best rv surge protector

The 10 Best 30 Amp & 50 Amp RV Surge Protectors To Buy in 2022

Any seasoned camper will warn you about the possible hazards lurking around the hookups at RV parks and campgrounds, a major threat of which is electrical malfunctions. When you plug your RV into an unfamiliar power source, many things can happen that can fry your appliances or damage your RV’s electrical system for good, which will be very troublesome and expensive to repair and replace. But worry not, as investing in the best RV surge protector will give you insurance against such mishaps while not breaking the bank. 

To make your purchasing experience as painless as possible, we have handpicked the best RV surge protector models on the market, with something for every camper: best RV surge protector 30 Amp, best RV surge protector 50 Amp, best RV portable surge protector and best RV EMS surge protector. 

Because of the many types of camper surge protectors and all the technicality involved, this comprehensive guide will also summarize absolutely everything you need to know about RV power surge protector to make a worthwhile investment: working mechanism, types, pros and cons, how to choose the best RV surge protector for different applications, crucial buying criteria, best brands, and clearcut answers to frequently asked questions.

Best RV Surge Protectors: Quick Recommendations

If you’re in a hurry, take a look at this quick list of our top picks for the best RV surge protector or continue scrolling to check on our full list with in-depth reviews.

#RV Surge ProtectorsAmpPricesOur Ratings
1Progressive Industries ‎SSP-30X30 Amp$*****
2Surge Guard 4428030 Amp$*****
3TRC 4475030 Amp$****
4Southwire 3493030 Amp$$$*****
5Progressive Industries ‎SSP3030 Amp$$****
6Camco ‎5530650 Amp$$$$*****
7Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C50 Amp$$$$*****
8Progressive Industries SSP-50XL50 Amp$$*****
9Surge Guard 3555050 Amp$$$****
10Surge Guard 4429050 Amp$*****

RV Surge Protectors: The Basics

What Is An RV Surge Protector? 

Simply put, an RV surge protector is like insurance for your RV’s electrical system and any electrical appliance or device connected to the system. When you plug your RV’s cable into a surge protector, then plug the surge protector into the power source at the campground, the RV electrical surge protector will protect your rig from potential electrical damages caused by a number of problems, such as: 

  • The voltage might be too low: The electrical appliances in your RV all require a consistent level of voltage in order to operate safely with optimal lifespan. A voltage either lower or higher than the ideal level will wreak havoc on your system. When the voltage is too low, the amperage increases, thus causing electrical motors to overheat or even melt down, resulting in premature failure of appliances.
  • The voltage might be too high: A higher than ideal voltage will result in overheating and thus premature failure of electrical components like circuit boards. One problematic power outlet might not kill off your electronics or electrical system in one go, but the damage from overheating is cumulative and irreversible.
  • Sudden electrical spikes: Significant surges, like in case of a lightning strike, will fry your electronics.
  • Incorrect wirings: The power outlet might be wired incorrectly and this might cause, for instance, reverse polarity. The power outlet will still work, but reverse polarity causes electricity to flow backward and operate the appliances even when they are off. This might cause a short circuit, a shock or a fire hazard.
best rv surge protector
 Photo: Outdoorsy

What is “Power Surge”?

Surge protectors for RVs serve as a sort of insurance against damages caused by surges. All in all, a power surge is an increase in voltage that exceeds the designed parameters of a circuit. When circuits experience surges, it’s common for electronics on them to sustain damage of variable levels.

About the causes, power surges could be the result of electrical overloads, lightning strikes, faulty wiring, the return of power following blackouts and so on. Since there is no way to predict surges on the road, it’s a good idea to add surge protectors to the travel inventory. 

How an RV Surge Protector Works

So how does an RV surge protector prevent the above problems from damaging your electronics? It’s a very simple yet super effective mechanism.

Remember that the RV surge protector will sit between your rig and the power outlet: you connect your rig’s cable to the surge protector, then plug the surge protector into the campground’s outlet. The best RV surge protector will be able to detect dangerously high or low voltage and automatically shut down, so that such a problematic power source will not enter your rig’s system and wreak havoc on your electronics.

RV Surge Protector Pros and Cons

Many first-time campers make the mistake of discounting the necessity of buying RV surge protectors, but any seasoned and full-time RVer would advise you to get the best surge protector for RV given your budget.

Here are why you must get one, and a few reminders/notes so you know what to expect when using this device – RV surge protector pros and cons:

Pros

  • Travel with comfort and worry free: The unfamiliar power outlets at the campgrounds can have a number of unexpected problems, which you can never know by inspection. With the best RV surge protector in place, you can confidently plug your RV into the power source and enjoy the comfort of your electrical appliances, knowing that your system and electronics are protected from whatever might come. 
  • Save money and troubles from repair and replacement: In case a lightning strike fries your RV’s electrical system, for instance, it will be very troublesome and expensive to repair, not to mention the inconvenience of this happening in the middle of nowhere. By paying a small investment on the best RV surge protector for the money, you will save not just a lot of money on repair and replacement but also your valuable time which should be spent exploring the outdoors.
  • Extensive protection and weatherproof: The best RV surge protector models these days are built to handle the harsh outdoor elements. Furthermore, depending on the type of surge protector you get, you can enjoy extensive protection from any electrical mishap possible.

Cons

Now it is important to note beforehand that these are not exactly a downside, considering the nature of an RV surge protector: it is an insurance.

You pay a small amount of insurance so that when something really bad unexpectedly happens (which you have no control over), you will not have to pay a much much larger amount. 

  • Lifespan: Do know that you can’t expect a surge protector to last you decades down the road regardless of how well you care for it, since this device has to absorb unsafe power sources. That said, for an investment ranging from $100 to $500, you are protected from having to repair your rig’s electrical system and replace all your electronics and devices. This means that over the typical lifespan of the best RV surge protector, which is three to five years, the amount of money that you save thanks to this little device will by far surpass its upfront cost.
  • Periodic replacement: Although the average lifespan of the best RV surge protector on the market is 3 to 5 years, it is advisable to replace your surge protector as soon as possible in case you know for a fact that before or during your stay, your campground area has experienced a lightning strike nearby or several power outages. Many full-time campers who own luxury Class A and Class C motorhomes with expensive residential appliances even replace their surge protectors every 2 years to make sure they are protected at all times. 

