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Best RV Surge Protector: Power Protection for Your RV

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Editors Choice

Hughes Autoformer PWD50-EPO-H 50-Amp Power Watchdog

Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO, 50 Amp Spike Power Watchdog, Shut Off

The Hughes Watchdog PWD50 has it all and is therefore the best RV surge protector on our list. With its ease of installation, simple operation, and Bluetooth capabilities, it’s never been easier for you to protect your RV’s electrical system.

The PWD50 is powerful, with an output of 4800 joules which it uses to run the built-in smart circuit analyzer. This analyzer does a complete diagnostic check for reverse polarity, open neutral, open circuit amongst others, as well as for any faulty equipment that could compromise your RV. It’s a great ‘plug-and-play’ device with a mere four-second start-up time. Other devices can take up to two minutes to start up, so this quick start-up time sets this camper surge protector apart from its competitors.

Overall, we found this to be the best model we reviewed, and although it is at a price you’d expect for the best, it’s worth every penny.

Best RV Surge Protector: Power Protection for Your RV

If you’re an RV owner, you know how much of an investment a recreational vehicle is. It therefore makes sense that you would want to protect it in any way you can. That’s why any smart RV owner will have at least one surge protector. It’s a small, inexpensive device that can protect your RV against a faulty power pedestal when you hook up to shore power.

Surge protection for RV use is like insurance – it’s better to have it and not need it than to wish you had it when disaster strikes. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about surge protectors for RV use and give you our pick for the overall best RV surge protector out there.

Looking for the Best Electrical Protection for Your RV?

  • What is an RV surge protector?
  • Is an RV surge protector necessary?
  • How do surge protectors for RVs work?
  • What are the best RV surge protectors on the market?

What Is an RV Surge Protector?

A surge protector is a device designed to protect electronic equipment from high and low voltage surges, as well as other electrical issues.

When they happen, these surges occur within the power source (i.e. the power pedestal that you plug into for shore power). If your recreational vehicle isn’t protected, these surges can cause significant electrical damage or even start a fire.

How trusting are you that the campsites power pedestal has been wired correctly? Or that it isn’t faulty by degrading over time? Can you afford to replace all your appliances if your RV electrical system suffers from a high voltage surge?

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So what’s a Power Surge?

Power surges, also called transient voltage, are when the voltage from the power source (which should be 120 volts) suddenly gets higher. This essentially puts too much pressure on the RV electrical lines and causes them to overheat, burn out, and possibly catch fire. Even though surges only last a split second, they can still create an unbelievable amount of damage.

You may also hear the term spike. People use this term interchangeably with surge, but there is a slight difference. A surge lasts three nanoseconds or more, while a spike lasts two nanoseconds or less. Regardless of the shorter time frame, spikes are also dangerous for your RVs electrical system.

If you’re familiar with surge protectors that people use in their homes, this gives you a good idea of what a surge protector for RVs are. It works the same, but it’s stronger and designed to fit an RV plug.

Protection from Other Power Source Issues

In addition to providing protection from power surges, a good surge protector will provide a means to protect your rig against other electrical system issues such as faulty wiring in the power pedestal or if the park suffers a brown-out (low voltage).

How Does an RV Surge Protector Work?

You may be looking at that small surge protector and wondering how it’s going to protect your giant RV. It’s actually a pretty simple process.

On the inside of the device are small components called metal oxide varistors (MOVs). They are connected by two semiconductors to the power line and to the grounding wire (the third metal prong on the plug). When a surge occurs these components divert the extra voltage from the power line to the ground wire, so all that extra voltage skips your RV and is grounded.

Pro Tip: Using the circuit breakers always have the shut-off power at the camp’s power pedestal completely turned off before plugging in your recreational vehicle.

We won’t dive into detail on how the MOVs know when to divert electricity and when to do nothing – we’ll save that for a more scientific article. For now, you just need to know that having these few little components can save you thousands of dollars worth of damage.

How to Choose the Right Surge Protector for your RV

Amps and Joules

Depending on your RV, you will need to decide on whether you need to buy a 30 amp or a 50 amp surge protector. If you don’t know your RVs amperage, then simply look at your campers plug to find out.

If the plug for the camp pedestal has 3 prongs, then you want to be looking at 30 amp RV surge protectors. If you’ve got four prongs, then your RV’s electrical system is set up for 50 amp service. 

