Best RV Surge Protectors to Protect Your Electronics

Best RV Surge Protectors to Protect Your Electronics

Avid RVers understand the importance of having a functional 120V electrical system in their rig. While a 12V setup covers the basics—fans, lights, a water pump, and the fridge—a hardwired 120V system is required for HVAC units, electric cookers, and other essential everyday appliances. And it’s these vital tools that can bring you the comfort of home while you’re out there roughing it on the road.

But a professionally installed 120V system doesn’t come cheap, and just one unexpected voltage spike could fry the whole thing. And that’s why smart RVers will always purchase a surge protector to safeguard their rigs. Surge protectors and electrical management systems (EMS) automatically protect your RV against harmful power fluctuations, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in repairs.

To help you wrap your head around the technology, we’ve put together an in-depth buyer’s guide that covers all the crucial info. Then, once you’re up to speed, you can peruse our top 10 recommendations to pick out the perfect product for you.

RV Surge Protectors: What to Consider

Before you start searching for the ideal surge protector for your needs, you must understand the key factors to look out for. Wherever possible, we include the following considerations in the “Quick Facts” section of our reviews to simplify the decision-making process.

Surge Protector vs. EMS

Surge protectors and electrical management systems (EMS) are both important tools to protect your 120V system against unexpected power fluctuations. While surge protectors safeguard against severe voltage spikes, EMS can defend your rig against a wide range of potentially harmful electrical issues. For more info, see the section on surge protectors and EMS in our guide below.

Portable or Hardwired

Portable systems don’t require installation and can be switched between RVs on a whim. Hardwired systems, on the other hand, need a professional install but sit safely tucked away in a theft-proof and weather-proof box inside the RV.

Amps

Surge protectors and EMS come in 30 (three-prong) and 50 (four-prong) amp varieties. While an adapter can convert one to the other, you’ll lose a layer of protection. Check how many amps your 120V system runs on and purchase your protector accordingly.

Joules Rating

The joules rating refers to the degree of fluctuation a surge protector can safeguard against—the higher the number, the better. Aim for at least a rating of 800 to ensure you’re appropriately protected, perhaps even more if you’ve got an advanced setup.

UL Certification

An Underwriter Laboratory (UL) Certificate is a third-party certification that confirms a surge protector is safe for RV use. Not all the best products include UL Certification, and a lack of a certificate doesn’t necessarily mean you must steer clear.

It’s almost time to get to our list of the best RV surge protectors you can buy. If you need more help getting your RV’s electrical system working in tip-top shape, see our guides of the best RV air conditioners and solar power kits.

Top 10 Best RV Surge Protectors 2021

1. Best Overall Pick: Progressive Industries SSP-30XL Surge Protector

Progressive Industries SSP-30XL Surge Protector

Why we like it: It’s a durable and practical 30A surge protector that’s easy as pie to use.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 30
  • Joules Rating: 825
  • UL Certification: Yes

Progressive Industries is one of the leading RV surge protector manufacturers—this won’t be the only time you find their products on our list. And this widely popular portable 30 amp option is among their best, especially for small RV owners who want something cheap and easy that works.

With the SSP-30XL, you get the best of both worlds: a plug-and-play portable device that won’t get stolen or ruined in the rain. A tough locking bracket ensures the system won’t disappear in the night, while its sturdy weather resistant casing keeps inclement weather at bay. The unit has an impressive level of thermal protection, too, capable of withstanding temperatures between -40F and 221F—we sure hope you won’t be RVing outside that range!

Aside from big power spikes, the SSP-30XL can protect against other electrical ills like open ground.

Although the 3-color LED display is rather simplistic, it will at least warn against open neutral and reverse polarity, miswired pedestal, and surge failures. Another big drawback is the lackluster joules rating, which is lower than other options at 825. Still, that’s enough to cover most RVers in a 30amp rig, especially if you don’t expect to encounter many large scale surges at your favorite RV park.

Looking for something similar in 50 amps? Progressive Industries offer a similar product for 50 amp RVs. Also, if you don’t need the bulky weather-proof case, there’s a slimline 30 amp option as well.

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Sturdy weather-proof case
  • Locking bracket
  • Multiple warnings
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Low joules rating
  • Simple LED detection lights

2. Best Premium Pick: Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender

Why we like it: This beefy portable option from Camco offers optimal surge protection with minimal fuss.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge Protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 50
  • Joules Rating: 4,200
  • UL Certification: No

If you’re prepared to spend a bit extra for exceptional protection but don’t want to go down the hardwired path, the Camco Power Defender is ideal.

