Your RV Entertainment System: What You Need To Know About RV Antennas, TV Signal Boosters & Satellite Receivers

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Your new RV may come with a wide variety of electronic entertainment devices.

For example:

  • Entry level RVs typically include a TV, an AM/FM receiver, and a DVD player.
  • High-end RVs can be many times more complex with all the latest gadgets and gizmos like dropdown flat screen TVs, surround sound systems, and auto-tracking satellite receivers.


Most of the audio and visual devices on RVs are exactly like the ones that you have at home. Therefore, they require little in the way of extra training. Beyond learning which remote control operates which device, you should not have any problems.

However, there are a few minor things to remember in order to ensure that you always have a good strong picture on the TV.


RV Antenna

Mounted on the roof is your TV antenna.

In the stowed position, it lays flat and is hardly noticeable. Of course it doesn’t do much when stowed either.

To make it work, you must crank the handle that’s mounted on the ceiling to raise it into the operating position.

You have to crank it all the way up before you can turn the antenna to lock onto a signal.

rv-antennaThat’s right, this is a directional antenna and you must point it toward the television station you want to watch. This, of course, leads to the most common mistake RVers make: forgetting to lower the antenna when it’s time to leave camp.

The lucky ones are pointed at and ridiculed by other drivers as they cruise down the highway with the antenna protruding well above the RV. I say lucky ones because, at that point, they haven’t hit anything and destroyed the antenna.

Your RV antenna is constructed of lightweight aluminum tubing and plastic pieces, so the first bump from a tree branch or a low clearance bridge will promptly snap it off.

This is why your RV antenna must be stowed when traveling.

To stow the antenna properly, simply point it in the correct direction as indicated by an arrow near the hand crank. If it’s not centered properly, it will not retract all the way and will likely snap off in the process of lowering it.

The wise RVer hangs a tag, or uses a checklist as a reminder to tend to the antenna before moving the RV.


RV Signal Booster

You have another device that greatly improves your TV signal on the RV. It’s called a signal booster. It’s located in the vicinity of your TV.  The coax cable that runs from the TV goes to the signal booster, which receives the signal from the antenna.

This booster operates on 12-volt DC and has a switch and a red indicator light to signify that it’s turned on.

In most instances, without the signal booster being turned on you won’t have usable reception.

One other thing of concern is the fact that it does use electricity. It’s easy to forget that it was left on and in no time it will drain the battery of an RV that has been returned to storage after an outing.

If you’re staying at a campground or RV resort that provides cable TV, then you can hook a coax cable from their connector to the outside cable hookup (located on the side of your RV, usually somewhere near the electrical power cord area). You won’t need to do anything else. Just turn on the TV and it will be all set up.


RV Satellite Receiver

rv-satellite-receiverWhen we were traveling full time, we took our satellite receiver with us. The auto-tracking units are nice, but in-motion RV satellite seemed a bit pricey for us.

I mounted the satellite antenna on a pole attached to the ladder on the rear of our RV. After finding the signal a few times, you will discover that it only takes a couple minutes to dial in the satellite each night when you park.

Another alternative is to purchase a portable antenna tripod. Set it up on the ground and stabilize it with a gallon milk jug filled with water. Suspend the milk jug inside the center of the tripod, and the weight will prevent the wind from tipping it over.

So there you go. Setting up your RV entertainment system is no harder than programming a VCR. All you need is a resident teenager and you’ll be just fine.


RV Entertainment System Tips


I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. 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, 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. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide! Many of them have over 25K shares.

13 thoughts on “Your RV Entertainment System: What You Need To Know About RV Antennas, TV Signal Boosters & Satellite Receivers

  1. I’m living in a 5th wheel in Arizona year round. How far is the longest distance that I can run the sewer pipe? I’m on private property and it’s into a private septic system. Don’t imagine that makes a difference, but just in case. I’d like to move the 5th wheel between two rows of pecan trees for east/west shade, but it’s approx. 50′ to connect.

    1. The key isn’t so much how far is it is how you do it. I would recommend using PVC hard pipe to reach the destination and make sure there is a slope to the connection point. There doesn’t have to be much of a downward slope but there needs to be a little. I would also recommend that you keep both your greywater and Blackwater valves shut until the tanks are close to full. Drain the black water first and then drain the grey water secondly to help flush the black water through the longer than usual pipe. It should work for you that way.

      1. Awesome! Thank you so much for your help and quick response! Sorry I posted in a non related topic. I’m new to this. :)

      2. Good morning Curtis! Will the 50′ cause a drain on my electrical system? Also, how do you recommend cleaning a slow drain on kitchen sink only?

        1. Draining your waste tanks is done by gravity. No electrical items involved. Will make no difference to your electrical system. A kitchen drain that is slow is often the result of grease that has built up in the Trap or pipes. Pour boiling water down the drain which will dissolve the grease and flush it away.

          1. I didn’t make myself clear. I’m concerned if running the electric that far will “lessen” the amps for the 5th wheel. May not be correct terminology. Will I start blowing fuses?

          2. Ahhh… now I understand the question. Yes you will have problems if you try using a 50 foot extension cord to extend your Electrics. You will have excessive voltage drop over that distance. Most noticeably with heavy draw items such as the air conditioner and microwave. You are likely to damage both. If you intend to add additional length to your existing power cord, be sure to use a 50 amp rated extension cord made specifically for RVs. A 36 foot cord can be purchased for about $110 on eBay. That should be enough to give you a total of 50 feet. Do not use any household type extension cord or reducer adapters. It must be a 50 amp rated cord.

          3. Great! My unit is 30 amp, still purchase 50 amp? I have been thinking about this and I figured more was better, but wasn’t sure…

          4. I agree more, ( bigger wires), is better. The question will be is the outlet you intend to plug into 50 amp or 30 amp? To use a 50 amp power cord you would need adapters at both ends if the power source is 30 amp and your RV is 30 amp. Technically a 30 amp cord that is specifically manufactured for the job should handle the load but a 50 amp power cord gives you a healthy safety net.

          5. One more question…If I’m hooked up to this like we’ve been talking, can a second unit use the second plug in? There’s another unit hooked up here occasionally. Will it power both? I believe it’s 220 service?

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