Camping Made Easy: The Best RV Surge Protector
As an RV enthusiast, you enjoy the sense of freedom and love the feel of leaving behind the modern world so that you can get back to nature. That being said, there are some modern day conveniences that you may want to keep.
These include your electrical appliances that can keep you fed, help you do a little work when you're away, and keep you entertained. All of these can be powered by a campground power pedestal, but did you know that these can cause damage to your electrical devices?
This is where the best RV surge protector can provide a sense of protection during your outdoor excursion.
What are the best types of these devices? Well, this guide is here to provide you some answers so that you can find a unit and protect your electrical systems and appliances from the damage that can occur in a campground.
In addition, we also have five great products that we'll review so that you can find the best product for your RV. Let's get started with some pre-purchase considerations.
Top 5 Best RV Surge Protectors Reviews
Why Do You Need Surge Protection?
Whether you're driving an RV, fifth wheel, or any other type of camper, you most likely will use a campground power pedestal to get a little juice for your trip.
The chief problem with this is that campgrounds can experience power spikes and fluctuations from time to time as a result of thunderstorms, faulty power connections, or as a result of being overtaxed.
When this happens, the irregularities of power can destroy your electrical devices immediately or over time.
Electrical systems are expensive to repair and the quality of power that is provided at campgrounds is completely out of your control, but one way that you can protect your property is to buy a dedicated surge protector that will regulate the flow of power to your devices.
What to Look For
Also known as the size or current of the surge protector, amperage is one of the most important attributes to consider. This is the volume of electrical energy that flows through the appliances that are connected to your RV at any given time.
Always ensure that you get the right size, which means that you'll need to check the ampoules of your surge protector; this is indicated on the surge protector itself, and it will let you know which kind of power that you will use when you plug it into your RV.
There are two types of amperages for RVs; 50 amp and 30 amp, Better RVing has a great video about each.
- Generally speaking, larger RVs with two air conditioners and multiple appliances will need a 50 amp or higher surge protector.
- If you have a lower overall electrical footprint, then a 30 amp model will do.
- In any situation, always select the surge protector that is best matched to your energy needs, this will decrease the chance of electrical failure or mishap.
RVs have different power needs; check out this guide on Basic RV electricity if you have any questions.
The most important statistic that you can have in a surge protector is its protection rating.
Simply put, this is measured in joules and will let you know exactly how much energy a surge protector can dissipate safely.
For example, if you're in a lightning storm and a bolt hits a transformer, the excess electricity will hit your surge protector. If it has a high enough protection (joule) rating, it will dissipate the extra energy as heat, which will protect both you and your connected devices from the excess electricity.
With this in mind, shoot for a higher joule rating so that you can have a maximum level of protection.
As you'll see in our review section, there are typically two types of surge protectors for RVs; hardwired and portable. The difference between the two is pretty important, so let's take a look at each in-depth:
These are firmly connected to your RV's internal components; typically where the power enters into it. This is mostly in the compartment where you find the wiring that draws power from the pedestal itself.
This is a very useful type of surge protector because you never have to think about whether you're safely protected from power spikes and fluctuations as it is always on when you are connected.
Additionally, since this is wired directly into your RV, you don't have to worry about unscrupulous individuals attempting to take your protector.
Portable units are fairly convenient because they require no installation and connect directly into the outlet of the electrical pedestal provided by the campground.
These are designed to warn you if there is any type of potential danger from the connection as the result of a spike or strange fluctuations. These are also designed to be used safely in any type of weather.
The best types of these will provide protection and warn you when there are spikes due to high voltage and also when there are low voltage energy emissions due to faulty wiring.
5 Best RV Surge Protectors Reviews
Our first product is a 30-amp model that is also designed to be portable and quickly plug into your campground's power pedestal.
What makes this particular unit shine is its ability to serve as an EMS as well or what's known as an "electrical monitoring system." These systems block any electricity that might be considered sub-optimal and will only allow good electricity into your RV.
The first thing that you might notice about this product is that its larger than most portable units; this is a great indicator of its overall build quality and protections against things like over and under voltage protection.
- The device has a locking bracket so that no one can tamper or remove it.
- It has a display readout that tells you about incoming voltages, how many amps are being drawn, what cycle you're on, and error codes if applicable.
- It can be a bit sensitive; may cut power inadvertently if the pedestal has any issues.