And just one more thing to keep in mind is that since an RV surge protector is compact and lightweight, some campers have had theirs stolen at the campground. In the next section, you will learn more about the pros and cons unique to each type of RV surge protector.

Types of Surge Protectors: Comparisons

RV Surge Protector vs EMS

RV Surge Protector: As its name suggests, this type of device protects your system against sudden electrical surges, like in the case of a lightning strike, and higher than normal voltages in general. This is the most basic type of protection, thus RV surge protectors are affordable entry-level devices that are popular with first-time RV owners.

EMS: An RV Electronic Management System offers a more extensive protection than an RV surge protector. It can protect your rig’s system from a host of potential threats, not only higher than normal voltages or sudden electrical surges but also low voltages and other common electrical mishaps, such as reverse polarity, open ground, high neutral, incorrectly wired power outlets and overheating plug or receptacle. 

In short, if you’re going to travel full-time or quite often, an RV EMS would be the best RV surge protector in terms of protection. Otherwise, the best RV surge protector should be the one that offers the right balance between protection and price and your camping needs. A regular RV surge protector would cost you from under $50 to around $100, while an EMS would set you back by $250 to $500.

30 Amp vs 50 Amp RV Surge Protector

The electrical system in your motorhome will either be a 30 amp service or a 50 amp service. If you have a 30 amp service, get an EMS or RV surge protector that’s made for a 30-amp RV. If you have a 50 amp service, your surge protector must be made for 50-amp rigs. To determine which service your RV has, take a look at your plugs. If yours is a three-pin plug, it’s a 30 amp service. If it’s a four-pin plug, your rig has a 50 amp service.

In general, 30 amp service is more common with smaller and older RVs that are equipped with a fewer number of appliances (which are also typically less energy consuming). Meanwhile, 50 amp service are most likely to be found in more recent RVs, especially the large size Class A and Class C motorhomes, which typically come with a host of residential grade appliances that consume a lot of electricity.

Hard-wired vs Portable RV Surge Protector 

Portable RV surge protectors are the most common. They are portable, so you plug the surge protector into the power outlet at the campground, then plug your RV’s cable into the surge protector. Meanwhile, a hard-wired or permanent surge protector for RVs is wired inside your RV and is a permanent part of your RV. 

This distinction results in both pros and cons for both types. Portable surge protectors don’t require installation and can easily be replaced once it gets fried due to an electrical problem. However, it can get stolen, which is why you’ll see many such devices being locked up at the campground with a separately purchased lock. Another concern is if the power outlet is too low on the ground, you might risk leaving the surge protector on wet grounds, which is not recommended.

In contrast, a permanent RV surge protector does require installation, but once it’s in place, you won’t ever need to worry about it being stolen or forgotten and left behind, or about it getting wet in bad weather. Do note that installation might not be straightforward for the novice, and you might need a professional to install and replace the device once it has met the end of its serviceable life. Furthermore, if you sell your RV, you can’t take the surge protector out to use in your next home on wheels.

Without further ado, below is our in-depth review of what we deem the very best 30 amp RV surge protector and best 50 amp RV surge protector on the market that are very well-rounded regarding all crucial criteria. These models will give you the most reliable and extensive protection for your electronics. Some are more suitable for certain camping environments and circumstances, which will also be highlighted so that you can more easily compare between different models.

Best 30 Amp RV Surge Protectors

A surge protector is a worthwhile investment for every RV owner. If you are living in an RV, an RV surge protector is a must-have RV accessory. This small yet essential investment will protect all of your expensive appliances and electronics in the RV from electrical issues that stem from the outlet you plug into. Now, which model to go for?

To choose the right fit for your needs, check out the handpicked list of the top rated RV surge protectors on the market which are manually tested and reviewed by RVing Trends.

#1. Best 30 Amp RV Surge Protector: Progressive Industries ‎SSP-30X

Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector
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At a glance:

  • UL certified
  • Ratings: 30A / 120V / 3,600W / 825 Joules or 22,500A max spike
  • Protection from: surges, miswiring, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground
  • Response Time: < 1 nanosecond
  • Operating Temperatures: -40°C to 105°C
  • Weather resistant cover included
  • Lifetime warranty

What It’s Best For:

  • Four-season camping: With a wide operating temperature range and the accompanying cover, this surge protector will offer reliable service even in the rain and snow and other inclement weather conditions.
  • An entry-level surge protector: Considering its price and its Joules rating, this is an affordable entry-level unit for first-time RV owners who are not exposed to high chance of power surges caused by lightning strikes.

Why This is The Best 30 Amp RV Surge Protector:

Having amassed an unparalleled 4.8 stars rating from over 6,000 buyers on Amazon and similar ratings across all major online platforms, this SSP-30XL model by the giant Progressive Industries is no doubt among the top rated RV surge protectors to date. For less than $100, it is UL certified and truly offers excellent value for money on all fronts, be it extensive protection or durability.  

This little device can protect your electronics from not only electrical surges but also from incorrectly wired power outlets, reverse polarity, open neutral and open ground. It is rated for 825 Joules, although not the highest you can get, but considering its lightning response time of less than 1 nanosecond, the Joules rating matters less: this surge protector can detect the early manifestation of potential mishaps and shut off instantly so that these mishaps cannot reach your rig’s system. And you can trust the testimonials of tens of thousands of full-time RVers on the protection that this unit delivers. Especially at its price point, it’s pretty rare to find such a reliable performance.

In addition to reliability, designed for the outdoors, this little device is built to handle harsh and varying weather conditions with a wide operating temperature range of -40°C to 105°C, which is thanks to its thermally protected housing. An extra handy feature this SSP-30XL model has that you will love is the included weather resistant cover to better protect it from the rain and splashes, a feature absent in the almost identical SSP-30X model. Its limited lifetime warranty should speak volumes about this unit’s reliability and durability.

