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Published Sep. 22, 2021

If you’re like most RV users, your motorhome requires plenty of power to run your appliances and accessories. Everything from your air conditioner to your refrigerator, lights, television, and maybe even your navigation system and RV controls require reliable power in order to function properly. But when you pull up to a new campsite, you can never be sure if the power you’re drawing from the pedestal is clean, safe, and reliable. This is why you need an RV surge protector as when plugged into the campground’s power pedestal, a reliable surge protector will guard all your expensive and sensitive electronics against damaging electricity fluctuations. Here’s a list of our favorite RV surge protectors for your consideration.

Best RV Surge Protector Reviews & Recommendations

Progressive Industries have earned itself the top spot on our list with the company’s practical and affordable Smart Surge Protector. As the name suggests, this device is bristling with useful features as it not only protects your RV against electrical surges but can also detect any miswiring in the power supply that’s likely to cause problems. When this, or a surge, occurs, three colored LED lights will alert you to the problem.

It’s also tough enough to handle any unpredictable weather you might be exposed to, thanks to its rugged design, which features a weather-resistant housing. And it’s thermally protected to ensure that it won’t overheat during use. With its compact and portable design, range of features, and lifetime warranty, you can count on this protector. It’s available for RVs with both 30 Amp and 50 Amp plugs. Though this unit is a little on the pricey side, it’s well worth the investment.

Specs
  • Brand Progressive Industries
  • Model 0313.1168
  • Weight 1.74 pounds
PROS

Can detect wiring issues as well as protect against surges

Alerts you to problems with three separate

LED lights Includes a lifetime warranty

CONS

A little pricey

Doesn’t include a weather-resistant cover

Not UL/CSA-certified

If you’re looking for a rugged but budget friendly surge protector, check out the Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector. This device offers great protection for all the electronics aboard your RV and for under $90, it’s a no-brainer investment. The guard alerts users to any problems with whatever power supply it’s plugged into, be it reversed polarity or improper grounding, with a series of lights on the front of the guard showing if something isn’t right.

This unit will also test for and alert you to open neutral, open ground, an overheating plug or receptacle, and more. An easy-to-read LED fault chart gives you a comprehensive power analysis at a glance. And a convenient T-pull plug handle allows you to quickly disconnect this surge protector without the risk of getting shocked. One drawback is that this particular model is only compatible with 30-amp electrical service, so you’ll need something else if you’ve got a 50-amp rig.

Specs
  • Brand Surge Guard
  • Model 44280
  • Weight 1.5 pounds
PROS

Affordable

User-Friendly

Offers a lot of power information on an easy-to-read display

CONS

Suitable for 30-amp service only

May not last as long as some pricier, higher end models

Not UL-certified for safety

The EMS-PT30X surge protector is one of the most comprehensive and reliable RV surge protectors on the market, as well as the toughest on our list yet, capable of protecting your RV against fluctuating voltage, power surges, and incorrect wiring in almost any conditions. The device’s durable housing allows it to function in a frankly impressive array of temperatures ranging from negative 40 up to 221 degrees Fahrenheit. This, along with its waterproof design, allows the guard to function come rain or shine or snow, hail and sleet.

A security locking bracket also helps to hold it in place on the power source, while its tough Lexan plastic shell protect its inner workings from knocks and bumps. The guard also features a sturdy pull handle, which makes maneuvering it hassle-free and the easy to read digital display will let you know if there’s a problem with wiring or grounding. This model is for 30-amp service only, but it is available for 50-amp. The drawback to this unit is its steep price tag. It’s easily the most expensive surge protector on our list.

Specs
  • Brand Progressive Industries
  • Model EMS-PT30X
  • Weight 4.2 pounds
PROS

Ultra heavy-duty, weatherproof case

Can function reliably in harsh weather environments

Features an easy-to-read digital display

CONS

Expensive

Heavy

Bulky

The next camper surge protector to make our list is Technology Research’s 50 Amp guard. The simple to use plug and play protector identifies any faulty wiring in whatever power source you connect your RV to and can shield your electronics against surges of up to 4,200 joules. As an added bonus, it also happens to be a super budget-conscious choice, making it even more appealing.

With a clear indicator system on the front of the surge protector, it illuminates to show whether the power source it’s plugged into is functioning as it should. This surge protector is tough enough to handle almost any weather condition, too, be it snow, rain, sleet, or baking hot sun. Whenever the guard absorbs a power surge, it will automatically reset itself for future use. Take note that there are some concerns over long-term reliability and function with this particular model. And if you experience a large surge, it’s probably best to replace this unit with a new one.

Specs
  • Brand Technology Research
  • Model ‎44270
  • Weight 0.48 ounces
PROS

Simple and straightforward to use

Provides protection against surges up to 4,200 joules

Lightweight

CONS

Long-term reliability is questionable

LED lights can be difficult to see

Not UL-certified for safety

Progressive Industries has earned another spot on our list with the SSP30 surge guard. This surge protector has been independently UL-certified to meet rigorous safety standards, so you can rest assured that it will provide real and reliable protection when you need it most. Weighing in at less than two pounds, and small enough to fit in your glove compartment, the guard’s compact and highly portable design sets it apart from other choices on the market.

