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RV Surge Protectors – Best Review and Buying Guide for 2021

Last Updated on October 23, 2021 by Marc Edwards

Staring at his newly purchased RV slowly engulfed and eaten away by a raging fire from afar, Gary was devastated.

Being a proud owner of the pre-owned recreation vehicle, he invested a lot of his money into furnishing the camper with good quality and durable electrical equipment and appliances.

But getting a surge protector for his RV was the last thing on his mind.

Big mistake.

It was a stormy night and Gary and his family were out camping near a lightning-prone area.

As the rain was too heavy and with thunders and flashes of lightning racing across the sky, Gary and his family decided to wait out at a nearby shelter facility.

25 minutes later, they saw quick and bright lightning whipping across the sky, chased by a deafening loud thunder. 

A split moment later, they heard a very loud explosion. 

Risks of NOT getting RV surge protector

Their RV which was parked 20 meters away, went up in flame.

Gary could not believe his luck.

How could it happen to him of all people??

Gary could have avoided the mishap had he invested in a surge protection device for his RV. 

And all it takes was one damaging distant lightning bolt to burn away everything he owns.

Why take the risk?

Are RV Surge Protectors Really Worth Getting?

A surge protector device should be one of the most important things you should buy for your RV.

Without a doubt, you may have RV friends who have never experienced any power surge issues but anything could happen.

For example, even plugging in your RV power cord directly to the power pedestal at RV Parks or campgrounds is like playing Russian Roulette. 

You will never know when or where you will come across one that has a faulty power grid nearby. The faulty grid could trigger a voltage spike and potentially cause detrimental damages to the electrical components and appliances inside your camper.

Below are some reasons why it is highly recommended to get a surge protector for your RV as soon as possible if you have not gotten it already.

Why Get RV Surge Protectors?

Lightning StrikesLighting 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 operate below or above their usual operating voltage allowance.

And when this happens, heat will inevitably build up and will obviously cause catastrophic damages to your RV and all connected electrical appliance within.

RV Surge Protectors – What Are the Real World Benefits You Can Expect?

Real-World Benefits

Powerful Surge and Spikes Protection – whether you are constantly on the road or not, whenever a bad storm turns up, and distant lightning bolts strike, you will feel assured that your prized electrical systems and everyday appliances are well protected.

Mis-wired Pedestal Protection – as I mentioned earlier, it is not uncommon to see a miswired 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 could potentially fry your electrical systems.

‘Necessary Evil’ Investment – RV surge suppression devices are not cheap by any means, yet, it 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 – 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 allow you to focus on the more important things when you are out enjoying your outdoor adventures.

Disclaimer Note: This Fact May Shock You!

Most RV surge protectors are NOT going to provide much protection for your motor-home.

So what’s the core difference between a typical surge protection device and one that comes with a built-in electrical management system (EMS)?

Well, as obvious as it may be, a typically good surge protector protects against power surges, e.g. huge voltage spikes especially from lightning and some basic fault indicators. And that’s about it.

Such devices will NOT protect you from anything else like harmful effects from defective power pedestal (an open ground, open neutral or reverse polarity), miswiring, 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


2021 Buying Guide for Best RV Surge Protectors

After filtering through many brands and models, our team has come out with only a small handful of surge protection models that are truly the best in the market.

Before we go into that, let’s show you our criteria for picking out RV surge protectors that offer the 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.

The 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


5 Best Recommended Models
Model Name
Joules Ratings
LCD Display?
Amp/Voltage
Warranty
Our Reviews
Portable EMS-PT30X Black RV Surge Protector

Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector

1790J

No

30A | 120 Volts

Lifetime Warranty

Read Review
Southwire Surge Guard 34950 RV Surge Protector

Southwire Surge Guard 34950 RV Surge Protector

4200J

Yes

50A | 120/240 Volts

Limited Lifetime Warranty

Read Review
Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector

Camco 55306 RV Surge Protector

4200J

No

50A | ?

12 Months Warranty

Read Review
Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS RV Surge Protector Protector

Progressive Industries ‎EMS-HW50C
RV Surge Protector

3580J

No

50A | 120/240V

Lifetime Warranty

Read Review
50 Amp Southwire Surge Guard 35550 RV Surge Protector Protector

Southwire Surge Guard 35550 RV Surge Protector

3850J

No

50A | 120/240V

Limited Lifetime Warranty

Read Review

1Progressive Industries PT30X RV Surge Protector Review

===

Portable RV Surge Protector Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector , Black

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.