Weighing only 2.49 pounds, it is one of the most compact and lightweight portable surge protectors. It’s easy to set up and easy to use, with 3-color LED indicator lights to signal different electrical problems and rugged pull handle for easy connection and removal. All in all, the only catch is this unit does not offer protection from low and high voltages.

Must have for your RV!

Great product! Great price! I’ve have 3 of these on my 2 RVs and they have saved us twice! One of the RV parks we frequent have BAD electrical issues and we have had 2 of these things fried on the pedestal with NO damage to our RVs! A definite must have for your RV!

Shared by RedlineGirl

Pros:

  • Resilient 
  • Space-saving 
  • Versatile and flexible 

Cons:

  • Quality control still leaves something to be desired 
  • People sometimes complain about getting the wrong model 

#2. Best Portable RV Surge Protector: Surge Guard 44280

Surge Guard 44280 Portable Surge Protector
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V
  • Joule Rating: 2,100 J
  • Protection: from power surge, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, open circuit/no power, overheating plug or receptacle
  • Easy-to-read error chart
  • Increased receptacle thickness

What It’s Best For:

  • Protection from a wide range of problems: If you want something less than $100 but offers decent protection from as many electrical problems as possible, this unit is a great catch.
  • If you prioritize portability: Weighing in at only 1.5 pounds, this is one of the most lightweight portable surge protectors, so it’s very easy to handle and plug in or unplug. If you tend to frequently hop between different campgrounds and never stay at one place for too long, this feature will come in very handy.

Why This is The Best Portable Unit:

If you don’t require the UL certification, this Surge Guard surge protector from Southwire, another major manufacturer, offers a good balance between price and functionality. This model has a stellar 4.7 stars overall rating from almost 1,500 buyers on Amazon and similar ratings on other major platforms. For less than $100, you’re getting a decent Joules rating of 2,100J and pretty extensive protection from not just the usual power surge, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, but also from open circuit/no power, overheating plug or receptacle.

Compared to the previous option, this unit has a higher Joules rating, offers protection from more types of electrical mishaps and is more portable.

Designed with an emphasis on adaptability, Surge Guard 44280 gives a good account of itself in quite a few arrangements. Owing to the increased receptacle thickness, this RV electrical surge protector could guarantee solid connection between my rig and shore power. Moreover, possessing a receptacle cover, it’s capable of keeping water, dust and so on out. As a result, this surge protector for campers holds together well regardless of the environment. 

Similar to its contemporaries, the surge protector from Surge Guard utilizes a series of indicator lights to keep RVers in touch with its operation. For ease of convenience, it integrates an easy-to-read error chart to explain the meaning of the lighting pattern. Thus, it only takes a glance for me to decipher what is going on with this surge protector. That is advantageous since prompt response is critical in protecting electronics from electric problems. 

The setup process of 44280 is a straightforward affair that involves just a bit of time and effort in most of the cases. When the installation concludes, this surge protector would protect my RV and its electronics from a lot of threats. Hence, I’m pleased to report that this surge protector is the best 30 Amp RV surge protector money can buy regarding the extent of protection. The Joule rating of this surge protector allows it to put up with numerous surges and remain uncompromised too. 

Available at a reasonable price, Surge Guard 44280 matches the budget of a lot of camper owners including me. As a result, I don’t need to cut down my expenses to squeeze this surge protector into the spending plan. Aside from that, upon purchase, it’s accompanied by a fantastic limited lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects. In the case that my surge protector acts up, I could count on Surge Guard to set things straight. 

On the other hand, it is not as ruggedly built for four-season camping and does not come with a lifetime warranty.

Yes it’s more expensive than a regular surge protector (meaning, one without the indicator lights) but in my opinion, absolutely worth it. It paid for itself the first time we used it. Plugged it into the first campsite we ever went to w/ our new RV and found out that the polarity of the plug was switched. We alerted the camp manager and he fixed it immediately so we could connect. It could have been a really bad trip if we didn’t know that before plugging the power cord in! Definitely recommend!

Shared by allie47njd

Pros:

  • Economical 
  • Long-lasting 
  • Installation is a snap 

Cons:

  • Reports of overheating pop up on occasions 
  • A number of units arrive inoperable 

#3. TRC 44750 Surge Protector

TRC 44750 Surge Guard 30-Amp Portable with Shock Shield
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V
  • Joule Rating: 510J
  • Shock shield 
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Manual reset 

Why We Love It:

Boasting a shock shield, TRC 44750 is a good buy for RVing enthusiasts that seek high-quality shock protection for their electronics. Rated at 120V, this surge protector is compatible with the voltage of a multitude of modern vehicles and my rig is not an exception. Additionally, with a Joule rating of 510J, it’s able to hold back surges for a long time. As a result, I don’t have to spend too much money on surge protector replacements on the road. 

Equipped with an automatic shutoff mechanism that severs the flow of power when it notices ground faults, 44750 gives me peace of mind. I have to manually reset it to bring back power though that is not a big hassle. All I have to do is operate a switch to restore the power to my rig. Besides that, this surge protector requires minimum interactions from the users to prevent surges from reaching the electronics. 

About strength, the TRC is engineered with attention to weather resistance which is why outdoor elements don’t cause many problems for it. Because of that, there is no need to shield this surge protector in the course of operation. Since my stay at campgrounds usually stretches out for months at a time, I have a positive impression of this surge protector for RV. Last but not least, the maintenance of this surge protector is a cinch so keeping it in working order is child’s play.

Once it comes to affordability, while TRC 44750 is not dirt-cheap, it’s far from a bank-breaking investment. Thus, I could pick up this surge protector for travel trailers and take care of my bills. The fact that it features a long lifespan permits me to save some bucks as I travel too. With an extended replacement interval, this surge protector is the best RV surge protector of its type for full-time RVing.

To reassure customers, TRC offers everyone that decides to buy its surge protector a one-year warranty. If my surge protector fails due to manufacturing defects within the warranty period, I could claim a replacement free of charge. 

