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An RV can be a complex vehicle. From air conditioning units to entertainment systems, many feature expensive electrical equipment on board. One simple and cost-effective way to protect this equipment is to purchase a surge protector. These handy devices keep valuable electronics safe and sound. They plug into a power pedestal and act as a mediator between the power source and your RV. This ensures only the optimal voltage reaches your equipment.
When it comes to choosing a surge protector for your RV, there are a lot of options and knowing exactly what you need can be a challenge. We put together this handy buying guide that lists the top options on the market. We also answer some common questions about surge protectors, so you can make an informed decision and give your equipment the protection it needs.
The Best RV Surge Protector
Progressive Industries earns the top spot on our list with its practical and affordable Smart Surge Protector. As the name suggests, this device is bristling with useful features: it not only protects your RV against electrical surges, but it 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 weather resistant housing. It’s also 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.
RV surge guard, suitable for both 30 and 50 Amp plugs
Protects valuable equipment against electrical surges
Detects miswiring in the power supply
Alerts you to potential problems with three LEDs
Rugged, weather resistant design
Built-in thermal protection
Lifetime warranty included
- BrandProgressive Industries
- Weight1.74 pounds
The second RV surge protector to make it onto our list is this ‘Dogbone’ design by Camco. The device helps protect your equipment against the threat of poorly wired electrical boxes, wherever you roam. It’s easy to put into place and features diagnostic lights to provide easily visible information about whatever power source it’s plugged into. This means you’ll be aware of any faults before you hook up your RV.
The durable design offers protection against power surges of up to 4,200 joules, thanks to Camco’s innovative engineering. It’s also simple to use, with an easy grip handle that makes plugging and unplugging a breeze. Once in place, you can rest assured that this surge protector will handle whatever the elements throw its way. Its weather resistant housing protects against rain, hail, snow, ice, and gales – keeping your valuable electronics safe, whatever time of year you choose to travel. The device is available for both 50 and 30 Amp plugs.
Available for 50 and 30 Amp plugs
Easy to put into place, thanks to power grip handles
LEDs indicate faulty wiring before you plug your RV into a power source
Durable design can withstand surges of up to 4,200 joules
Weather resistant housing
- Weight6.82 pounds
The next camper surge protector to make our list is Technology Research’s 50 Amp guard. The simple to use plug and play technology easily 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.
A clear indicator system, on the front of the surge protector, illuminates to show whether the power source it’s plugged into is functioning as it should. Users say the surge protector is tough enough to handle almost any weather condition – be it snow, rain, sleet, or a baking hot sun. Whenever the guard absorbs a power surge, it will automatically reset itself for future use, making it a great investment that can protect your electrical gear for months and years to come.
RV surge protector suitable for 50 Amp plugs
Easy to install plug and play technology
Illuminated display warns users about faulty wiring
Protects against power surges of up to 4,200 joules
Weather resistant for reliable outdoor use
Re-sets following a surge for future use
- BrandTechnology Research
- Weight0.48 ounces
Progressive Industries earns a second spot on our list with its SSP30 surge guard. 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 – the Smart Surge is a really useful tool. 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 options on our list, the guard is suitable for outdoor use, and can withstand surges of 825 joules. Customers say that the device has saved them from the threats of miswiring and insufficient grounding more than enough to pay for itself – it also comes with a full year’s warranty. Bear in mind that this model is suitable for 30 Amp RV plugs only.
RV surge protector compatible with 30 Amp plugs
Compact, lightweight, and portable design
Detects miswiring in power sources and indicates to the user through a light display
Suitable for outdoor use, but might need extra protection in wet conditions
Capable of withstanding surges of 825 joules
12 month warranty included
- BrandProgressive Industries
- Weight1.8 pounds
If you’re looking for a rugged but budget-friendly surge protector, look no further than Surge Guard. Their device offers great protection for all the electronics aboard your RV and for the price is 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. Having this information lets you know without a doubt whether the electricity you’re planning to draw is safe for your RV. A series of lights on the front of the guard make it easy to see if something isn’t right. If the guard should overheat, another light will let you know. Resistant to wind and rain, the surge guard is capable of standing up to the elements as well as power surges. Bear in mind that Surge Guard’s devices are designed to be ‘sacrificial’: after a significant surge, they become too damaged to function properly, and need to be replaced. They effectively ‘sacrifice’ themselves to protect the RV’s electronics. This model is compatible with 30 Amp plugs only.
