Best RV Surge Protectors: Protect Your RV’s Electrical System
Keep the electronics in your RV safe from electrical surges with our top picks for the best RV surge protectors
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PUBLISHED ON June 21, 2019
A surge protector is a device that detects faults in the power supply and evens out sudden peaks of electricity to protect your recreational vehicle and its equipment. It’s an important tool for every RV owner, whether you use your RV once a year or every day. It only takes one bad connection to the pedestal power supply at a campsite to fry all your equipment. Our review looks into some of the best RV voltage protectors for your consideration.
- Best OverallProgressive Industries EMS-HW30CSummarySummaryA 30-amp hardwired surge and electrical protector with accidental 240-volt protection, frequency protection, and over or under voltage protection.ProsProsOffers high-grade RV electrical protection. UL Certified and Canadian approved. Offers alerts on miswired pedestals and surge failures. Backed by a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.ConsConsLifetime warranty doesn’t cover self-installation. Difficult to install. Expensive.
- Best ValueCamco PowerDefender Circuit AnalyzerSummarySummaryA budget-focused RV surge protector and circuit analyzer that reduces the danger of using electronics on-the-go.ProsProsOffers surge protection up to 1,050 joules. Comes in a couple of amp versions.ConsConsDoesn't have much weatherproofing in the design or construction of the unit.
- Honorable MentionCamco Dogbone RV Circuit AnalyzerSummarySummaryA 50-amp surge protector and fault indicator with cutting-edge features and active surge protection of up to 4,200 joules.ProsProsReasonably priced. Weather-resistant. Gives clear reports of the polarity. Comes with grips for safe plugging and unplugging. Advanced protection during severe storms.ConsConsNot as sleek and compact as other surge protectors. It stands out and is prone to theft due to the bright yellow color.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of an RV Surge Protector
- Identify a faulty power supply. Most surge protectors give you alerts in case you try to hook up your RV to a broken or unregulated power supply. You also get alerts if there’s an improper connection between your RV and power source and other electrical anomalies.
- Regulate the electrical flow. US-made surge protectors only allow 140 volts of power to flow through the system. Anything more will destroy the powered devices in seconds. Anything less will make the equipment struggle and fail to perform efficiently.
- Safety. Surge protectors are designed with additional safety features to prevent electrical shocks and fire hazards. The features include indicator LEDs or alarms and emergency shut-off switches. These are important features that will protect your RV from the effects of lightning strikes during a storm.
- Protect your investment. If you own an RV, then you may have experienced the fear of blowing up most of your equipment, especially when connecting your RV to a campsite’s pedestal power. A surge protector provides good value, as it’s a decent investment that protects your RV and equipment inside from getting damaged by faulty power.
Types of RV Surge Protectors
Basic Surge Protectors
Basic surge protectors have a user-friendly design and are pretty straightforward when it comes to getting the job done. They protect your RV from high or low spikes to prevent your circuitry from getting fried due to lightning strikes or unstable surges at RV parks. Most come in the form of extension cables.
Complete Surge Protectors
Complete surge protectors are the most expensive due to the high level of protection they offer. Some are also incorporated with electrical management systems to increase the level of protection to your RV. They protect from high- and low- line frequency, high and low voltages, open ground, and faulty wiring.
Progressive Industries is a global manufacturer of portable and hardwired RV smart surge protectors and EMS systems. The company was founded in 1968 and has its headquarters in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Some of its bestselling surge protectors are the Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C and the Progressive Industries SSP30X Smart Surge Protector.
Technology Research Corp is a US-based company that specializes in power distribution and management systems. The company manufactures and designs portable surge guards with their locks, GFCI units, and adaptors. One of its top products that offers RV low-voltage protection is the Surge Guard 44260.
Camco was birthed in 1986 and currently has over 130 patents. The company manufactures over 3,000 products in its five separate state-of-the-art facilities, including high-quality water filters, water pressure regulators, hose elbows, RV sewer water hoses, plastic water heater pans, clothing, and surge protectors. It’s headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina and has operating offices located all around the world. The Camco Dogbone RV Circuit Analyzer is one of its top-rated 50-amp RV surge protector and circuit analyzers.
Best RV Surge Protectors Pricing
- Under $100: This price range is for entry-level surge protectors that are useful for identifying faulty park power. Most come as portable units and offer less than 2,500 joules of power protection. Some high-end brands sell their surge protectors within this price range.
- $100 to 200: This price range comes with both portable and permanent surge guards. Most units here are weather-resistant and are designed to handle most of the high power consumption needs of a camper.
- Above $200: This price range is for advanced surge protectors that continuously monitor the power supply errors and save error codes to prevent future errors from occurring. Some are integrated with EMS units to provide full protection to your RV.
Older versions of surge protectors used to shut down unexpectedly when there was a power surge. However, modern versions use diagnostic tools to identify problems in the power supply and give you alerts in case something’s not right. This feature is beneficial, especially when you are trying out new camping parks and want to know if the pedestal is set-up properly before hooking up your equipment.
LED displays serve as indicators or cautions for any irregularities with the power supply that may cause damage to your equipment. The indicators also alert you when the surge protector is broken and needs to be replaced. In addition, the LED lights should be bright enough and easy to read even in the daytime.
