ways To Watch TV While Boondocking

Boondocking is out-there camping with little to no amenities or hookups normally associated with traditional camping sites. Mains electricity is one of the amenities that goes by the wayside when boondocking, and whatever power you need, you will have to take with you.

With this philosophy on camping, how is it possible to take an appliance along, like a TV when boondocking, and watch it with limited access to power?

Another aspect of modern TVs is that they are considered sensitive electronic devices that need clean power or become damaged.

So not only do you need power for your TV, but you need clean power, which you will need to provide on your boondocking adventure.

Select Your Boondocking TV Carefully

The first part of planning to include a TV as part of your boondocking camping gear is to be selective in your TV choice. 

Different types of TVs have different power requirements, and when it comes to TVs, size matters when considering power consumption!

The following table summarizes the power requirements of different TV technologies and shows how the power consumption increases with TV size.

TV SizeTV Technology
Plasma-TVLCD-TVLED-TV
30-inches150-Watts60-Watts50-Watts
42-inches220-Watts120-Watts80-Watts
50-inches300-Watts150-Watts100-Watts

The data shows that the best TV technology to use for boondocking would be an LED-Technology TV. The lower power consumption of these TVs makes them the preferred choice for a limited drain on your power system.

What Do You Need To Power Your TV while RV Boondocking?

Now that you have the right technology to search for, the next challenge is to provide power for the TV. You will need power for the TV and the device delivering the signal to the TV, which we will discuss separately.

There are 12-Volt DC TV models available, but they are not easy to source and significantly more expensive than standard AC models. If you can source a 12-Volt TV, the power supply in the TV should do the necessary modulation on the power signal to deliver clean power to the TV circuits.

However, if your TV is AC-powered, you can run it on a 12-Volt system with an inverter to convert the 12-Volt supply to a 120 volt AC output. When selecting an inverter to run your TV, you should source a pure sine wave inverter rather than a modified sine wave inverter.

Pure sine wave inverters are more efficient technology and less likely to damage the delicate circuitry of your TV. The negative aspect of pure sine wave inverters is that they are more expensive than modified inverters. Here is the inverter that we recommend.

Renogy 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter 12V DC to 120V AC Converter for Home, RV, Truck, Off-Grid Solar Power Inverter 12V to 110V with Built-in 5V/2.1A USB Port, AC Hardwire Port, Remote Controller

Can You Run A TV On A Generator?

Many boondockers carry a gasoline generator to supply electricity to power-hungry devices off the grid. Gasoline-powered generators use the cycling of the motor to turn an electric motor and generate electricity.

This electricity is subject to the fluctuations in the revolutions per minute or rpm of the motor. Most generator engines do not run at stable, static RPMs, which causes fluctuations or spikes in the electricity produced by the generator.

This fluctuation in power is termed “dirty” power because of its spikey waveform. This dirty power is capable of damaging the sensitive circuitry of electronics such as computers and TVs.

Ideally, the waveform of the electricity from the generator should be cleaned and stabilized before it is used to power electronic devices. A device can be inserted in the circuitry between the generator and the electronic devices that will perform this function.

A DC-to-AC inverter can rectify the waveform of the power produced by the generator and clean up the supply for sensitive electronics. In this situation, your generator will be charging your house batteries, but your inverter will be powering your TV.

BESTEK 500W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Converter with Alligator Battery Clamp 4.8A Dual USB Car Charger ETL Listed

Choosing to use an inverter generator rather than a standard generator is another way of providing clean power for your electronics. An inverter generator uses the motor to charge a set of batteries that clean the power and deliver a clean signal as an output, either in DC or AC format. This is the inverter generator that we recommend.

Champion Power Equipment 200961 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator, Ultralight

Another method of performing the same task is to run the electronic devices on a UPS. A UPS takes the input from a generator, converts it to DC power, and then converts it back to AC power in a clean format. 

A UPS has batteries included to perform the cleaning role, which has the added advantage of giving you a few minutes to shut your devices down cleanly when the generator runs out of fuel.

The UPS can also be used to run computers and other sensitive electronic devices when boondocking, which brings us to the aspect of what you are going to watch on your TV. Here is the UPS we recommend.

APC UPS Battery Backup and Surge Protector, 600VA Backup Battery Power Supply, BE600M1 Back-UPS with USB Charger Port

Can You Stream TV While Boondocking?

Having a TV with you on a wilderness camping trip is one thing, but getting a signal to watch a movie or a program is another challenge entirely.

Your TV will need some way of connecting to a streaming service to watch something on your TV. For this, you will need access to a mobile phone network signal with a data feed capable of streaming the data.

You can set up your mobile phone as a hotspot for this, but you will need a data plan with an unlimited data package.

A computer with an internet connection via the hotspot on your mobile phone or tablet can connect to a streaming service and send the stream to the TV via an HDMI cable.

If the dispersed camping location is out of range of cell phone signals or WiFi internet, you will need to plan ahead and make alternative plans.

Some streaming services allow downloading movies and series for limited periods to a device such as a computer. You can download your favorite series or the movies you want to watch and then view them offline on the TV connected to your laptop.

Your laptop or another streaming device should also be protected from power surges by being connected to the same UPS that your TV is connected to or its own power protection device.

Our family always brings a few DVDs so we don’t have to fuss with trying to stream while camping, this simplifies the process for us and may be a good option for you as well if you have a DVD player. 

Conclusion

Watching TV when boondocking can be achieved if you opt for a TV that uses less power, and you take the precautions to protect the sensitive electronics of the TV with the appropriate device.

Just because you are camping off the grid does not mean that you must give up all your creature comforts! Watching TV is one of those activities that have become an integral part of our modern lifestyles.

So get your gear together to run a TV off your camper’s power supply, or a generator with an inverter for protection, and you can have the best of both worlds! We hope you have a successful boondocking trip. Happy camping!

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Eric

I have been camping most of my adult life and am passionate about having the best camping equipment as well as writing. Combine these two items and you have our site.

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