Exactly what I was looking for, have used 3 times and so far so good. I recommend not only getting this but also securing it to your rv cord while plugged in at the campground pedestal so it isn’t easily stolen. I used a heavy security cable and tied a knot around it, locked the cable to my axle and then secured it with a heavy ziptie. At least make them work for it, not an eady grab n go. Think it through and you will come up with your own way of keeping yours from an easy theft.

Shared by Rather B Boating

Pros:

  • Sturdy and stable 
  • Setup process is intuitive 
  • Portable 

Cons:

  • Some RVers notice their surge protector smoking 
  • Packaging is barely acceptable 

#4. Southwire 34930 Surge Guard 30A

Southwire 34930 Surge Guard 30A
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V
  • Joule Rating: 2,450J
  • Reset delay
  • Universal installation 
  • LCD display 

Why We Love It:

Tired of looking for a new RV surge protector every month? In that case, you may want to spare a bit of your time to see what Southwire 34930 could do. With a Joule rating of 2,450J, this surge protector for campers is capable of enduring a multitude of surges in use. Needless to say, once it comes to longevity, this surge protector is one of the leading models available for purchase on the market at the moment. 

Since it’s made with universal installation in mind, the surge protector of Southwire easily adapts to countless rigs. The setup process takes little time to complete too so it’s possible for me to connect my rig to shore power at my leisure. Furthermore, outside of use, the compact construction of this surge protector for RV means it takes up token space in the interior. Because of that, finding a fitting spot to store it inside my rig is a piece of cake.

As installation wraps up, 34930 is going to create an all-around layer of protection for electronics. By glancing at the interface which contains indicator lights and a LCD display, I could maintain a firm grasp on the power supply. In terms of resistance, this surge protector would survive extensive exposure to outdoor elements with relative ease. Hence, I don’t need to bother with surge protector maintenance for the entire travel season. 

One of the things that I like about Southwire 34930 is that it incorporates a combination of startup sequence and reset delay. Hence, it protects the electronics not only during surges but also when power returns to normal levels. Naturally, many RVers who like to keep their electronics out of harm’s way deem this surge protector to be the best surge protector for RV. With it by my side, I have no trouble putting my electronics to good use and keeping them in top shape at the same time.

Compared to its competitors, the surge protector made by Southwire is kind of expensive but the values it provides match its price tag. On arrival, it’s accompanied by a limited lifetime warranty that puts me at ease. 

Pros:

  • Splendid level of protection 
  • Tip-top handling characteristics 
  • Rugged 

Cons:

  • Steep cost 
  • Less than ideal shipping 

#5. Progressive Industries ‎SSP30 Smart Surge Protector

PROGRESSIVE INDUSTRIES SSP30 Smart Surge
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V
  • Joule Rating: 825J
  • UL-listed 
  • Weather-resistant 
  • Portable 

Why We Love It:

Despite the plain look, Progressive Industries ‎SSP30 is a well-designed surge protector that rarely lets RVing enthusiasts down. Packing robust receptacles, it should secure an assortment of plugs and keep the circuit closed in the course of operation. Thus, I don’t need to worry too much about interferences to the flow of power due to loose plugs. In addition, with wide compatibility, this RV surge protector works well in rigs that have variable electrical equipment. 

Rated at 825J, the Joule rating of ‎SSP30 is unexceptional but it proves adequate for standard applications. In the case of my RV, it would keep all the electronics that I own safe and sound throughout the travel season. The moment this surge protector is no longer able to protect my electronics from surges, its indicator won’t light up. As a result, I could tell when it expires and grab a replacement to keep up the protection against surges. 

Thanks to the circuit check, the surge protector made by Progressive Industries keeps me up-to-date about the power grid. As soon as it notices reverse polarity, open neutral and open ground, this surge protector would turn on the indicator lights to warn me. Thus, I have an easy time taking care of issues with the power grid of my rig before more problems manifest. Naturally, for a RVer that travels from campground to campground like me, I find its presence beneficial. 

With an intuitive installation, Progressive Industries ‎SSP30 is a breeze to set up and put away. It’s noteworthy that this surge protector for RV accepts regular adapters for surge protectors including the one in my travel inventory. That is why I always have the option of using this surge protector on 30 Amp as well as 50 Amp shore power. It reaches the market at a price that everyone could accept as well and that is nice. 

For post-purchase support, ‎SSP30 is backed with a lifetime manufacturer warranty. If you plan to make a long-term investment, it’s strongly recommended that you add this surge protector to your shortlist. 

Pros:

  • High endurance 
  • Instantaneous installation 
  • User-friendly interface 

Cons:

  • Several inconsistencies exist between units 
  • Sporadic complaints of melted housing 

Best 50 Amp RV Surge Protectors

#6. Best 50 Amp RV Surge Protector: Camco ‎55306 RV Power Defender

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection
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At a glance:

  • CSA certified
  • Voltage Rating: 120V
  • Joule Ratings: 4,200J
  • Time Delay for Reset: 140 seconds
  • Protection from: high voltage, low voltage, surges, miswiring, reverse polarity, open grounds, open neutrals
  • Over/Under Voltage Range: <102 VAC / >132 VAC
  • Built-in grip handles 
  • Automatic disconnection/reconnection 
  • Diagnostic LEDs

What It’s Best For:

  • If you are exposed to high chance of power spikes: If for some reason, you camp in areas that have a high chance of lightning strikes, the best RV surge protector for you would be one with a Joules rating as high as possible. 
  • Protection from voltages higher or lower than normal: It’s typical for an RV surge protector to protect against sudden power spikes, but not all surge protectors will detect and automatically shut off when the voltage is higher or lower than normal.

Why This Is The Best:

Available at more than $350, this surge protector from Camco is certainly in the expensive range, but take a look at the extensive protection it offers and you will be convinced. What sets this unit apart is that it has an unmatched rating of 4,200 Joules and protects your system from not only dangerously high voltage (>132 VAC) but also from low voltage (<102 VAC) as well as faults resulting from reverse polarity, open grounds, open neutrals, and other wiring issues.