Surge protectors also have a rating measured in joules. Joules are a unit of energy and are important in determining the performance of a surge protector. Think of it as the amount of protection you’ll get. When a surge occurs, your surge protector can only divert so much. The maximum it can divert is whatever its joule rating is, so the higher this number, the better the surge protector protects your RV equipment. Good RV surge protectors will have a rating of around 1500 joules and above, but keep in mind that a higher joule rating may also raise the price.

Portable Surge Protectors vs Hardwired Surge Protectors

Portable 

When shopping for a surge protector the first thing you’ll want to consider is whether you want a portable or a hardwired model. Although there are RV surge protector pros and cons to each type, both will provide the same performance (not taking into account brand, quality, etc.). Here are some points to consider for each one.

Pros:

  • No installation required
  • Easy to use – plug n’ play
  • Easy to replace if it fails

Cons:

  • Could easily be stolen without a cable and lock
  • At some campsites power pedestals are too low to the ground for a portable option

Hardwired

Pros:

  • Can’t be stolen
  • Protected from the weather
  • Lasts longer than portables

Cons:

  • Requires installation (not much)
  • Takes more effort to replace if it fails

With the same spec both types will be equal in terms of performance, so it’s a matter of personal preference based on the points above which one you prefer to get.

Extra Features of RV Surge Protectors

Just like every other piece of technology on the market, you can choose a basic option or one with advanced features. Do you need a surge protector with all these features? No. However, they’re nice to have.

One example is an LCD display, this will tell you relevant information such as voltage, error codes, and more. This more than likely means there is a computer chip inside that is programmed to give you this information.

Another interesting feature is smart technology. This type is usually Bluetooth-enabled so that you can communicate with the surge protector through a smart device. It can generally give you a lot of real-time data regarding voltage, joules, error codes, performance, and more. It may even have an automatic shut-off feature if it detects safety issues.

Now you have some background info, it’s time to check out the top models on the market. We have put together a list of RV surge protector reviews for nine of the best and we’ll tell you which one is the overall best surge protector for RV use and why.

RV Surge Protector 30 Amp Reviews

Southwire Surge Guard 34930 30-Amp

Recommended

Southwire 34930 Surge Guard 30A - Full Protection Portable with LCD Display Black

If you are looking for a 30-amp portable RV surge protector, this model is a great, high-quality option with a 2450-joule rating that can outperform a lot of the “premium” models out there. It’s designed extremely well and manufactured with precision. It has a sleek, modern, neat look that will fit in with the visual aesthetic of any modern RV.

One of the best features is the easy-pull T-handle for easy unplugging. It also has an LCD-display that gives you real-time updates of the amp draw and voltage. Three small indicator lights let you know when the system is on and operating correctly, or if there is a problem.

The one hiccup that we found with this model is that the product is designed for one-time system protection. This means that in the event of a surge, the device will sacrifice itself to save your RV, and then the lifetime warranty is void. However, the plus side is that it will save you thousands in damage to your recreational vehicle, so it’s worth the sacrifice.

  • PROs

    • Made from durable materials
    • Built-in locking ring
    • Commercial-grade brass receptacle
    • Alerts you to pedestal problems plugging in
  • CONs

    • Expensive for a 30-amp model
    • One-and-done device

Bottom-Line: Despite the one-and-done factor, the Southwire 34930 will fiercely protect your RV and pay for itself by saving you thousands in damage.

Southwire Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector

Best Budget

Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector - 120V, 30A,Black

This 2100-joule model looks like the Southwire 34930, but is a more basic option with fewer features. You get the same superb performance as you would with other Southwire versions, but you’ll save a bit of money in the process.

This option still has the handy T-handle for easy unplugging. It also has multiple features for protecting your RV. An easy-to-read LED display and a light-coded chart printed on the front make diagnosing issues with the power supply easier. We also appreciate that they included a thick brass receptacle for added protection.

Although it’s a budget option, we would have liked a less confusing light indication system. You don’t have to understand rocket science to read the chart, but it’s an inconvenience that we could do without.

  • PROs

    • Excellent quality for the price range
    • Lifetime warranty.
    • Thicker brass receptacle reduces heat
  • CONs

    • Light indicator chart seems overly complicated
    • Materials not as durable as other Southwire models

Bottom-Line: On a budget then this is the best 30 amp RV surge protector for you, giving you the protection you need without the extra frills or breaking the bank.