EMS-PT30X

Specification Table

Dimensions ‎18 x 6.25 x 5 inches
Net Weight 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg)
LCD Display No
Operating Temperatures -40c to +105C
Amp/Voltage 30A/120 Volts
Joule Ratings 1790J
Response Time Less than 1 nanosecond
Warranty Lifetime Warranty
PROS:
  • 1790 Joule Ratings
  • Less than 1 nanosecond response time
  • Over/Under Voltage Protection
  • Open Ground, Open Neutral & Reverse Polarity Detection and Protection
  • Accidental 240V Protection
  • Mis-wired Pedestal Indication
  • Surge Failure Indicator
  • A/C Frequency Protection
  • Time Delay
  • Built-in Scrolling Digital Display
  • Display of Previous Error Code
  • Lifetime Warranty
CONS:
  • L
9Expert Score
What We Think?

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.

Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X Black Portable RV Surge Protector

Portable RV Surge Protector Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector , Black

  • Surge Protection: 3-Mode / 1,790J / 44,000A. Ratings: 30A / 120V / 3,600W. Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weather-Resistant/designed for Outdoor Use
  • Security Locking Bracket
  • Rugged Pull Handle, Tough Lexan Housing, All Weather Shield Assembly
  • Lifetime Warranty (excludes All Weather Shield Assembly)

Check Price

Back to Comparison Table

2Southwire Surge Guard 34950 RV Surge Protector Review

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Southwire Surge Guard - Full Protection Portable with LCD Display, 50A Black

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 sides. 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 has a locking ring to deter away envy eyes and hands (theft).

Surge Guard

34950

Specification Table

Dimensions ‎23.38 x 5.63 x 5.63 inches
Net Weight 5 pounds (2.26 kg)
LCD Display Yes
Trip Time 7 Seconds
Clamping Voltage <300 VAC
Joule Ratings 4200J
Operating Voltage 120/240 Volts
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty
PROS:
  • 4200 Joules Ratings
  • Over/Under Voltage (Input)
  • Open Neutral Protection (Input & RV Side)
  • Protection Against Open Ground
  • Over Heating Plug/Receptacle Protection
  • Reverse Polarity Protection (Input)
  • Surge Failure Indicator
  • Miswired Pedestal Indication
  • Time Delay at Power Up (10 Sec)
  • Built-in LCD Display
  • Source Power Connection Diagnostics
  • Weather Resistant
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
CONS:
  • L
9Expert Score
What We Think?

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.

Southwire Surge Guard – Portable RV Surge Protector with LCD Display | 50A Black | Full Protection

Southwire Surge Guard - Full Protection Portable with LCD Display, 50A Black

  • Continuously monitors and displays:
  • Patent-pending RV side open neutral protection (50A only)
  • Multi-mode surge suppression
  • Automatic reset on power restoration
  • Includes anti-theft lock ring on cord
  • Commercial-grade brass receptacle
  • Convenient Easy-T-Pull™ plug handles
  • Surge protection status LED indicator

Check Price

Back to Comparison Table

3Camco 55306 Power Defender Voltage Surge Protector Review

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Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)

Besides being reasonably priced, Camco 55306 (50 amps) and Camco 55301 (30 amps) have comfortable grip handle that make plugging and unplugging quick and easy.

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.

Camco 55306

Specification Table

Dimensions ‎27.5 x 5.4 x 5.9 inches
Net Weight 6.82 pounds (3.09 kg)
LCD Display No
Trip Time 8 – 10 seconds
Clamping Voltage <300 VAC
Joule Ratings 4200 J
Max. Spike Current 6,500 Amps per MOV
Warranty 12 months
PROS:
  • 4200 Joules Ratings
  • Protects against High (>132 VAC) and Low Voltage (<102 VAC) levels
  • Automatic disconnection from dangerous voltage
  • Automatic re-connection upon power stabilization
  • Diagnostic lights for visual indication of faults like reverse polarity, open neutral and power pedestal wiring issues.
  • Integrated surge protection
  • Weather Resistant
  • 12-month worry-free Warranty
CONS:
  • L
7Expert Score
What We Think?

If you are looking for 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 its bright yellow housing as it may be an eye-catching victim for theft. It does come with a one-year limited warranty.

