It always strikes me funny that someone would protect things like plasma televisions and game consoles or computers in their homes, but few consider surge protection in recreational vehicles, which run 120 volt systems just like regular homes and are just as vulnerable when plugged in to the shore power of a campground.
All RVs need surge protection and there is no reason to think otherwise. Then what, you ask, is the best protection for your RV?
Well, an easy answer would be to say any protection is better than none at all, and that’s not a wrong answer, but you really do want to look for something with as many safety features as possible.
Insurance protects you from theft, collision, vandalism, etc, but few, if any, cover electrical damage done by power surges. A decent protector with AC power monitoring is a valuable asset that is just as good as any insurance policy.
Without it, you could be looking at very expensive electronic component repairs and rewiring costs.
The best RV surge protector:
- does not exceed your cabin’s amp rating, either 30- or 50-amp.
- has a high rating in Joules. In short, the higher the better off you are.
- protects from under/over voltages (gradual increases or decreases in voltage in addition to protecting from sudden spikes or dips).
- protects from reverse polarity (mis-wired shore power).
- automatically shuts off power in the event of an open neutral (improper connection of neutral line at shore power, drawing current through ground instead).
- has indicator lights to alert you to miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, open neutral, elevated ground voltage.
This might seem like a laundry list, but these safety features are included with most quality protectors.
RV surge damage is different from what happens in the home. In your home, you are under constant attack from equipment in your home: air conditioners, washing machines, other high-powered equipment that can create power surges on the line.
In your coach you are vulnerable to irregularities at the pedestal. Weather conditions, pole connection conditions, the number of users sharing power in the park, any number of faults can create dangers that will hurt your camper and any electronic equipment inside.
Deciding Which RV Surge Protectors Are Best For Your Recreational Vehicle
Determining which is best for you will depend on a few factors. To start, there are two main types; the portable kind that plug directly into the park outlet OUTSIDE your RV and those that are hardwired into your vehicle at the bay (usually).
The difference essentially is that a 50-amp device runs two 120-volt legs instead of one and is made more for 50-amp service fivers with multiple air conditioners or other heavy load equipment.
Personally I don’t see a benefit in one style over the other. It’s all in what you prefer. Portable models are susceptible to thievery but you can purchase lock boxes for them. Hardwired models may require some professional help to install if you’re not very handy.