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Best RV Surge Protector In 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

A surge protector is your best friend when you are about to plug your RV into a campground pedestal. It can help do early diagnostics to stop you from hooking up to a miswired pedestal. It can also provide you safety against a variety of electrical problems.

While some RVers feel that a surge protector is not a necessary item, we believe it is a small device that can save you thousands of dollars and protect your RV’s electronics. That is why we have put together this guide on the ten best RV surge protectors

We have provided some great choices for both 50 amp and 30 amp RVs, along with a detailed buyer’s guide and answers to many frequently asked questions about surge protectors. So, let’s dive in!

Best RV Surge Protectors 30a and 50amp.jpg
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At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best 50 Amp RV Surge Protector

bestProgressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector With Cover (1 MIN), SSP-50XL 1. Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 1,650 J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: ‎2.2 pounds
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Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector - 120/240V, 50A 2. Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 4,550 J
  • Weight: ‎1 pound
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Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Electrical Management System Surge Protector (1 MIN), EMS-PT50X , Black 3. Progressive Industries Portable 50-Amp Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 3,580J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: ‎6 pounds
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Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS Surge & Electrical Protection- 50 Amps 4. Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS
  • Surge Protection: 3,580J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: ‎2.49 pounds
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Camco 50 Amp Power Defender 5. Camco 50 Amp Power Defender
  • Surge Protection: 4,299J
  • Weight: ‎6.82 pounds
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1. Overall Best 50 Amp RV Surge Protector – Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 1,650 J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎2.2 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: ‎14 x 5 x 3.5 inches

The SSP-50XL from Progressive Industries is one of the best choices if you are looking for a portable 50amp surge protector.

This baby has it all – it can detect open neutral, open ground, and reversed polarity connections. It can also detect if your pedestal is not wired correctly and warn you before your devices become fried.

But perhaps the best features of the product are those that recognize the challenges that people face with a portable surge protector. This device is weather-resistant, and UL certified, so you have complete surety that your product will last. In addition, it’s got a cover to protect your RV’s cable and a locking bracket to lock your surge protector onto the pedestal.

All of this comes at a fairly reasonable price, which makes it the best overall choice in our list of products.

What We Liked

This surge protector is durable. It is weather-resistant and UL-certified, so it will last in any weather conditions. In addition, the Lexan housing and strong pull handle to ensure that the device works for a long time.

We also love that the product has a locking bracket to insert your cable lock. So many surge protector manufacturers miss out on this tiny detail which makes a lot of sense when you are out on the campground.

The product comes with a lifetime warranty as well. It works in a wide range of temperatures and weighs very little.

What We Didn’t Like

The Joule rating of the SSP-50XL is lower than that of other surge protectors in our review (1,650 J). Therefore, if you camp at places where the campground power is poorly managed, this product will not last as long as others.

This unit will not protect you from other common electrical problems, such as accidentally plugging into a 240V outlet or frequency surges. Neither will it protect you from over and under-voltage.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Weather-resistant cap
  • Locking bracket
  • Solid surge protection
  • Operates in a wide range of temperatures
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Joules rating is low
  • Needs some assembly (four screws to mount the cap)
  • Customer service and warranty servicing are not up to the mark

2. Best Budget-Friendly 50 Amp RV Surge Protector – Surge Guard 44290

Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector - 120/240V, 50A

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 4,550 J
  • Operating Temperatures: NA
  • Item Weight: ‎1 pound
  • Product Dimensions: ‎4 x 18 x 4 inches

If you are looking for a 50amp surge protector that does all the basics and still comes at a reasonable price, the Surge Guard 44290 should be your go-to product.

Its five-point multi-mode surge suppression offers you all the essential protection you need for your RV. It covers open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity, and plug overheating. It also tells whether the legs are missing voltage or reversed with the ground by mistake.

This device will also tell you if the shore power pedestal is faulty and protects you from instant damage. This product also has excellent user-friendly features, such as a T-shaped handle to pull the plug from the campground pedestal and a lock ring to keep your surge protector safe.