Hughes Autoformer PWD30 Bx4370 30-Amp Power Watchdog

Best Value

Hughes Autoformer BX4370 Power Watch Dog 30 AMP Surge Protector (PWD30) , Black , 14 Inch

The 30 amp Hughes Power Watchdog PWD30 is truly excellent value, which is why we’ve named it as the best value product. You get 2400-joule rating protection, Bluetooth connectivity, and quality at an affordable price, all with a three-year warranty. We would recommend this to anyone who needs an RV surge protector – budget or not.

The unit features two easy-grip handles with large loops to make it easy to plug and unplug. It is constructed of a heavy-duty outer material designed for longevity. It’s weatherproof, water-resistant, and lightweight. The best feature though is a downloadable mobile app that gives advanced monitoring capabilities for volts, amps, watts, pedestal diagnostics, and will even send alerts to your smartphone.

The Bluetooth capability is impressive, but the device has a very short range. You have to purchase a separate device to allow communication from miles away. Nitpicking, this could be a built-in feature, however most monitoring will probably be from your RV or right outside of it anyway.

  • PROs

    • You can easily monitor every bit of data from the pedestal and inside your vehicle
    • Has an IP65 waterproof rating
    • Free replacement if it burns out from a surge within two years
  • CONs

    • Short Bluetooth range
    • The app tends to have quite a few bugs
    • No low voltage protection

Bottom-Line: You can’t go wrong with the durable Hughes PWD30 Bx4370 with advanced monitoring, high-quality construction, and a company that will send you a free replacement.

Southwire Surge Guard 30-Amp Hardwired Model 35530

Best Hardwired Bargain

Surge Guard 35530 Hardwire Model - 30 Amp

If you’re looking for a low-priced hardwired option, the Southwire 30-amp 35530 is a great buy. You’ll get a top-quality product minus the bells and whistles. It has a simple LED indicator system, is easy to install, and with a 2450 joule rating, total electrical protection is what you will get with this unit.

The Southwire 35530 continuously monitors voltage and amp draw and automatically shuts off the power when it detects any danger to your RV. It also automatically resets when power is restored and has a 128-second delay. This, paired with the five-mode surge protection is everything you need to protect your travel trailer.

For the price, we can’t ask for too much more, but it would be nice if this was water-resistant and would output a higher number of joules. However, it is still strong enough to protect your investment, and that’s what is essential.

  • PROs

    • Automatic shut-off and reset
    • Simple LED indicators for diagnostics
    • Lifetime warranty
  • CONs

    • Warranty is void if not installed by a professional technician
    • Low joules (2450) for hardwired surge protection.

Bottom-Line: This is for someone who wants a hardwired RV 30 amp surge protector on a budget and doesn’t mind missing out on some of the “premium” features offered by others.

Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C 30-Amp Hardwired

Best 30 Amp Hardwired

Progressive Industries 30 Amp Hardwired RV Electrical Management System Surge Protector With Remote Display (1 MIN), EMS-HW30C

For 30-amp users, we had to add the 30-amp version of Progressive Industries’ hardwired EMS surge protector. While it has slightly fewer features than its 50-amp counterpart, it’s still the same high-quality product you expect from Progressive Industries.

This 30-amp version offers 1790 joules and can operate in extreme temperatures like other Progressive Industries models. You also get a remote display unit and lifetime warranty. We appreciate the continued high standard of quality, even if this model has fewer watts.

This one isn’t a smart device, so there is no Bluetooth connectivity or use of an app like with other Progressive Industries options. However, these features aren’t necessary for this 30amp surge protector to protect your RV.

  • PROs

    • Accidental 240V protection
    • Made in the USA
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Remote controlled, comes standard
  • CONs

    • Low joules (1790) for hardwired surge protection

Bottom-Line: While this 30 amp surge protector for RV use is teetering on the minimum limit for joules that you would want, if you don’t have too many high-usage electronics running, this will provide you with ample protection.

RV 50 Amp Surge Protector Reviews

Progressive Industries SSP-50X 50-Amp Portable Smart Surge Protector

Toughest

Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector (1 MIN), SSP-50X

Progressive Industries is known for making some of the most high-quality products on the market, and the SSP-50X demonstrates that very well. This smart unit has everything you’d want or need in a portable surge protector – safety features, flawless performance, rugged body, and a built-in polarity tester to assure you that the lines are connected correctly. To top it all off, the Progressive Industries SSP-50X has a lifetime warranty.

