Last Updated on January 11, 2021 by Marc Edwards
Are you like most RV owners whose last item on their shopping list would be to get a RV surge protectors?
Being a proud owner of a RV, you have invested a lot of money in furnishing your RV camper with good quality and durable electrical appliances and electronic equipment.
Yet it could take just one powerful electrical power voltage to severely damage all the precious electronic investments inside your RV.
Why leave it to chances?
Do I Really Need a RV Surge Protector in 2020?
Surge protector device should be one of the most important things you should buy for your RV.
I am sure you have RV friends who never seem to experience power surge issues but anything could happen.
Plugging in your RV power cord directly to the power pedestal at RV Parks or campgrounds is like playing Russian Roulette. Placing one round of bullet inside a revolver. Spins the cylinder, place the muzzle at one side of your head. Pray hard and pull the trigger.
Why take the risk?
Below are some reasons why a RV surge suppressor is a must-have and you should get one as soon as possible if you have not already.
Lighting during bad weather – all it takes is a bolt of lightning and a huge power spike to have all of your prized electrical equipment, in-vehicle appliances or even entertainment system fried.
Mis-wired shore power pedestal – it is inevitable that non-certified electricians are usually hired to wire up the power pedestals at the RV parks or campgrounds.
If one of those electricians doesn’t know what he is doing, all it takes is one mistake on his part to cause instant damages to all the electrical appliances or wiring inside your motor-home.
Defective power pedestal at campgrounds – it is definitely not uncommon to chance upon power pedestals that have issues like no neutral, reverse polarity and no ground.
Such issues will again cause unexpected damages to the electrical equipment and built-in appliances inside your entire rig.
Poorly maintained power outlets – some of these power outlets which lack maintenance may cause under-voltage, over-voltage problems that cause your appliances to operating below or above their usual operating voltage allowance.
And when this happens, heat will inevitably built up and will obviously cause catastrophic damages to your RV and all connected electrical appliance within.
Best RV Surge Protectors – What Are the Benefits?
Power spikes protection – whether you are constantly on the road or not, a bad storm will ultimately turns up and when the lightning strikes, you know that all your prized electrical appliances and system are well protected.
Mis-wired pedestal protection– like I mentioned earlier, it is not uncommon to see mis-wired power pedestal setup by improperly trained electricians. Why take the chance when you do not have to?
Protection against defective power pedestal – poorly maintained RV parks and campgrounds can be found everywhere hence what are the chances that you will never get a problematic power source that will fried your electrical systems.
Inexpensive investment – getting a RV surge suppressor is an obvious choice when you think about how much money it could potentially save you during an unexpected power spike or plugging your RV into a defective power pedestal.
Peace of Mind – there will be no more playing of Russian Roulette whenever you plug into a power pedestal at any campgrounds or RV parks.
Owning one of these RV surge protection units will put your mind at ease and allows you to focus on the more important things in life.
Most RV surge protectors are NOT going to provide much of a protection to your motor-home.
So what’s the core difference between a typical surge protection device and one that comes with built-in electrical management system (EMS)?
Well, as obvious as it may be, a typically good surge protector protects a power surge, e.g. huge voltage spike especially from lightning and some basic fault indicators. And that’s about it.
Such devices will NOT protects you from anything else like harmful effects from defective power pedestal (an open ground, open neutral or reverse polarity), mis-wiring, high and low voltages and so on.
On the other hand, RV surge protectors (Portable & Hardwired) that come built-in with EMS will provide your RV with features (depending on the brand and model you get) like:
- Over/Under Voltage Protection
- Reverse Polarity|Open Ground|Open Neutral Detection
- Reverse Polarity|Open Ground|Open Neutral Protection
- Accidental 240V Protection
- Miswired Pedestal Indication
- Surge Failure Indication
- A/C Frequency Protection
- and more
2020 Buying Guide for Best RV Surge Protectors
After filtering through many brands and models, our team has come out with only a small handful that are truly the cream of the crop.
Before we go into that, let’s show you our criteria for picking out RV surge protectors that offer that best protection for your RV.
Our Selection Checklist
Below is a checklist we use when picking out the most suitable RV surge protector for our clients.
- Built-in EMS functions [A Must-Have]
- Over/Under Voltage Protection [A Must-Have]
- Open Ground, Open Neutral & Reverse Polarity Detection, and Protection [A Must-Have]
- Accidental 240V Protection [A Must-Have]
- Miswired Pedestal Indication [A Must-Have]
- Surge Failure Indicator
- A/C Frequency Protection
- Time Delay [optional]
- Built-in Display [optional]
- Weather Resistant [optional]
- Locking Bracket [optional]
- UL Certified [optional]
- Surge Suppression Joules [Above 1790J]
Most importantly, RV surge protectors should not come with an exorbitant price.
Price range for RV surge protectors should ideally be between $350 to $500 which is considered a great investment. Think about how much it would otherwise cost you if you need to replace all the damaged electronic appliances and equipment inside your RV.
Below is a list of 5 RV surge protectors which consists of both Hardwired and Portable types.
All of them come with various EMS (Electrical Management System) features which are additional layers of protection that guard your motor-home against all sorts of nasty and harmful electrical conditions like what we mentioned above.
We Highly Recommend these 5 Best RV Surge Protectors
1. [Portable] Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector [30 Amps]
If you are looking for a surge protector that possesses most, if not all, of the electrical protection capabilities of all other surge suppressors in the market, you definitely have to mark down EMS-PT30X from Progressive Industries on your shopping list.
