Best RV Surge Protector Reviews (Stay Plugin’ In)
Getting a short or having your electricals damaged is always a possibility when camping out in your recreational vehicle. Just like most of us invest heavily in surge protectors for our homes, you should consider doing the same for your RV.
Most RVers often ask that all too familiar question, “do I need a surge protector?” Initially, it often seems like an unnecessary purchase until you have to replace several damaged electronics or even have to replace your RV power supply points. It is obvious, having even the most basic of surge guard is better than never having bought one in the first place. However, it is still better to go for the best of the best as a long-term investment.
We sought to find the best RV surge protectors out there and came up with this comprehensive guide to help get the right one in your motorhome.
Surge Protectors For RVs Comparison
The below links will bring you to Amazon:
- EMS-PT50X Portable RV
- Hardwired EMS-LCHW30
- Progressive Industries HW50C
- 360 Electrical 36038 Revolve
- 3-Outlet Travel Surge Protector
- Technology Research Surge Guard 44270
- Camco Circuit Analyzer w/ Surge Protection
An RV Surge Protector Buying Guide
The primary role of a surge protector is to keep your electrical system as well as plugged in electronics safe from electrical inconsistencies.
When researching these units, there is always selections that feature the surge protector tag while others get the EMS branding. That is not the only confusing aspect because just at a glance these products come with quite the hefty price tag going as high as $1000 or more. Therefore, buying an RV surge protector becomes one of those purchases many people put off for a while.
Why don’t we figure out just why you are better off making this worthwhile investment early enough.
What does an RV surge mean?
An RV features several electrical components tasked with keeping your air con running, charging batteries, powering computer-driven elements, and even operating your entertainment systems. The RV needs access to a clean supply of power which is not always possible.
A surge refers to power inconsistencies brought about by several factors. For starters, natural events that are beyond our control such as a lightning strike hitting a transformer can cause surges. When tree limbs or small animals come in contact with power lines, it can also affect electrical consistency. In any of these instances, there might be an outage, and when the electric supply gets restored, it causes a surge.
However, most spikes originate from within when devices that use motors start up and power off several times which keeps diverting the shared electricity between appliances.
Beside surges and power inconsistencies, brownouts and incorrectly wired circuits can also cause costly damage to a recreation vehicle’s electrical system. That is where the aftermarket devices come in handy to take care of these spikes and surges.
Also, worth mentioning is that RV camping sites have by far the most inconsistent electrical supply. It is often due to a number of issues and therefore without a surge guard you risk the possibility of damaging electronics.
Surge protector or an EMS?
The way a surge protector works is to prevent surges and spikes from passing through to your motorhome. The units typically feature a portable plug-in design that you can place directly on the pedestal before plugging your rig shore power cord.
An EMS (energy management system) does what a surge guard does and more. They come bundled up as advanced computer-aided tools that can control, optimize, and monitor the performance of your electrical system. Like surge protectors, some come in plug-and-play designs while others feature hardwired models that require some form of installation.
To go a little more in depth, an EMS can identify any number of electrical issues and disconnect the power coming to your coach to prevent damage. It then keeps monitoring the situation and only restores the supply once the problem gets corrected. They even go the extra mile to protect you from shock in the case of hot skin conditions due to incorrectly wired outlets or other reasons.
A surge guard cannot monitor or offer protection against fluctuating voltages, revere polarity, and open grounds/neutrals. In any of these cases, it is up to you to check the indicator lights and manually shut down the power supply.
Naturally, the power management systems cost more than your regular surge protector, but when you consider the long-term value, it pays off to invest in an EMS.
It is crucial to match up the wattage of the power guard unit to that of your motorhome’s system. Several elements can create spikes and brownouts.
In brief, when electrical energy temporarily rises beyond the acceptable level on any given circuit, it causes a spike. Brownouts refer to a voltage decrease below the designated level. Either of these possibilities can affect your RV system negatively.
Surge protectors also shield hooked up electricals from voltage fluctuations. The units detect when the source power falls below 104 volts or rises beyond 132 volts. It then shuts down the power and the time indicator flashes to indicate when the AC source goes back up above 104V or falls below 132V. Most EMS units feature a 136-second delay, but it usually varies from one brand to another.
Joules refer to the rated measurement of an energy surge, and you always want to go for an EMS with the highest possible score.
The rating refers merely to the maximum energy levels the device can absorb and then dissipate as heat. In the midst of a power surge or voltage spike, the unit’s protection rating matters a lot because it determines its ability to withstand the excessive supply of power hits and maintain its primary function.
Also, worth mentioning is that surge protectors do not last forever. While you may become aware of some electrical faults early enough and fix them, some may go unnoticed. Eventually, the unit wears out after receiving too many hits from energy overloads beyond its protection rating. Therefore, you should be ready to replace the devices eventually.
Several power strips also provide surge protection in addition to offering extra outlets to plug in your electronics. Despite the cost, not all these electrical extension cables offer the needed protection from power issues.
Therefore, the recommended approach is to use a power strip collaboratively with a surge protector and not in place of the valuable gadgets.
