How To Use an RV Cable Hookup

Contributor

Tucker Ballister

Favorite Trip

5 Months Solo on the Road

Home Base

Hendersonville, NC

Favorite RV

2008 Fleetwood Bounder

About Contributor

Tucker Ballister is our Technical Content Writer. He’s a lover of the open road and the proud owner of a 2021 Sunlite Classic travel trailer (his 3rd RV to date). Check out more of his RV adventures, gear reviews, and outdoor advice at thebackpackguide.com.

Your RV cable hookup is a reliable method for tuning into local TV stations when you’re camping. Many RV parks offer cable as an amenity alongside power, water, sewer, and others. If you’re new to RVing, let’s walk through the process of using an RV cable hookup. 

When You’ll Use an RV Cable Hookup

Family watching TV outside their Forest River Campsite Reserve travel trailer
Photo by Camping World

You’ll most commonly use a cable hookup at an RV park offering that amenity. The location of the park’s cable connection will vary, but your RV’s cable input is located on the off-camp side (driver’s side for motorhomes). The precise location varies depending on your RV’s make and model, but you’ll typically find the cable input on the exterior wall or in the docking station in an underneath compartment.

When you arrive at your campsite, begin by leveling and stabilizing your RV. Remember that you need enough coaxial cable to extend from your RV’s input to the campground’s output, so choose your campsite location strategically to ensure your cable can reach the output. More cable is typically better.

If you haven’t leveled and stabilized your RV before, read this tutorial before continuing. 

With your RV level and stable, connect to campground shore power using a surge protector and any required adapters. You can also connect to water and sewer at this time, but shore power will be required to power the TV(s) inside your RV. 

What Channels Will I Get With an RV Cable Hookup?

Dog watching national anthem on TV inside RV
Photo by Camping World

The channels you’ll get through a cable connection will differ from those you get from an antenna reception. You should still get major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) through both. But you’ll largely get different offerings from smaller, local networks. These different options will vary regionally, allowing you to tune into local news if you choose. 

However, the regionality of channels available with an RV cable hookup has drawbacks. If your favorite sports team has a game that isn’t broadcast regionally, you may not have the freedom to tune in. That’s why many RVers upgrade their satellite dish to a provider with optional upgrades like a sports package.

Combining the channels available from a cable hookup, satellite antenna, and streaming services available via campground Wi-Fi or a solution like Starlink will give you the widest selection of entertainment options.

How To Connect an RV Cable Hookup

Couple using RV cable hookup to watch TV inside trailer
Photo by Camping World

With your RV level and stable and connected to shore power, follow these steps to connect a cable hookup for your RV: 

  1. Find your trailer’s coaxial cable (coax for short). Coax cables vary in length, but longer is better. It allows you to set up your trailer however you want while still reaching the park’s cable hookup.
  2. Locate the cable input on your trailer. It’ll usually be on the outside wall of your trailer (usually the driver’s side) or in the docking station in an underneath compartment. 
  3. Locate the park’s cable output. This should be next to the shore power hookup. The park’s hookup and your trailer’s input are female plugs.
  4. Connect one end of your coax cable (both males) to your trailer and the other to the park’s hookup.
  5. Go inside and turn on your TV. 
  6. Find the channel scan option in your TV’s menu and run it. Channel configurations change when you move, so you must do this every time you plug into a new cable connection. 

If you have trouble finding the channel scan option, consult your TV’s manual. When the scan is complete, you can now scroll through your new selection of cable TV channels.

How Much Coaxial Cable Do I Need For an RV?

You’ll need anywhere from 10 to 50 feet of coaxial cable to connect your RV to a campground’s cable hookup. Don’t rely on a campground or RV park to provide coaxial cable, as they likely won’t. You’ll need enough cable to make a secure connection no matter what the logistical challenges of a given campsite might be. 

Not Getting Any Signal? RV Cable Hookup Troubleshooting Tips

Frustrated couple without a working RV cable hookup
Photo by Camping World

If you aren’t getting any signal, here are a few troubleshooting tips to try: 

  • Ensure the coax cable inside your trailer is connected to the back of your TV. This cable runs out of a port behind your TV.
  • If you have a signal booster (for Wi-Fi, cell signal, or antenna), ensure it’s turned off so it doesn’t interfere with your cable signal.
  • Ensure the extra loops of coaxial cable are not intertwined to minimize AC power interference. 

Finally, many RVs have distribution boxes in a cabinet near your TV. These boxes allow you to switch the TV input between your trailer’s cable, satellite, and antenna connections. If you’re still not getting a signal, you may need to change your TV’s input to the “Cable” selection on the distribution box.


Here are a few more resources to help you enjoy your favorite sports, movies, and shows on the road: 

What else would you like to know about RV cable hookups and how to use them? Let us know in the comments below.

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