RVing is more than camping and enjoying the outdoors. Many people also want to listen to their favorite music, watch sports, games, or stream movies on rainy days.
While current recreational vehicles use the latest technology in their entertainment centers, if you want a complete indoor or outdoor RV entertainment system, you’ll need to use the ideas and tips in this guide to upgrade the components.
With a few changes, you can drastically improve your RV’s entertainment center for the ultimate in on and off-grid choices to keep everyone happy, so come along and learn more!
Why You Need to Upgrade Your RV Entertainment Center
Most modern RVs come with an interior entertainment center that consists of a small flatscreen TV and a music center that includes a CD player, speakers, and an amplifier.
Most manufacturers place the system in the main living and kitchen area, with an additional TV in a bedroom or bunkhouse.
Outside the camper, you may have a set of speakers for music, but only large motorhomes, fifth wheels, or travel trailers will have room for an outdoor TV.
The problem with RV entertainment systems is that they don’t support the modern ways we like to consume music, movies, and television today.
Many RVs stereos lack Bluetooth connection, and TVs aren’t capable of streaming internet-based services.
Most RVs also don’t have a router and Wi-Fi set up, making you rely on spotty campground free Wi-Fi for mobile phone or computer use.
Building an integrated RV entertainment center that works both indoors and out isn’t difficult if you make a plan. But, with a few changes, the work and expense will be well worth it!
The Best RV Entertainment Center Ideas
If you want to upgrade your RV entertainment and media center, you can use this guide to get ideas on what components you may want to install.
Down below, you’ll learn all the options for the best RV sound systems, TVs, satellite antennas, Wi-Fi setup, media player, and more so you can get the most out of them and enjoy a seamless transition between components.
Best RV Sound System Upgrades
A great sound system in your RV will make watching television or listening to music much more relaxing.
While newer RVs have good-quality speakers, their location may not work well with your camping style. For example, maybe you want to surround sound for movie night, or you prefer to hang out behind your RV and want rear speakers.
Adding or upgrading existing speakers to your RV interior and exterior is easier than ever.
When buying speakers for RV use, the brand names to look for are Boss, Furion, Pyle, Jensen, and Magnadyne. These brands offer weatherproof speakers that can handle outdoor RV applications, so you don’t have to worry about damage from sun, rain, heat, or cold.
You also want to upgrade the RV stereo system to one that supports these features or connections:
- MP3, MP4, FLAC file formats
- Surround sound
- Multiple speaker zones
- Audio equalization control
- Tie-in to media/video system
RV Sound System Upgrade (Video)
Replacing RV Speakers
Switching RV speakers that are broken or have poor sound quality is an easy DIY project. Replacement RV speakers should fit into the standard holes cut without any need for alteration.
Before removing the speaker wires, note which wire polarity runs to each connection so you can attach them correctly to the new speaker. Please note that the speakers should work if you mix up the wiring polarity, but the sound quality will suffer on higher-end models.
Adding RV Speakers
There is no single wiring plan for all types of RV, which means adding in wired speakers will require some investigative work and plenty of time. In addition, drilling holes and pulling wire through walls, floors, or ceilings is never pleasant.
An easy option if you want an outdoor speaker with Bluetooth connectivity is to swap out your existing RV light with a King RVM1001 speaker with light.
To avoid the issue of running wiring for speakers, instead, go with wireless speakers in areas you feel need coverage.
Wireless speakers use rechargeable batteries that last 24 hours or so. In addition, most wireless speakers have Bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair your mobile phone or other device and crank out your favorite playlists with little effort.
Portable wireless speakers are the perfect solution to enjoying tunes outside without disturbing your camping neighbors. The sound doesn’t carry as far as traditional speakers, yet a good unit will sound rich and clear up close.
Indoors, you can amp up your TV or video watching experience by adding in a wireless surround sound system like the Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR. The size of the components is easy to fit into an RV, and this model offers an array of connectivity options.
Best RV Television Upgrades
Most RVs now have LED flatscreen televisions that either come standard or as an option.
The first problem with many TVs in a camper is the size. Downgrading to a smaller screen may also downgrade your entertainment experience if you have a widescreen TV at home.
But, before you buy the biggest TV for your RV, you need to ensure you can mount it safely and it fits.
Many RVs have a reinforced section of wall behind the television to handle the weight, so moving the TV location to another area can cause issues.
Most entertainment centers also have a cabinet that houses the TV. If you decide to upgrade the size of the television, you’ll most likely need to enlarge the opening and reframe it, so it looks finished.
You should consider an RV-specific television, as it can withstand constant bumps, vibrations, and temperature extremes of travel without damage. In addition, the set can run on both 110-volt shore power and 12-volt, so you can watch it off-grid through your house batteries or a generator.
Many RV televisions have a built-in DVD player, which eliminates the need for another component in your entertainment center cabinet.
The only downside of an RV-ready TV is that they top out at around 32 inches, so if you intend to get a wider screen, you’ll have to select a residential version.
Another consideration is to get a unit like the TCL SmartTV for easier streaming and connectivity to your digital devices.
You can find 12-volt RV SmartTV options, but the selection is small, and the prices are high.
While thousands of recreational vehicle owners install a less-expensive residential television with few issues, your location’s climate and how often you take RV trips play a huge factor in their lifespan, so buyers beware.
You’ll also want to select the lightest TV you can find to put less stress on your RV framing and to keep load weight down.
RV Digital Media Center Ideas
In this day of digital audio and video, having an RV media center that includes a router, personal Wi-Fi or Mi-Fi, and a locally-hosted server is crucial.
You’ll want the ability to connect to streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, or others or to choose from your own files to play music, videos, or movies while on camping trips.