RV surge guard suitable for 30 Amp plugs
Great value for money at under $90
Alerts users to any electrical problems at the power pedestal
Overheating alert included
Weather resistant housing
‘Sacrificial’ design protects RV electronics against surges by absorbing the energy
- BrandSurge Guard
- Weight12 pounds
The EMS-PT30X surge protector earns Progressive Industries its third spot on our list. This surge guard is tough and capable of protecting your RV against fluctuating voltage, power surges, and incorrect wiring in almost any condition.
The device’s durable housing allows it to function in a frankly impressive array of temperatures – from -40 ℉ to 221 ℉. This, along with its waterproof design, allow 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.
As well as offering protection from surges, the guard brings any electrical issues to your attention as soon as it’s plugged into a power source. The easy to read digital display will let you know if there’s a problem with wiring or grounding. The versatile guard is available for both 30 and 50 Amp RV plugs.
Rugged RV surge protector available for 30 Amp or 50 Amp plugs
Functions in virtually any temperature conditions (-40 ℉ to 221 ℉)
Tough Lexan plastic protects against water, as well as bumps and scrapes
Features a security locking bracket
Features a sturdy pull handle
Protects against electrical surges
Indicates faulty wiring or grounding when plugged into a power source
Easy to read digital display
- BrandProgressive Industries
- Weight4.2 pounds
This 30-amp surge protector is a great way to protect your RV from costly and dangerous electrical damage. This simple but effective guard is designed to shut off power to your RV whenever it detects a problem with the power supply. This device will protect against not only power surges but also the risks associated with reverse polarity wiring and improper grounding.
After it shuts off, the protector is easy to reset manually. The basic but functional design is excellent value for the money. Users say that it stands up well in the rain, too, making a rugged but simple solution to electricity worries.
Surge protector suitable for 30 Amp plugs
Cuts off power supply when an electrical problem is detected
Capable of detecting miswiring and improper grounding as well as surges
The device can be manually reset after a trip
Excellent value for money
Basic but effective design
Lightweight and portable
- BrandTechnology Research
- Weight1.65 pounds
The next item on our list isn’t exactly a surge protector, but since protecting against surges is one of its many useful functions, we thought it would be remiss not to include it on our list.
Hughes developed what it calls the ‘World’s only all-in-one RV power solution’, designed to keep the electronics in your RV ticking over no matter what. This solution takes the form of the RV22050 Autoformer: this unassuming little box is actually a powerful piece of technology, which can regulate the voltage being drawn from a power source into your RV while also offering protection against the threat of power surges. In the event of an extreme surge, the surge protector inside the autoformer can be replaced without needing to scrap the rest of the device.
Autoformer compatible with 50 Amp RV plugs
All-in-one RV power solution
Regulates voltage being drawn to your RV; boosting or reducing power based on your current needs
Protects against power surges
Surge protector portion of the autoformer is replaceable
‘Sense circuit’ technology constantly adjusts how much power is being channelled into the RV
Protects against low voltage damage
Two year warranty
Made in the USA
- BrandHughes Performance
- Weight36 pounds
Southwire’s 50 Amp RV surge protector is another great option for the seasoned RV devotee. Not only does it automatically shut off power to your RV in the event of a surge, keeping appliances safe, it also constantly monitors the Amperage and Voltage being drawn from the power source to your RV. This useful information is subsequently displayed on an easy to read LCD screen on the front of the device.
As well as protecting your RV from surges, the guard also prevents the damage caused by miswiring, improper grounding, low voltage, and overheating. To keep itself safe, the device even comes with its own anti-theft lock ring, allowing it to be secured in place with minimal hassle.
RV surge guard compatible with 50 Amp plugs
Automatically cuts power to your RV should it detect electrical problems
Constantly monitors the Amps and Volts being drawn by the RV
Features an easy to read LCD display
Protects against miswiring, improper grounding, low voltage, and overheating
Includes an anti-theft locking ring, to deter would-be thieves
- Weight5.5 pounds
With its portable 50 Amp surge guard, Technology Research has earned its third and final spot on our list. The guard can keep electronics safe from surges clocking in at up to 3,850 joules, ensuring your valuable equipment stays safe.