Such a high Joules rating means this unit can absorb more electricity without sustaining damage, thus is ideal in the case of very high power surges caused by lightning strikes. And it’s important to note that not all surge protectors on the market will protect your electronics from both too high or too low voltages. 

It has a handy auto reset feature, so it automatically reconnects after normal operating conditions have been restored without you having to do so manually. Plus, there’s a 140 seconds reset delay feature to better protect your most sensitive appliances, like your air conditioner compressor. 

The 55306 Power Defender by Camco is also widely loved for its rugged weather resistant housing, although its design requires it to be set up in an upright position for maximum weather protection. Full-time RVers who travel in extreme hot and cold have testified on this unit’s built construction and reliability in harsh weather conditions. Its design also allows for easy grip and easy plugging and unplugging. 

About compatibility, the Camco surge protector consists of NEMA 14-50P male end and NEMA 14-50R female end. Needless to say, it suits all sorts of shore powers as well as adapters for RV. 

Although it is not UL certified, it is certified by CSA, another prestigious third party certification and testing agency with a focus on the North American market. The only downside is that this unit weighs almost 7 pounds, so you’ll need to handle it with both hands.

I’ve been using this surge protector daily since I got it in April. It has protected my 5th Wheel about 6 times and it resets automatically each time after about 2 minutes. No issues inside except the AC shuts down in the Texas heat. Not electrical problems at all. I’ve had surges in the past with a previous RV and lost an inverter, an AC and a microwave. This surge protector has eliminated any problems related to surges and paid for itself several times over.

Shared by Pokin’ Fun

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight 
  • Catchy appearance 
  • Tough 

Cons:

  • Quality control could use some work 
  • Customer service is not exactly responsive 

#7. Best RV EMS Surge Protector: Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C Hardwired

Progressive Industries HW50C Hardwired EMS Surge & Electrical Protection
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At a glance:

  • UL certified
  • Voltage Rating: 120V/240V
  • Joule Rating: 3,580J
  • Rating: 3,580 Joules or 88,000A surge 
  • Protection from: high voltage, low voltage, surges, miswiring, reverse polarity, open grounds, open neutrals, data link down, high frequency, low frequency
  • Operating Temperatures: -40°C to 105°C
  • Hardwired 
  • Remote display and data cable 
  • Wide temperature tolerance 
  • Lifetime warranty

What It’s Best For:

  • Fuss free year-round camping in extreme weather: If you want a hardwired device permanently installed in your rig, so that you don’t need to worry about leaving it out in the pouring rain or heavy snow, locking it to the power pedestal to guard against theft or absentmindedly forgetting it behind.
  • The most extensive protection available: If you want absolute protection from all possible electrical mishaps that might ever happen, either simply for your peace of mind or because you own a luxury, large sized motorhome equipped with residential grade appliances.

Why This is The Best EMS Surge Protector:

At the $300+ price range, this HW50C hardwired EMS by Progressive Industries is a dream come true. And remember that this EMS is UL certified and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, and when considering its unmatched level of protection, this price is justified.

What makes this EMS the best 50 amp surge protector for RV even at its price is its one of a kind extensive protection. Able to work on all vehicles that use 120V/240V systems, Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C scores well regarding compatibility. Featuring a Joule rating of 3,580J, this camper surge protector remains operational following multiple surges. In addition to protection from the usual power spikes, high and low voltage, reverse polarity, open ground and open neutral, it also safeguards your system from data link down plus high frequency and low frequency. The LED display will allow you to know exactly what’s going on. 

Since it’s a hardwired model, Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C removes the need to set up and put away surge protectors as I arrive and leave campgrounds. This device is permanently installed in one of the underneath compartments in your RV, thus are not prone to theft like its portable counterparts. You won’t need to lock it up or ever worry about it taking the beatings from Mother Nature.

It is perfect for campers who like to travel in extreme weather conditions or full-time RVers who travel year round, four seasons with an operating temperature range of -40°C to 105°C. And although it’s permanent, there are plug-and-play replacement parts for this unit, in case repair is needed.

This is my second Progressive Industries EMS, first was a 30 amp on our travel trailer, when we upgraded to a fifth wheel it has 50 amp service so I had to upgrade. Removed the 30 amp from travel trailer which we traded in and sold it on one of the RV forums right away. By far the leader in the industry for RV power management. I prefer the hard wired version for many reasons, the main one being that it is out of sight, no extra work or connections at campsite and works perfectly. Comes with excellent instructions and was not difficult at all to install. Wouldn’t camp without one!

Shared by Captnchevy

Pros:

  • Detailed owner’s manual 
  • Maintenance is child’s play 
  • Responsive customer service 

Cons:

  • Setup process is tedious 
  • Kind of pricey 

#8. Progressive Industries SSP-50XL RV Smart Surge Protector

Progressive Industries 50 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector SSP-50XL
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V/240V
  • Joule Rating: 1,650J
  • Locking bracket
  • Pull handle
  • Three-color indicator light

Why We Love It:

Boasting everything that RVers need in surge protectors, Progressive Industries SSP-50XL never fails to satisfy in the course of operation. Capable of detecting reverse polarity, open ground, open neutral, miswiring, …this surge protector minimizes the odds of my electronics sustaining damages on the road. Furthermore, rated at 1,650J, it could pull through quite a few surges and that results in a long lifespan. Because of that, for its extensive replacement interval, this surge protector earns a shower of praises from RVers including me. 

For resistance, the RV surge protector made by Progressive Industries is thermally protected so it would work even as temperature soars. Since it also packs an all-weather shield assembly, this surge protector easily endures elements: water, snow, UV rays, etc. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about it going offline due to changes in weather conditions. Last but not least, certified by UL, this surge protector for RV guarantees a high degree of safety as well. 

The design of  SSP-50XL focuses on portability, hence, I could manipulate it without much difficulty. Thanks to the universal compatibility, this surge protector supports vehicles that run on 120V as well as 240V. The integration of a pull handle shortens the time it takes to install and uninstall this surge protector too. That is why I seldom need more than a minute to either attach this surge protector to shore power or put it back into my rig. 

