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For RV TVs, Thin Is In

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Part of the reason motorhome owners trade up to a new coach is because the one they’ve been driving becomes outdated. They grow tired of the way their coach looks, or long for newer technologies that seem to make each model year look better than the last. However, the upcoming change to digital transmission provides one of the best reasons you could ask for to upgrade your old TV … and you’ll love the upgrade in picture quality, too!

In the world of motorhomes, appliances and electronics are every bit as important as fabrics and features; today’s crop of coaches can be had with everything from stainless-steel convection ovens and residential double-door refrigerators to surround-sound entertainment systems. And while these are all nice things to have, few could argue that the most popular additions to today’s coaches are flat-screen TVs.

While it was only a few years ago that owners were conking their heads on heavy CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs mounted over the driver’s compartment, most of today’s coaches come with flat-screen LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs as standard equipment. Not only are LCDs more attractive, they provide a better picture and are much lighter — just a fraction of a comparatively sized CRT TV. Their thin profiles provide more mounting options, so they can be used in coaches both big and small, in the living room, bedroom, or just about anyplace there’s power. And unlike plasma TVs, which are sensitive to vibration and are more susceptible to damage in the motorhome environment, LCD technology has proven its mettle in a variety of applications.

Your laptop computer and your cellphone both use LCD screens, for example. If you have an earlier coach equipped with a large CRT TV up front or in a built-in cabinet elsewhere in the living area, you’ve likely wondered what it would take, or how much it would cost, to upgrade to a new LCD flat screen. The answer, of course, depends on which TV you’re considering, and the space you have allocated. It may seem like a simple matter of removing your old TV and replacing it with a new LCD, but it can be more complicated, especially if you want it to be aesthetically pleasing. Consider that most cabinets are designed for a square CRT TV, not a rectangular LCD flat screen.

To get some ideas of what can be involved, we visited various interior design establishments that specialized in RV remodeling. The consensus seemed to be that businesses such as these are receiving more and more requests for LCD TV upfitting. According to the experts, an existing cabinet can often be modified by cutting the top and back off and building a new frame to go around the face of the TV. Many service centers specializing in this type of work construct a new mounting point closer to the face of the cabinet, then mount the TV on it using a readily available wall mount. That way the new TV will be flush with the face of the cabinet and it ends up looking like a factory offering when finished.

Installing a larger TV can present more of a challenge. This is often dictated by the size of the TV the customer wants. If the TV is larger than the existing cabinet, a custom cabinet will have to be built from scratch. A custom install can take a day or two and the cost can range from $700-$3,000 to complete. Smaller TVs, such as those designed for a bedroom, can often be placed on an existing TV shelf or mounted to a cabinet/wall using an articulating mount. Caution must be exercised here as well, because the mounting location is crucial to the well-being of your coach. If it isn’t designed for TV mounting, and/or isn’t properly reinforced, serious damage could result.

While the actual mounting of the TV isn’t particularly difficult, making it look good is. If you’re serious about upgrading to an LCD TV, its best to contact an interior design/remodeling shop familiar with these upgrades. We had ours done at Dave & LJ’s Interior Design. The time and money spent will be well worth it when you sit in front of a new flat screen that looks like a factory offering.

For more information, contact Dave & LJ’s RV Interior Design, (360) 225-7700 or go to www.customrvint.com

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