The ability to take the comforts of home on the road with you is one of the best reasons to invest in an RV. However, as soon as the rig has been hooked up to an electrical outlet, the appliances are at risk.
Surge protectors can help to head off any potential disasters, which is why it’s important to choose a reliable one. If you’re looking for the best RV surge protector for 2020, we have researched and found the best 5 on the market.
- SSP30X model
- Camco Power Defender Circuit Analyzer
- Surge Guard by Technology Research
- Hughes Autoformer BX3470
- Southwire 34930 Surge Guard
In A Hurry?
Our Top Pick – Progressive Industries 313.1168 SSP30X Smart Surge Protector – 120V/30A
How To Choose The Best RV Surge Protector For 2020
Do You Really Need A Surge Protector?
Some RVers—even full-timers—will claim that they’ve never used a surge protector or electrical management system, even after years of travel. Assuming that these people are telling the truth, they’ve been blessed with remarkable luck.
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to rely on campground wiring. If the power pedestal was configured incorrectly, or if the system suffers a power surge, the wiring and electronic devices in your RV will be completely fried. The appliances can also suffer damage if they run for too long when the voltage is low. That’s why it’s in your best interests to invest in protection right off the bat.
Is A Surge Protector The Same As An Electrical Management System?
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually a few marked differences between the two. Here’s what you need to know about each one.
A surge protector does exactly what the name suggests—it guards against power surges. It will also alert you when the shore power has been improperly wired. These units typically carry a low price tag—about the cost of 2-3 nights at a campground or RV park. At any rate, they’re far less expensive than replacing all of the electrical components in your RV.
Electrical Management Systems
Electrical management systems (EMS for short) also protect against power surges and provide alerts regarding the shore power, but they offer an extra layer of protection as well.
When the voltage is too low, the EMS will shut off the power to your RV so that your appliances won’t continue to run off low power, which could cause more problems down the road. This issue is common during high summer in warmer climates, when numerous RVers are using the same power system to run their unit’s air conditioning.
If you’ve ever been in a big city during a heat wave, you should be familiar with this phenomenon, which is known as a brownout. You’ll also know how unpleasant it can be. Imagine camping in 90-plus degree weather without any air conditioning, and you’ll understand how important it is to purchase extra protection for your rig.
The main drawback to these systems is the high cost, which causes many campers to forego the protection altogether. Fortunately, some RVs may already be equipped with an internal EMS. If this is the case with your rig, there’s no pressing reason to drop the extra cash on an external system—a surge protector should do the trick.
What To Look For In A Surge Protector
Which type of surge protector you buy depends on whether you’re driving a 30-amp or 50-amp rig. If you buy the wrong kind, you won’t be able to hook it up to your power cord.
Before shopping, take a look at the power cord on your RV. If it has three prongs, you’re driving a rig with 30 amps. Four prongs means it’s a 50-amp rig. Knowing the difference will cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for the right product.
To learn more about the difference between 30- and 50-amp RVs, take a look at this YouTube tutorial.
If you don’t know what a joule is, you’re not alone. Electricity is a complicated force, and one that we don’t have time to fully cover here. Still, an understanding of the basic principle is in order if you want to buy a decent surge protector for your RV.
Put simply, a joule is a unit of energy. In the context of RVs, it refers to the maximum amount of power that the surge protector is capable of absorbing. The higher the number, the greater the protection. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to look for the highest possible joule rating.
Conversely, you should try to find a surge protector with a low response time. That’s because the number refers to the speed at which the unit will respond to a sudden power spike.
For obvious reasons, a faster response is preferable. Companies don’t always advertise this number, but if a response time is available, it should be extremely brief—less than one nanosecond.
