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We Want To Watch TV In Our RV Going Down The Road Can We Do That?

by pete
(hernando, fl)


we want to use our laptop and bedroom tv. the rental place said you could while the rv is moving using the generator. Does this run on electric supplied from the rv batteries?? Is it gas powered?? Can you hear it running while driving? how long would the generator typically run if gas powered? Thanks

ANSWER Greetings Pete thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

Let me see if I can answer some of your questions. It sounds like the RV you’re renting is equipped with a generator. The generator can be used to provide 120 volt power to the RV when you are going down the road or when you are Boondocking (camping in a remote area where there is no electrical hookup for the RV)


When the generator is running it provides 120 volt current to the electrical appliances and 120 volt electric outlets in the RV so you can plug in things such as computers, hair dryers, coffee makers, etc. Most RV generators run off of Diesel or Gasoline; this depends on the type of fuel that your RV uses. There are some generators that run off of the propane system in the RV, but I doubt that the RV you are renting has a propane generator. Either way they pretty much all work the same.

I am going to assume that the RV you are renting has a built-in generator. A built in generator gets its fuel from the RV's fuel tank. How much fuel a generator uses depends on the size of the generator and the load that you put on the generator. If you are running a lot of electrical appliances and the air conditioners on the RV it will use more fuel. A good rule of thumb is that a generator will use about 1 gallon of fuel per hour of operation.

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Most generators on an RV will shut down automatically when you get to around a 1/4 tank of fuel in the RV's fuel tank. This is so that you will still be able to drive the RV and it will not completely empty the fuel tank. Depending on the size of the RV the fuel tank can hold from 50 gallons to well over 100 gallons of fuel. Ask the RV rental agency what size tank the RV you are renting has.

Turning on and shutting off the generator is easy. Most RVs equipped with a generator have a switch usually located on the dash to start and stop the generator. You can use this switch to start and stop the generator when going down the road. Depending on the type of motorhome you are renting, there may be other generator switches located throughout the RV. The generator itself also has a start and stop switch on it in case the remote switches fail.

SAFETY TIP Always make sure the generator is shut off when you are filling the RV with fuel. Also make sure that all propane appliances such as fridge, heaters and water heater are shut off when refueling the RV. Failure to do so could cause a fire in the RV.

The noise the generator makes varies by the size and manufacturer of the generator. In most cases when you are going down the road, you will not notice the generator sound.

When you are running the generator going down the road, you can plug your laptop into one of the 120 volt electrical outlets and it should work fine. Accessing the internet while you are traveling is a whole different story that I will not go into here.

When the generator is running it does provide power to the TVs in the RV. That being said; if there is a TV in view of the driver at the front of the RV, it may not function when the RV is in motion. This is a safety feature to prevent the driver from watching the TV while driving.

If you are just planning to watch videos or play video games on the bedroom TV, that can be done easily as long as the generator is running. I am not going to address the concerns I have that there may not be seatbelts being used when this activity is taking place.

If you are planning to watch broadcast or satellite TV, that is a whole different story. In order to watch satellite TV you need to be subscribed to a satellite provider and have a self-tracking satellite dish installed on the top of the RV.

If you plan to watch broadcast TV you need to have a permanently attached omnidirectional TV Antenna such as the Winegard Roadstar 2000 Antenna on the top of the RV. Most RVs come equipped with a crank up TV antenna that cannot be used going down the road. You need to ask the RV rental agency which type of antenna the RV you are renting has and also ask them to show you how to properly use it.

Be Forewarned Depending on the RV Rental Agency you are using there may be an extra charge for using the generator. The charge is usually assessed by how many hours you actually use the generator. I would suggest that you take a look at our Renting An RV Page to learn what to expect when renting one. This section also goes into additional charges that you may incur when renting an RV.

I hope that I have been able to answer your questions. I think you will really enjoy your RV adventure and may actually get hooked on the RV Lifestyle. If any of our visitors would like to offer you their suggestions or advice they can do so by clicking on the add comments link located near the bottom of this page.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Comments for We Want To Watch TV In Our RV Going Down The Road Can We Do That?

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TV watching
by: Gordon

I am going to make what is probably an old school comment here.

Why would you want to rent an rv to drive through all this beautiful country and watch tv don't we all do enough of this at home.

Shut the tv of and look out the window, you never loose reception and the program changes as you go along. You will be amazed as to what you will see.

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TV power while cruising
by: ondavon

that's exactly what we're researching too. How to power on the TV to watch movies while driving - As I understand it you need an inverter. An inverter converts the battery DC voltage to AC. the problem is the RV is already wired so the TV picks up it's AC power from the 30 amp current at the campsite. The idea is to wire an inverter to the RV battery to run the TV off of also. Like most dealers, they are just concerned about selling and not so helpful with the custom details. Once I find the answer I'll post it.

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Watching TV without the generator
by: Joni

I think the question was why can't you set the TV up (in the back) to run off the battery while going down the road. Why do you have to run the generator and use the extra fuel? Cars, suvs and vans have TV's you can watch going down the road, why don't RV's?
Joni

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