Whether you are new to travel by RV or have already made some trips, you understand that while RV life is great, there are challenges to being on the road. One of the biggest challenges for RV travel and living is staying protected against electrical surges. Here, we discuss what is the best surge protector for RV use. With all those appliances and electronics plugged in, whether they’re powered by AC power or battery storage, there’s always a chance of something going wrong. If you’re lucky enough to avoid major issues caused by electrical surges, such as a fire, you may still be left with damaged appliances and ruined devices.
Why You Need A Good Surge Protector
Let’s talk first about what a surge protector is. A surge protector is a device that protects your RV from overloading due to an electric surge or spike.
Electrical surges occur when there is too much current flowing through a circuit and is typically triggered by extreme weather conditions, such as a lightning storm, high winds, or heavy rain. Surges can also occur due to issues in RV campground hookups such as wonky outlets and wiring, or older wiring that probably needs to be replaced.
A surge protector main function is to operate between your RV plug and the campground hookup outlet plug. It is pluggerd into the campground power source and then simply, plug your RV’s cable into the surge protector. The surge protector then acts as a buffer between your RV and the outlet.
The best surge protectors (called electrical management systems or EMS) will monitor the amount of power coming from the outlet and ensure there are surges and burned-out devices, appliances, or worse, fires due to power surges or spikes.
What Surge Protectors Are Made for RV Use?
There are two types of surge protectors, one being a simple surge protector and the other being an electrical management system or EMS. While they have different capabilities, they serve the same purpose to keep your RV’s devices, appliances, and electronics safe from damage from a power surge or spike
Which Surge Protector is Best For Your RV?
To choose the best surge protector, you need to determine if your RV comes with a 30 amp or 50 amp electrical system. Then, of course, purchase the surge protector for that specific amp.
If you don’t know what you need, one way to determine the type of connection your RV has is by looking at the number of prongs on the connector plug at your power cord’s end. The 30 amp connector plug has three prongs with one being a 120-volt hot wire, one being a neutral wire, and one being a ground wire. The 50 amp connector plug has four prongs, which is two 120-volt hot wires, one neutral wire, and one ground wire.
Do You Need EMS over Basic Surge Protector
The main difference between a surge protector and an EMS is their level of protection. A surge protector simply offers protection only from too much power or a high voltage spike.
An EMS is a more robust solution where it can protect your RV and valuables against high voltage, low voltage, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, and other issues. While these systems are more expensive, they are worth the extra cost and one we recommend.
When purchasing an EMS, many are sold with the product description of simplay being a surge protector. Most people have an idea of what a surge protector is for and manufacturers do not want to confuse their customers with the EMS jargon. To guide you to the best surge protector or EMS for you we have our top four recommendations.
Our Surge Protector and EMS Recommendations
The Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X for 30 amps and EMS-PT50X for 50 amp use is our top pick for portable electrical management system (EMS).
These portable EMS are complete portable systems that provides total electrical protection for any RV. Progressive Industries does offer a lifetime warranty on these products.
This model will detect a wide variety of electrical issues and immediately shut off power to your RV, while also providing great surge protection for your RV. On the downside, they are not inexpensive and can be stolen if not secured or locked.
The SSP-30XL (also available in 50 amps as the 50XL) is a portable surge protector, with the 30-amp connection having a surge protection rating of up to 22,500 amps. The Progressive Industries SSP-50XL is designed for a 50-amp RV.
The SSP-30XL & SSP-50XL can detect surge failure, reverse polarity, mis-wired pedestal, and more with indicator lights to notify you of possible issues. Progressive Industries offers a lifetime warranty on the SSP-30XL and SSP-50XL.
3) Surge Guard 44290 by Southwire 50 AMP (and Surge Guard 44280 for 30 amp)
The Surge Guard by Southwire (formerly known as Technology Research) is another good bet, and one that’s compatible with 30 amp or 50 amp RV’s, although only offers the most basic surge protection for your RV. It does boast a strong weatherproof design.
The 44290 and 44280 only provide protection from voltage spikes. These models are capable of identifying a faulty power pedestal, enabling you to move on to a different site, which you probably should as it won’t be able to stop power from surging.
The Surge Guard 44290 (replaces the 44270 model) boasts a joule rating of 4,200. It is suitable for all campers and RVs, the best use may be for travel trailers. The Surge Guard 44280 replaces the previous model 44260 (by Technology Research).
4) Southwire Surge Guard 34930 (30 amp) and Surge Guard 34950 (50 amp)
The Southwire Surge Guard 34930/34950 is our runner-up choicefor best portable electrical management system.
This model provides surge protection and if it detects a problem with the source of power, will automatically disconnect your RV from the source. Southwire products carrie lifetime warranty.
Being portable, it is can be easily stolen if not secure with a lock (such as a bike lock tightly wrapped around the cord).
They are many choices and options fr surge protection. So we hope that this guide helps you to choose one that will protect you from the unexpected surge or spike. We believe that unless you can be absolutely certain of the quality of the power supply where your RV is plugged in, a quality surge protector/EMS is an essential accessory for RV travel.
Also, to be clear our recommendations are for portable EMS/surge protectors. There is an option for a permanent solution which you may want to consider now or in the future that does provide additional benefits, although does come with additional expense to get it installed properly by a professional. Safe travels!