This nifty portable option is easy for the layman to use and has a simple plug-and-play installation. We especially love the contoured grip handles as it makes plugging it into the shore power input less of a chore. The automatic disconnect feature will switch the power on and off without human intervention, so you can rest assured it’ll protect your rig 24/7. Diagnostic LED lights will also alert you to any existing electrical issues the moment you plugin.

Unlike other portable units, the Power Defender provides a high level of protection against potentially harmful high (>132) and low (<102) voltages. The Power Defender also does a better job than other portables at protecting against wiring issues, especially open neutral and reverse polarity faults. And that means you’re getting the protection of a fully-fledged EMS in the easy-to-use shell of a portable surge protector.

What’s more, its exceptional 4,200 joules rating means the durable unit will stand the test of time in even the most unpredictable electrical setups—grab this one if you’re not confident about the safety of the electrical grid at your preferred RV park.

While the case is weather-proof, you need to remember to leave it in an upright position to guarantee no water will seep through. Furthermore, it doesn’t come with a cable lock, so you should buy one separately—well worthwhile for such a hefty investment.

This classic from Camco also comes in a 30 amp option for smaller rigs.

Pros

  • Protects against high/low voltage better than most
  • Impressive joules rating
  • Waterproof casing
  • Protects against wiring issues better than most
  • Automatic disconnect provides 24/7 protection

Cons

  • Much more expensive than other portables
  • Waterproof casing must be placed upright
  • Doesn’t include a cable lock

3. Best Budget Pick: Surge Guard 44260

Surge Guard 44260

Why we like it: This entry-level surge protector covers the basics at an enticingly low price point.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 30
  • Joules Rating: 2,100
  • UL Certification: No

If you’re after a barebones solution to protect your rig from surges at a rock bottom price, then the 44620 from Surge Guard is a worthy contender indeed. Coming in at well under a hundred dollars a pop, this budget-orientated product is among the cheapest on the market.

But cheap doesn’t mean nasty in this case as it works wonders against power spikes. With a solid joules rating of 2,100 and easy-to-understand indicator lights, you can rest assured your rig will be safe from significant surges.

The downside to budget options like this is they won’t offer any protection from consistent low/high voltages and other electrical issues, which are all equally hazardous to your rig. The indicator lights are relatively simple, too, only letting you know the device is still functioning and whether there are any issues at the pedestal (shore power). Nonetheless, Surge Guard clearly states what the product is suitable for and even describes it as “entry-level,” so you can hardly say the company is dishonest in that respect.

The weather-proof design should withstand light to moderate rain, but bear in mind there’s no locking cable or UL Certification (hardly surprising given the low price).

If you want something cheap and easy to protect against surges and nothing else, the 44620 is a great option to consider. But if you want optimal protection for a high-end setup against various electrical issues, we recommend investing a bit more (try the SSP-30XL Surge Protector, for example).

Need 50 amps? Surge Guard does an identical model for 50A rigs. The same company also does an upgraded version of this unit with added UL Certification, the Surge Guard 44280.

Pros

  • Low price point
  • Works well against spikes
  • High 2,100 joules rating
  • Honest and accurate description

Cons

  • Doesn’t protect against advanced electrical issues
  • Only capable of withstanding moderate rain
  • Doesn’t include UL Certification

4. Best Hardwired EMS: Surge Guard 35550

Surge Guard 35550

Why we like it: The Surge Guard 35550 provides non-stop electrical protection for power-hungry 50 amp rigs.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: EMS
  • Portable / Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amps: 50
  • Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 4 inches
  • Joules Rating: 3,850
  • UL Certification: No

Hardwired EMS offers additional protection and convenience, but at a cost: a more complex one-time installation. While you’ll need to get an electrician to install the device (unless you know your way around 120V circuitry), you won’t ever have to worry about it again—a true “set it and forget it” solution.

Multiple hardwired EMS systems are available to choose from, but we rate the Surge Guard 35550 as the pick of the bunch for its advanced protection mechanisms and ease of installation. The powerful 3,850 joules device has multi-mode surge suppression for high and low voltages and a reset delay of 128 seconds to safeguard your expensive A/C compressor. The advanced system automatically monitors wiring issues like reverse polarity, miswired pedestals, open ground, and open neutral. Should it detect a problem, it’ll automatically switch the current off to save your rig—like we said, you won’t have to lift a finger once installed.