What We Liked

  • It gets all the basics right – more than some other products. Apart from open neutral, open ground, and reverse polarity indicators, it also has an overheat indicator, L1 or L2 voltage missing, and faulty pedestal wiring indicators.
  • This is easily one of the least expensive surge protectors in the 50amp variety, providing all the essential functions you need. And it’s durable, too.
  • It has a Joules rating of 4,550, one of the highest in its category. In fact, this is the highest Joules rating in our list among all 50amp surge protectors that we reviewed.
  • It is incredibly lightweight (just 1 pound)

What We Didn’t Like

  • This model is not UL listed. The UL-listed variant of this model is the Surge Guard 44390, which is more expensive than this one.
  • The product is not weather resistant. You might need to buy a cap or cover from your local electrical store to keep the unit protected if you expect rain at your campground.
  • While the product has a limited lifetime warranty, it is only eligible if you buy it from authorized resellers.

Pros

  • High Joules rating
  • Inexpensive
  • Convenient handle for removing the plug from the receptacle
  • Lightweight
  • Locking bracket

Cons

  • Not weather resistant
  • Not durable

3. Best Portable 50 Amp Electrical Management System – Progressive Industries Portable 50A Surge Protector EMS-PT50X

Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Electrical Management System Surge Protector (1 MIN), EMS-PT50X , Black

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 3,580J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎6 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: ‎18 x 6.25 x 5 inches

The EMS-PT50X is the second product from Progressive Industries on our list. In fact, six out of the ten we have reviewed are products from them, and there is a good reason why. Their products are high in quality and always very durable.

Coming to the product, the first thing to understand is that this is an EMS, not just a surge protector. It offers a full range of features to protect your RV from damage. Features include high or low voltage protection, frequency surge protection, protection against accidentally plugging into a 240V plug, and all the essential functions of a surge protector like open neutral, open ground, and reversed polarity.

Like the SSP-50XL, this product is weatherproof and comes with a casing to protect it from rainwater and other elements. It also has a locking bracket and a handle at the plug point to pull it out easily.

What We Liked

  • If you live in your RV full-time, you need something more than a surge protector to keep all your devices, such as satellite equipment, microwaves, TVs, etc., safe. This device will do that for you. It does not just indicate issues; it protects your RV against open ground, open neutral, or reversed polarity issues.
  • All Progressive Industries products have user-friendly features such as a pull handle, a locking bracket, and a protective cover. We love this about their products, which is true for this one.

What We Didn’t Like

  • This particular unit is not UL certified, so you don’t get the extra guarantee of safety.
  • Despite a higher Joule rating (3,580 joules) than the SSP-50XL, it is still lower than other surge protectors.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Provides complete protection against all electrical problems

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not UL certified

4. Best Hardwired Electrical Management System – Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS

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

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 3,580J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎2.49 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 9 x 5 inches

The HWC50 is the only hardwired 50 amp surge protector on our list. This one is equivalent to the PT50-X in its capabilities (which means it can keep your RV safe from everything). The only difference is that it is hardwired, so you don’t have to worry about thieves stealing it or the EMS getting damaged due to weather.

Of course, that also means that the product costs more than most other options on our list. But when you think about the level of protection it provides, I am sure most will agree that this product is well worth the money. 

Apart from the open neutral, open ground, and reverse polarity problems, you are also safe from accidental plugging into 240V pedestals, miswired pedestals, and frequency fluctuations.

It has a nice little scrolling LED panel that gives you all the information about the electric current going into your trailer or RV. The display can be placed anywhere in the RV, and it is not a part of the unit itself.

What We Liked

  • The sheer number of things it protects you from. When your RV is your home, you need to make it safe and secure because all your gadgets are inside the vehicle. This EMS will give you that peace of mind.
  • The remote scrolling display – lets you look at all the specs and know if there is any problem.
  • It is UL certified and comes with a lifetime warranty.

What We Didn’t Like

  • The Joule rating is lower than other similar products on the market. This unit has a 3,580 joules rating.
  • The instructions for wiring the remote displays to the main unit are unclear. 
  • You need to get it installed by an RV technician (otherwise, the warranty is voided), which will probably cost.

Pros

  • Protects against almost every form of electrical problem
  • Remote scrolling display included.
  • UL certified
  • Lightweight (only 2.49 pounds)

Cons

  • Joules rating is low.
  • Expensive
  • Installation needs a bit of effort.

