30 Amp Surge Protector: Is It Enough For Today’s RV?

The 30 amp surge protector has long been the traditional protection for all RVs. It used to be perfect for campers that connected to hitches, like pop-ups and travel trailers and those with low-rated equipment to support.

More and more RVs are made into luxury vehicles these days and that means more amenities, more high-powered equipment and therefore, the need for more surge protection. While 30-amp devices were adequate at one time, they are losing ground in modern recreational vehicle use and the move to 50 amp devices is becoming more prominent.

But does that mean the end of the 30 amp surge protector? No.

State and national parks still use the lower amp pedestals and it will likely be some time before an upgrade occurs. That means if you’re on board a newer fifth wheel, you’ll need a 30/50 adapter to use these power poles.

If you’re unclear as to what you need for your camper, see what it’s already rated for. If you have a 30-amp service, you only need a SPD rated for 30 amps. Otherwise, go higher.

If you have an older coach and want to add appliances, use the following guide to see what can be safely run at the same time without over doing it.

RV appliance amp ratings
RV appliance DC amp ratings

 

Like I said, lower amp devices are made for older trailers with less equipment to support, but the guide above helps juggle appliances if you run more.

The Problem With Juggling Appliances On A 30 Amp RV Surge Protector

Appliances in an RV almost always depend on the amount of voltage for which they are rated, generally between 105 to 130 volts, just like appliances in your home.

One thing that will wear them out prematurely is fluctuating power at the pole. You almost never get the power you expect, mostly due to environmental circumstances, usage by other campers and how old the pole is.

The thing to remember with these fluctuations is that at times power may dip below 90 volts, as in a brownout, or it may swell to over 150 volts, as in the case with a broken neutral. If this happens for any sustained amount of time, a low grade surge protector isn’t going to help you.

A higher end device can be used to protect on the converter, inverter and other wiring. It will trip if it detects either condition. Depending on the model it will have a reset switch that will either reset itself after a time delay or require a manual reset.

Converting Your RV To 50 Amp Service

Let’s say you want to upgrade your vehicle to house 50-amp equipment so you can run lots of stuff. Is it possible?

It is, but it’s not easy or cheap. You’re moving from single-phase to two-phase wiring. It’s not a single 240V system but a dual wiring system with two 120V lines.

To start, you have to replace the electrical cord and 120V breaker with 50 amp units, adding in a second hot wire to accommodate the 50A four-wire system as 50A service runs two hot legs.

Then you have to transfer all of the existing circuits over to a panel made for 50 amp service.

If your reason for upgrading is to run two air conditioners, be sure they are both on their own 20A circuit. That’s imperative. Also this can be time consuming if you have to install new wiring for a second a/c, which will most likely be the case.

The only problem you may run into with having a second a/c is most C class vehicles are right at their max weight (GVWR) with one air conditioner and a generator. Adding a second unit could push you over your weight limit, which could lead to other problems with licensing and such.

Overall though, you’re talking about a lot of work and it just might be as costly as trading in your current 30-amp coach for a fiver.

Below are some top of the line 30 amp devices that you should consider if you are still up in the air.

Progressive Industries 30 AmpSmart Surge Protector

This 30-amp protector by Progressive Industries has a built-in polarity tester and surge indicator. This lets you know that one, AC shore power is wired correctly; and two, that your surge protector is working properly.

Nothing fancy about this device just that it works. It is fuse protected, which is important for handling dips and surges and a circuit tester that checks for reverse polarity, open neutral and open ground.

Price Range
This is basic protection at an affordable price. You will find it online from $79.99 to $143.99 depending on where you shop.

Features
Design: Portable
Joules: 825J
Rating: 120V/30A
Maximum Spike Rating: 22,500 amps
Clamping Voltage: <300 VAC
Response Time: <1 nanosecond
Protection Mode: 3-mode (L-N, L-G, N-G)
Protected Indicator Light (green): Yes
Grounded Indicator Light (red): Yes
Reverse Polarity: Yes
Fuse Protection: Yes
Warranty: Lifetime
Progressive Industries 30 AmpHardwired Surge Protector

This 30-amp device by Progressive Industries is hardwired into your panel and has a time delay for a/c compressors. Other features include reverse polarity tester, open neutral and open ground protection and accidental 220V protection.