It continuously monitors the voltage and Amperage being drawn by the RV it’s plugged into, displaying the readout on an easily visible LCD screen. As well as Volts and Amps, the screen also offers an insight into any electrical problems that emerge from the power supply. Any miswiring, surge, or low voltage situation is immediately picked up on, and the power supply is automatically halted. Customers say the unit is a sound investment that can stand up to drizzly weather, and reliably keeps RV electronics safe.
Surge guard suitable for RVs equipped with 50 Amp plugs
Protects against surges of up to 3,850 joules
Continuously monitors the RV’s Volt and Amp draw
Features an easy to read LCD screen
Also detects and protects against voltage and miswiring
- BrandTechnology Research
- Weight0.48 ounces
Best RV Surge Protector Buying Guide
Now that we’ve worked our way through some surge protector reviews, it’s time to move on to some common questions and concerns about this useful piece of technology. We hope our handy buying guide will help you decide which surge protector is right for you, and help you get the most out of whatever option you choose.
Features to Consider When Buying an RV Surge Protector
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 it’s compatible with your RV’s electricity supply service. 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
The next factor to consider when choosing a surge guard is how much protection it affords. 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 of energy 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 Camco’s surge protector can absorb - indicated 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. Progressive Industries’ surge protectors have an impressive response time of just one nanosecond, making them a reliable option.
- 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. Most of the surge protectors on our list have this useful ability.
- 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.
Benefits of Using an RV Surge Protector
Using an RV surge protector has a raft of benefits, including:
- Surge protectors prevent electronics in your RV from being damaged in the event of a power surge
- Many surge protectors can also protect against low voltage, which can also damage electrical devices
- More sophisticated surge guards can tell you if the electricity from a power source is safe for your RV
- Purchasing a surge guard is much less expensive than having to replace electrical equipment in your RV
- Surge protectors shield against the safety hazards such as overheated equipment and fires
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 a building, or for our purposes, RV. They 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.
How to Install RV Surge Protector
Installing a portable RV surge protector is a simple affair: insert the plug into the outlet provided on any power source, such as a pedestal at a campsite, and check the reading is safe before proceeding to plug your RV’s power cable into the outlet on the surge guard. Some guards can be locked onto the pedestal to help prevent theft. Exact instructions may vary, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing a permanent surge guard is much more complex, and varies between manufacturers - you’ll likely need to seek professional assistance. For more information on the process, check out Progressive Industries’ installation guide.
Electrical Management System (EMS) Vs Surge Protector
Surge protectors and EMS get confused more often than you’d think - here are the main characteristics of each:
- Surge Protector
Surge protectors provide a simple but essential form of protection for your RV’s electronics, protecting them against power surges. They vary in their sophistication; some can be used to diagnose dangerous power sources, and protect against low voltage as well as an overload. Surge protectors tend to be easier to install, more portable, and considerably less costly than an EMS.
- Electrical Management System
EMS offers surge protection too, but also provide other forms of protection, such as prolonged low voltage protection, open neutral protection, AC frequency protection, and 220 Volt protection. EMS is more complex to install, and tends to be much more expensive to acquire. However, it does offer the fullest electrical protection.
Exactly how many safety features each surge protector has will depend on the make and model, and they are becoming more sophisticated over time. However, for the fullest protection, it may well be worth investing in an EMS.
Best RV Surge Protector FAQ:
Q: What is an RV surge protector?
A: An RV surge protector is an electrical device designed to protect your RV’s electrical appliances from the danger of power surges. They are fitted between the power source and the RV, and automatically disconnect the RV from the power in the event of a surge.
Q: How does an RV surge protector work?
A: 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 protector 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 semiconductor 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.
Other types of surge protectors use other methods, but all centre around a mechanism that diverts excess current away from sensitive equipment.
Q: Is the RV surge protector waterproof?
A: 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?
A: 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.
Our Top Pick
For us, the best RV surge protector on the market right now has to be Progressive Industries’ Smart Surge Protector. The device truly lives up to its name, offering not only rugged surge protection, but also valuable insights into what’s going on with faulty power supplies.
Available for both 30 Amp and 50 Amp RVs, the versatile piece of kit uses lights to let you know when a pedestal is miswired, or a surge has taken place. It’s also tough enough to stand up to the elements - a vital aspect of any piece of RV equipment. These useful features, along with its lifetime warranty and budget-friendly price point, truly set the surge guard aside from its rivals.