It is water-resistant, as in it will hold up to light rain, but it can’t be submerged in water. It’s also thermally protected and is excellent in extreme temperatures (hot or cold). The “smart” part of the name comes in with the automatic detectors: open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity detection, miswired power pedestal indication, and a surge failure indicator. The SSP-50X alerts you using 3-color LED indicators.

This model would be perfect if you could interact with it through a Bluetooth connection, but it’s still great without this feature. Something you’ll also want to consider is that it has a low joule rating at 1650, which does lower the price

  • PROs

    • Works in a temperature range of -40C to 105C
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Sturdy pull handle for easy unplugging
    • Built-in polarity tester
  • CONs

    • No Bluetooth for smart features
    • Low joules rating (1650)

Bottom-Line: This has everything you need in one high-quality package, and with a lifetime warranty. As long as you don’t need a massive amount of joules it’s a safe bet.

Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired 50-Amp

The Best Electrical Management System (EMS)

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

This hardwired model from Progressive Industries can be used as a surge protector or EMS which provides even more features with the maximum amount of automatic control and protection. With five modes of surge protection, 3580 joules, and a lifetime warranty, this is one of the best-hardwired options you’ll find.

The EMS-HW-50C has so many great features that it would take a whole book to list them all. One of the most important ones is the protection features. In addition to regular protections, it also includes A/C Frequency Protection, low voltage protection, and accidental 240-volt protection. Another feature to mention is the fact that it has a remote control and a scrolling digital display.

This is one product that we can honestly say isn’t lacking in anything. It’s the perfect hardwired option. We’d recommend this to anyone who doesn’t mind a little work for installation.

  • PROs

    • Adjustable time delay up to 136 seconds
    • Operates in the temperature range of -40C to 105C
    • Also Canadian approved
    • Lifetime warranty
  • CONs

    • Warranty void if you don’t use a professional installer

Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a hardwired EMS option, this one has more than enough protections and features to keep your RV safe.

Camco Circuit Analyzer Dogbone 50-Amp Model 55306

Easiest to Use

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)

If you aren’t really into a lot of technology and looking for a product that’s not a “computer,” this is an excellent choice for you. We won’t go as far as to say it’s basic – it does have ample protection systems – but it’s as straightforward as you can get for this kind of unit.

With a joule rating of 4200, it affords high surge protection for your RV. It protects against sustained high or low voltage as well as wiring issues including open neutral and reverse polarity. It also has an automatic shut-off feature in case of dangerous situations and will then automatically reconnect when it is safe to do so. 

It is made of heavy-duty outer material, so it’s going to be a lasting investment. Another feature we like is the thick pull handle that makes it easy to unplug from the pedestal power supply. A concern though is that it’s only weather-resistant in the upright position. These aren’t deal-breakers, in our opinion, but it would be nice to have these areas addressed.

  • PROs

    • Powerful, 4200 joule rating
    • Rugged handle for easy unplugging
    • Easy to use display
  • CONs

    • Only water-resistant in one position

Bottom-Line: The Camco Dogbone 55306 might not have a ton of fancy features, but it protects your RV from damage, and that’s basically what you need.

Hughes Autoformer PWD50-EPO-H 50-Amp Power Watchdog

Best RV Surge Protector 50 Amp

Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO, 50 Amp Spike Power Watchdog, Shut Off

There are many reasons why we’ve named the hardwired Hughes 50-amp as the best of the best. It’s a potent 4800-joule device that offers superior protection and also allows for monitoring via an app. Another is that even though it’s a hardwired option, it’s ‘plug-and-play’ with only a four-second power delay. You can’t get more direct than that.

Like the portable 30 amp Power Watchdog we have in our list, this one has a plethora of fantastic features. The Smart Circuit analyzer will shut down the unit if something dangerous occurs and send you an alert to your smart device. It automatically turns back on in 90 seconds if conditions go back to normal. You also have full, real-time monitoring of every bit of power information, including your KW/hr usage.

We tried very hard to find something wrong with this product and failed. It’s almost perfect, aside from the short Bluetooth range. It’s everything you need in a modern power defender. 

  • PROs

    • Automatic shut-off and restart
    • Free replacement if it burns out within two years
    • Plug n’ play.Powerful – 4800 joules power rating
  • CONs

    • Bluetooth has a short-range
    • App has a lot of bugs

Bottom-Line: You probably won’t find another model this powerful, thorough and efficient and with this many amazing features making this the best 50 amp RV surge protector and best overall.

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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