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)

  • RV Electrical Protection: Protects your RV from dangerous high (>132 VAC) and low (<102 VAC) voltage levels as well as power surges
  • Auto Connect/Disconnect Feature: Automatically disconnects from dangerous conditions and reconnects after normal operating conditions have been restored
  • Diagnostic LEDs: Provide indication of faults when you connect your electrical cord to the power pedestal.Time Delay for Reset: 140 seconds
  • Protects Against Wiring Issues: Protects against faults for reverse polarity, open neutral, and other wiring issues
  • Integrated Surge Protection: Up to 4, 200 Joules
  • 50-Amp: 50-Amp male (NEMA 14-50P)/50-Amp female (NEMA 14-50R)
  • PowerGrip Handles: Contoured grips make plugging and unplugging easier
  • Weather-Resistant: Withstands adverse weather conditions when installed in the upright position

Check Price

Back to Comparison Table

4Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C RV Surge Protector Review

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Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS Surge & Electrical Protection- 50 Amps

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.

EMS-HW50C

Specification Table

Dimensions ‎4 x 9 x 5 inches
Net Weight 2.49 pounds (1.12 kg)
LCD Display No
Operating Temperatures -40C to +105C
Amp/Voltage 50A, 120/240V
Joule Ratings 3580 Joules
Response Time < 1 nanosecond
Warranty Lifetime Warranty
PROS:
  • 3580 Joules Ratings
  • Over/Under Voltage Protection
  • Open Ground, Open Neutral & Reverse Polarity Detection and Protection
  • Accidental 240V Protection
  • Mis-wired Pedestal Indication
  • Surge Failure Indicator
  • A/C Frequency Protection
  • Adjustable Time Delay
  • Remote Display of
  • Display of Previous Error Code
  • UL Certified
  • Meets CSA Standards
  • Lifetime Warranty
CONS:
  • L
9.5Expert Score
What We Think?

It's hard not to like this 3580J EMS-HW50C with its remote scrolling digital display of various power source information without stepping out of your RV. We especially like the 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 meets the Canada safety standards.

Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS Surge & Electrical Protection

Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS Surge & Electrical Protection- 50 Amps

  • Surge Protection: 5-Mode / 3,580J / 88,000A. Ratings: 50A / 120V/240V / 12,000W. Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C. Includes 14′ Data Cable
  • Open Ground, Open Neutral and Reverse Polarity detection and protection, Over/Under voltage Protection, Accidental 240V Protection and A/C Frequency Protection
  • Miswired pedestal indication and surge failure indicator
  • Remote Scrolling Digital Display scrolls continuously through the power source information
  • UL Certified and Canadian Approved. Lifetime Warranty

Check Price

Back to Comparison Table

5Southwire Surge Guard 35550 RV Surge Protector Review

===

Surge Guard 35550 Hardwire Model - 50 Amp

If you are not a big fan of RV surge protectors for RV from Progressive Industries, fret not.

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.

Do also note that Surge Guard 35550 is an upgraded version of its previous model 34560. And it also comes with a 30 amps 35530 model too.

Surge Guard 35550

Specification Table

Dimensions ‎12 x 6 x 4 inches
Net Weight 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg)
LCD Display No.
Trip Time 8 – 10 seconds
Clamping Voltage
Joule Ratings 3850 J
Operating Voltage 120/240 Volts
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty
PROS:
  • 3850 Joules Ratings
  • Over/Under Voltage (Input)
  • Open Neutral Protection (Input)
  • Protection against Open Ground
  • Reverse Polarity Protection (Input)
  • Surge Failure Indicator
  • Miswired Pedestal Indication
  • Time Delay at Power Up (128 Sec)
  • Remote LCD Display (additional $100)
  • UL Listed
  • Source Power Connection Diagnostics
  • Weather Resistant
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
CONS:
  • L
8Expert Score
What We Think?

Although this 35550 model is almost as good as those from Progressive Industries, we do not quite like the 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 an 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.

Surge Guard 35550 50 Amp Hardwire Model

Surge Guard 35550 Hardwire Model - 50 Amp

  • Automatic reset on power restoration
  • Multi-mode surge suppression
  • 128 second reset delay protects A/C compressor
  • 3850 Joules of power surge protection
  • Easy installation

Check Price

Back to Comparison Table

Should I get a 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 wire 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 boil 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 the 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 calculated 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.


Marc Edwards is the co-founder of GagtheSurge and is actively involved in writing review and information articles for the site. He loves traveling and has been to most of the countries across the four major continents. Besides working and traveling, he also enjoys jungle explorations and deep sea diving.

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