If you like to get a bit more hands-on with the techie stuff, you can purchase an optional LCD that conveys essential information about your power consumption.

Its relatively small size makes it possible to install in tight spaces, and the manufacturer’s clear instructions make installation easy for anyone with adequate electrical know-how.

Surge Guard also does a 30 amp version of the same product.

Pros

  • High level of protection against multiple issues
  • Hardwired model safe from weather and theft
  • Convenient system doesn’t require intervention
  • Easy to install, even in tight spaces

Cons

  • No included LCD display
  • Requires initial installation

5. Best Portable EMS: Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X

Why we like it: The EMS-PT50X provides about as much protection as you can get from a portable model.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: EMS
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 50
  • Joules Rating: 3,580
  • UL Certification: No

It doesn’t come cheap—this is the most expensive model on our list—but the EMS-PT50X is worth the splurge for full-time RVers who want optimal protection without any fuss.

This portable unit is a fully functional EMS, meaning you can get all the advanced features of a high-end system sans the complicated installation process. The fact you’ll save a decent amount of money on the install helps justify the high price tag—at the end of the day, this will cost you less than a hardwired model.

Within the tiny box, you’ll get a high-tech EMS with five suppression modes and a 3,580 joules rating. The unit protects your RV from high and low voltage plus a wide array of wiring issues, including reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, and more. Progressive Industries specially designed the rigid weather-proof box for outdoor use—feel free to store it upside-down if you like—and it will safeguard the circuitry in temperatures between -40F and +210F.

Given it’s so pricey, the unit comes with an included cable lock you can attach to your rig.

Pros

  • High-end portable system
  • Protection against multiple issues
  • No permanent installation required
  • Excellent weather-proofing

Cons

  • Very expensive

6. Best Hardwired EMS With UL Certification: Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50

Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50

Why we like it: The EMS-LCHW50 is a superb hardwired option that includes the coveted UL Certification.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: EMS
  • Portable / Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amps: 50
  • Joules Rating: 3,580
  • UL Certification: Yes

While the Surge Guard 35550 is our favorite hardwired EMS overall, this high-tech model from Progressive Industries is not only a solid runner-up, it’s the superior option if you insist on UL Certification.

Underwriter Laboratories provides comprehensive certifications for various electrical products, including RV surge protectors and EMS. The trusted third-party assessor has thrown its weight behind the EMS-LCHW50—as it has for numerous Progressive Industries products—so you can rest assured it’ll perform well under pressure.

The stats here are nothing to balk at, either. Five suppression modes and a 3,580 joules rating safeguard against surges large and small, while additional protections include open polarity, open ground, open neutral, and reverse polarity.

The device will even shield your rig from an accidental 240V insertion, which would save your bacon if you tried to plug in outside the Americas. A lightning-fast response time of under one nanosecond ensures the unit will switch off the power before any damage is done.  Another nifty feature of this unit is the built-in LED display that lights up with a range of error codes (printed on the side) to let you know what’s wrong.

Although it will require a professional installation, the purchase price is reasonable, making the product a good value overall. Full-time RVers will undoubtedly reap the benefits of getting a reputable hardwired surge protector such as this.

Grab the EMS-LCHW30 if you want the same unit in 30 amps or the HW50C if you want it with a fancy scrolling digital display.

Pros

  • Includes UL Certification
  • LED display with error codes
  • Multiple additional protections
  • Fast response time
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • Requires professional installation

7. Best Basic UL-Listed Surge Protector: Surge Guard 44280

Surge Guard 44280

Why we like it: You get the peace of mind of having UL-listed tech for a low price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 30
  • Joules Rating: 2,100
  • UL Certification: Yes

Although Surge Guard makes an exceptional budget-orientated surge protector, the Surge Guard 44260, it doesn’t come with UL Certification, which gives some consumers cause for concern. However, spend a little extra, and you can upgrade to the 44280 model that includes the sought-after third-party certification for priceless peace of mind.

Both devices’ joules rating and protection scope are more or less the same—in terms of protective power; they’re essentially one and the same. Nonetheless, a tick of approval from a trusted third-party is well worth the modest amount of extra moolah for many of us.

One significant advantage here is the easy-to-use LED light system and the attached error code key. The simple, user-friendly design has two flashing lights to let you analyze what’s wrong with the current. That way, you can make the appropriate adjustments or provide a useful report to the RV park management.