5. Best Weather Resistant – Camco 50 Amp Power Defender

Camco 50 Amp Power Defender

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 4, 200 J
  • Operating Temperatures: NA
  • Item Weight: ‎6.82 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: ‎27.5 x 5.4 x 5.9 inches

One of the best features of the Camco 50amp Power Defender is that it automatically cuts off from a bad circuit and does not restore power until the wiring is corrected. 

It analyzes the circuit for electrical problems such as open ground, open neutral, open ground, reverse polarity, over or under voltage, etc. This is a weatherproof product, and when installed upright, it can withstand harsh weather conditions.

What We Liked

  • It protects against electrical problems rather than just detecting them by cutting off the supply proactively.
  • It is weatherproof and has a nice handle for inserting and removing the plug from the pedestal.
  • It has a 4,200 Joules rating, the highest for all the products in our review.

What We Didn’t Like

  • The locking bracket for installing a wire lock is relatively small and may not work for most locks.
  • It is pretty heavy (6.8 pounds)

Pros

  • Protects against most electrical problems
  • High Joules rating
  • Brightly colored
  • Easy to pull handle

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best 30 Amp RV Surge Protector

bestProgressive Industries 30 Amp Hardwired RV EMS 6. Progressive Industries 30 Amp Hardwired RV EMS
  • Surge Protection: 1,790 J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: ‎3 pounds
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Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector 7. Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 2,100 J
  • Weight: ‎1.5 pound
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Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector 8. Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 825J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: ‎2.49 pounds
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Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector 9. Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector
  • Surge Protection: 1,790J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds
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Surge Guard 35530 Hardwire Model 10. Surge Guard 35530 Hardwire Model
  • Surge Protection: 2,459J
  • Weight: ‎1 pound
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Overall Best 30 Amp RV Surge Protector - Progressive Industries 30 Amp Hardwired RV Electrical Management System Surge Protector

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 1,790J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎3 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 9 x 5 inches

The EMS-HW30C is the 30 amp version of the EMS-HW50C that we reviewed above. This is a complete solution for all electrical problems: open neutral, open ground, reverse polarity, frequency fluctuations, over and under voltage, and miswired pedestal. 

This is a hardwired unit with a remote scrolling display that shows you all the stats from the comfort of your RV. The device is UL certified and easy to install and use. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.

What We Liked

  • It can protect your RV from various electrical problems, giving you complete peace of mind.
  • The remote scrolling display gives easy access to all information from inside the RV
  • It comes with a lifetime warranty and has a UL certification.

What We Didn’t Like

  • The remote display is slightly complicated to install
  • It has a lower Joules rating than other products in the market.

Pros

  • Protects against most electrical problems
  • Hardwired, no problems with weather and theft
  • UL certified
  • Lightweight (only 3 pounds)

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Installation needs a bit of effort.

7. Best Value 30 Amp RV Surge Protector – Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector

Best Value 30 Amp RV Surge Protector - Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 2,100 J
  • Operating Temperatures: NA
  • Item Weight: ‎1.5 pound
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.25 x 4.25 inches

Like the 44290, Surge Guards 30amp product 44280 is reasonably priced and can do all the basic things, such as detecting open neutral, open ground, and reversed polarity in your shore power pedestal.

It also lets you know if either leg 1 or leg 2 in your 50amp plug is missing voltage or is reversed with the ground by mistake. It lets you detect a faulty pedestal too. It has a nice T-shaped handle to help you pull out the plug and a locking bracket to help you lock it in place against the campground pedestal.

What We Liked

  • It’s a reasonably priced product. It can protect you from most electrical problems at a bare minimum price.
  • It has a superb Joules rating of 2,100 J, one of the highest among its peers. The higher the Joules rating, the longer will the surge protector be able to last against electrical surges.
  • It has a few user-friendly features, such as a T handle to pull out the plug and a locking bracket. This makes it easy to install and use.