Don’t be fooled by its small size, however, by simply connecting the device to the power pedestal at a campsite, you can find out whether the power source is safe for your RV. Although it’s not the toughest option on our list, the guard is suitable for outdoor use, and can withstand surges of 825 joules. As an added bonus, it also comes with a full year’s warranty. But bear in mind that this model is only suitable for 30 Amp RV plugs only.

Specs
  • Brand Progressive Industries
  • Model 0313.1134
  • Weight 1.8 pounds
PROS

UL-certified for safety

Backed by a one-year warranty

Simply designed for easy operation

CONS

Not the best in really wet conditions

Only rated to protect against surges up to 825 joules

Suitable for 30-amp service only

How We Selected The Products 

There are plenty of RV surge protectors on the market, so to narrow our results to those that deliver reliable and safe function, we selected only the most reputable manufacturers with a long-standing history of offering dependable electrical products. High customer satisfaction and real-life user testimonials that include the good and the bad about each product were a factor in choosing the best surge protectors available. We also tried to offer a diverse selection of 30- and 50-amp products and an array of price ranges to fit any budget.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

When selecting the best RV surge protector to suit your needs, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different RVs have different requirements based on how they’re outfitted, what size they are, and how old they are. The following buying guide will help you choose the best option for your individual needs and requirements.

What to Consider When Buying RV Surge Protectors

When choosing a surge protector for your RV, there are several things to bear in mind:

RV Electricity Supply

The first thing to do when buying a surge protector is to check that it’s compatible with your RV’s electricity supply. The two standard supplies are 30 Amps and 50 Amps, each of which has a different plug. 30 Amp plugs have three pins, while their 50 Amp counterparts are equipped with four pins.

Level of Protection

For the best protection, look out for surge guards that can protect your RV against:

  • Power surges
  • Low voltage
  • Miswiring and improper grounding

To work out how well the guard will shield your RV against these threats, you can depend on two key factors: how many joules a surge guard can withstand, and how quickly it can cut off the power when this happens. A high joule rating—like the 4,200 joules the Technology Research Portable Surge Protector can absorb—indicates a tough device that can withstand a lot of electrical energy. However, this isn’t as important as how quickly the surge guard reacts to the threat; if the circuit is broken in time, none of this energy will get far enough for the joule rating to matter. 

Diagnostic Abilities

A basic surge guard will shut off the power when it threatens to fry your RV’s electronics, but many of the more sophisticated models can also be used as a diagnostic tool for power supplies. If you’re forever hooking up your RV to new power sources, it’s a good idea to choose a surge guard that can also tell you whether the pedestal has been properly set up, with indicators for open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity, no power, overheating, and more. 

Portable or Hardwired

All of the surge guards on our list are portable, but you can also come by guards that are permanently installed inside your RV itself. These permanent guards require only one installation and are easier to keep an eye on, but you’ll likely need professional help to install one, and they’re much more challenging to move between RVs.

Different Types of Surge Protectors

Surge protectors come in handy wherever there is a power supply and electrical equipment. They tend to be split into two main categories:

Primary Type

Installed where a power line enters an RV, these tend to be quite large, and capable of absorbing a lot of power. The surge guards on our list would fall into this category, since they’re installed directly between a power pedestal and an RV.

Secondary Type

Small surge guards plugged into outlets. They’re less powerful, but more portable and easy to use. You could double down on surge protection by using these with the outlets inside your RV.

FAQs

Q: How does an RV surge protector work?

All surge protectors work by the same basic principle: diverting extra voltage away from the devices plugged into it. The most common types of surge protectors achieve this through the use of a metal oxide varistor (MOV), which consists of a piece of metal oxide surrounded by two semiconductors. The resistance of these semiconductors varies with voltage, and when the voltage rises above safe levels, this resistance decreases. During a surge, voltage increases, the MOV conducts much of the current away and back to ground.

Q: Is the RV surge protector waterproof?

This depends on the make and model. Most portable surge protectors are waterproof, since they’re designed for outdoor use, however some designs are more rugged than others. Permanent surge guards tend not to be waterproof, which isn’t usually an issue as they’re installed inside the RV.

Q: Can I use an RV surge protector with a generator?

Yes, but you may need to make some tweaks. If you hook up your surge protector to a portable generator, it will often display an ‘open ground’ warning, and not allow power to reach your RV. However, using a surge protector with your generator is not usually necessary, because of the low voltages they tend to produce.

Q: How do I keep my RV surge protector from being stolen?

You can secure it with a rugged bicycle chain and a padlock, a cable lock, or a specially designed lockbox that’s specifically made for your surge protector.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for a reliable, rugged, and well-priced RV surge protector is hands down the Progressive Industries Smart Surge Protector. It has a bunch of useful features and will not only protect your RV against electrical surges but also detect any miswiring in the power supply that’s likely to cause problems.

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