What Is the Best RV Surge Protector?

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3 of the best RV surge protectors set against a purple, teal, and blue geographic background.

If you’re new to RVing, there’s a lot to take in. You can’t simply buy an RV and hit the road. You’ll need lots of different supplies, including hoses, electrical connections, and more. Another item you really shouldn’t go without is a surge protector. Keep reading to find out the best RV surge protector.

What Is a Surge Protector?

A surge protector is a critical and easy way to protect your RV’s electrical system from damaging power surges. 

Power surges have many causes, such as a faulty plug on the shore power system or, in extreme cases, a lightning strike. 

Whatever the cause, a surge protector prevents electrical bursts that can blow out your systems or start a fire. 

How Does a Surge Protector Work?

When hooking up to shore power, the first thing you’ll do is plug your surge protector directly into the power pole. After that, you’ll insert your power cable into the surge protector. 

The best RV surge protectors will monitor the power levels coming from the outlet. If the power increases, the surge protector detects the change and mitigates any unwanted damage.

Surge Protector Versus Electrical Management System (EMS) 

A surge protector and an electrical management system serve a similar purpose, but they have some differences, mainly what they protect your RV from. A surge protector protects your RV from sudden changes in voltage.

An EMS, on the other hand, offers more protection. It doesn’t just protect from electrical surges and voltage changes. An EMS also mitigates issues stemming from incorrectly wired outlets, open grounds, reverse polarity, high neutral current, and voltage spikes.

An EMS provides more protection, so unsurprisingly, it will also cost you more. But if you’re a full-timer, it is definitely worth the extra money. You might save yourself from costly repairs by going with an EMS.

Potential Shore Power Problems

There are several types of shore power problems.

Power Surges

Power surges result from an interruption in the flow of electricity. When electricity stops and then starts again, it can damage plugged-in electronics. Power surges can also occur when a device sends power back into the system.

Incorrectly Wired Shore Power 

Although this is a less common cause of power surges, it can happen. When you roll up at an RV park, you never know the state of the power pole. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Having a surge protector will save your RV if the park’s power isn’t up to snuff.

Low Voltage 

There are a few reasons for low voltage. Low voltage can occur because of dirty connections, age, corrosion, or inadequate insulation. If the voltage is too low, you could have a host of electrical problems. It can cause components to melt and even catch fire. Appliances can also malfunction because of low voltage.

Surge Protector Recommendations

Now that you realize a surge protector’s importance, it’s time to choose the best RV surge protector. Here are our top recommendations: 

Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X

The Progressive Industries EMS is one of the best RV surge protectors on the market. This surge protector is weather-resistant, making it perfect for RVing. It also has a security lock, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside. It comes with a lifetime warranty as well.

The Progressive Industries EMS protects up to 44,000A spikes. It reacts in less than one nanosecond to ensure your electrical system stays safe.

Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X RV Surge Protector W/Fault Detection — 30-50 Amp Electric Portable Camper Surge Protector, Surge Guard W/Hardwired Options
  • ELECTRONIC SAFETY MAINTAINED: Ensure the safety of your Progressive Industries surge protector electronics with the 30...
  • COST-EFFECTIVE RV SURGE PROTECTOR: Rated at 30A/120V/3,600W, the EMS-PT30X can absorb surges up to 1,790 joules,...

Southwire Surge Guard 34930/34950

Another great RV surge protector is the Southwire Surge Guard. It continuously monitors and displays the amount of power running through it. It protects against issues stemming from park power and from within your RV itself. You can also feel safe leaving it plugged in constantly because it has an anti-theft locking ring.

Surge Guard Southwire 34930 30A - Full Protection Portable with LCD Display Black
  • Continuously monitors for and displays voltage and amp draw (RMS)
  • LCD display (English)

Hughes Autoformer PWD30 RV Surge Protector

Finally, another one of the best surge protectors for an RV is the Hughes Autoformer. This 30-amp surge protector has Bluetooth capabilities, which lets you monitor park power conditions right from your smartphone.

The Hughes Autoforer isn’t an EMS, but it still offers adequate protection, even at a lower price. It’s also durable and waterproof. You can also use it with dog-bone adapters.

Hughes Autoformers HUGHES AUTO Autoformers PWD30-EPO-H Power Watchdog Smart Bluetooth Surge Protector Plus EPO with Auto Shutoff - 30 Amp Hardwire Version
  • Replaceable Surge / Spike Module: Should a large spike happen, surge module is completely replacable instead of...
  • Wirelessly Monitor voltage, amperage, and wattage on your smartphone in real time using our free mobile app! Oldest and...

Conclusion: Is a Surge Protector Worth Having?

Even if you don’t RV often, you need a surge protector. It simply isn’t worth the risk to go without. And if you’re a full-time RVer, it’s worth the extra money to get the best RV surge protector you can. 

An EMS will provide you with even more protection. That’s why it is our top recommendation. You’ll love the peace of mind you get from this simple addition to your rig.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. Old park in Yuma in 2014. Full refrigerator from stock up. 5 am on Sunday beeping from fridge. Called a repair guy at 8 and he came right away. A power surge had blown the top electronic mother board. Many $$$$$$$$$ later all was repaired and a new surge protector was purchased. Worth it!

  2. Years ago we lost a microwave to a ‘surge’ . 5 years ago when we bought our new RV we didn’t initially get one. About half of the members we go camp with do have them. I didn’t think it was really necessary until one of the members lost his A/C due to low voltage in the park and another had an issue with the electrical pedestal being incorrectly wired. If you’re going to spend $10k-$200k for an RV; spend another ~$400 for a good surge protector. Parks are getting full and extra spaces have been made without upgrades to their systems. I’ve had mine trip several times in the past couple of years. It’s cheap insurance in the long run.

  3. Two things I recommend you consider. First, you should only recommend a surge protector or EMS that is a listed device. That means having UL our similar certification. This is a RVIA and NFPA requirement for all RVs. Second, the 2020 National Electric Code added a new requirement for all RVs: 551.40(D) – requires a visual or audible alarm when there’s an ungrounded (black) conductor and grounded (white) conductor reversal. Recommend advising your readership to look for and demand that any new RV has a built in listed device that is 551.40(D) compliant.

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