Are you curious about what the best RV surge protector is? Or if having one is even necessary?
When it comes to your RV’s power supply, we know how important it is to avoid costly fixes and have scoured the depths of the internet to provide you with all you need to know about the role of a surge protector.
And we've compiled all the info we found on RV surge protectors here in one place for you!
Let’s get started.
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What Is the Best Surge Protector for an RV?
30-amp hardwired permanent surge protector that monitors over ten different electrical issues, including data link failure and reverse polarity. Includes accidental 240-volt protection, frequency protection, and over or under voltage protection.
Offers high-grade RV electrical protection. UL Certified and Canadian approved. Can send alerts on mis-wired pedestals and surge failures. Lifetime warranty.
The lifetime warranty doesn't cover DIY installation and it's difficult to install. It's also a rather expensive unit.
Progressive Industries SSP-30XL
A budget-friendly, lightweight, easy-to-use RV surge protector that reduces the danger of devices on the go.
Easier to use than hard-wired RV surge protectors. Cheaper than most other options on the market. Portable.
Doesn't protect against as many issues as a hard-wired device and doesn't offer automatic shutoff in case of an emergency.
Hughes Autoformer BX4370
A surge protector for campers with alerts for electrical issues and a bluetooth feature that connects with your phone.
30A surge guard safeguards your RV from power spikes of up to 2,400 joules. Bluetooth phone connection and automatic alerts.
Doesn't protect against as many issues as a hard-wired device and doesn't offer automatic shutoff in case of an emergency.
A motor home surge protector is a device that protects your RV from power fluctuations and the potential damage they could cause.
The device continually monitors your power supply. If it detects any issues, it turns off the power before those issues cause significant damage to your RV, its electrical system, or internal appliances.
Picking the best RV surge protector goes a long way in minimizing overload and ensures that your RV is safe for you and your family.
Though choosing the right surge protector for campers depends on your needs, the three options above promise to offer you the best possible service.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at these and other surge protectors, informing you about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each model.
However, before we get to that, you might be wondering whether your RV even needs a surge protector in the first place.
Do I Need an RV Surge Protector?
When cruising around the country in your RV, you will have to plug it into a different power source every few days. It is almost impossible for you to test the quality of all the various power sources to determine which ones are safe and which ones aren’t.
These scenarios are where a surge protector for your camper comes in handy. The device will protect your RV from faulty power sources, shielding you from several potentially damaging issues.
A Surge Protector Protects You from These Three Things
An RV surge protector shields you from power surges, incorrect wiring, and low voltage. Let’s quickly go over each one below.
1. Power Surge
When too much power courses through wires, it can damage your wiring and electronics if it reaches your RV. Though various reasons cause power surges, one of the most well-known causes is lightning.
When lightning strikes, it causes a massive spike in voltage, which most surge protectors can handle. However, in some cases, the large voltage spike could damage your surge protector, forcing you to purchase a replacement.
Buying another surge protector would be a slight inconvenience but compared to having to replace the several burnt-out appliances had your RV been unprotected is much worse.
2. Incorrect Wiring
A connection can have several potential faults, from disintegrated wires and loose connections to an unqualified electrician setting up or modifying the wiring incorrectly.
Additionally, by the time you detect a connection with incorrect wiring, the damage to your RV’s electrical appliances could already be done. This damage would force you to spend thousands of dollars repairing or replacing things. Avoid such headaches by opting for a quality RV surge protector.
3. Low Voltage
Voltage is an electrical unit that is constantly changing, either dropping or surging at any time. Unless you have a device monitoring it at all times, you and your RV will always be vulnerable.
Though most people are well aware of the damage that high voltages can cause, low voltages can be just as harmful.
If you’re in a campground packed with RVs, with each of them using the campground’s electrical supply, it can lower the camp’s power supply and lead to a brownout. This low voltage is especially common in older campgrounds whose wiring has yet to be updated.
The lower the power supply, the less amount of voltage your RV gets. If your RV doesn’t get adequate voltage, your electric system can be significantly damaged.
Even if your RV model has a feature that shuts off power during low voltage, having a surge protector is still essential to your RV’s electrical health.
Surge Protector vs. Electrical Management System (EMS)
There are several differences between a surge protector and an electrical management system. Generally, an RV surge protector mainly protects your RV from large spikes of electrical activity.
On the other hand, an EMS protects your RV from a wider variety of potentially harmful electrical issues such as low or high voltages, smaller power spikes, reverse polarity, open neutrals, and open grounds.