The product is available in a 50 amp version.

Pros

  • Comes with UL Certification
  • Low-cost surge protection
  • Simple LED warning light system

Cons

  • Won’t protect against low/high voltage

8. Best Bluetooth Surge Protector: Hughes Autoformer Power Watchdog

Hughes Autoformer Power Watchdog

Why we like it: It offers a high level of protection and real-life Bluetooth monitoring.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 50
  • Joules Rating: 4,800
  • UL Certification: No

The Power Watchdog from Hughes Autoformer has a nifty unique selling point you won’t find on many other models: real-time Bluetooth monitoring.

Simply download the app, hook up your Bluetooth, and you’ll be able to see live electrical stats. It’s pretty handy for techie types as you get to see the volts, wattage, and draw in real-time. Thus, you can monitor your rig for faults and work out which appliance(s) is hogging all the juice.

Another cool feature is the device lets you set up alerts for low/high voltage and other potential issues, to which you must respond by disconnecting your RV. However, if you want full protection, it’s wise to upgrade to the auto-shutoff model, the PWD50-EPO.

We also love how small and lightweight this unit is. Coming in at under 5lbs, it’s super easy for even a frail old RVer to whip out and plugin. It’s also got a whopping 4,800 joules rating, making it ideal for places with extra-large and frequent spikes.

There’s one significant downside to consider, however: weather-proofing. The unit has a nasty habit of malfunctioning in the rain, thus requiring a full replacement that’s a pain to reclaim on warranty.

Pros

  • Bluetooth monitoring
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Real-time alerts
  • Massive joules rating

Cons

  • Waterproofing is prone to failure

9. Best Wireless-Capable Surge Protector: Southwire Surge Guard Portable 30-Amp

Southwire Surge Guard Portable 30-Amp

Why we like it: This high-tech portable system has wireless capability so that it can communicate data to an LCD.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 30
  • Joules Rating: 2,450
  • UL Certification: No

By itself, the Southwire Surge Guard Portable Surge Protector is a viable option for the avid RVer. With an impressive 2,450 joules rating and low/high voltage and frequency protection, it’ll safeguard your rig where others fail. What’s more, in-depth diagnostics detect all sorts of other issues at the pedestal before accepting power, including reverse polarity, open neutral, and open ground. Better yet, it’s one of the only options to offer load side protection from ground line current within your RV.

All in all, it’s a tidy little unit.

But what makes the device stand out most is its wireless capability. Connect the unit to the Southwire 40301 Wireless LCD (sold separately), and you’ll get real-time statistics using the display. The high-tech feature isn’t found on other surge protectors and allows you to monitor everything that’s going on within your rig’s electrical system.

If you’re not that knowledgeable on all things electric, then this feature isn’t going to be a game-changer for you. But for technically minded RVers who want all the nitty-gritty details, this model is a worthy investment despite the hefty price tag.

Pros

  • Compatible with wireless LCD
  • Low/high voltage protection
  • In-depth diagnostics
  • Ground line current load side protection

Cons

  • Expensive for a surge protector

10. Best Surge Protector With LCD Display: Southwire 34950 Surge Guard

Southwire 34950 Surge Guard

Why we like it: It offers a remarkable degree of protection and includes a neat LCD.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Surge Protector / EMS: Surge protector
  • Portable / Hardwired: Portable
  • Amps: 50
  • Joules Rating: 4,200
  • UL Certification: No

Surge Guard purports to offer “total electrical protection” with the Southwire 34950 model, and the company isn’t far off the mark.

Despite its petite portable frame, this high-performing device provides ongoing protection from a dizzying array of electrical issues: low/high current, overheating plug/receptacle, open ground, open neutral, misfired pedestals, elevated ground, high neutral currents, and more. And with a massive 4,200 joules rating, multiple surge mode protection, and an automated reset function, it does a brilliant job at safeguarding your electrical goods.

The startup sequence only takes 10 seconds, much quicker than others of this caliber. We also like that it’s got a 128-second rest delay to protect the compressor in your AC—another point towards the “total protection” claim.

For many users, however, the highlight is its built-in LCD screen that provides instant electrical information. Although the startup sequence lasts a brief 10 seconds, that’s plenty of time to determine whether your shore power connection is up to the task, and then unplug if you need to. Of course, you can also use it to monitor what’s going on in real-time (you’ll need to step outside the rig because there’s no wireless screen or Bluetooth mobile app).