What We Didn’t Like

  • It is not UL certified. The UL-certified version of this product is more expensive.
  • It is not weather-resistant, so you might have to buy a separate cover for it.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • High Joules rating
  • Lightweight
  • Locking bracket and pull handle

Cons

  • Not weather resistant
  • Not UL certified

8. Best Portable 30 Amp Surge Protector – Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector

Best Portable 30 Amp Surge Protector - Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 825J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎2.49 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 5 x 3.5 inches

The SSP-30XL is an excellent choice for portable 30amp surge protectors. It can detect open neutral, open ground and reversed polarity, miswired pedestals, etc.

It has a UL certification and is weather-resistant as well. It’s got a cover to protect it from weather and a locking bracket which you can use to lock it to the pedestal. It’s also priced reasonably.

What We Liked

  • It has a lifetime warranty and is UL certified, unlike many other products available in this category.
  • It is weather-resistant and is made with sturdy materials. The protective cover on top is something you don’t find on most other products.
  • Protects against almost all major electrical faults and problems from shore power.

What We Didn’t Like

  • It has a lower Joules rating than its competitors (825J). It will last less if you frequently get power surges in your area.
  • It does not protect against frequency increase or decrease and over or under voltage.

Pros

  • Weather-resistant
  • Durable
  • Provides good protection
  • Locking bracket
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Low Joules rating
  • Needs assembly

9. Best 30 Amp with Display – Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector

Best 30 Amp with Display - Portable EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 1,790J
  • Operating Temperatures: -40C to +105C
  • Item Weight: ‎4.2 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: ‎18 x 6.25 x 5 inches

This is an EMS, not just a surge protector. It can protect your camper from Open Neutral, Open Ground, Reverse Polarity problems, accidental plugging in 240V pedestals, miswired pedestals, and frequency fluctuations.

This product comes with a waterproof casing and a locking bracket to lock the EMS onto the campground pedestal. In addition, it has a LED panel at the top that gives you all the information about the quality of the power supply from the shore pedestal. 

It also has features like a protective cover on top for protection from the weather and a locking bracket to tie a lock around it.

What We Liked

  • This is much more than just a surge protector. It keeps all your devices, such as satellite equipment, microwaves, TVs, etc., safe. It does not just indicate issues; it protects against them.
  • It has user-friendly features such as a locking bracket, a pull handle, and a protective cover, making it easy to operate.
  • It is not priced excessively high considering that it is an EMS. You get a good combination of features for the price at which it is offered.

What We Didn’t Like

  • The unit is not UL certified. It is weather-resistant but not weatherproof – so you cannot depend 100% on its weather protection.
  • It has a lower Joules rating than some of its peers, so it may not last as long.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Provides complete protection against all electrical problems

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not UL certified
  • Low Joules rating

10. Best Hardwired 30 Amp EMS – Surge Guard 35530 Hardwire Model

Best Hardwired 30 Amp EMS - Surge Guard 35530 Hardwire Model

Technical Specification

  • Surge Protection: 2,450 J
  • Operating Temperatures: NA
  • Item Weight: 1 pound
  • Product Dimensions: ‎12 x 8 x 10 inches

The Surge Guard 35530 is our choice for the best 30amp hardwired surge protector. This product can protect your camper against Power surges, under and over voltage, miswired pedestal, open neutral, open ground, and reverse polarity.

This hardwired surge protector has an optional (paid) remote monitor that you can install anywhere in your camper. It does not have a scrolling display, but there is an easy-to-use joystick to scroll through the entries and see all the information yourself.

The best part about this surge protector is that it shuts off on power surges and resets automatically when power is restored. In addition, it does not let high voltage current pass onto your devices.

What We Liked

  • It offers protection against a wide variety of problems related to the electric current coming into your RV. More importantly, it shuts off automatically and resets when power is brought back on if there is a surge or other problems in the current.
  • It is UL certified, and since it is hardwired, it does not get damaged by weather.
  • It has a very high Joules rating, in fact, the highest for products that we have reviewed in the 30 amps segment.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Like all hardwired units, this requires a fair bit of understanding of circuitry before installation; otherwise, a technician might charge you extra money.
  • The remote monitor is optional and paid for separately. We feel that the remote monitor should have been part of the product for a hardwired surge protector instead of being sold separately.

Pros

  • High Joules rating
  • Protects against a wide variety of electrical problems
  • Easy to install
  • UL/CUL listed

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Does not include a remote monitor

What Is A Surge Protector, And How Does It Work?

