Do You Need an RV Surge Protector? The Ultimate Review and Buying Guide

We use affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of these links, we may receive compensation or commission.

Introduction to RV Surge Protectors

RV Surge Protector
RV Surge Protector

It’s never too late to start planning for that RV trip. Before you head out on the open road, don’t forget to take the time and invest in an RV surge protector! This post will provide you with all the information you need about these handy devices that can save your vacation from being ruined by electrical malfunctions. You will get all of our top picks and reviews, as well as tips on how to choose the right surge protector for your RV.

What Is An RV Surge Protector?

RV Power
RV Power

An RV surge protector is a device that is plugged into your RV’s main outlet and serves as a go-between from the RV to the campground’s shore power outlet. It protects the cords and other electrical devices in your trailer from spikes or surges of electricity, which are often caused by bad weather conditions such as lightning strikes. They protect your RV from faulty power sources.

For information on RV batteries, check out this article!!

Do I Need One?

The answer to this question is a resounding YES. It is very important for you to have an RV surge protector. A good surge protector is one of the most important purchases you can make for your trailer. Not only is it a small expense in comparison to the enormous protection that it provides, but it also saves you from costly repair bills that could wreck your whole vacation.

What Does an RV Surge Protector Do?

Power Surge
Power Surge

An RV surge protector is designed to protect the electrical components of your trailer from electrical surges, improper wiring, and low voltage issues. The surge protector will shut down your RV’s power supply in bad electrical situations to stop any damage from occurring to your wiring, charging electrical devices, and appliances.

What is EMS (Electrical Management System)?

An EMS in an RV is an electronic module that monitors the power in your RV. If there is a problem with the voltage, it will automatically shut off all of the electricity/ power to prevent any electrical damage from occurring.

How Does It Work?

How Does It Work?
How Does It Work?

An EMS works by monitoring what’s going on with your electrical systems and shuts down anything when something goes wrong. In other words, it protects your electrical components from power surges and power spikes, low voltage issues, and improper wiring.

What Is The Difference Between An RV Surge Protector and EMS?

An RV surge protector does not have the same monitoring features as an EMS. An RV surge protector is a device that protects electrical components from power surges and low voltage issues, whereas an EMS monitors all of your electrical systems 24/365 for any potential problems.

Is My RV 30 Amp or 50 Amp?

30 amp vs 50 amp
30 amp v 50 amp

30-amp plugs have three pins, and 50-amp plugs have four.

Typically, 30-amp service is more common in smaller RVs with smaller or fewer appliances. For instance, you will typically find only single AC units in 30-amp service RVs.

On the other hand, large RVs usually have 50-amp service to power larger appliances and sometimes double or triple AC units. Some RVs with 50-amp service even have options such as dishwashers and laundry machines.

It is also important to think about where you plan to plug in your RV. Some campgrounds only provide 30-amp shore power while others will offer a power post with 30 and 50.

**There are adapters available to purchase for 30 to 50 and vice versa. RVers will sometimes call these dog bones.

What to Look For When Purchasing a Surge Protector

There are many different variables and options when looking at RV surge protectors. Here is a list of different things to consider when shopping for this very important accessory.

Display Screen:

Surge Protector Display Screen
Display Screen

Does your RV Surge protector have a display screen?

This will allow you to see how much power is being used by your RV and what the voltage, frequency, and phase are.

The display screen also tells you when there is a problem with the power in your trailer such as low voltage or improper wiring. The only downside of this option is that it takes up more space than other types of RV surge protectors.

Auto Shut-Off:

Some people might prefer a device that has an automatic shut-off feature. This is for those who want to be able to just plug it in and not worry about anything else. If you are one of these types of people, then this will work perfectly with your needs!

Lockable?:

Is Your RV Surge Protector Lockable?
Is Your RV Surge Protector Lockable?

Can you keep your surge protector safe from theft? Since these items are out in the open and they are quite expensive, it is not far-fetched that it is an item that can be stolen. you might want to consider a lockable surge protector.

Lockable RV surge protectors come with a metal ring attached to them. You can fasten a locking cable or chain between the device and the shore power post to ensure safety.

How big (height x Width) is the device?:

Some people might prefer smaller, more compact devices while others may want larger ones. It’s always best to try and figure out what size you need before purchasing. Larger devices typically come with more features but smaller protectors will be easier to store in your tiny vacation home

What voltage do you need?:

What Voltage Do You Need?
What Voltage Do You Need?

The voltage of your RV surge protector should match the required type of power for your trailer’s electrical system, so always double-check before purchasing! Most RVs have a 120-volt power system.

Warranty:

What type of warranty is offered by the manufacturer? This information is very important to know when deciding on which surge protector you want to purchase.

It is also important to know whether or not the manufacturer covers any labor for repair of the damage to the RV should something go wrong with your surge protector.

Price:

What is the price of your RV surge protector? Is it too expensive for you to afford or are there other models that provide similar features at a lower cost? This will help determine what type of device you want and how much money should be spent on this purchase. Price drivers are typically in the form of display and protective features.

Portable vs. Permanent Surge Protectors

Portable vs Permanent Surge Protector
Portable vs. Permanent Surge Protector

Do you want to purchase a portable surge protector or a permanent unit?

Portable: This type of surge protector plugs directly into the shore power receiver. They plug into the female outlet on the pedestal, then you connect your rig’s shore power cord to the surge protector. Portable units are great for RVs with smaller power systems or people who travel and need a temporary surge protector.

Permanent (Hardwired): This type of protector, on the other hand, is wired permanently inside of your rig. These devices take up less space than portables do which can be a good thing if you plan on traveling more frequently. They need to be installed by a professional if they don’t already come with your recreational vehicle.

