Can Freezing Temperatures Harm The LCD TV In Your RV?

lcd-flat-screen-tv-in-rv-by-Steve-and-Sara.jpg Every new motorhome and most new 5th wheel and travel trailers have at least one LCD TV. Many have 2 or more.  The bigger LCD TVs on board RVs and motorhomes have 40-inch screens (or larger).

Today’s technology has come to the point where, for the most part, you will find LCD (or Liquid Crystal Display televisions) being installed almost exclusively in new recreational vehicles.

LCDs are a great choice inside RVs for a number of reasons.  For one, the picture quality is very good.  Plus, they’re not big and bulky like the TVs of yesterday. In fact, some are so thin you can actually mount them on the wall like a picture. LCD flat-screen TVs are even being mounted on motorized bases that retract up flush to the ceiling when not in use.

The one big question for those of us living well into the frost belt is: Can LCD televisions handle the freezing temperatures?

Maybe, Maybe Not

Liquid when allowed to freeze expands, distorts, and even cracks.

There is a liquid-based material within the screen of LCD TVs.  Will it be damaged overnight in freezing weather?  Worse yet, if left in storage through the winter in the northern states where temperatures can get bitterly cold, will an LCD flat-screen TV survive?

Information available on the Internet indicates that, in most cases, the possibility of damage is a definite "Maybe".  Not very reassuring.  But the fact is, each manufacturer provides different guidelines for its products, and those guidelines don’t carry over to all other brands of televisions.

Safe Operating Temperatures For LCD TVs

Safe operating temperatures for LCD televisions generally range from +40F to well over +100F.

This means that if your LCD TV is kept in an environment below this range, you must allow it at least 24 hours to acclimate to the proper operating range before you plug it in or turn it on.


When something cold is brought into a warm environment, condensation (or moisture) will be present throughout the device.  Plugging it in or turning it on could result in short circuits, shock, or other catastrophic failure of the unit. If the LCD screen is chilled, even though not frozen, it could fail as well.

Manufacturer limitations on cold storage of their LCD TVs varies all over the map.  Some are rated to handle temps as low as -15F to -20F below zero, while others are barely rated to be stored anywhere near the zero mark.

I was unable to find a single supplier of LCD televisions that would stand behind their product when stored in temperatures lower then the -20F below zero mark.


How To Protect Your LCD TV

widescreen-tv-in-class-a-motorhome-by-marada.jpg I live in Minnesota. International Falls, MN is well known as "the ice box of the nation."  During the very long winter months, temperatures drop to a -40F below quite often. I’ve personally experienced -60F below temperatures, though admittedly only once in my lifetime.

Where does this leave those of us with expensive electronics in our recreational vehicles under these circumstances?  There are but 3 options available:

1. You can arrange for heated storage of your RV through the winter months, probably a costly option.

2. You can remove your LCD televisions from the RV (and I would consider removing VCRs, DVDs, and satellite receivers too), and store them indoors in warmer temperatures.

3. Or, as a more enjoyable option, you can load up your RV and head south for the winter months where frost is but a faint far off memory. 

Personally, I vote for the third option, it’s worked well for my wife and I.

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • Philip

    What about new LED televisions?

    • Curtis

      Philip, I couldn’t find anything concrete on LED televisions but consider this. During extreme cold temp everything shrinks a little. Then next summer in extreme heat it will expand a little. These large temperature swings could create short circuits or open circuits in any electronic device. Then there is condensation to consider. Moisture is death to electronics. The question is do you want to risk a $1,000 flat screen of any style? Your choice.

    • Phil

      LED televisions are simply LCD televisions, only the backlight is provided by LED rather than fluorescent.

  • Tburrows

    Thanks for the infor regarding LCD tv/monitors! I hadn’t thought out the effect of freezing before. I was about to buy one for a RV we will be using this winter in northern Alberta. You also likely saved our computers from a frozen death!!

  • Richard Z.

    If you’re going to buy a 12volt-travel TV for your RV or whatever, keep in mind how it made it into the USA. It came in a non-climate controlled container on a ship from China. The temps in them containers can get very hot to very very cold. It would seem that if very very cold temps would damage the lcd screen or other internal components they would be much more expensive from either having such a loss every time a container is shipped or because of the cost of controlling the climate in every container of electronics on every ship. I put a 12 volt TV from into my fish house in Minnesota a few years ago and have never had a problem. even unattended with no heat over the months that we aren’t there visiting.

    Richard Z.

  • DavidCarlson

    I have a (cheap) 7″ LCD TV/DVD player that I leave on my boat in the Bering Sea in Alaska for the winter, and have done so for 3 years. I know the temperature gets down to 35-55 below zero. So far the thing still works fine.

  • true_blu

    Manufacturers, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc., recommend that the lowest-safest storing temperature for LCD, LED (LED is just LCD monitor with LED backlight), is down to -4 Ferenheit or -20 Celsius.   To operate safely this type of TV’s, temperatures have to be above 41 Ferenheit, and if left in cold for storage, you must leave the TV set above 41 Ferenheit for 24 hours prior to use.   This will ensure even temperature consistency accross the entire display, and give the time for condensation to dry up due to temperature change.

  • dennisdillonrv

    It would be interesting to see some data on the difference between the LCDs stored in the main cabin of a coach vs. those in the outside entertainment centers. Most of those exterior units go through the extreme temps associated with heat, but to a certain extent, will not weather the cold as well as those “indoors.”

    This is a great topic to consider, Curtis. Thanks for doing a little exploring on it, and posting it for the rest of us so we can dig a little deeper.

  • thomas

    Well, i left my gaming computer im my trunk in winnipeg and its -20c ….im gonna wait a bit to turn it on…..

    • Curtis

      Thomas, Good idea, let it come to room temp. also let it dry off as thawing it out may bring on condensation too.

  • starryv2003

    Thanks for this! It didn’t even occur to us that the cold nights in Moab might be why our outdoor TV in our 2014 Thor Tuscany failed. Hmm…