In the US, an electrical grid connection supplies a standard 120V. In some countries, this standard voltage is 220V.

Electrical appliances are designed to work assuming that they will get a steady voltage from the electrical outlet. But what happens if there is a sudden increase in this voltage?

A sudden increase or “surge” can cause havoc with your appliances, possibly burning wiring and damaging components in an electrical circuit. This is where surge protectors come in. They guard your appliances by diverting excess voltage and ensuring that your devices are safe. 

How It Works

Surge protectors work using something called a metal oxide varistor (MOV). A MOV is like a semiconductor coil with variable resistance depending on the voltage passing through it. When voltage is low, the resistance in the coil is higher and vice versa. When voltage is normal, the MOV doesn’t do anything.

The MOV coil connects the hot line from the power source to the ground line. When extra current is generated during a surge, it passes through the MOV and into the ground. In this way, the voltage in the hot line is stabilized.

Why You Need A Surge Protector On Your RV

surge protectors and how they work

There are several reasons why you should have a surge protector on your RV:

  • A surge protector can protect your devices from lightning strikes.
  • Voltage surges are pretty common if there’s a sudden change in demand on the supply. This is common when sharing a pedestal with a few other RVs, and everyone simultaneously turns their air-conditioning units on or off.
  • Surge protectors can even protect your appliances against low voltages.
  • Hey, mistakes happen. And if you’re on a campground with 240v 50 Amp outlets AND 1100v 30 Amp outlets, it’s not hard to plug into the wrong one. Some surge protectors will keep your devices safe if this happens.

What Should You Look For When Buying An RV Surge Protector? 

EMS Versus Surge Protector

A surge protector is an essential device that can protect your electrical appliances from sudden high voltages in the power supply. You might have seen and used surge protectors at your home (also known as power strips).

An Electrical Management System (EMS) is a more advanced device. An EMS can protect you from a variety of electrical problems, such as:

  • Both low and high voltages
  • Open neutrals
  • Open grounding
  • Reverse polarity
  • Small power spikes
  • Frequency Fluctuations
  • Miswired Pedestals

Most EMSs also have a remote display to monitor the actual voltage, amperage, and other details flowing through your RV. 

An EMS is more of a pre-diagnostic tool and a complete solution to protect your electrical devices, whereas a surge protector has a limited function., merely providing insurance against power surges. 

Invariably, surge protectors are cheaper than EMSs, so they are a budget-friendly option. 

However, we recommend investing a few extra bucks and getting an EMS instead of a simple surge protector. It can save you thousands of bucks and protect your essential appliances like microwaves, satellite equipment, TVs, refrigerators, etc.

30 Amp or 50 Amp?

Have a look at your RV’s electrical connector. Does it have three prongs or four? If it is a three-prong connector, your RV needs a 30amp connection, whereas if it has four prongs, you have a 50amp RV.

For a 30amp RV, you should always choose a 30amp surge protector, and for a 50amp RV, you should get a 50amp protector.

Sometimes, your RV might have a pre-installed aftermarket adapter that allows a 30amp RV to plug into a 50amp connection. So be careful of these, and if so, make sure that you still get a surge protector that matches your RV’s amps.

Display or No Display

A surge protector with an LED display might cost you a bit more, but it gives you valuable information about the input going into your RV. For example, it can tell you the voltage and frequency of the input at a particular campground and let you know if a certain pedestal is malfunctioning regularly.

If you choose to go for a surge protector with an LED display, make sure that you get one that is easy to read and that you can see it clearly even under bright daylight.

Portable Vs. Hardwired

surge protectors protect an RV campers electrical system from voltage surges

Surge protectors and EMS systems come in two varieties: portable and hardwired. 

Portable surge protectors are the easiest to use. Simply plug them into the shore power, and you are good to go. You can use them interchangeably between multiple RVs, and there’s no need for you to understand the wiring and other electrical nitty-gritty needed for installing them.

On the other hand, hardwired systems are more durable since they are installed inside the RV. In addition, they are protected from the weather and are generally more reliable than portable surge protectors.