Best RV Surge Protector For 2020: Product Review Guide
Here’s the rundown on some of the most popular and efficient RV surge protectors available.
|Category||Best Overall||Best Budget||Best Runner Up||Alternative||Alternative|
|Product||Progressive Industries SSP30X Smart Surge||Camco PowerDefender||Technology Research Surge Guard 44270||Hughes Autoformer BX4370||Southwire 34930 Surge Guard|
Progressive Industries 313.1168 SSP30X Smart Surge Protector – 120V/30A
Progressive Industries is one of the leaders in RV surge protection, and their SSP30X model does a fine job of illustrating what the company does best.
This unit is designed for a 30-amp RV, and set at an attractive price point. Capable of operating at temperatures from -40 to 221 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s equipped to withstand all types of weather. In addition to indicating when a wiring pedestal has suffered installation problems, the SP330X is outfitted with a surge failure indicator and reverse polarity detection. Progressive Industries offers a lifetime warranty on this product.
Camco Power Defender Circuit Analyzer
The Camco Power Defender Circuit Analyzer offers a great value at a decent price. It’s easy to spot this one—its bright yellow hue makes it highly visible, even in foggy or rainy weather.
Fully weatherproof, the Power Defender comes equipped with indicator lights and a sturdy, grip-friendly design. The unit is designed to flag any issues with reverse polarity and open neutrals, among other things. While it won’t provide the ultimate protection of a more sophisticated EMS, it’s an affordable device that will give you the first line of defense against wiring problems.
Best Runner Up
Surge Guard by Technology Research
The Surge Guard by Technology Research is another good bet, and one that’s compatible with 50-amp rigs. If your RV falls into this category, you should definitely take this model into consideration.
This model is capable of identifying a faulty power pedestal right from the start, enabling you to move on to a different site if necessary. The indicator lights provide a clear and legible readout of the power status. There’s even a handy key printed on the label in case you forget what the different light combinations are supposed to stand for.
The Surge Guard 44270 boasts a joule rating of 4,200, putting it at the top of our list in this category. Its dog-bone shape is visible without being obtrusive, and the sturdy handle has an easy, comfortable grip. While this unit is suitable for all campers and RVs, we think it’s an especially good fit for travel trailers.
Hughes Autoformer BX3470
Another worthy option is the Hughes Autoformer BX3470, also known as the “Power Watch Dog.” A no-frills model set at an average price, this unit should be easy to find and just as simple to install.
Like the offering from Technology Research, the BX3470 includes a visual key to help you discern what the different light combinations are supposed to mean. For example, three green lights indicates full power, while one red light and two green means that the L1 and neutral have been reversed.
Note that while the Power Watch Dog is weather-resistant, it isn’t fully waterproof. A cover or other type of protection might be in order if you frequently camp in areas with a rainy climate. Also known that while this unit is quite basic, there are upgraded versions available that will allow you to connect the device to your smartphone or tablet.
Southwire 34930 Surge Guard
If you can’t find any of the products we’ve listed above, the Southwire 34930 Surge Guard is also worthy of mention. With an impressive joule rating of 2,450 and visually appealing design, this unit boasts portability as well as convenience.
Perhaps the best aspect of the Southwire 34930 is the LCD readout, which makes it that much simpler to discern things like voltage and amp draws. The device also protects against open grounds, open neutrals, reverse polarity, and overheating. There’s also a 128-second reset delay feature, which gives you time to protect your appliances in the most high-risk situations.
If you’re worried about theft, the cable on this unit is equipped with a locking cord. Its versatile capabilities also make it a good choice if you frequently camp in hot and humid climates, given that your air conditioning unit will be so well protected.
After reviewing all of the available information, we’ve determined that the Progressive Industries 313.1168 SSP30X Smart Surge Protector – 120V/30A from Progressive Industries is the top choice.
Although it carries a lower joule rating than the other units listed here, this device checks off enough boxes in the “plus” column to make it the clear winner. In addition to being affordable, it carries a lifetime warranty, making it a virtually risk-free purchase. When you consider the fact that it’s also reliable in all types of weather, the SSP30X is a clear winner.
Best of luck, and happy camping!
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