Level of Protection
The best surge protectors offer protection against miswiring, low voltage, and power surges. The protection here depends on how fast the unit can cut off the power in case of a power surge and the number of joules it can handle without getting fried. However, if the surge protector has a fast shut-off mechanism, then the joule rating won’t matter.
The surge protector ought to be the right amperage that matches most of the equipment in your travel trailer. Most devices will use as much amperage as they can get from the electrical current, and if it falls short, the equipment will experience overheating and run hot.
- Compatibility: You’ll need to ensure that the surge protector is compatible with your RV’s electrical supply. Most RV’s come with either 30- or 50-amp power supplies, and each comes with a different plug.
- Warranty: Some surge protectors are covered by a warranty, and others aren’t. Also, some manufacturers offer warranties that extend to the devices connected to the surge protector, which typically cover a small percentage of the damages caused if a power surge goes through. Also, warranty covers are often an assurance of the quality of the unit.
- Portability: Surge protectors are either portable or hardwired. Portable models are cheaper, lightweight, and easy to install. Hardwired protectors, on the other hand, can only be installed by a professional and generally cost more in comparison.
Best RV Surge Protectors Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C
Our best surge protector is an integration of an electrical management system and a surge protector. The unit operates at 30-amps of power and offers 1,790 joules of surge protection. It also protects your system’s circuitry at 120-volt lines and offers accidental 240-volt protection. The unit has a digital display and scrolling that shows information on error codes, current, and voltage.
The model features smart technology that can be used to detect and respond appropriately to reverse polarity, open ground, and open neutral conditions. The unique thing about this surge protector is that it offers AC frequency protection. Additionally, the unit is powered by state-of-the-art microprocessors and comes with free software upgrades from the manufacturer.
The downside of the product is that you only get a lifetime warranty if an RV dealer installs it for you. You get a limited warranty if you install it yourself. It’s also difficult to install the unit, as the manual doesn’t provide adequate instructions. In the end, you will probably have to hire someone to hardwire it for you. It’s also more expensive than other 30-amp surge protectors.
Best Value: Camco PowerDefender Circuit Analyzer
The Camco surge protector is a circuit analyzer that protects an RV from unexpected power surges. The analyze comes with a diagnostic LED setup to indicate when wiring is faulty and handy on-unit instructors that explain what the different lighting combinations mean. For surge protection, the unit can go up to 1,050 joules.
Overall, the protector is easy to use and set up when setting up an RV with an electrical supply. The unit reads the polarity and currency well for getting a good read on the electrical setup. Unfortunately, the cord is on the short side, forcing the main box to dangle in the air. The weatherproof also leaves a lot to be desired since rain and moisture can damage the inside.
Honorable Mention: Camco Dogbone RV Circuit Analyzer
The 50-amp Camco Dogbone makes our list due to its weather-resistant design, which provides peace of mind to a camper parked at locations that are prone to storms. Its intelligent RV circuit analyzer keeps running no matter how adverse the weather conditions might get. It also offers full protection to your RV when it’s hooked up to questionable parks. The device gets its name from its dog-bone shape that has flexible adapters at each end.
The unit offers surge protection of up to 4,200 joules and actively monitors the electrical flow status. It also offers top-notch protection to your equipment against improperly wired electrical boxes. Additionally, the device has diagnostic lights built into the unit that indicate any faults in the circuitry system and inform you of any upcoming mishaps within the system.
The main drawback of the unit is that it is not as compact as most portable surge protectors. Also, despite being weather-resistant, it is not as waterproof, and you may have to insulate the device to prepare for a heavy downpour. The unit also doesn’t indicate when it’s burnt out and needs replacement. Its bright yellow color is also a thief-magnet.
- Lock your surge protector on a power pedestal to prevent theft, especially if it’s a portable one. Alternatively, you could insulate bright-colored surge protectors with dull masking tape to keep them from standing out.
- Always seek professional help when installing a permanent or hardwired surge guard. The unit could burn out or not work efficiently when installed improperly. The unit could also get damaged within the first month of use.
- Unhook the surge protector if you decide to use an RV generator to power your vehicle. The surge protector will constantly display the ‘open ground’ warning and prevent power from reaching your RV.
Q: How do I tell if my surge protector is broken?
A: Most surge protectors are designed with at least three LED indicators that alert you of the status of your RV before and after a surge. To tell if it’s working efficiently, the front panel of the unit, which indicates either ‘Protection Present’ or “Protected LED,’ will have a green light on. If there’s no green light, then the surge protector may be broken.
Q: What is an electrical management system?
A: An EMS offers more forms of protection than a typical surge protector. On top of surge protection, it also offers open neutral protection, low voltage protection, AC frequency protection, and 220-volt protection. It can be incorporated into a basic surge protector, but such a unit would be more expensive.
Q: What’s the average lifespan of a surge protector?
A: A surge protector typically starts to wear out from the inside out. Although there may be no way to tell how much protection the unit will offer after it starts to wear out, you should replace your unit every three to five years. The replacement period depends on the quality of the brand you choose.
Our top pick is the Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C. It’s a combination of an EMS and a surge protector to offer better electrical protection to your recreational vehicle.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, consider the Camco PowerDefender Circuit Analyzer that offers basic protection to your travel trailer.