Having a server in your RV gives you the ability to store content so you can access and play it without the need for an internet connection.
Media Player Options for RV
You can purchase stand-alone digital media players like Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV that make it simple to hook up to your television to watch your favorite programming.
Or you can purchase a smartTV with the technology integrated into the set. However, you’ll still need a Wi-Fi connection to make a digital media player work.
An excellent wireless Wi-Fi system will also provide a fast and secure signal that will cover your laptops, tablets, and phones if you want to stream content directly.
A media server is another component you’ll want if you have an extensive collection of downloaded videos, shows, or movies you want to watch in your RV without an internet connection.
Most RVers use a small unit, such as an Apple Mac Mini, to hold content, but any media server needs an HDMI output for quick connection to the TV and ample storage capacity.
Plex and Kodi are the top media server software options to run your system. Plex does a great job of allowing you to stream different content over multiple screens, which will keep kids and adult RVers happy.
Kodi has an impressive amount of plugins you can use to expand the function of the base unit, which may be more in line with how you like to use the server.
Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots for RV
While you can rely on your cell phone for use as a hotspot, this option isn’t always the most convenient or affordable option. Most RVers prefer the reliability of a Mi-Fi for internet connection like the Verizon Jetpack that offers impressive coverage across the US, but other carriers offer hotspots as well.
A mobile Wi-Fi hotspot can support all your RV guests’ phones, tablets, computers, and streaming needs. The unit is small, easy to set up, and you can choose to purchase the hotspot outright or pay for it monthly as part of your cell phone plan.
If you do use a Mi-Fi and find in some camping locations the unit struggles, such as in remote National Parks, you can add in a Wi-Fi booster to help increase signal strength.
Satellite Internet for RV
Lastly, many RVers are turning to satellite Wi-Fi as an option to keep devices connected.
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Newer satellite dishes for television reception also provide Wi-Fi capability but are very expensive. This problem means you’ll need a separate Wi-Fi dish if you already have one for RV, but this will allow you to boondock anywhere and not worry about internet service.
As long as you can situate the satellite dish, so it’s free from obstructions like trees or buildings, you can enjoy Wi-Fi access.
Top choices for RV satellite dishes for the internet are:
- RV DataSat 840 Satellite Antenna plus a satellite data plan through Mobil Satellite Technologies provides nearly complete coverage across the US, Canada, and Mexico
- Starlink delivers fast speeds, as the satellites circle much lower in the sky than other providers, plus prices are very reasonable for the dish and monthly plans
- HughesNet will provide you a service contract but will send you to a certified reseller for the dish, as the company refuses to install on RVs, even though it works just fine
RVDataSat currently has a single dish that provides TV and internet, but it comes with a high price tag.
RV Gaming Console Options
You can easily set up a gaming station in your RV, as long as you can provide power to the console and an internet connection to enjoy multiplayer games and download updates, patches, and DLC.
Finding a power outlet shouldn’t be difficult in newer travel trailers or motorhomes, but you may need to add an outlet near the area you want to set up your gaming console to keep things neat.
If you plan to camp off-grid, having enough power to run your system is another matter. You can drain RV house batteries if you’re not careful.
You’ll need to look at what amps your console and TV or computer use per hour, as well as all the other RV appliances or devices that you also need to run. For example, while the total amperage for a gaming system may seem low, it’s easy to forget the time and play for hours while other appliances are running, and you end up with a dead battery.
If you don’t want the worry of losing power while gaming off-grid, you should consider expanding your RV house battery capacity or having a generator to keep the battery charged.
Some RV entertainment centers have extra cabinet space for a game console, but if not, you’ll want to find or build a place to keep the console and controllers, so they aren’t in the way or get damaged during travel.
RV Internet for Streaming and Gaming (Video)
Outdoor RV Entertainment Center Upgrades
If your recreational vehicle doesn’t come with an outdoor TV, don’t worry. You can make a couple of alterations to your camper to enjoy the big game or watch a movie outside, just like your campsite neighbors in the fancy Class A motorcoach or 40-foot fifth wheel.
The trick is to run wiring from your media player into an external storage compartment or through the RV wall and add a cover.
You can also connect directly to the campground cable if they have it and run a coaxial cable from the pedestal to the TV.
Most RVs have an outside outlet you can use to plug in the TV or run an extension cord. Then, with the easy-access cable and HDMI connections running from your RV interior, you can sit outside and watch whatever you want.
If you have room, it’s worth it to purchase an extra flatscreen TV that can store in your RV until you need it. Unhooking and moving an existing TV from your camper can be a hassle.
Either set the TV on a table outside or hook up a quick-disconnect bracket to your RV exterior wall to temporarily hold the set.
You can permanently install a bracket with a low profile to keep your RV looking neat, but make sure you’re screwing it into solid framing and not just the exterior cladding.
Best RV Brand Entertainment Center System
If you’re shopping for an RV with an impressive entertainment center, you’ll want to look at Keystone RV.
Keystone offers its customers the KeyTV Multi-Source Signal Controller. This component centralizes the antenna, cable, and satellite input and houses the antenna booster.
All TVs within the RV are pre-wired to the controller, and the unit will automatically switch between over-the-air, satellite, or cable hookups. With fewer splitters and connectors, and shorter wiring runs, the TVs in the Keystone RVs are more reliable and provide a crisper image and better audio.
Keystone’s Key TV (Video)
RV entertainment systems for both audio and video are getting better, but for the ultimate RV entertainment center, you’ll probably need to make some changes.
I hope the guide above gives you ideas for improving your RV entertainment system so everyone can enjoy rainy days or take time to kick back and relax on camping trips.
With the right equipment, you can have and use all the electronic toys you want in your RV, so make a plan and upgrade your camper today!
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide