Having been a professional truck driver and trainer for more than 30 years, I find that you never, ever know it all. There are always new things to learn. My primary goal with this blog is to help other drivers (especially newer ones) with pertinent information and tips to enable them to work happier and more safely. Guest posts, contributors and feed-back are always welcome and wanted!
12/16/2013 The best thing ever to hit the sleeper in a big truck is the flat screen TV. Gone is that squitty little on-the-shelf cube, to be replaced by a good flat screen that not only gives you a better view of the movie, but also frees up storage real estate in the sleeper.
Obviously, mounting the TV effectively means it is going to be in your truck, whether it’s your own or it’s dedicated to you. Fortunately, more truck nameplates are offering flat screen mounting hardware in the sleeper, so if you have any input into the spec’ing process, this would be a good place to start.
Now, you have a choice: you can run a conventional 110-V household flat screen TV, in which case your choice is virtually unlimited, but you must run some sort of 110-V power. This could be a generator set, it could be available shore power or it might be an inverter off the truck’s 12-V system. The latter is a good way to go as it is way less expensive that the genset, but there are two provisions to take into account: it must be sized to deliver sufficient power and it must be installed correctly. There have been too many truck fires from overloaded electrical circuits such as the power outlets provided in the dash and sleeper. Remember power (in Watts) is the product of volts times amps, so if you are going to draw current with about a tenth of the voltage, the current draw on the 12-V circuit will be almost 10 times the draw at 110 V.
Or forget the 110. Since the TV is going to be dedicated to the truck, you can go for one that is designed to run on the 12-V supply.
Believe it or not, there is quite a selection of screen sizes though a lot fewer brands to choose from when powering a TV at 12-V. In the main, they are designed for recreational vehicle applications, but they will work equally as well in a truck sleeper, which in many cases resembles an RV these days in terms of amenities.
A good place to start is with the highly respected brand of Jensen, known for high-end stereo systems. This manufacturer has 12-V TVs from 15-inch all the way up to 32 inches and the top of the line 19-inch model includes a DVD player–all for under $400. A feature that you may like that is also included on this model is an HDMI input. This input will allow top performance when streaming video from your laptop computer via an HDMI cable. A simple plug in puts the high definition programming and sound onto the TV with the minimum of fuss. With the HDMI connection you can stream content via a service like Netflix if you are wi fi connected at a truckstop, for instance.
At the Road Trucker website http://www.roadtrucker.com/12-volt-marine-boat/12-volt-heavy-duty-marine-tv-dvd.htmyou can purchase the Jensen TVs and this site also sells budget models from obscure brands such as Skyworth and NAXA. These can also come with DVD players and the site is very straightforward in saying that the players are bundled with these cheaper TVs more for promotional reasons than as a quality add-on. In fact, the site is very much in favor of stepping up to the Jensen brand for its ruggedness and quality. It notes the return rate on Jensen TVs is less than 0.5% or less than one for every 200 shipped.
A point made there is that in some ways you may be better to use an external disc player because you can find a Blu-ray player and then if the player goes bad, you’re not looking at replacing the TV as well. The Road Trucker site offers a lot of trucker-specific products and could be a great place to go shopping for anniversary or birthday gifts for your favorite trucker.
At Amazon.com you can find 262 pages with two dozen products per page – not all TVs and for sure, not all 12-V. But there are a lot there to choose from if you want to wade through and then click through for the specs. Other names, not exactly household, include Access, QuantumFX, Supersonic, and Majestic. However, Samsung pops up on the opening page with a 22-inch high definition with a 4.3 out of 5 rating, second only to a Jensen model next to it on the page.
At the Amazon site listing the 12-V TVs you’ll find separate links to VivaLaDeals.com which has a selection of the same off-brands; to BundleCity.com that has much the same. A further link to Truckers-Store.com finds the RCA brand along with the others, with a range of dual-voltage AC/DC TVs with the top-on-the-line 22-inch model including a DVD player for $259.
Another resource is my12voltStore.com where, among a host of 12-V appliances there is the usual selection of TV brands that this time includes the high-end mobile electronics name of Pyle, better known for ear-blasting power amplifiers and speakers.
And then, of course, there’s e-bay. There you can find most of the above brands with the usual bidding process to secure a good deal. The astounding thing is how little you pay for a TV up to 19 inches — given you’ll not be more than seven feet away at the maximum, this size may prove to be quite adequate. And the 12-V TVs do get a lot more expensive over this size. But considering the time you’ll likely spend watching, and your own preference for screen size, it may be worth spending more. Certainly, do your research and read the reviews of the off-brands before making a decision. Personally, I like what everyone says about the Jensen products and Samsung gets high marks too.
Good luck, and enjoy top quality viewing with a space-saving flat screen TV.