The Best TV Setups in 2023 for Caravans or Motorhomes

Hi, I’m Chris. About Me

Often when I go and meet our guests, they’re either setting up their caravan or levelling their motorhome. They are also often directing their caravan aerials or satellite dishes to get the best TV reception. Therefore, I get to see various caravan and motorhome TV setups. I get to hear feedback from my guests on the products they like best and which they don’t. With this post, I thought I would write about the various things you need to consider when choosing a new TV for your caravan or motorhome. However, I’ll also talk about how you can make the most of your existing portable TV to get the best experience.

Caravan TV
There are many different brands of portable 12V TVs for your caravan or motorhome, Avtex being just one example – Image:

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or Caravan Guard are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase, with no additional cost to you 🙂

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Obviously, TV viewing habits have changed considerably over the last decade and many people ‘stream’ as opposed to watching live TV. So ill discuss how to go about watching streaming services.

This includes Netflix, Amazon Prime and the iPlayer on caravan sites with and without WiFi. Below I’ve provided a Table of Contents of the topics covered in this post. Enjoy!

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Freeview or Freesat?

Freeview or Freesat?
You can choose between Freeview (ariel) or Freesat (satellite) portable TVs for your caravan or motorhome.

So as I’m sure you are aware, the analogue TV signal in the UK was turned off many years ago. To receive free-to-air TV in your caravan or motorhome, you will be choosing between Freeview or Freesat.

Put simply, Freeview is the digital service received through an aerial, whereas Freesat is received by a satellite dish. However, with Freeview, there are areas of the UK that struggle to get a good-quality signal.

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At Horton Common, due to our location and high elevation, we actually get a very good Freeview signal. In fact, we pick up the signal from both the North West and Midlands transmitters.

Therefore, multiple BBC One’s pop up on the channel list. However, this might not be the case on all caravan sites you visit. Therefore, some people choose to go with TV’s that support Freesat.

Freesat Has Its Pros & Cons

With Freesat, you will obviously need to purchase a satellite dish. We have a couple of guests who have gone this route. Some choose to use Freesat, while others use a SKY box in their caravan.

The most common option is a portable satellite dish. However, I recently had a guest with a pretty high-end A-Class motorhome and integrated satellite dish.

This dish would lower down against the roof of the motorhome when on the road. When on-site, it automatically raises up and finds the direction of the satellite.

We are located close to the Jodrell Bank telescope (now a World Heritage Site). This dish was similar to watching Jodrell Bank in action!

Maxview caravan and motorhome satellite dish
Maxview is one brand of permanent satellite dish for your caravan or motorhome. Image –

However, a permanent satellite dish mounted to the roof of your caravan or motorhome can be pretty costly. Therefore most people choose a portable dish.

Now, these portable kits can work well to provide your caravan or motorhome with satellite TV in pretty much any location. However, there are a few points I’ve observed over the years.

Most of our guests who have satellite TV in their caravans and motorhomes use the Maxview portable satellite kits: Image –

You Need a Clear Line of Sight

This isn’t a problem on our site as we don’t have large trees to block the signal from the satellite to your dish. However, some guests have informed me of this issue on other sites.

To be fair, Freeview can also have issues with poor signal quality due to lots of dense vegetation and buildings in the way.

However, in this instance, your portable satellite dish is located pretty close to the ground. So you need to make sure no trees, buildings or, importantly, caravans/motorhomes block the line of sight to the satellite.

Guy Ropes Are Essential

Granted, our caravan site is located in a more elevated position than many sites, so our wind speeds are above average.

However, after observing guests putting up portable satellite dishes, you need to fit guy ropes. Some portable satellite dishes come with guy ropes, but many don’t.

So once you have found that satellite signal, if you want to keep it, securely fix the dish into position with guy ropes.

I’ve actually recently written a post on the best caravan satellite TV options which you may be interested in

Streaming TV Services in your Caravan or Motorhome

Its actually got to the point where most people don’t want to watch live TV, they want to ‘stream’ content.

While it’s very easy to use streaming services such as the iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Prime at home, its a different story in your caravan or motorhome.

So we’ll discuss the two main obstacles. Setting the TV up to use streaming services and how to get a suitable internet connection in your caravan or motorhome.

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  • Bluetooth connectivity (easily add a Bluetooth soundbar)

Smart TVs for Caravans and Motorhomes

So there is a range of ‘Smart’ portable 12V TVs for caravans and motorhomes currently on the market. I’m not going to go through the ins and outs of each model, but there is something you should know

Not all Smart TV’s receive all of the streaming services.

You need to be careful when you purchase a portable smart TV that it actually provides the services you’re looking for.

Pretty much all of the portable smart TV’s sold in the UK for caravans and motorhomes offer iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, some don’t actually offer ITV Player or 4OD, among other services.

Also, the software on some of the more ‘niche’ TV brands may not get updated that frequently. Therefore, there can be situations where because the TV software doesn’t update, the streaming service stops working.

Therefore, instead of purchasing a 12V portable TV for your caravan and motorhome on its streaming services alone, purchase it based on its picture quality and other features.

Often the best solution to ‘future proof’ your access to streaming services is to use an external solution, more details below.

Non-Smart TVs – Roku and FireSticks?

So following on from the discussion above on whether to choose a smart TV for your caravan or motorhome, let’s talk about Roku and FireSticks.

These are simply the two most common options for a device that plugs into a TV to provide streaming services.

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Both of these devices connect to the TV through an HDMI connection and can provide the full range of streaming services.

