How to Watch TV in an RV Without Cable

Just because you live in an RV doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy quality TV. Yes, most parking spots are scenic and breathtaking. There’s a lot to do outdoors when parked at the correct place. However, sometimes, you just want to curl up in bed or on the couch and watch TV.

But what is the best way to stream quality TV to your RV when you don’t have a cable connection? Luckily, there are so many options nowadays that people rarely worry about cable TV, even on a fixed address.

Stream Everything Over the Internet

The first and most convenient option would be streaming your TV over the internet. You will first need a reliable (preferably unlimited) internet connection to do this. 

You could go with broadband from traditional ISPs or satellite internet and even a Starlink connection. Even though your stream quality will vary depending on where you park, most US, Canada, and the UK have a decent internet connection. 

If you choose to stream, you could go with:

  • A Smart TV that can connect to the internet
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Google Chromecast with Android TV

What Speed Connection Do You Need to Stream on Your RV?

The connection speed you need to sustain a stream depends on how many people will be streaming and the type of content you are watching. The recommended connection speeds are:

Stream QualityRequired Connection SpeedData Consumption (Approximate)
Bare Minimum1.5 Mbps0.3 GB per hour
Medium SD (DVD Quality)3 Mbps0.7 GB per hour
High Definition (HD)5 Mbps3 GB per hour
Ultra HD/4K25 Mbps9 GB per hour

If you are looking for cable replacement, you should be comfortable with an SD stream. Getting a 3 Mbps connection shouldn’t be so hard. Moreover, keeping the resolution low also limits how much data you consume, making it easier to stream with a cheaper data package.

Some of the places to get content to stream (free and paid) include:

  • Hulu 
  • Plex live TV
  • Pluto TV
  • TVPlayer
  • Crackle
  • Netflix
  • HBO
  • Amazon Prime
  • Roku Channel
  • YouTube

ProTip: Most TV channels have a live stream on YouTube or snippets of their latest news broadcasts. If you are keen on the news or talk shows, search for them on YouTube first.

Satellite TV Over a Dish

Satellite TV providers have created packages for RV dwellers and people on the go for a while. For instance, DISH, one of the biggest satellite TV providers in the US, has a DISH for RV package.

This service lets you install a small dish on your RV and receive a wide range of channels straight to your RV. If you already use DISH at home, you can get a cheap extension to cover your RV.

DIRECTV also offers a package for RVs, but the signup and installation process is a bit more complicated than what you get from DISH. 

The advantage of picking satellite TV is that you rarely worry about internet connectivity. If you tend to camp at remote places or have a very removed off-grid cabin, this might be an awesome way to ensure you always have something to watch no matter what.

What Equipment Do You Need to Receive Satellite TV on Your RV?

You will need the receiving equipment to get a satellite signal on your RV. Some modern RVs have the dish and infrastructure already wired, meaning you only have to add a router/modem or a TV with an inbuilt satellite tuner.

Alternatively, you can get the equipment from your service provider. For instance, DISH will provide the equipment, while DIRECTV will link you up with an accredited installer who has the hardware.

ProTip: If you go for universal satellite dishes, ensure that they work with your service provider of choice. Some are not compatible with all satellite TV providers.

Portable Vs. Mounted Antenna

Finally, you will have to choose between a roof-mounted antenna and a portable one that you set up on a tripod once you are parked. Portable units are also easier to line up for maximum channel reception than parking the entire RV in the right orientation.

You can also locate it at a cleared spot with access to the sky if your RV is parked under thick foliage and can’t make it to the clearing.

The choice is yours. If you change RVs a lot or don’t mind a portable antenna, so be it. IF you spend much time on your RV, parked, or on the move, then a fixed roof mount could work.

A Local Digital TV Antenna

If you want simple free-to-air channels, you can capture many of them using a local TV antenna. 

You can get up to 30 local stations in some locations without paying a cent with the right antenna. 

However, you have to be within 50 miles of a transmission station. If you are within this radius, you can capture many stations using a low-profile antenna installed in or outside the RV next to your FM and DAB antenna.

Check this too: Should I Disconnect My RV Battery When Plugged In?

If you live further away, you can get bigger boosted digital TV antennas that can pick signals from as far as 200 miles away as long as you raise them high enough and point them in the right direction.

A Simple Cable TV Hookup

If you are at a campsite with amenities, check if they provide a coaxial cable hookup. Most will give you access to an antenna port as long as you bring your coaxial cables.

  • Connect a hookup from your booster or TV to a cable port input at a convenient place outside the RV
  • Turn off your antenna power booster if you have one
  • Connect a long coaxial cable to the campsite hookup
  • Turn on the power booster 
  • Start scanning and watching shows on your RV

Sometimes, the connection will provide cable TV access and normal digital TV stations. Perform a quick channel scan to discover new channels. You might need a subscription to access scrambled cable TV channels.

Oscar

In his spare time, Oscar loves tinkering with electronics. Solar panels, wiring, old TVs and sometimes DIY powerwalls. When he is not busy trying not to electrocute himself, you can find him in the garden tending to his vegetables and chickens.

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