You don’t have to worry about forgetting to plug in your surge protector every time you reach a new campground. Another benefit is that you don’t have to spend money trying to protect your surge protector from theft (which portable surge protectors are prone to).

Joules Rating

Surge protectors work on a technology known as MOV. The MOV is a variable resistance semiconductor that transfers excess current to the ground whenever a power surge happens.

Unfortunately, each time a surge happens, the MOV degrades slightly. So over time, your surge protector will wear out and need to be replaced.

The joules rating is a scale that tells you how many such surges your EMS or surge protector can take. The higher the joules rating, the longer the life of the protector. 

A bigger joules rating also means the surge protector can take bigger surges and pedestal spikes. It will keep your surge protector from overheating when this happens. You should look for a surge protector that has at least a rating of 800 joules. 

You can get cheaper, lower-rated surge protectors, but they offer less protection and probably have a shorter lifespan. 

UL Certification

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is a third-party product standard certification authority. It certifies electrical products for safety standards. 

So, UL certification on your EMS system or surge protector ensures it can keep you safe from the power surges it claims, and it’s guaranteed to meet quality build standards. 

Without UL certification, you can’t be sure of the component’s quality. 

Amp Ratings

Your RV’s AC electrical system will be either 30A or 50A. While surge protectors work on voltage, the sockets for the different RVs differ: 50A has 4 pins, and 30A has 3 pins. Hence, it’s important to get the appropriate protector. 

A 50A RV circuit has, in essence, two 30A circuits (it’s another story why it’s referred to as a 50A RV).

So the upshot is if you have a 50A RV, you need a 50A surge protector and a 30A version for your 30A RV.

Size & Weight

The size matters for a portable surge protector because you don’t want to lug around a heavy device every time you plug into shore power.

But for a hardwired surge protector, the weight and size matter more because it is permanently added to your RV. A few pounds of weight won’t make much difference either way but choosing a size that fits where you want to install it is critical. 

Aim for a device that’s light but safe and powerful.

Installation Requirements

Installing a hardwired surge protector or EMS requires understanding electrical systems and being handy with things like stripping wires and making connections.

You are dealing with AC power, and that has the potential to kill. So, if you do not know what you are doing, always use a qualified electrician.

surge protectors protect an RV campers electrical appliances

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using An RV Surge Protector

Advantages

  1. It keeps your RV appliances safe from lightning strikes, bad electrical connections, possible fire hazards, etc.
  2. It protects your RV from campground power outlet problems. Campground pedestals can send unregulated power surges in RVs – more common in Central America. You can’t figure out a bad one just by looking at it. 
  3. Surge protectors regulate voltage outside a specific band (for example, in the US, they won’t let the voltage go beyond 140V). This keeps all your appliances safe and sound and saves you a lot of money.

Disadvantages

  1. Most surge protectors will not last very long. Every time they absorb a power surge, it brings them closer to failing.

FAQs About RV Surge Protectors

I have an RCD (Distribution Box) Installed. Do I Still Need A Surge Protector?

You might think that your Distribution Box will absorb any voltage surges and the worst that can happen is that you might have to flip some circuit breakers once in a while.

Most circuit breakers operate when they detect overcurrent or earth faults, not when there is a voltage surge. Therefore, it is still a good idea to install a surge protector. 

A single voltage surge can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your RV electricals, so it’s not worth the risk to wing it without a good surge protector.

Can I use my surge protector outside in bad weather?

Yes. In fact, one of the most important uses of surge protectors is to protect your appliances during a lightning strike. 

Is it possible to use a 50 amp protector on a 30 amp RV?

The simple answer is yes, but it comes with a health warning. You need to know how to connect it properly. In theory, it could work, but the best solution is to use the correct size surge protector for your RV. 

How often should you replace your RV surge protector?

We talked about how surge protectors work using a MOV to pass extra current to the ground. Unfortunately, every time a significant surge happens or some small surges happen, the MOV is degraded. Over time, the MOV loses its properties, and the surge protector can no longer function correctly.

This capacity of the MOV to take a hit from surge voltage is measured in “joules .” For example, if a surge protector has a 1,000-joule rating, it can only take up to 1,000 joules of surge voltage. Keep in mind that these 1,000 joules can either be a single 1,000-joule hit or 20 x 50-joule hits – so it is not easy to know exactly when the surge protector stops working.