Installation and Configuration
Going back to electric management systems, they often come in two configurations including plug-and-play and hardwired models. The hardwired models require permanent installation, and after that, it gets rid of the need for future setups.
The hardwired models can include remote digital displays inside your camper to enable you convenient access to the power management system. These units also tend to be smaller in comparison with surge protectors.
Naturally, you must have some level of experience with RV electricals to hook one up correctly. Otherwise, you would need the services of an electrician but on the upside is that it only requires a one-time installation.
Is there a difference between 30 amp vs. 50 amp RV
Each motorhome comes with an amperage rating with most Class As and Cs being 30 amps. The motorhomes that have two air conditioners are often 50 amps. The amperage matters a lot when determining the voltage it can handle from a power source.
For instance, 30 amp RVs run on 120 volts and hooking anything above that spells doom. If you are not too sure about your RV’s amperage the first way to tell is by considering the number of air conditioners you have on board. With two air con units, your RV is undeniably a 50 amp. You can also tell by checking the power cord for the number of prongs it has. Three-pronged models are 30 amp, and the four-pronged ones are 50 amp.
The rig shore power running to your RV should never go into a standard home outlet. It all starts with wiring your RV, and you must get the services of an electrician who know what they are doing.
If you are on a budget should you still get a surge protector?
At this point, the consensus is that you are much better off with the least amount of surge protection than throwing caution to the wind. Power strips and mini plug-in adaptors that feature surge protection work as a good in-between for the budget shopper.
The bottom line is to make sure that you have a power guard in place before plugging valuable and expensive electronic devices into your RV’s power outlet.
RV Surge Protector Reviews
Once you figure out that you do need to get a surge protector, you then need to figure out which one to buy and top picks for sale.
EMS-PT50X Portable RV
Some notable features:
- The unit is weather resistant and designed for use outdoors.
- A digital scrolling display comes with the unit.
- It offers 5-mode/3580J/88000A surge protection.
- Its dimensions are 18 (L) by 6.2 (W) by 5 (H) inches.
- The product comes with a lifetime warranty backing.
Top Pick for EMS-PT50X
The portable power guard comes in a weather resistant design with a secure locking bracket and rugged-style pull handle. It uses a plug-and-play model excludes the need for installation. A built-in digital scrolling display gives readings on current indications as well as other monitored electrical elements.
The unit also offers a surge failure indicator and AC frequency protection. It operates between the 3580J/88000A ranges and -40C to +105C temperatures. While weighing in at just 5.5lbs, the electric management system is highly portable and has a 120V voltage.
While the warranty excludes covering the shield assembly, it does help that the unit comes backed up by a lifetime warranty.
Who should buy it?
Anyone who is just starting out with understanding their RV’s power requirements and the seasoned RVer can go for this portable power management system. Its hassle-free handling and weather protected nature make it a more appealing option.
The unit is also reasonably priced and makes for a worthwhile investment.
Some stand out features:
- It comes with 3-mode/1790J/44000A surge protection.
- The unit provides all-around protection from electrical issues.
- The device draws attention to surge failures and miswired pedestals.
- It comes with an integrated digital scroll display.
- Its dimensions are 9 (W) by 5 (H) by 3 (D) inches.
- The unit is field serviceable.
A Favorite Hardwired Option
The Hardwired EMS-LCHW30 comes equipped to offer protection against over/under voltage fluctuations, detect reverse/open neutral polarity, and accidental 240V loads. The unit features a digital display complete with a scrolling system allowing you to access the power source information.
It uses a plug-and-play model which makes fixing and repair processes relatively quick and straightforward. It runs on a computer driven by a microprocessor. The 30Amp device also covers 30A/ 120V/ 3600 W ratings. Its operating temperature ranges from -40C to +105C.
Given its hardwired design, it does require installation, but once it is mounted, it can stay in place permanently. A lifetime warranty also backs the progressive Industries hardwired EMS guaranteeing that you are making a long-term investment.
Who should get it?
Anyone who is not that keen on having to install and configure an EMS should, by all means, go for this unit. It comes with all the right bells and whistles, much like what comes with the PT50X with the price being the most significant difference. The LCHW30 costs about $100 less compared to its counterpart.
Progressive Industries HW50C
A few noteworthy features:
- It provides full-protection in 30 and 50 amp RVs.
- It features a hardwired model.
- The cabling and display come packed in the device.
- It has a compressor and air con time delay.
- The unit comes with a remote display.
- Is dimensions are 10.2 (L) by 5.7 (W) by 4.9 (D) inches.
The Most Valuable Progressive Industries Selection
The ability of this device to store supplies within it sets it apart from the rest. It comes with the cables and display box neatly tucked inside. The unit comes designed to offer full-protection from adverse electrical conditions.
A continuous scroll digital display gives you all the information you need to know about your RV’s electrical state. From it, you can find out the current, voltage, frequency, and error codes. A minicomputer software powers the device which is freely upgradable at any instance.
Its hardwired model allows you to mount it permanently. The device uses snap on/off components, replacements parts for the unit are easy to find.