About the interface, Progressive Industries SSP-50XL features a three-color indicator light that informs me of various problems. Thus, it’s simple for me to react in a timely manner whenever there is something wrong with the power supply. Aside from that, this surge protector for travel trailers gives me the option to secure it to the shore power at campgrounds. That means the risk of people with malicious intent stealing this surge protector in my absence is low.  

Introduced to the market as a budget model, the Progressive Industries surge protector is popular among cost-conscious RV owners. Naturally, on the day that this surge protector give out, I could pick up a brand new replacement with relative ease. 

Pros:

  • Adaptable 
  • Reasonable price 
  • Quick delivery service 

Cons:

  • A couple of users report about units melting 
  • Thin prongs 

#9. Surge Guard 35550 Hardwire Surge Protector

Surge Guard 35550 Hardwire Model
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V/240V
  • Joule Rating: 3,850J
  • All-around protection 
  • Automatic reset
  • Reset delay 

Why We Love It:

With automatic reset and reset delay, Surge Guard 35550 not only brings back power on its own but also protects my electronics. As a result, once it comes to convenience, this surge protector is well-received by no-nonsense RVing enthusiasts. Additionally, the protection of this surge protector is comprehensive too: if there is even a minor issue, it’s going to let me know immediately. As long as I check up on its indicator light, I could tell if the connection between my rig and shore power is stable. 

Since 35550 is rated for vehicles running on 120V and 240V systems, its compatibility is excellent. It’s a hardwire model though so its installation is not something that everyone may do unless they have the tools and skills. I could set up this surge protector by myself but if you lack confidence, you should leave the installation to an electrician. In any case, after the setup process wraps up,  this surge protector needs little care until it fails. 

In terms of lifespan, the Joule rating of the RV surge protector permits it to last a long time. Hence, the placement interval of this surge protector is longer than that of its contemporaries. Besides that, if it’s no longer able to protect my electronics from surges, the No protection indicator light would light up. At that point, all I have to do is to replace it with a new surge protector. 

Unlike portable surge protectors, Surge Guard 35550 stays inside my RV so it’s not vulnerable to elements in the outdoors. Also, with this surge protector remaining out of sight, no one would try to steal it. For a person that cannot keep an eye on the surroundings at all times like me, it’s a solid choice for surge protection. Lastly, this camper surge protector is an economic model that matches my shopping budget. 

For post-purchase support, 35550 is backed with a lifetime warranty with fantastic coverage. If I come across issues while using this surge protector, I could count on the support of  Surge Guard. 

Pros:

  • Adaptable 
  • Packaging is tip-top
  • Robust construction 

Cons:

  • Sporadic complaints about power blockages  
  • Particular units show up in a used state 

#10. Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector

Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector
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At a glance:

  • Voltage Rating: 120V/240V
  • Joule Rating: 4,200J
  • Portable 
  • Pull handle 
  • Integrated receptacle cover 

Why We Love It:

Effective and efficient, Surge Guard 44290 is capable of preventing surges from harming electronics in all sorts of situations. In addition, with a Joule rating of 4,200J, this surge protector would keep surges at bay for quite some time before failing. Because of that, the replacement interval of this RV surge protector is longer than that of the average models. By keeping it around, I could save money on the repair and replacement of electronics as I travel. 

The installation of the surge protector from Surge Guard is intuitive so I have no trouble setting it up. After I finish connecting it to my rig and shore power, this camper surge protector automatically lights up its indicator lights to describe the situation. To determine what is going on, I only need to cross-check the lighting patterns with the error chart below the indicator lights. Designed to detect issues such as open neutral, open ground, open circuit and more, it guarantees improved situational awareness for RVers like me.

In the course of operation, 44290 takes advantage of the increased receptacle thickness to keep the heat down. That is why this surge protector could minimize the odds of overheating regardless of the amount of electricity that moves through it. Aside from that, owing to the pull handle, it takes mere seconds to put away this surge protector during relocation. The integrated receptacle cover ensures that nothing gets inside this surge protector outside of use.

Since it uses a space-saving design, Surge Guard 44290 would sit neatly in any corner of my rig. As a result, there is no need to leave behind items to accommodate this travel trailer surge protector. Noteworthily, this surge protector possesses basic maintenance requirements that require just a bit of effort to satisfy. That means keeping this surge protector in good condition is a piece of cake.

Surge Guard releases its surge protector at a budget-friendly price, therefore, everyone could afford it. The one-year warranty that accompanies it is reassuring as well. 

Pros:

  • Durable 
  • Long lifespan 
  • Affordability is fantastic 

Cons:

  • Water resistance requires improvements 
  • Mediocre shipping 

How to Choose The Best RV Surge Protector: Buying Criteria

After deciding whether you would prefer a portable or hard-wired model, and an EMS or a surge protector, it’s time to look into the technical specifications. Here’s how to choose an RV surge protector based on the most important criteria:

Joules Rating

Without going into the complicated details, you just need to understand that in the context of RV surge protectors, the Joules rating of a device refers to the maximum amount of electricity that a surge protector can safely absorb and dissipate as heat. So in short, the best RV surge protector should have a Joules rating as high as you can afford so it won’t easily get fried and die.

Response Time

Response time suggests how quickly your surge protector can respond to an electrical mishap. The smaller the response time, the better a device can protect your electronics. The best RV surge protectors on the market typically boast a response time of less than 1 nanosecond, which is only 1 billionth of a second. This means that when you’re debating between two options with one having a slightly lower Joules rating but better response time, the difference Joules rating might not matter as much.

UL Certification

Another sign for greatness is that the best RV surge protectors for your money should have the UL certification. UL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, which is a third-party organization that provides certification standards and is dedicated to product inspection for safety and reliability. A UL certified surge protector is safe to use in your RV and will give you reliable protection. 

Power Rating 

Since the total amount of power that RVers desire changes from case to case, power rating is a key consideration once it comes to surge protectors. To deduce the ideal power rating for your surge protector, you should calculate the consumption rate of your electronics. 

