Television on board



I am considering buying a portable colour television for use on a boat and would value people's experience. The types of questions I am asking myself are:

1. What small (10" or 12") 12 volt sets are available and from whom?
2. How much power do they consume?
3. Do they come with built in VCR?
4. Can they run effectively from the vessel's 12v system or should they ideally be powered through a 230a.c. inverter?
5. Is it realistic to attach a TV card to a laptop computer?
6. Do omni-directional aerials work properly? Which do and which don't?
7. Any other ideas?


New member
14 Jun 2001
almost but not quite Fleet, Hampshire
I can't answer all your questions, but the ones I can are

Suppliers : Argos stores and and probably many others (caravan shops?)

VCR? : Yes, they can come with a built-in VCR

Consumption : not sure, but we haven't noticed a problem running an LCD television and video player on our boat (4 batteries, 2 for domestics) although we also use it on shorepower when in the marina

aerials : some work, some don't it depends how high you can put it and what else interferes (we use the built-in 'stick' on ours and can get Channel 5 which we can't even get at home!)


New member
27 Nov 2002
Agree with previous posting.

I use a small set top amplified antenna from a caravan shop (about £7) works fine in most places, obviously higher would be better.

I would suggest 12V rather than through inverter. The starting load on the TV is quite high and the inv doesn't like it much, also tends to turn off occasionally if battery is a bit tired.

I forgot earlier My 14" colour set is rated at 30W so will draw about 2.5 Amps - more on switch on though.
Happy viewing

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by bergman on Mon Oct 1 16:26:54 2001 (server time).</FONT></P>


New member
1 Oct 2001
I've just put a TV+Video in my boat. Being a little frugal I decided that Ca £350 was a bit steep for a 12V TV video combi especially when you can get a cheap colour TV and Video from Currys for £80 each. I did have a look for second hand ones in the likes of Loot but it's nigh on impossible to get to one before it’s sold. Another problem with buying a TV+Video combi is that while TVs will go on for ever videos tend to be less reliable due to all the moving parts in the workings. What you end up with is a TV that is just fine but the Video chews up tapes so you can’t use it. Now I mentioned £350 as a starting price but that will get you a system that only has one tuner in it so you can’t watch one channel and tape the other. I decided against a combi unit for these reasons.

What I did was get a cheap TV and video as separates and buy an inverter. Now nothing comes for free and converting the 12V battery power to 240V uses power but I guess that if you’re thinking of watching TV on your boat then you won’t be too worried about a couple of amp hours. The cheapest place I found for inverters is Greenweld ( and they do a 150W inverter for £45 + postage, go take a look. The video I bought is rated at 18W and the TV needs 47W so I’ve plenty in reserve from the inverter.

The good thing about doing it this way is that if the Video goes pop I can replace it cheaply, same with the TV and inverter. If you do buy a combi and the TV goes pop you are into buying a new unit for another £350.

Hope this helps



I found that many of the cheaper colour tv's were quite bulky in relation to the available space on our 27 foot boat. Trawling round the various stores, I finished up at Miller Bros(East Anglia region) and found a 10 inch RoadStar 1020. It looks smart, small dimensions, and gives a PERFECTLY clear and sharp picture. I fitted a loft ariel from Argos to a broom handle which fit's into a suitable bracket and I just turn it till the picture is at it's best.

Power consumption? Never had a problem with our one battery, turning the set on does not even make the lights flicker. In the marina, we just plug it in the mains.

We are still waiting to find something worth watching.



Well-known member
7 Jun 2001
I've used a 12v TV aboard for some years (a Grundig International, interprets all known formats!).

We have a general problem with reception in marinas, maybe because the signal gets bounced around all those radar reflectors. A standard omnidirectional ariel seems useless. The choice is between a tuned, directional ariel or an 'active' (amplifying) ariel. We've had better success with the former, hoisted high in the rigging, but its fiddly, needing to be pointed, and not suitable for permanent installation. There are a couple of active 12v ariels on the market, try Cruisermart. The alternative is to go out and anchor off to watch!

There is a big draw when the TV is turned on, and we often find we need to start up the engine to provide enough initial power.

I wouldn't bother to get an internationally tunable TV again, given the cost. UK/Irish TV is good, French watchable. I can't follow Norwegian, Swedish, German, Flemish, Spanish, Portuguese so that pretty well limits me to the football (non-stop in Spain and Portugal). In Holland though there is a certain amount of English language transmission, not all films are dubbed. Elsewhere in the world I've been e.g. US/Caribbean the air transmissions are diabolical, just religion and community stuff. You need cable TV to get regular stations - some US marinas do provide a cable plug-in on the pontoons.


New member
23 Oct 2003
Me: St Albans. Boat: Portsmouth
Because of the vagaries of the voltage in our marina I found that the picture was poor when running from the mains so used only from the 12 volts. Had no problem with batteries as these were being charged when on shore power in the marina. Also one set of cables less to bother about. Away from the marina in the season found no problem with battery drain as the TV spent most of its life off. Why sit and watch the box when you can sit out on your own terrace drink in hand or better down the throat and watch the sun go down over the Clyde and its lochs.