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How to Protect Your RV’s Electrical System

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Most people new to RVing simply don’t think about the potential dangers of the power supply at the RV park or campground. They simply park and plug right in, not even aware of the risk they’re taking. Honestly, there’s a lot of experienced RVers that make this mistake also. It’s understandable – voltage, frequency, and polarity are not things you normally think about in a sticks and bricks house. But when you RV, they are particularly important as your power supply can change frequently.

dan watching power watchdog epo

Power issues at RV parks and campgrounds are a real and valid threat. Perhaps unlikely, but plugging your RV into a dangerous power source can be catastrophic to your RV. Frying your electrical system and potentially damaging the devices that are plugged into that system (computers, tv’s, cell phones etc) could result in serious costs and a giant headache.

It’s easy to avoid this and protect your investment and sanity. Simply use a good RV surge protector and ensure that the power supply is safe to use. It’s that easy.

What is a Surge Protector?

As the name indicates, a surge protector will protect your RV from drops or surges in voltage caused by short circuits, lightning, etc. Think of a surge protector as the bodyguard or the barrier between the power supply and the electrical system of your RV. In the event of a problem, the surge guard sacrifices itself to protect your RV.

Types of RV Surge Protectors

There are two main types of surge protectors for RVs: hardwired and portable. Hardwired surge protectors are wired into the RV’s electrical system and portable surge protectors are plugged directly in the power pedestal. Essentially they function the same, however, there are pros and cons to each.

The biggest pro of a hardwired surge protector is that your RV is always protected. Since it is hardwired, regardless of the source of power, you have nothing to worry about. Also, since they are installed into the RV, they can’t be stolen by opportunistic neighbors. The primary con is that they are more expensive than portable units and require installation.

I prefer portable units, largely because there is nothing to install and they are extremely easy to use. Simply plug the surge protector into the park power, then plug your RV power cord into the surge protector and that’s it. The major disadvantage of portable units is that you have to actually remember to use them and there is the chance that they can be stolen by scrupulous campers (most have the ability to add a lock, however).

3 of the Best Portable RV Surge Protectors

Every surge protector on the market will protect your RV from drops or surges in voltage. But, the best surge protectors offer more. You want to ensure that you purchase a surge protector that protects your RV from additional threats. Be sure that you are protected from issues stemming from grounding, polarity or frequency.

Important: make sure that you get a surge protector that matches your RV’s electrical system i.e. 30 amp vs 50 amp. The three surge protectors listed below are all 30 amp models, but each of them is available in 50 amp.

1. Power Watchdog + EPP by Huges Autoformers

power watchdog 30 amp

The Power Watchdog + EPO is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for top of the line technology and comprehensive protection. The Power Watchdog + EPO has several features that no other surge protector has.

The first is the ability to monitor the power supply and conditions in realtime on your smartphone via Bluetooth connectivity and their free app. The second is the ability to replace the surge module rather than the entire unit if the unit protects against a major spike. With other units, once the surge module is compromised, the entire unit must be replaced.

As with the other surge protectors the list, the Power Watchdog + EPO does more than protect against power surges. The Watchdog can detect open ground or open neutral and reverse polarity. And the best part? The unit automatically turns off power to your RV if any dangerous conditions are detected.

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2. Surge Guard® Full Protection Portable by Southwire (Model 34931)

Surge Guard 30 Amp surge protector

Surge Guard® is one of the most trusted brands in the industry and therefore a good choice when considering a new surge protector. This unit offers full-protection against power-related threats and has an easy to read LCD screen. Besides constantly monitoring voltage and amperage draw (RMS), this unit protects against overheating, low/high frequency, open ground, open neutral, and reverse polarity. The unit automatically resets when power conditions are restored.

A great feature of Model 34931 is the ability to connect it to a wireless LCD display (Model 40301). The surge protector connects to the LCD display via Bluetooth and allows you to monitor live power conditions from inside the RV. If there are any issues, you can easily see the error code without having to go out to the power pedestal, which is particularly handy during inclement weather.

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3. EMS-PT30X Portable RV Surge Protector by Progressive Industries

progressive industries ems pt30x

Since 1998, Progressive Industries has been building high-quality surge protectors. The EMS-PT30X offers complete protection for your RV by protecting against voltage fluctuations, power surges and incorrectly wired shore power. This unit has an all-weather shield assembly, a rugged pull handle and offers a lifetime warranty!


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Protect Your Investment

Hopefully, this article has helped you realize the importance of protecting your RV’s electrical system with a quality surge protector. The three portable surge protectors listed above are wonderful, reliable options or you can choose a hardwired model. Either way, you’ll love the peace of mind you gain by knowing you’ve done what you can do to protect your RV from dangerous electrical conditions.

New to or love RVing?

If you’re new to RVing, check out these additional resources:

SHOP: Must-Have RV Supplies

SHOP: Top RV Living Gear

The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Full-Time RVing

The Cost of Full-Time RVing: Affording a Life on the Road

How to Find the Best (and FREE) Spots to Park Your RV

Daniel McKenzie

Dan is a near Colorado native that loves to experience new places, cultures, and adventures. He considers himself a pretty laid back kind of guy and loves to enjoy a refreshing beverage on a patio.

All posts by Daniel McKenzie

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