Who needs this EMS?
Just about any RVer can invest in this power guard, and it would serve them fine. However, unlike the PT50X and LCHW50, it is not designed for outdoor use. price-wise, it costs about $90 more than the LCHW50 but about $42 less than the PT50X.
360 Electrical 36038 Revolve
Some key features:
- It functions as a 3.4A/1.7W dual USB charger.
- The device features four 360-degree rotating power outlets.
- It offers 918 joules surge protection.
- The device also features LED indicators.
- The 360 Revolves allows for wall mounting.
Top Plug-in Model
The 360 Electrical 36038 Revolve functions as a mini power-strip style plug-and-play surge guard. It features two USB ports that can charge Apple, Android, and other compatible devices. Four 360-degree rotating power outlets can accommodate larger plugs.
It also uses a plug and turn model allowing devices to stay powered during rotation. LED indicators notify you that surge protection is active and when the electrical wiring is grounded.
The device offers 918 joules surge protection. A limited lifetime warranty backs up the unit.
Who should buy it?
Everyone setting out on an RV trip could use this highly portable surge guard. The fact that it is also a USB charger and mini power strip makes it more of a must-have product.
However, you would need something more powerful and more intuitive to cover your entire motorhome. While you could get several of these plug-in devices which could still prove more affordable, it is more practical to settle for one of the other units in the long run.
3-Outlet Travel Surge Protector
A Few Highlighted Features:
- It comes in a compact and portable package.
- The device has three plug outlets and two Amps charging USB ports.
- It uses a swivel maneuver system.
- The outlets provide 918 joules surge protection.
- It comes with an indicator light.
- Two options are available, a 1 Amp and 2.1 Amp options.
Top Rated For Travel And The Cheapest
The compact and space-saving surge protector comes with two USB ports and three plug outlets that function as surge protectors. It comes in a selection of two choices including a 5W/1 Amp and 10W/2.1 Amp options.
It uses a 360-degree swivel model to avid blocking other outlets in its surrounding. Its three outlets function as 918 joules surge guards. An indicator light notifies you when you have grounded devices, and the surge protection is in effect.
While it does not come with any cords, the cordless design further makes it highly portable. The device comes with a damage-resistant housing and connected equipment get a $75,000 warranty from Belkin.
Who should get it?
Once again you would go for this plug-in portable surge protector as a must-have travel companion. It has an almost negligible $10 price difference when compared to the 36038 Revolve model.
However, if you carry particularly expensive equipment with you on those outdoor trips, it helps to know that you have a $75,000 cover protecting them when using this device.
Technology Research 44270 Surge Guard
Some noteworthy features:
- It delivers 4200 joules surge protection.
- The device can monitor circuits and identify pedestal faults.
- It comes with indicators that show power status.
- Its dimensions are 22.1 (L) by 3.28 (W) by 3.5 (D)inches and it weighs just 3.5 ounces.
The 50 amp TRC offers the basic surge protection functions as well as monitors pedestal power to identify faults. It can bring attention to reverse polarity and on ground voltage. It delivers 4200 joules surge protection at 12000 watts. The device also tests and indicates the open neutral/ground status.
Three LED indicators show the power status. Worth noting is that like just about any surge protector it can function on a motorhome on any amperage. A limited lifetime warranty backs the unit.
Who should buy one?
The TRC surge guard is suitable for travel trailers and pop-ups. It is one of the mid-priced power management systems that prove highly useful for the budget shopper.
Camco Circuit Analyzer w/ Surge Protection
A few highlighted features:
- It functions as a surge guard with 1050 joules protection.
- The unit features diagnostic lights.
- Its dimensions are 11 (L) by 0.7 (W) by 3.2 (D) inches.
Top Camco Option
The small and compact size should not fool you because this power management system comes packing a punch. It comes designed to offer protection to your electricals against improperly wired circuity. Diagnostic lights alert you to faults so that you do not plug in your electronics.
It supports 30 Amp (NEMA TT-30p) Male/ 30 A,p (NEMA TT-30R) Female. The device also functions as a voltage analyzer and delivers lo50 joules of surge protection.
Who needs this surge guard?
The small size of this unit might give you the impression that it may not cut it. However, it delivers far above what you would get from the 360 Revolve and 3-Outlet protectors.
The Final Verdict
Without a doubt, every RV owner should invest in an electric management system. While you might make do with the surge protectors we have reviewed, in the long-run, you need a better handle over your RV’s electrical system. The answer lies in making that worthwhile purchase and settling for a good quality EMS.
When shopping for surge protectors, it is not about going for one with the highest price tag. You must consider your RV’s amperage and its power supply needs. You do not want to make a costly purchase only to find out that the surge guard cannot adequately protect your RV’s electricals.
That is why we still recommend going for an EMS as a long-term investment. However, while still testing the waters you can go for the mid-range surge protectors just to make sure that you have some form of protection for your electronics. It does not hurt to use energy protected power strips collaboratively with surge protectors before you are finally ready to make that upgrade to an EMS.