It’s a pricey unit but well worth considering if you want optimal protection and the ability to monitor the fine details.

Pros

  • Includes LCD screen
  • Offers a high level of protection
  • Reset delays safeguard your AC
  • High joules rating

Cons

  • Extremely expensive
  • No wireless or Bluetooth option for display

RV Surge Protectors Buyer’s Guide


Shore power plugin on an RV

Even the budget-orientated RV surge protectors will set you back a tidy sum, so it’s worth doing your due diligence before purchasing a product for your rig. In this in-depth buyer’s guide, we’ll cover all the essential info on this circuit-saving device so you can shop with confidence from our top 10 list.

Why You Need an RV Surge Protector

Almost all RVs have a built-in 120V electrical system to run power-hungry domestic appliances –think televisions, microwaves, air-conditioners, and the like. To use a 120V system, the RVer must first connect their rig to the ‘shore power’ (mains electricity) at an RV park or residential home.

Should there be a significant power fluctuation in the mains electricity supply, the excess voltage will wreak havoc on your 120V system. Widespread damage to wiring, fuses, appliances, and other electrical components can occur, setting you back thousands in repair or replacement costs. An RV surge protector will prevent such a situation from arising. The fail-safe device automatically protects delicate electronic components from damage in the event of a power surge.

Lightning strikes, blown transformers, and faulty wiring are all common culprits of the dreaded power surge. None of these may ever happen to you—but if they do, you’ll be glad you took the initiative to invest in an RV surge protector.

The RV Surge Protector Versus the Electrical Management System

For brevity, we use the term “surge protector” to refer to both surge protectors and electrical management systems (EMS), even though they’re not exactly the same.

Both products aim to achieve the same ends: protecting your 120V system from a harmful power surge. The main difference is an EMS offers more comprehensive protection than a standard RV surge protector.

The RV Surge Protector

Think of an RV surge protector as somewhat similar to the power strips you’ve got at home. Should your home electrical system suffer a significant voltage spike, the power strip will protect any appliances plugged into it. And in an RV, the surge protector covers the entire 120V electrical system, effectively safeguarding your whole rig from large power fluctuations.

The downside—and it’s a biggie—is that surge protectors don’t protect against other potentially harmful electrical issues.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than EMS
  • Protects against voltage spikes

Cons:

  • Doesn’t protect against other issues

Try the Surge Guard 44260 for a basic, no-thrills surge protector.

The RV EMS

While a surge protector is great against big voltage spikes, it doesn’t offer much protection from minor fluctuations. An EMS, on the other hand, provides an advanced level of protection from a wide variety of potentially harmful electrical faults. These high-tech solutions safeguard against consistent high/low voltages, reverse polarity, open neutrals, and open grounds, among other things, making them the superior option overall.

Pros:

  • Protects against voltage spikes
  • Protects against numerous other electrical issues

Cons:

  • More expensive than standard surge protectors

Give the Surge Guard 35550 a look if you want an elite EMS.

Should I Get an RV Surge Protector or EMS?

Why would you even consider getting a surge protector over the superior EMS?

The only logical answer is cost.

The EMS is priced significantly higher than the surge protector, making it less attractive to budget-conscious RVers. But if you’ve got a complex 120V system with multiple high-end appliances in tow, it’s worth investing the extra money in an EMS.

Portable Versus Hardwired EMS

While surge protectors are always portable, EMS can be either portable or hardwired into your rig, and each option has its distinct pros and cons.

Portable Surge Protectors

These affordable, easy-to-use contraptions plug straight into the extension cord that connects your RV to the shore power. As no installation is required, it’s a user-friendly, plug-and-play solution for RVers who just want something simple that works. And as they’re entirely portable, you can use them across different rigs or even borrow a neighbor’s (if they’re willing, if course).

As portable surge protectors are left outside the RV, there’s always a risk they could go “missing.” Another common problem is the weather—you’ll need to buy a waterproof model or make damn sure it’s not exposed to the rain. You’ll also need to plug them in every time you connect to the mains, a small extra step to take every time you set up camp.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Easy to use
  • No installation
  • Can use on multiple RVs

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to weather
  • Could be lost or stolen
  • Need to be plugged in each time

We rate the Progessive Industries SSP-30XL Surge Protector as the top portable model overall.

