LAST UPDATED: June 21, 2019
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
The Review Team
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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.
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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.
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. It makes surge protectors and also products like the Camco Heavy Duty RV Auto PowerGrip Adapter.
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 2020
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.
The Camco surge protector is a circuit analyzer that protects an RV from unexpected power surges. The analyzer 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.
This 50-amp portable RV surge protector protects against voltage fluctuations, power surges, and improperly wired shore power. It features a durable pull handle, all-weather shield assembly, a locking bracket, and a scrolling digital display. It has plug-and-play installation and comes with a lifetime warranty. The device also has five modes and is weather resistant.
This is a well-made device that is easy to understand and provides accurate readings. It analyzes the circuit, and if everything checks out it turns itself on and permits power to go to your RV. If there is a problem or a spike, it shuts itself off. This unit is an analyzer and a surge protector, so you leave it plugged in the entire time.
One problem with this device is it may fill up with water even though it's weather resistant. The cover is also not the best quality and can easily break. In addition, the locking ring is not very secure and not a big theft deterrent.
A surge protector without an automatic shutoff feature requires you to be present when there are any issues so you can take appropriate action. The Hughes Autoformer BX4370 does away with that inconvenience and sends alerts directly to your phone in case there’s something wrong. This RV surge protector is one-of- a-kind as it’s designed to connect to your phone via Bluetooth technology. The 30A surge guard safeguards your RV from power spikes of up to 2,400 joules. In case your RV is affected by a power spike, you don't have to replace the whole unit—simply order a new surge model.
The Hughes Autoformer BX4370 is affordable and easy to install. But it has a few shortcomings. It doesn't shut off automatically like an electrical management system (EMS); it only sends you an alert when it detects a problem. Some users have also complained that the phone app is hard to install.
When it comes to electrical protection gadgets, Progressive Industries has a very good reputation. So it's no surprise that the SSP-50XL makes an appearance on our list. It has an exceptionally high surge protection capacity of 1,650 joules and runs on 50 amps. It also detects reverse polarity, surge failure, open ground, and pedestal miswiring. The surge guard has easy-to-understand LED indicators that notify you about any power issues. It has many useful features like tough Lexan housing, a rugged pull handle, and a locking bracket. The locking bracket secures it in place to ensure it doesn't get stolen. The pull handle allows you to plug it into almost any power pedestal. The device is UL-certified and comes with a lifetime warranty.
However, the surge protector does not have an automatic shutoff feature. It is also slightly bigger than other surge protectors in its class. Some users have also complained that the manufacturer does not stand behind their product and honor their warranty.
This Camco surge guard is easy to set up, so you won't spend extra time on the task. It is ideal for RVs that need a 30-amp connection and will protect your motorhome from power spikes of up to 2,800 joules. In case it detects dangerous conditions, it automatically disconnects your RV from the power supply. When the conditions go back to normal, it reconnects the power supply. The device has a set of diagnostic LEDs on its front that alert you of any problems as soon as you connect your RV’s electric cord to the power pedestal. It protects your RV against wiring issues like open neutral and reverse polarity.
The biggest issue with the Camco 55301 surge protector is it is not lockable. And because it has an attention-grabbing color, it may be vulnerable to theft. Also, Camco has not indicated whether it is UL-certified, so we're not sure if it has undergone adequate third-party safety testing.
Unlike a surge protector that only protects your RV from sudden power spikes, an EMS offers your RV full protection against power-related issues like high and low voltage spikes, current surges, reverse polarity, high neutral, open ground, and incorrectly-wired power outlets. The Surge Guard 35550 is ideal for RVs that need a 50-amp connection and protects them against power surges of up to 3,850 joules. Its 128-second reset delay feature safeguards your RV's AC compressor in case of a power spike. This device has an easy installation process and doesn’t need to be disconnected once installed. Because it is installed in an RV's lower compartment, it is less susceptible to theft. The surge protector automatically restores power to your RV after electricity issues are resolved.
The Surge Guard 35550 has indicator lights that quickly alert you in case of any problem. However, it takes some time to set up compared to other surge protectors. Also, some units don't last very long.
If you don't want to spend a lot of time shopping for RV surge protectors, this is a model worth checking out. It runs on 30 amps and does not take a lot of time to install. It is one of the most portable surge guards we've come across and only weighs 3.4 pounds. The device has an LED display that keeps you updated about your RV's power needs. It can protect your RV against power surges as high as 2,450 joules. Southwire has specially designed it to protect your RV's sensitive appliances, which is why it has a 128-second reset delay feature.
Southwire’s RV surge protector protects your mobile home from power surges, open neutral, open ground, reverse polarity, low and high voltages, miswired pedestals, and much more. However, it lacks a handle so you may have difficulty plugging it into a power pedestal. It is also not ideal for some RVs, like Tiffin Wayfarer.
The TRC 44750 Surge Guard provides basic surge protection and is suitable for a variety of RVs, campers, and trailers. You’ll be able to power your RV safely wherever you go. The RV surge guard is low-priced, but it has many nice features that will delight you. For starters, it has a weatherproof antenna and can withstand different weather elements. It also provides shock protection in most applications. And in case it detects ground faults, it automatically shuts off the power. It only weighs 1.65 pounds and is easy to install and uninstall.
However, this RV surge protector does not protect your mobile home from high power spikes, as its limit is 510 joules. You must also reset it manually after a ground fault, which may be an inconvenience. Some units also stop working sooner than expected.
Completing our list is the SSP30X by Progressive Industries. It is specifically designed for outdoor use and is weather-resistant and thermally protected. Its built-in polarity tester continually checks the status of the power to ensure there are no issues. The unit has three bright LED indicators that let you know if the setup is good. Detailed instructions are written on the front explaining the color the indicator lights produce to show different electric issues. The surge guard protects your RV from surge failure, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, and miswired pedestals. It has a wide operating temperature range, from -40 to 105 Celsius. Its rugged pull handle makes for easy connection and disconnection.
The SSP30X Smart Surge Protector has many great features, but it also has a few downsides. It may malfunction after a while and incorrectly send electricity to your RV. It may also start to produce a buzzing sound after a short period of use.
- 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.