The Progressive Industries EMS-PT30C Portable EMS RV Surge Protector is a great 30 AMP device that has more than enough protection for campground use. We like how it has a locking mechanism and readout so that you can feel secure during your trip.
If you're looking for more power and a more portable device, the Technology Research 44270 Surge Guard 50 Amp Surge Protector is a great option for your weekend getaways.
Like our first product, it identifies faulty power issues and will monitor pedestal power so that there are no surprises.
This is a great entry-level surge protector because it has lighted indicators for power on, open neutral, open ground, indicators for whether you are missing L1 or L2 120-volt connections, or whether the energy flow is L1 or L2 neutral reversed.
- It has a very simple system for knowing if there is an issue with the power flow; the company even marks it on the body of the device.
- This device can manage 4,200 joules of surge protection.
- Includes a T-grip so that you can easily remove it from the pedestal.
- Unfortunately, it can fail. If it does, the manufacturer will replace it promptly.
We found that with its simple design, this is a very newbie-friendly surge protector that can protect against all of the major causes of power fluctuations and spikes. Even if you don't have a vast knowledge of such things, this device makes it easy to know if something is amiss.
Our next portable smart surge protector is another product from Progressive Industries. It has a high degree of reverse polarity protection because it immediately lets you know about any issues with polarity.
Its internals include metal oxide varistors that absorb excess power to the rated level of joules, which will protect your delicate electronics from damage.
This product is much more compact and portable than our other Progressive Industries model, and also has a much simpler indicator system.
- At less than two pounds, this is a very portable and easy-to-carry surge protector for your RV.
- It has a very elegant LED indicator system that will alert you if there are any power irregularities.
- It will protect and dissipate 825 joules of excess electricity during a spike.
- This device isn't weatherproof and can be damaged in hotter climates.
For a simple device, the Technology Research 44270 Surge Guard 50 Amp Surge Protector is a great indicator/surge protector for your camping needs. We liked the small design and ease of use that this protector provides.
This device has an excellent level of protection against power spikes; it delivers 2,450 joules of surge protection for your 30-amp RV.
This is also a great device for those who have a little more surge protection experience as it incorporates an LCD display that provides information like incoming line voltage, amp draw, and will display if there is an electrical fault in the pedestal itself.
It will also shut off the power in the event of an open ground, open neutral, low or high voltage, or even a reverse polarity draw. When power returns, the device has an automatic reset and the device even has thermal protection so that during a surge, the plug won't be damaged.
- The LCD display really will tell you exactly what's happening insofar as power draw and any issues that might result.
- There is a 128-second delay that will protect your AC unit's compressor.
- The 2450 joules of protection is very handy for larger spikes.
- The thermal protection on this device doesn't actually protect the RV itself at the load-side.
- It's a little bulky.
This is a heavy-duty surge protector that has a lot of great indicators so that you can quickly know if there is an issue. We liked its built-in reset features and the plug disconnect handles that make it easy to remove when the trip is coming to an end.
Our final product is our only hardwired model. You also might notice that this is the same model number as our first unit; this is because this is the hardwired version of that surge protector.
With this in mind, the excellent features of that unit are all included in this one, though you'll have to install it directly into your RV.
Like the portable version, this unit has an EMS system inside that monitors electrical current and quickly reacts so that you can know about any irregularities. The display unit connects via wire to the hardwired base so that you can see all of the stats of your electrical current.
- It has a time delay function.
- Includes protection for over and under voltages.
- Has A/C frequency protection.
- You'll have to install it yourself or get a professional to install it.
Hardwired units are very convenient once they are installed because it's simply a matter of plugging your RV directly into the pedestal.
While these are a bit inconvenient to install, we find that a good model like the Progressive Industries EMSPT30C Surge Protector is a quick and easy device for monitoring power draw and protecting against irregularities.
Repairing electrical issues and replacing electrical devices in your RV can be expensive, so instead of paying the extra cost of an electrician or specialist, invest in one of these relatively cheap surge protectors.
Each of the devices that we featured will be the best RV surge protector for most camping situations and are great at keeping you and your RV safe, but if we had to pick a favorite, it would be the Technology Research 34830 30 Amp Portable Surge Guard.
This device has a high joule protection and dissipation and also has great features like an automatic reset and an easy to remove form factor.