When you understand how much power your rig needs, you could remove unsuitable models from your shortlist. Finally, to stay on the safe side, you may want to get a surge protector with a rating that is slightly higher than necessary.

Clamping Voltage 

The clamping voltage is the voltage that causes Metal-Oxide Varistor (MOV) to conduct electricity to the ground line. Nowadays, clamping voltages for surge protectors include 330V, 400V, 500V and others. 

In most of the cases, surge protectors that have low clamping voltages provide superior protection. It’s widely advised that you avoid models with clamping voltages exceeding 400V. 

LED Display

Many campers might overlook this feature, since the best RV surge protector should be protecting your system from whatever might come and there’s no need for you to look, right? Remember that you should replace your surge protector in case there indeed has been an electrical mishap that fried the device and killed it off. But without any kind of displays, you’ll never know what’s going on and when your RV surge protector needs replacement.

The best RV surge protector should have a user friendly LED display that tells you clearly the type of electrical problems it is encountering, or at least have indicator lights that can signal a variety of electrical issues.

rv surge protector reviews

Indicator Light

Even high-end surge protectors eventually break down one day and knowing when to pick up replacements is vital to the continuous protection of electronics. As a result, it’s suggested that you prioritize models with built-in indicator light. 

By taking a glance at the indicator light of your surge protector from time to time, you would have no trouble grasping its status. It’s worth pointing out that in a number of models, the indicator light helps with the diagnosis of electric issues too. 

Auto Reset

While some models do require you to manually reset it after it has shut down due to an electrical Issue, the best RV surge protectors on the market often have an automatic reset feature to let power flow again after disaster strikes without you having to lift a finger.

Another important note here is that to protect your most sensitive appliances, the very best RV surge protector of the bunch should have a reset delay feature, typically for 128 seconds. This feature provides added protection for your RV’s air conditioning compressor.

Anti-Theft Protection

Since theft is a common occurrence with portable surge protectors, the best RV surge protectors on the market are often designed with a handy locking cord on the cable or a locking bracket. Some models are designed to be installed in an RV’s underneath compartment, thus are less likely to fall victim to theft.

Weather Resistance

The best RV surge protector for your money should be built with durable materials and a weather resistant build to withstand the beatings of the harsh outdoors. The best RV surge protector in terms of weather resistance should have a wide operating temperature range, and ideally boast a thermally protected housing for extra protection from extreme weather conditions. 


Best RV Surge Protector Brands

If you’re new to the world of RV surge protectors, it’s always safe to pick a best selling model from one of the biggest names. Not only will you have more in-depth customer reviews to rely on, renowned manufacturers often offer better warranties and technical support. Below are the best RV surge protector brands with something for every camper:

Progressive Industries

Progressive Industries is hands down the top name when it comes to RV surge protector. This is perhaps thanks to their laser focus in this particular RV accessory. Progressive Industries’ full line of RV surge protectors always receive raving reviews from full-time RVers for reliability, rugged construction and easy handling. The brand offers a limited lifetime warranty for all of its products.

Progressive Industries was founded in 1999 by a full-time RVer. It was the only brand at the time to produce RV surge protectors only and to manufacture its products in the US.

Since being acquired by Power Products, LLC in late 2017, their manufacturing has been outsourced to Mexico. However, Progressive Industries continues to be the only company that produces RV surge protectors as its one and only product, although the parent company does manufacture other products. 

Check out the video for the comparison between Progressive Industries vs Southwire units

Southwire 

Previously known as Technology Research, Southwire is another household name and one of the very few companies that offer a limited lifetime warranty for its products, along with Progressive Industries.

Although this brand does not boast the same kind of deep focus like Progressive Industries, it owns a number of models that are hailed as the best RV surge protectors in terms of extensive and sophisticated protection, and Joules rating. Southwire offers a complete line of Surge Guard surge protectors for RV, with many lightweight and weather resistant models with a Joules rating above 2,000, a handy LED display and the more sophisticated delay reset function to better protect the most sensitive of your appliances, like your A/C compressor. 

You will find models that are surprisingly affordable, yet can offer such extensive protection from not just high or low voltage but also reverse polarity, reverse ground, open ground, open neutral, and open circuit.

Camco

While the above three names are more focused on RV surge protectors, Camco is known as the A-to-Z brand that sells everything you can think of when it comes to camping. That is not to say that Camco’s surge protector is not up to par. Like with everything else that Camco makes, their RV surge protectors are well designed and a joy to use, with handy indicators or displays and durable housing to withstand extreme weather conditions. Camco has a few models praised as some of the best RV surge protectors in terms of extensive protection as well as high Joules ratings of above 3,500 Joules.


FAQs about RV Surge Protectors

1. Is a surge protector a good idea for an RV?

Any seasoned and full-time traveler will tell you that getting the best RV surge protector you can afford is an absolute must. Although it’s in nature an insurance, you’re paying a small investment so that you won’t have to pay a large amount to repair your rig’s electrical system and replace your appliances once disaster strikes. 

And you’ll never know when disaster will strike when you connect your RV with unfamiliar power outlets at the campground. Many things can happen and fry your electronics or worse, start a fire, which cannot be detected by any way: incorrect wiring, reverse polarity, open ground, high neutral, high voltage, low voltage, electrical spikes caused by lightning strikes. 

Once these mishaps happen, you risk getting stranded in the middle of nowhere and having to spend thousands of dollars, plus time, on repair and replacement. Having the best RV surge protector in place means your electronics will be protected from whatever might come.

2. Do I need a surge protector for my RV when using a generator?

Generators themselves are not immune to power surges and low or high voltage. These electrical mishaps can happen anywhere, anytime, no matter what you plug into, be it shore power or a generator.

3. What is the difference between a surge protector and an EMS?

A ‘surge’ protector, as the name suggests, protects your electronics from sudden electrical surges, like in case of a lightning strike, and higher than normal voltages in general. Meanwhile, an EMS offers broader protection, not just from high voltage but also low voltage and other common electrical issues like reverse polarity, open ground, high neutral, incorrectly wired power outlets and overheating plug or receptacle.