The real value in this device is the remote information panel that scrolls information on voltage, current, frequency, error codes and previous errors.

Price Range
The additional protection still keeps this device at an affordable price. You will find it online from $269.99 to $367.99 depending on where you shop.

Features
Design: Hardwired
Joules: 1790J
Rating: 120/240V/50A
Maximum Spike Rating: 44,000 amps
Clamping Voltage: <300 VAC
Response Time: <1 nanosecond
Protection Mode: 3-mode (L-N, L-G, N-G)
Over/Under Protection: Yes
Voltage Range: < 104V – 132V >
Restoration: > 104V – 132V <
Trip Time: 8 – 10 seconds, automatic restore
A/C Time Delay: 2 settings: 15 second and 136seconds
Protected Indicator Light (green): Yes
Grounded Indicator Light (red): Yes
Reverse Polarity: Yes
Fuse Protection: Yes
Warranty: Lifetime
Technology Research Corporation(TRC) 30 Amp Portable Surge Protector

The TRC 30-amp portable SPD here is new. It has an LCD readout that indicates voltage and amp draw on the leg. It also displays faults for reverse polarity.

There is an automatic shut off on the fuse when power drops or spikes out of normal range.

A powerhouse in Joules for these devices, it is rated at 2450J.

Price Range
Enhanced technology makes this a real value. You will find it online from $259.99 to $487.99 depending on where you shop.

Features
Design: Portable
Joules: 2450J
Rating: 120V/30A
Max Watts: 3600
Maximum Spike Rating: 6500 Amps/MOV
Clamping Voltage: <300 VAC
Response Time: <1 nanosecond
Protection Mode: 3-mode (L-N, L-G, N-G)
Over/Under Protection: Yes
Voltage Range: < 102V – 132V >
Restoration: > 104V – 132V <
Trip Time: 8 – 10 seconds, automatic restore
A/C Time Delay: 128 seconds
Protected Indicator Light (green): Yes
Grounded Indicator Light (red): Yes
Reverse Polarity: Yes
Fuse Protection: Yes
Warranty: 1 Year
Technology Research Corporation(TRC) 30 Amp Hardwired Surge Protector

The hardwired model of TRC’s 30-amp RV SPD monitors AC power and shuts off automatically when it detects irregularities outside normal voltage ranges.

It is installed as a fixture at the panel of your coach.

Price Range
Enhanced technology makes this a real value. You will find it online from $228.99 to $357.99 depending on where you shop.

Features
Design: Hardwired
Joules: 1050J
Rating: 120V/30A
Max Watts: 3600
Maximum Spike Rating: 6500 Amps/MOV
Clamping Voltage: <300 VAC
Response Time: <1 nanosecond
Protection Mode: 3-mode (L-N, L-G, N-G)
Over/Under Protection: Yes
Voltage Range: < 102V – 132V >
Restoration: > 104V – 132V <
Trip Time: 8 – 10 seconds, automatic restore
A/C Time Delay: 128 seconds
Protected Indicator Light (green): Yes
Grounded Indicator Light (red): Yes
Reverse Polarity: Yes
Fuse Protection: Yes
Warranty: 1 Year
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Comments

  1. Frank M says:

    I have a 50 amp Rv 7 a 50 amp Surge Guard. In campgrounds with only 30 amp service can I use the 50 amp Surge Guard with an adaptor in the 30 amp power source?

  2. Hi Frank. Your 50 amp device will be fine connected to 30 amp service pedestals. Keep in mind though, that an air conditioner uses around 16 amps so if you have more than one running, you run the risk of meltdown while connected to a power source. Basically, the 50 amp surge protector provides the ability to run your a/c while using other appliances without fear of surge damage or power overload.

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