Some protectors have indicators that tell you that it’s time to replace them. You should change it immediately you see it indicating that the protector is no longer working.

How To Install A Surge Protector On An RV?

There are two types of surge protectors, portable ones and permanent in-line ones. You can hook up a portable surge protector to the campground pedestal directly and then plug in the RV’s electrical line to the surge protector. It will act as a buffer between your RV and the campground’s pedestal.

To install a permanent surge protector, you need to be comfortable with electrical wiring, stripping off wires, making connections, etc. If you are not comfortable doing that: it’s best not to do it yourself! If you are, then read on.

Typically there is a wire bundle in your RV just behind your shore power connection. There would be three wires in the case of 30amp RVs (hot, ground, neutral); for 50amp RVs, there would be four wires (hot 1, hot 2, ground, neutral).

This wire bundle (eventually) carries power to your onboard circuit breaker or switchboard, from where you can power up all your appliances. So to install a permanent surge protector, you need to put it somewhere on the circuit before it reaches the breaker box.

If you have a lot of slack in the wire bundle, just cut it, strip the ends of the wires and install the surge protector in between the two cut ends. You might need to get extra wire from your nearby electrical store or Home Depot if you don’t. In most cases, a 6AWG would fit the bill.

How To Lock Your RV Surge Protector

The easiest way to secure your portable surge protector is to get a cable lock. If your surge protector has a cable ring or another way to insert the cable lock directly, just insert it into the ring, wrap it around the pedestal, and lock it. 

Otherwise, you can wrap the lock tightly around the pedestal and the RV surge protector and lock it up. Do note that this solution is not a very reliable one.

If you want to ensure that no one steals your surge protector, it is best to opt for permanent in-line ones that you can install inside your RV.

How To Use A Surge Protector?

There are two main types of surge protectors: portable ones and temporary ones. For portable ones, you can simply plug them into the shore power supply and then connect them with the RV’s power cable. Permanent ones are installed inside the RV, and you don’t have to do anything once you have installed them.

Care & Maintenance Tips

surge protectors protect an RV campers electrical system

Surge protectors, just like any other electrical equipment, need care during use. As we have already discussed, surge protectors have a limited life. So it’s best to avoid damage as much as possible to keep them going longer. Here are a few tips to follow:

Avoid Daisy Chaining Surge Protectors

Don’t try to use two surge protectors one after the other in the same line. It has no benefit or additional protection, nor is it a good idea. The shorter the connection between your RV and the protector, the better it will be able to protect you from power surges.

Plug It In Properly

Ensure you correctly connect a portable surge protector to the campground’s pedestal. The plug should not be loose or hanging out. 

When installing a new permanent surge protector in your RV, be careful about which wire goes where. Always use a qualified electrician if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Try Not To Overload

If possible, try not to turn on too many devices simultaneously that can overwhelm the electrical supply. You would basically be creating your own voltage surge. That will invoke the surge protector and shut down your electrical supply. 

Keep Them Cool

Try to connect it to the pedestal to remain in the shade for most of the day, or keep it covered. If you ever find that your surge protector is overheating, it is best to replace it quickly.

Replace Them Periodically

Surge protectors have a limited shelf life. After some time, they will run out of Joules of surge that they can handle. It is pretty challenging to figure it out on your own when a surge protector has worn out.

The best thing is to understand your own usage and replace the surge protector periodically based on experience. Don’t wait for something to go wrong. Just replace the protector.

Conclusion 

This brings us to the end of this review of surge protectors. We found that Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector is the best overall product for 50amp RVs because it offers a fair bit of protection for a reasonable price. In addition, it is durable, well-built, user-friendly, weather-resistant, and is more than enough for RVers who are not living out of their van all the time.

The Progressive Industries 30 Amp Hardwired RV Electrical Management System Surge Protector is our recommendation for 30 amp RVs. This is more than just a pure surge protector, and it is an EMS system that provides you solid protection against all kinds of problems. It is hardwired, so you don’t have to worry about the weather; it also has a remote scrolling LED monitor and is well built.