This feature-packed surge suppressor unit comes with lifetime warranty and packs a surge suppression joules of 1790J.
If your RV utilizes 50 AMP electrical service, then you will have to get EMS-PT50X which packs a whopping 3580J worth of surge suppression joules.
Video from Progressive Industries on how to replace the head of a EMS-PT30X surge protector
Besides having the above-listed EMS features, we are also impressed that both EMS-PT30X and EMS-PT50X are weather resistant (Tough Lexan Housing and all weather shield assembly). And with their strong and secure locking bracket (anti-theft) and rugged pull handle, these are without a doubt one of the best RV surge protectors designed for excessive outdoor usage.
2. [Portable] Surge Guard 34950 120/240V Full Protection Surge Protector [50Amps]
When it comes to manufacturing top quality RV surge protectors, Surge Guard (from Southwire) is the only brand that is somewhat on par with those from Progressive Industries.
What is unique about Surge Guard 34950 is that it has the surge protection capability for both line and load side. It will also shield any wiring faults or electrical appliances failure coming from within your RV which is a huge plus in our book.
And if your RV comes with 30 amps, then you should get their 30 amps model.
Another impressive feature is that it will only take 10 seconds for this Surge Guard protection unit to analyze if there are any nasty electrical conditions from power pedestals out at campgrounds or RV parks.
It also have a locking ring to deter away envy eyes and hands (theft).
This surge protection unit from Surge Guard is definitely worth your investment if you are looking for quick power up time delay of only 10 seconds. We also love the fact that any internal wiring or electrical faults inside the RV can be detected and prevented. Do bear mind though, that only the 34950 model comes with Open Neutral protection from the RV side. Although the price point is a little bit on the high side, we still need it is one of those surge protectors that is worthy of long-term investment if you are out on the road most of the time.
3. [Portable] Camco 55306 Power Defender Voltage and Surge Protector [50Amps]
The 50 amps model comes packed with 3850 Joules of surge protection and has diagnostic lights for visual indication of faults like reverse polarity, open neutral, pedestal wiring issue, just to name a few.
If you are looking for a slightly above basic RV surge protectors (without EMS features) for your RV at an affordable price, then Camco 55306 should be your best bet. There are also some concerns regarding it's bright yellow housing as it may be a eye-catching victim for theft. It does come with a one year limited warranty.
4. [Hardwired] Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C EMS RV Surge Protectors [50Amps]
If you are like me, who is never looking forward to carrying portable electrical components with me wherever I go, this hardwired RV surge protector could be for you.
Installation of EMS-HW50C is a one time effort – you can even do-it-yourself if you are technically trained. It has all of the EMS features of it’s portable counterparts and best of all, it is slightly cheaper too.
What sets it apart from it’s portable counterparts is that this surge suppressor device is UL certified and it meets CSA standards (Canadian Standards Association).
What excites me is it’s remote display feature which means there is no need to get outside your RV just to read digital display during harsh weather conditions. This hardwired device also comes with a 30 amps model and both models come with lifetime warranty as well.
It's hard not to like this 3580J EMS-HW50C with it's remote scrolling digital display of various power source information without stepping out of your RV. We especially like that fact that RV owners like you do not have to constantly that your expensive surge protector will get stolen in the middle of the night. If you are frequently traveling in and out of Canada, it makes perfect sense to have a surge protection device that meet the Canada safety standards.
5. [Hardwired] Surge Guard 35550 Hardwire Model [50Amps]
Southwire also has a equally powerful EMS feature-packed surge protector for your motor-home.
This 3850J 50 amps surge suppression unit provides round the clock protection against all sort of harmful power sources before they have a chance to cause damages to any electrical appliances and equipment inside your RV.
Just like the models from Progressive Industries, having a hardwired unit within your RV coach will prevent potential damages from the harsh weather conditions.
It will also provide you with a peace of mind as it has not chance of being stolen during the night.
Although this 35550 model is almost as good as those from Progressive Industries, we do not quite like that fact that we have to fork out additional cash just to get the remote LCD display feature which may not make sense for most RV owners. Since it is a hardwired surge protection unit, the remote LCD display should be given by default. Another thing that concerns us is that there is absence of protection against plug and receptacle overheating. Beyond that, we still think it is a worthy buy for RV owners who are out on the road most of the time
Should I get Portable or Hardwired Surge Protection Device?
As you may already know, portable RV surge protectors are simply plug and play. And there is zero hassles although you will have to plug it into the park pedestal whenever you are.
There are absolutely no requirements for electrical skill and knowledge at all.
Whereas for hardwired type, you may have to either possess electrical skills or pay extra cash for someone to wired it into your RV for you.
And obviously you would not run the risk of the surge protection device getting stolen.
Hence whichever you choose, it should all boils down to whether you are technically trained or you would rather get the portable ones and have it plugged in wherever you are.
Bottom Line – Which One Should I Really Get?
Progressive Industries and Surge Guard (Southwire) are two of the most popular brands in U.S. and their customer service is really top-notch. Not to mention the lifetime warranty they provide for most of their products.
I personally would go for one from Progressive Industries if I really have to choose one.
Have you ever calculate the amount of cash you have to fork out should your entire RV get burnt up?
This should include all the expensive furnishings and electrical appliances inside your RV.Progressive Industries
The 5 best RV surge protectors recommended above could potentially save you lots of money when unnecessary damage to your RV is prevented.
What about those unknown 3rd party RV surge protectors you get from shopping malls? Well, they may be cheap but it may cause untold damages to your RV once your luck runs out.