On-Site Internet Connections for TV Streaming Services

I’ve previously written a fairly comprehensive post on how to get an internet connection in your caravan or motorhome.

Therefore, I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Here I’ll just talk about the main choices, please read that post for more details.

Obviously, if on-site WiFi is available where you’re visiting, that’s one option.

There are various internal and external WiFi antennas available and WiFi boosters for caravans and motorhomes, which you can buy to get a better signal. Just bear in mind some on-site WiFi services are very slow and expensive.

However, if you’re visiting a remote rural location such as our small caravan site where the landline broadband is very poor and no on-site WiFi is possible, other options need to be explored.

Taking Advantage of the 4G (and soon 5G) Networks

So the ‘Big 4’ 4G and 5G networks are EE, O2, Vodaphone and Three. The full roll-out of the 5G network is still quite a few years away.

However, in most instances, the 4G network will provide sufficient speeds for you to use streaming services on your caravan or motorhome portable 12V TV.

4G and 5G Networks
The ‘Big 4’ 4G and 5G Networks

Often speed is not the problem, its sufficient data. You can buy mobile broad data cards from all the ‘Big 4’, but the amount of data they offer varies wildly. So you need to search around for the best deals.

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Using Your Smartphone As A WiFi Hotspot

In many cases, you don’t actually need to purchase a MiFi device or anything else to provide a 4G/5G connection to your caravan and motorhome TV.

You can often use your smartphone. With most smartphones, there is an option to turn on the phone’s WiFi Hotspot.

This is the method I use every day to share my phone’s internet connection with my computer due to our poor landline broadband.

It’s important to check your phone has this feature, and under your current contract, your network provider allows it.

Currently, I’m with Three on an unlimited data contract, and I use my phone as a ‘Hotspot’ pretty much all day, every day.

Streaming Services TV Data Usage

So if you cannot get an unlimited 4G/5G data deal and you want to use TV streaming services, you’re going to have to pay close attention to your data usage.

For instance, Netflix states that 1 hour of streaming standard definition content will use around 1GB of data. Whereas streaming 1 hour of HD content will use around 3GB of data.

This quick video provides a guide on how to change the data usage setting on Netflix when streaming on your portable TV in your caravan or motorhome if you’re not on an unlimited data plan.

Now, I personally know these data usage figures are not accurate because at home, on my 2MB connection Netflix often goes into HD, and there is no way I can download 3GB of data in an hour.

However, the point still stands, TV streaming services are data-hungry.

Caravan TV Sound Quality is…….Rubbish

So pretty much any small flat panel TV today, whether its a 12V for your caravan or motorhome or 240V for your home, they all have something in common.

They generally all have pretty much rubbish sound quality across the board. This even applies to premium brands such as Sony, Samsung and LG.

With small flat panel TVs, there just isn’t room to accommodate speakers, which will provide a proper full range of sound and clarity at higher volume levels.

Thin TV Poor Sound Quality
As TVs for caravans and motorhomes get, thinner and lighter sound quality is sacrificed.

Within your home, the solution is simple, get a soundbar or base or go full in on a surround sound system. Now, I’m not going to even imply such a solution is appropriate for a caravan or motorhome.

They are too big, bulky and heavy. So what options do you have to improve the sound quality of the small portable TV in your caravan or motorhome?

A Bluetooth Speaker?

Depending on how ‘down with the kids’ you are, you may be familiar with Bluetooth speakers, which can be linked up to smartphones and tablets.

While Bluetooth speakers are flexible pieces of kit, they do require a certain level of knowledge and skill to setup. Furthermore, most 12V portable TV’s for caravans and motorhomes are not Bluetooth enabled.

Therefore, I’m going to skip recommending Bluetooth speakers and go for a much simpler (and cheaper) option.

Desktop PC Stereo Speakers

The easiest and cheapest way to improve the sound quality of small portable TVs used in caravans and motorhomes is to connect up to some PC speakers.

Practically all small portable TVs have a headphone jack on the front or back. You can use this headphone jack to connect up to the PC speakers.

Once connected, simply turn up the manual volume on the speakers to maximum and then use the TV remote to control the volume.

Now no more poor quality sound will be coming out of those tiny TV speakers, all sound will be sent to the PC speakers. Simple!

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Through this method, you have dramatically improved the sound quality of your small portable 12V TV for your caravan or motorhome and taken up very little additional space.

Now, the PC speakers will require power and most run off a three-pin plug. However, if you choose speakers like the example above that’s not a problem.

USB-powered PC Speakers

So many TVs for caravans and motorhomes today have USB ports on the back. Typically these are used so you can connect a memory stick to show pictures or videos.

However, most of these USB connections provide sufficient power to run a pair of PC stereo speakers.

I know this because its how I’ve been powering a pair of stereo speakers, the speakers you see above, which sit behind my 22″ Samsung Smart TV.

So if you want to enjoy good-quality sound in your caravan or motorhome, get a TV that has a headphone jack and USB connection. You can then get a pair of USB powered USB speakers such as those below:

Conclusions On The Best TV Setups for Caravan and Motorhomes

I chose not to write this post around the best individual TVs for your caravan or motorhome as the products available are constantly changing.

What I wanted to do was provide some tips on how to get the best viewing (and listening) experience from the small portable TV in your caravan or motorhome.

Using a Roku/Fire TV Stick and 4G internet connection from a phone/MiFi device along with some additional PC speakers, you can enjoy a good quality modern viewing experience in your caravan or motorhome.

I hope you found the above useful and you consider coming to visit us at some point in the future at Horton Common 🙂

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