Low Power Sailboat TV / DVD player install with free off air

General details

The TV put in this boat is "16 inch diagonal" and was chosen for the following reasons:

* 12 volt power option - TV is specified to run off 12 volt which can range all the way from slightly less than 12 volt to over 15 volts. I did not want to run the TV from a 110 VAC inverter - less efficient.

* low power. The 16 inch LED TV ended up using 0.8 amps at 12 volts - about 10 watts. A 19 inch TV would probably fit but will also consume more power. The 16 to 19 inch are probably good sizes for this size boat.

* off air ATSC digital tuner. If you are close to a city, you can likely pick up numerous free off air digital TV channels. Many of these channels will be HDTV and often include the major networks. You need an external antenna for the free off air..

* HDMI input, RCA A/V input. Its also easy to find a TV with a USB slot for looking at pictures.

Free off air TV channels and reception for any zip code can be found at this web site http://www.antennaweb.org/

The TV I picked is in the link below. This TV specifies its power at 18 watts. However, I measured the power when run from 12 volts and its actually close to 10 watts (about .8 amps @12 volts)


I also picked up a 12 volt portable DVD player - link below. I picked this one also because it can run directly from 12 volts.


The "indoor" off air antenna I used is this one and is mounted on the inside ceiling of the pop top  "Terk MFTV2 flat digital antenna".

Power consumption measured:

TV alone:

14.35 volts - .74 amps
12 volts - .85 amps
Standby .01 amp

DVD player alone

0.4 amps at 12 volts

TV plus DVD player -  1.2 amps at 12 volts.  Note that most of the time only the TV is powered and this saves power use over having the DVD powered all the time or from having a combination TV/DVD

Perspective: I could watch the TV for two hours per day and use 1.6 amp hours from the battery at 12 volts.  If I am replacing this current with solar, it takes about 8 watts of the total panel output to power the 2 hours of TV watching.. .

Notes and pictures

One important note about this particular small LED TV. If you read the reviews, people will note that the viewing angle is a little smaller than they are used to compared to typical larger home TV or computer screen. In the spot where I put the TV, you can watch it from either port or starboard side seats in the cabin and you can find a single angle where its viewable from either side but this is getting right on the verge of where you start to see some angle degradation. However, making the TV rotate allows you to really optimize the TV viewing angle when only one person is watching the TV. So.. I made the TV rotate.. You can buy wall mounts for the TV that allow for all sorts of rotation but these are usually stamped steel. Since I try to keep the weight down for anything that goes on this boat, I kludged my own rotating method.  Total weight gain for TV/DVD/antenna is around 5 to 6 pounds total.


Below. Simple and lightweight rotation. The main rotation is from left to right (picture is rotated) but I can also adjust the "elevation" viewing angle by putting spacers/washers between the aluminum angle and the TV mounting screw holes. The up down adjustment cant be done on the fly like the back and forth rotation.


Below: This TV has a HDMI input and is being used here to watch video from a GoPro camera. The HDMI input on the TV is a little difficult to get to but possible and made easier by the rotation.


Below: The portable DVD player normally stays in a box stored on the boat so is not permanently mounted. This DVD player has RCA outputs which ended up being a good thing as the RCA input on the TV is the easiest to access. The DVD player is powered from a 12 volt socket and it only hooked up when used.


Below: RCA inputs on the TV are easily accessed by rotating the TV. This is good since I don't have the DVD player permanently mounted so have to hook up the RCA cable up every time I use it. You can also see how the "up/down" angle of the TV can be adjusted by putting spacers between the AL angle piece and the mounting screw holes on the back of the TV.


Below: Both TV and DVD player come with remotes.


Below: The free digital off air reception requires an external antenna and I mounted this one on the inside roof of the pop top. The TV will get used at anchor or in a slip and I normally have the pop top cover raised (with a tent) so this elevates the antenna and opens up its RF view. There is a F barrel in the cable so that I can either remove the antenna or use an external off air antenna and hoist it up the mast for better reception (which I probably wont use - too much hassle).


Below. Pop top down. I can easily remove the off air antenna as it is held in by bungee cord only


Below: There is a single set screw that holds the aluminum rod in place.


Below: One obvious advantage to watching the TV from the port side of the boat.


Below: Halloween shot? The ice chest looks like it belongs in a haunted house...