Hardwired Surge Protectors

Although it’ll cost you money to install a hardwired system, it offers a more permanent solution that appeals to the full-time RVer.

The big benefit is you won’t have to bother hooking it up every time you connect to shore power, and that becomes more useful the more often you move around. The fact that it’s hidden away inside your RV also means you don’t have to worry about theft or rain.

Pros:

  • No need to plug it in
  • Won’t get lost or stolen
  • Permanent solution that’s always there

Cons:

  • Requires professional installation
  • Complicated to replace

The Surge Guard 35550 is our favorite hardwired EMS.

How to Tell if Your RV Is 30 or 50 Amps

Power Pedestal in RV Park

The 120V electrical system on your RV is set up to operate on either 30 or 50 amps, with the latter more common on larger rigs with advanced power requirements up to 12,000W. Thirty amp systems are standard on smaller RVs such as camper trailers and Class Cs; they can only handle up to 3,600W.

Consequently, surge protectors come in either 30 or 50 amps options, and it’s imperative you choose the correct one for your rig. A surge protector with an amperage that’s too high could fail to protect your electrics from a voltage spike. An amperage that’s too low, on the other hand, could inhibit the total amount of power you can run on the system.

If you’re not sure how many amps your 120V system has, the good news is it’s super easy to find out. Take a look at the connector prongs in the power cable that links your RV to the mains. If there are three prongs, you’ve got a 30 amp system. If there are four, you’re running on 50 amps.

Remember to check if there’s an aftermarket adapter in place. While it’s possible to use an adapter to run a 30 amp protector on a 50 amp system (and vice versa), it’s not recommended as issues can arise. These aftermarket adapters also create confusion about whether you’re on 30 or 50 amps—remove them and check the original terminus prongs to make sure.

Maximum Permitted Wattage

Most surge protectors on the market will advertise their maximum permitted wattage.

RVs on a 30 amp system will have a maximum permitted wattage of 3,600W, letting you run a few simple electronic devices at the same time. More elaborate 50 amp rigs, on the other hand, can support a load of up to 12,000W, allowing you to blast the air-conditioner and numerous other appliances simultaneously.

The maximum permitted wattage of a surge protector aligns with its amperage. For example, 30 amp protectors max out at 3,600W and 50 amps at 12,000W. Therefore, you needn’t pay attention to the maximum wattage listed in the manufacturer specifications, so long as you get one with the correct amps.

LED / LCD Displays

Some high-end RV surge protectors come with a mini LCD screen to display electrical information such as the current-voltage and frequency.

Whether or not this feature is important depends on your technical knowledge. If you’ve got a decent understanding of how electricity works and would like to troubleshoot problems yourself, it’s super handy to have this information at hand. If not, the display is just going to give you a bunch of numbers you don’t understand. And while an LCD screen can help others determine what’s going on, any self-respecting electrician will be able to gather this information through other means (via a multi-meter, for example).

In short, the LCD is a bit of a gimmick—nice to have but hardly a deal-breaker. And that’s why we don’t put too much emphasis on this add-on in our reviews.

The Southwire 34950 Surge Guard is worth a look if you do want an LCD screen.

However, many surge protectors have two or three LED lights that flash when potentially harmful voltage issues arise. These tend to come with straightforward instructions for novice users and provide critical electrical information.

Understanding the Joules Rating

One quick and easy way to determine how much protection a surge protector affords is by looking at the joules rating. This numeric measurement conveys the level of surge suppression the device will provide, and a high degree of suppression reduces the likelihood of anything overheating.

A quality surge protector with a high joules rating will dissipate the heat caused by a sudden spike in voltage. The ability to avoid overheating is a fundamental step in safeguarding your 120V electrical system from permanent damage.

The higher the joules rating, the better the protection—but how high is high enough? Aim for a rating of at least 700, preferably more if you’re expecting to be in an area that’s prone to frequent spikes.

A high joules rating also indicates a longer lifespan. Give this metric more thought if you’d like your surge protector to stand the test of time.

Even though 50 amp protectors have a higher joules rating than 30 amp protectors, you should still always buy a protector with the appropriate amp rating.

The Hughes Autoformer Power Watch Dog has the highest joules rating on our list.

Level of Protection

It’s worth considering what other issues an EMS will protect your 120V system against.

While a standard surge protector will safeguard your rig against voltage spikes, an advanced model or EMS will offer a wide array of other benefits. Depending on the system in question, you could receive protection from numerous electronic ailments, including open ground, miswired pedestals, open neutral, reverse polarity, surge failure, and more.