If an EMS detects any issues that can potentially lead to more significant problems for your RV and the appliances inside, it immediately shuts off power.
While most people opt for surge protectors because of their lower prices, we highly recommend getting yourself both a surge protector and an EMS if you can afford it.
Doing so provides your RV’s electrical system and appliances with complete protection from any possible electrical defaults that your RV might come across.
Is My RV a 30 Amp Or 50 Amp?
Different RVs have different power needs, and it is these power needs that help you determine the right motorhome surge protector to get for your respective RV.
One electrical difference RVs have deals with the type of connection with which they are fitted. Your RV could either have a 30-amp or 50-amp connection.
One way to tell the type of connection your RV has is by looking at the number of prongs on the connector at your power cord’s end.
If you have a 30-amp connection, the connector will have three prongs. On the other hand, if your RV has a 50-amp connection, the connector will have four prongs.
30 Amp = 3 Prong
50 Amp = 4 Prong
Once you know your RV’s electrical connection’s size, you can proceed to match it with the properly rated surge protector.
One important thing to note when doing this test, however, is the presence of an aftermarket adapter, which is sometimes called a ‘dogbone.’
If you bought your RV used, the previous owner could have installed an aftermarket adapter at the end of the power cord. Such an adapter can give you false readings, leading you to purchase a surge protector that is incompatible with your connection.
Portable vs. Permanent Surge Protectors
Besides the difference in amp rating, you also have the option of getting portable or permanent surge protectors for your RV.
Portable RV Surge Protector
With a portable surge protector, you plug it into the available power base’s female outlet, then connect your RV’s power cord. When leaving the campground, you simply unplug it and pack it up, ready to use at the next stop.
Here are some of the benefits of a portable surge protector:
- Easy to use
- Requires no installation
- You can test the outlet
- Easy to replace if damaged
Though portable surge protectors offer the best ‘plug and play’ options, they have a few drawbacks as well. These drawbacks include:
- You can easily forget them
- If an electrical base is low to the ground, you’d have to put the protector on possibly wet ground
- They can be easily stolen if not locked up
- You might have to purchase a lock separately
Permanent RV Surge Protector
Alternatively, you could get a permanent surge protector. A permanent or hardwired surge protector is directly and permanently hardwired into your RV.
It is usually installed underneath your rig, in the same compartment that you typically use to access your rig’s power cord. When connecting it, you place it between the power base and your camper’s electronics.
Here are some of the pros of a permanent surge protector:
- Optional digital display inside your RV to monitor your surge protector
- No need to worry about rain or other harsh weather conditions
- It cannot be stolen
- Installation is once and done
- Usually smaller than portable units
Some of the disadvantages with these types of surge protectors include:
- You often need to hire a professional to install them
- It is challenging to remove and keep them should you sell your RV
Despite such drawbacks, permanent surge protectors are easily the more durable and reliable option.
Best RV Surge Protectors Compared
Whether you are in the market for portable or hardwired surge protectors, or electrical management systems, you will not find a more comprehensive list of the best options available than the one we have created below.
Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C
When it comes to the best hardwired or permanent electrical management system for any type of RV, few options come close to the Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C/50C.
Once you install this product underneath your RV’s compartment, you can enjoy the best electrical monitoring and protection throughout the product’s lifetime. Plus, should the device need repairs, it is easy to find replacement parts for it.
This product has an LED display that provides you with error codes for over ten different electrical issues, including open grounds, high and low frequencies, high and low voltages, and more.
Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X
If you’re in the market for a portable EMS option, look no further than the Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X.
Besides the portability and quick installation times, this option has a surge protection rating of 44,000 amps and 1,790 joules for the 30-amp connection and 88,000 amps and 3,850 joules for the 50-amp connection.
These ratings give the devices the ability to protect your RV from large power spikes, immediately shutting off power should problems arise.
The Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X also has weather-resistant housing, enabling it to withstand extreme weather conditions. It also operates at broader temperature ranges. This feature gives you some peace of mind knowing that your EMS will not malfunction in extreme conditions.
When it comes to portable devices, security is often a major concern. Thanks to the locking bracket that this model includes, those concerns are now a thing of the past.
Progressive Industries SSP-30XL/50XL
If you are searching for a more pocket-friendly way of protecting your RV, why not go for the Progressive Industries SSP-30XL/50XL surge protector.
The SSP-30Xl/50XL is a portable surge protector, with the 30-amp connection having a surge protection rating of up to 22,500 amps and 825 joules and a huge operating temperature.
The Progressive Industries SSP-30XL/50XL can detect surge failure, reverse polarity, miswired pedestal, and more. It has indicator lights that notify you of possible electrical issues.