What Can Go Wrong With Your Electrical System Or Power Supply?

The main reason that you need a surge protector is that there can be situations with shore power/ power source or your RV’s electrical system that happen. Bad things do happen. It is better to take the necessary precautions.

Power Surges:

Power surges happen. A power surge can cause damage to your RV and electrical system. That is why it’s important to have a surge protector when you are plugged into shore power or using any other type of outlet in the rig for that matter! Even with a surge protector, some amount of damage can occur.

Power surges can be caused by lightning. They can also be caused if there is faulty wiring in a neighbor’s rig or the shore power that you are connected to.

Low Voltage:

Low voltage can cause damage by not being enough to power the electrical devices in your vehicle. The difference in voltage can cause the electric motor on your water pump to burn out, which is a very expensive repair! Low voltage causes high amperage, which can burn out any connected motor or electronics that you have plugged in or that are hard-wired in your RV.

An Electrical Fault:

Other types of electrical faults happen when issues with wiring or breaker panels exist in your RV. This can happen if wires are crossed or for many other reasons. Many of these faults on your RV can trip the surge protector protecting the rest of your electrical system.

Problems with the Surge Protector Itself:

A malfunctioning surge protector can cause major issues. A short circuit can happen which could fry your RV’s electrical system.

Always inspect your surge protector before you plug it in. Check for signs of damage. Internal faults might not be seen by this inspection. This is why you should always plug in your surge protector with the pedestal breaker open. More on this later.

What To Do If Something Does Go Wrong?

What if Something Goes Wrong?
What if Something Goes Wrong?

If you have a surge protector, it is important to register it properly and maintain the correct paperwork. As stated previously, many have warranties available.

If your brand of RV surge protector comes with a warranty, it is important to know what it covers. If something is to go wrong or damage is to occur, the warranty may replace the surge protector and fix any damage that was caused to the vehicle itself.

Be sure to follow proper procedures and contact the company through the correct channels. Take pictures and save any items that you may need to send as proof of damage to the company to receive compensation that is owed.

For ultimate checklists, check out this article!!

Best RV Surge Protectors

Economical Choice:

Surge Guard 44280 Portable 30 amp Surge Protector

The Surge Guard 44280 Portable 30 amp Surge Protector is a great budget-friendly option due to its great reviews, sturdy design, and ease of use. It is lightweight, water-resistant, and third-party tested.


Best Portable:

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X

The Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X surge protector is a great portable choice due to its ease of connection. It is a highly rated unit. This item is great at detecting wiring problems with shore power. It is weather-resistant, rugged, and lightweight.


Best Permanent:

Surge Guard 35550 50 Amp Surge Protector

The Surge Guard 35550 50 Amp Surge Protector Hardwired system has an automatic reset, multi-mode surge suppression, and reset delay. This model boasts easy installation, has fantastic reviews and comes in at a decent price. This system has an optional LCD remote display available for purchase.


Best Overall:

Progressive Industries SSP-30XL RV

The Progressive Industries SSP-30XL RV surge protector is priced very well for the protection that it provides. It is rugged, has UL certification, is water-resistant, and has super high ratings. It comes with a weather shield, Led indicators, has high-temperature ratings, and a locking bracket for safety.


Tips and Tricks (What to Know)

Tips and Tricks
Tips and Tricks
  • Before you plug in your RV surge protector make sure that the breaker is open on the shore power pedestal. This will help to avoid any potential damage.
  • If you are not going to use your RV surge protector for a few days, it is important that the breaker on the unit be turned off. This will prevent any problems from happening when you turn it back on again and don’t know about an issue like low voltage or power surges while plugged in at another location.
  • Be sure not to overload your RV’s electrical system! Keep in mind what all you are hooking up and make sure it correlates with how many amps your power cord can handle. If there is too much going on, this could cause damage.
  • How to Know if your Surge Protector is broken?
  • If you have a surge protector and it’s not working, first check to make sure the breaker is on. I know this seems like a simple thing to check but during camp setup, it is easy to forget something that common.
  • If the breaker is not the problem turn the breaker off and check another campsite pedestal if available. This rules out problems with the shore power connection. If it is the shore power pedestal inform the campground management.
  • If the surge protector doesn’t work on another pedestal you likely have a damaged one and should think twice about using it.
  • How to Install a Surge Protector?
  • In order for your RV surge protector to be installed properly, it is important that the breaker on the campsite shore power pedestal be turned off for your safety.
  • Next, plug in the surge protector and shut the breaker.
  • Check any indications that the surge protector displays. Verify those indications against the manufacturer’s instructions for good readings.
  • If everything checks out you are ready to open the breaker and plug your RV into the surge protector. Shut the breaker and you are on shore power!
  • 30 amp/ 50 amp adaptors: You can purchase an adapter to be able to plug in your RV surge protector into a 30 amp outlet or 50 amp. These allow you to plug your 30 or 50 amp RV into a 30, 50, or even common household outlet normally with a 20 amp breaker.
  • Make sure that you have insurance for your RV. This is a legal imperative and important for peace of mind. Many things can go wrong. Insurance will ensure that you and your belongings are cared for in the case of any type of emergency.
  • UL Certification: What is UL certification? UL certification is a standard that was developed by Underwriters Laboratories. It ensures safety when it comes to electrical products, installing them into your RV, and the equipment you will be using with those items. Look for this certification when shopping for your electrical equipment!!

Conclusion To RV Surge Protectors

Conclusion
Conclusion

We hope this Ultimate Guide to RV surge protectors helps you make a more informed buying decision. Do you have any tips or tricks that we may not have mentioned? What are your favorite features in an RV surge protector, and which brands do you prefer for the best protection? Let us know what kind of information would be helpful to our readers by leaving your comments below!