The electrical panel on your RV can produce AC power from the battery or propane tank. This is enough to power the various electronic devices on board your camper. However, should you invest in a surge protector to protect your RV’s electrical system?
RV surge protectors are worth it as they help protect the valuable electronic components on your RV. It’s a small price to pay to ensure the various expensive electronic appliances on your camper are safe from damage caused by sudden power fluctuations.
In this article, I’ll give you a detailed overview of RV surge protectors, how they work, and what they can protect against. Additionally, I’ll go over some of the best RV surge protectors available on the market.
What Is an RV Surge Protector?
An RV surge protector is a device designed to protect an RV’s electrical system against sudden changes in voltage. Surges or power spikes can happen whenever you use an electronic appliance, including running the refrigerator overnight or turning on the AC on a hot day.
Anything that causes a spike in power draw can:
- Injure your RV’s electronics
- Shorten their lifespan due to stress buildup from constantly changing voltages
- Cause irreparable damage to the appliances.
Now, depending on the type of electrical system you have set up for your RV, there are several types of RV surge protectors you can choose from. This includes AC power line surge protectors, battery backup surge protectors, and solar inverter output line surge protectors.
What Does an RV Surge Protector Protect Against?
RV surge protectors can be great investments for your RV. While they don’t come cheap, they can save you a lot of money in repairs later on.
RV surge protectors protect against sudden changes in power that can cause damage to appliances and electronics in your RV. In most cases, these surges result from irregular utility power supply fluctuations.
They’re relatively rare, but when they occur, they can wreak havoc with your electrical system. There are plenty of instances when RV surge protectors come in handy, including:
- Protection from power outages due to high winds and fallen trees
- Protection from outside elements such as lightning strikes and stray voltage
- Prevention of damage caused by faulty wiring or old outlets
RV parks with faulty power sources aren’t uncommon. Pedestals that are old or neglected are the most common culprits. Inadequate power sources can cause grounding concerns, which may result in costly damage to appliances or gadgets connected to your RV.
The surge protector interrupts the electrical flow if it detects a sudden change in electricity, keeping your RV appliances safe from damage or worse.
How Does an RV Surge Protector Work?
RV surge protectors work by detecting any sudden changes in supply voltage and diverting the excess electricity away from your appliances to keep everything safe. They use metal oxide varistors (MOVs) to help minimize the flow of power and divert it away from the appliances and wiring.
RV surge protectors shield your camper’s electrical system from sudden changes in voltage and help to prevent damage caused by power surges and lightning strikes. They don’t convert or regulate power but instead ensure a safe flow of electricity.
The device also protects against low voltages—a frequent concern for plugged-in RVs—and keeps your appliances running efficiently for better on-road peace of mind.
Differences Between an RV Surge Protector & An Electrical Management System
Here’s a table going over the notable differences between RV surge protectors and electrical management systems:
|RV Surge Protector||Electrical management systems|
|Can be installed onto the vehicle without additional equipment. Surge protectors only protect against overloading and surges in power while not regulating any other factors.Maintenance is generally very low.||Require installation and may require professional assistance (especially with larger rigs) Automatically monitors power consumption and provides necessary adjustments as needed. Installation can be expensive.Electrical management systems automatically monitor power consumption and adjust the electricity flow in order to maintain a safe voltage level, which consequently means less energy is being lost.|
An RV surge protector makes sure that voltage does not exceed the level needed to charge your batteries. Generally, a surge protector is simply an electronic device to protect electrical equipment from voltage spikes.
Surge protectors are very important devices within an RVs electrical system as they shield against power spikes without compromising the performance of electrical appliances.
Now, an electrical management system takes things one step further by monitoring electricity flow throughout your rig and making adjustments when necessary.
When buying an electrical management system, it’s important to remember that some can automatically monitor your appliance, while others will require you to monitor power consumption manually.
Both surge protectors and electrical management systems offer peace of mind when on the road or off-grid. However, it’s highly suggested that each RVer choose a system that’ll work best with their needs.
In short, An electrical management system monitors voltage and regulates it to ensure that appliances remain safe from damage. Whereas surge protectors only prevent electrical damage to your appliances and won’t give you an insight into your RV’s power draw or voltage.
5 Best RV Surge Protectors
There are many varieties of RV surge protectors on the market. Some have their advantages and disadvantages, with many bringing unique features to the table.
Here are some of the most popular varieties on Amazon.com:
The Progressive Industries SSP-30XL is an extremely popular surge protector for 30 amp RVs. It monitors the power flowing into the RV and protects against both under-voltage and over-voltage from harming your RV’s electrical appliances.
This 3-mode surge protector also offers a built-in surge indicator for additional protection and easy evaluation. The device has a compact, sleek design, making it easy for anyone to install.
This RV surge protector is rated as one of the best by users who like its compact design and ease of installation.
The Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X is a 50 amp portable RV surge protector that prevents power interruption while using electrical hook-ups. It ensures stable voltage, decreases line noise, and protects your RV’s AC appliances.
This cutting-edge device monitors the incoming voltage on AC and DC systems throughout your rig. It automatically adjusts the amperage to counteract any changes in voltage so that your appliances are safe from dangerous fluctuations without draining all of your battery power.
The Surge Guard 44280 is a bang-for-the-buck 30 amp portable surge protector that’s affordable but also delivers all the necessary features. Apart from showing you the surge protection status, the device can also indicate open neutrals, reverse polarity, open circuits, overheating plugs, and open grounds.
It comes with dedicated LED indicators along with a LED Fault Chart to help you with quick and easy power analysis. The device is also extremely portable, thanks to its lightweight design and the inclusion of a T-pull plug handle, making it super easy to attach/detach.
The Hughes Autoformer PWD30-EPO is one of the most feature-packed 30 amp RV surge protectors on the market. Its most notable feature is the replaceable spike/surge module. If and when your RV experiences a power surge, only the surge module will be affected. As such, you’ll only need to replace this module and not your entire surge protector.
Besides this, you also have a complete LED park power diagnostics system, customizable alert thresholds, a 4-sec power-on analysis, and a 90-sec delay when turning on power after a recent fault. You also get a mobile app to wirelessly monitor the voltage, amperage, and wattage in real-time.
5. Camco 55306
The Camco 55306 is a 50 amp RV voltage protector with integrated surge protection. It can automatically disconnect when it detects power surges or fluctuations in voltage level and then reconnect as soon as it senses normal electrical conditions.
The device can diagnose faults when connecting your cord to the power pedestal and can help protect your RV electronics against various wiring issues like open neutrals, reverse polarities, etc. It is also extremely robust and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, making it an excellent choice for campers.