4. What size surge protector do I need for my RV: 30 Amp or 50 Amp?

Your RV would either have a 30 amp service or a 50 amp service. RV surge protectors are specifically made for one or the other, so just get the corresponding surge protector. To determine which service your RV has, take a look at your plugs. If yours is a three-pin plug, it’s a 30 amp service. If it’s a four-pin plug, your rig has a 50 amp service.

5. Can you use a 50 amp surge protector on a 30 amp RV?

Yes, you can with an adapter, but it’s not recommended. Remember that people make 30-amp surge protectors specifically for 30-amp RVs and 50-amp surge protectors for 50-amp RVs for a reason. 

Surge protectors are designed to shut off once the voltage is higher than a certain threshold. This threshold is higher for a 50-amp surge protector, so if you use a 50-amp surge protector on an RV that only requires a 30-amp service, the surge protector might not shut off quickly enough to protect your electronics. Therefore, your appliances might get damaged, and your RV’s electrical system as a whole might sustain some problems.

6. How many surge protector Joules do I need?

The higher the Joules rating, the better your RV surge protector can protect your electronics from sudden electrical spikes. In general, as a rule of thumb, you should get at least 1,000 Joules as a minimum. The majority of surge protectors on the market are rated for between 1,000 and 2,000 Joules, while the very best RV surge protectors boast of rating above 3,000 Joules.

7. Are RV surge protectors waterproof?

Not all RV surge protectors are waterproof, or at least not wholly waterproof, but the best RV surge protectors on the market are made with weather resistance in mind. Read the product specifications to see if the unit can withstand some rain, but bear in mind that no device is made to be completely submerged in water.

8. Do RV surge protectors go bad?

Yes, your surge protector can get fried from protecting your electronics in case a power spike or other mishaps happen. Its components will degrade, and how fast that happens depends on the frequency and the strength of the power surges it encounters.

9. What are the signs of a bad RV surge protector?

Below are some signs of a faulty surge protector:

Plugged in but not on: Most RV surge protectors these days have some kind of indicator or display to tell you when it’s in working mode. If you plug it in but there’s no signal from the indicator light like usual, your device is likely faulty and its internal components might have burnt out.

The surge protector is hot: A surge protector should not feel hot under the touch. If it is overheating, it is likely to be faulty, whatever the source of the heating might be, and it can be a fire hazard.

Broken fuse: If upon inspection, you see a fuse with broken glass, you’ll need to replace your unit as a broken fuse cannot be fixed. The most common reason for this is a very high power spike.

Flickering lights: If the lights in your rig flicker when your surge protector is activated, it shows that you’re not getting the right voltage and thus the surge protector is not working as it should. Another possibility is incorrect wiring, which would require a professional inspection.

The unit keeps flashing lights or turning on and off: If your device keeps turning on and off, which might be accompanied by flashing lights and continuous beeping, there might be a short circuit or your unit is faulty. It needs to be replaced, as when this happens, it’s no longer protecting your electronics properly.

10. Why does my RV power surge protector keep turning off?

Many RV power surge protectors turn off by themselves when they detect excesses in the flow of electricity. If your surge protector keeps turning off in use, you may be using way too many power-hungry appliances at the same time. The shore power that provides you RV with electricity is one of the potential culprits as well. Lastly, if the rating of your surge protector is lower than necessary, it’s going to turn off from time to time. 

11. How long do RV surge protectors last?

The average lifespan of the best RV surge protector on the market is 3 to 5 years. That said, it is advisable to replace your surge protector as soon as possible in case you know for a fact that before or during your stay, your campground area has experienced a lightning strike nearby or several power outages. Many full-time campers who own luxury Class A and Class C motorhomes with expensive residential appliances make a habit of replacing their surge protectors every 2 years or so to make sure they are protected at all times.

12. How do you test an RV surge protector?

To test surge protectors for RV, you could use an assortment of techniques. However, if you wish to play it safe, you should use the following methods:

Take a look at the indicator light: To save people the hassle of guessing, surge protector brands design their models with indicator lights. That means you could tell if your surge protector is in working order by checking out its indicator light. Here is how things work:  if your surge protector is compromised, the indicator responsible for its status won’t light up. Besides that, the indicator light of several models would flash in a specific pattern to notify RVers to look for surge protector replacements.

Plug the surge protector into alternative power sources: Can’t get electricity from your surge protector? In that case, you may want to plug the surge protector into alternative power sources. If you have electricity with the second shore power, you could conclude the original shore power is not working. On the other hand, if you receive no electricity from the second shore power as well, there is a chance that you need a new surge protector.
 
Get a hold of the multimeter: Designed to measure various electrical readings, multimeter should help you decide whether your surge protector is in good condition. The voltage of an up-and-running surge protector ranges between 110 and 120 volts. Also, it’s a good idea to assess the resistance of the surge protector using the multimeter. Surge protectors that cannot maintain continuity would have high resistance readings (measured in Ohm).

Search for signs of damages: Frayed wires, melted housing, smell of burnt plastics and others usually indicate serious damages in surge protectors. If you notice such signs as you examine your surge protector, replace it as soon as possible. 

Take age into account. On average, travel trailer surge protectors last around five years before failing. In the case that your surge protector is a bit old, don’t hesitate to replace it when you have the opportunity. 

13. How do I reset my RV surge protector?

While the best RV surge protectors these days often automatically reset themselves to let power flow again once things are back to normal, some require you to manually reset by pushing the ‘reset’ button on the device. Otherwise, if you can’t find this button, simply push the power switch back on to reset the device (the power switch will trip to the ‘off’ position in the case of a power surge).

14. How to secure an RV surge protector?

Since theft is a common occurrence with portable surge protectors, the best RV surge protectors on the market are often designed with a handy locking cord on the cable or a locking bracket. Otherwise, you can purchase a separate padlock that will fit through a hole in the electrical pedestal cover to lock your surge protector to the power source.

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