The model is also covered by thermally protected housing that shields it from harsh weather conditions.
Second-Best Surge Protectors
Though the above options are the best electrical management systems and surge protectors on the market, their prices might make them unobtainable for some.
While the following options will not offer you the same quality as the ones we’ve mentioned above, they still make it possible for you to provide your RV’s electrical system with the protection it deserves at lower prices.
Southwire Surge Guard EMS 35530/35550
This is a permanent electrical management system device from Southwire. The 50-amp connection option can monitor and protect your RV from surges of up to 3,850 joules.
Besides monitoring power surges, it also scans and protects your electrical system from open grounds and neutrals, miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, low and high voltages, and elevated neutral current conditions.
The device also has a 128-second delay that offers additional protection to your RV’s air conditioning compressor in case of an electrical issue.
Southwire Surge Guard 34930/34950
It can be daunting trying to find a motorhome surge protector compatible with your specific RV. With the Southwire Surge Guard 34930/34950, however, you won’t have to spend much time worrying about whether the device will be a perfect fit.
This surge protector is a portable solution that also offers you the convenience of an LCD screen with readouts of current amp and voltage draws.
The 34930/34950 surge protector continuously monitors reverse polarity, miswired pedestals, receptacle/plug overheating, high and low voltages, and more.
The device automatically disconnects power if it detects an issue at the source and includes a 128-second delay, which offers added protection to your more sensitive electrical appliances.
The unit also comes with a locking cord on its cable, which protects it against theft.
Southwire Surge Guard 44380/44390
The 44280/44290 is a quality RV surge protector option if you are looking to protect your RV without having to break the bank.
This portable model from Southwire is a lightweight product that includes a rain-proof cover and weather-resistant housing, which allow it to withstand harsh weather conditions.
The device has been UL certified to meet third party durability and safety standards. It can monitor and protect your RV against various electrical problems, continually analyzing your power supply’s quality and detecting potential issues before they cause costly damage. And the best part is that it has a very reasonable price tag.
Also, the Southwire Surge Guard 44280/44290 has indicator lights that alert you in the event of reverse ground, open ground, reverse polarity, open neutral, and open circuit issues.
With numerous products available, becoming familiar with their features and functions can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you are a new RV owner.
To offer you a bit of help, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we here at The Wandering RV come across.
Yes, a 50 amp surge protector can work on a 30 amp RV. We, however, do not recommend using one. The longer you do so, the more you expose your RV’s electrical system and appliance to potential damage.
A 50 amp and a 30 amp surge protector are both designed to immediately shut off power when the voltage fluctuates above a specific threshold. The main difference is in the threshold the respective surge protectors have.
If the 50 amp surge protector you are using has a high threshold, it will not turn off the power as quickly as your 30 amp RV needs.
This extra exposure to damaging surges can eventually destroy electrical appliances and, in some cases, cause significant issues with your RV’s entire electrical system.
When working with a portable surge protector, you always run the risk of theft. Fortunately, there are ways for you to lock your surge protector and prevent someone from stealing it.
The first and cheapest way is by using a bicycle chain and a padlock to secure the device to the post. Tightly wrap the chain several times around the cord, then lock it with the padlock.
Alternatively, you could get a lockbox, a device that locks your surge protector to the power base. Ensure that the lockbox you pick is big enough to accommodate the protector and power cable. Also, for additional security, get a lockbox that is made of heavy-duty metal.
Another option you could try out is using a locking cable, which you wrap around the device and secure to the power post.
The locking cable is typically made of flexible, durable material and comes with its own set of keys. Make sure to get your hands on a locking cable long enough to allow you to wrap it around your device multiple times.
With one of these options, you can rest assured that your portable RV surge protector is as secure as it will ever be. It is a minor investment that will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your traveling adventures safely and securely.
Whether you opt for a surge protector for campers or an electrical management system, having this device for your RV is necessary. Without it, you run the risk of damaging multiple appliances such as your air conditioner, refrigerator, and television.
What’s worse, the damages to your RV caused by a power surge will end up costing you many times more than the price of a surge protector or EMS.
While getting a quality device doesn’t come cheap, there is no telling the considerable amounts of money it can save you in the long run by shielding your RV’s electrical system and appliances from damage.
Give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that no matter where you plug it in, no electrical damage will happen to your RV and cut your vacation short.
Visit our website to find out about all the fantastic possibilities the RV lifestyle can offer you. Whether you need travel guides, campground reviews, or RV rentals, we have you covered at The Wandering RV.