We get it. It’s hard to wrap your head around these things if you know stuff all about electricity. But you should at least understand that the more of these your EMS protects against, the better.

The Southwire Surge Guard Portable 30-Amp provides protection from pretty much everything.

A Word on UL Certification

Underwriter Laboratories is a third-party organization that tests and certifies various electrical products, including RV surge protectors. The ultimate aim of these certifications is to provide consumers with unbiased information on a product’s safety and performance.

While many of the products we recommend have UL Certification, some do not. Underwriter Laboratories has limited resources; thus, it cannot assess every product on the market. Just because a surge protector lacks UL Certification doesn’t mean it’s no good—it could mean the entity hasn’t had the chance to examine it yet.

Nonetheless, UL Certification certainly provides an added layer of assurance that a product performs as it should. And for that reason, we sometimes give secondary UL-listed options when certification isn’t available on our top picks.

The SSP-30XL Surge Protector is our top pick overall with UL Certification.

Weight and Size Considerations

If you’re considering investing in a hardwired RV surge protector, you’ll need to pay close attention to the size. Grab a measuring tape and work out exactly how much room you’ve got to work with, factoring in all the associated cables and cords. We include the dimension size of hardwired systems in our Quick Facts to make the process easier for you.

Those looking at portable solutions should consider both the size and weight. Big bulky units are more laborious to plug in, and every time you set up camp, they’ll be tiresome to pack away again. Nonetheless, even the biggest portable surge protectors aren’t all that big, so you needn’t stress too much about size when going portable.

The Hughes Autoformer Power Watch Dog is a light and compact portable option that’s easy to sling over your shoulder.

Weather-Proofing

Portable surge protectors tend to get left outside in the elements for long periods. And considering electricity and water don’t mix, you must choose a model with adequate weather-proofing.

Look for a portable surge protector with a durable, waterproof case. That way, you won’t have to worry about ruining your fancy new device or electrocuting innocent bystanders when you plug in.

RV Surge Protectors: FAQ

Although we’ve covered the nitty-gritty details of the RV surge protector in great depth, you might still have a few questions about the technology. Browse through our FAQ below to find what you’re looking for.

Who Makes the Best RV Surge Protector?

Although there’s plenty of competition in this space, we rate Progressive Industries as the best manufacturer in the market. Specifically, their SSP-30XL Surge Protector is our favorite optional overall, offering a high level of protection for 30 amp rigs at a reasonable price.

Do I Need an RV Surge Protector?

We wholeheartedly believe you do. Although you may never experience a significant voltage spike (or another harmful electrical issue) in your RV, they do occur—and it’s probably more common than you think. If you don’t have adequate protection in place, you’ll be looking at replacing all the wiring and electrical appliances in your entire RV—a costly exercise, to say the least.

Do I Need a 30 Amp or 50 Amp Surge Protector?

If you’re not sure whether your RV runs on 30 or 50 amps, take a look at the number of prongs in the electrical terminus. A 30 amp system will have three prongs, while a 50 amp one has four. Simple, right?

Can I Plug My RV Into a Regular Outlet?

It is possible to plug your RV into a regular domestic outlet, but you’ll need the appropriate adapter. Grab one that converts the 15/20 amps of your home to the 30/50 amp system of your RV. Be aware that your home 15/20 amp outlet will inhibit what you’re able to run.

Is It Okay to Leave RV Plugged in All the Time?

It’s not recommended. Most RVs have a 120V charger that recharges your leisure battery from the mains power as you’re plugged in. Overcharging your leisure battery through a constant mains power connection could cause it to degrade more quickly.

What Does Shore Power Mean?

Shore power is a common phrase in the RV world that refers to mains power, or power sourced directly from the mains electrical grid. The term comes from sailors who recharge boat batteries by plugging into power from the shore.

RV Surge Protectors: Final Thoughts

By now, you’ve got a pretty solid understanding of what an RV surge protector is and why you need one—at least we hope so if you’ve made it this far through our guide.

Although it may never happen, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a devastating voltage surge someday. And there’s no doubt you’ll be happy you invested in this crucial fail-safe device when you do.

Take another quick look through our Features To Consider before perusing our Top 10 List. The perfect surge protector will bring you priceless peace of mind for an affordable price and is only a couple of clicks away.