MUST KNOW: RV Trailer Surge Protectors

What is a RV surge protector?

RV Trailer Surge Protectors

A surge protector acts as a shock absorber for your RV’s electrical system. The surges of power will bounce off the surge protector and into the ground, so no damage comes to your RV’s electrical system.

A surge protector ensures that your RV stays safe from damage caused by lightning strikes or downed power lines.  Most individuals are aware that lightning can come through an outlet and cause severe damage to their home or RV.

With a surge protector you can be sure that this will not happen if you are using one in your RV. Surge protectors add extra wiring onto an RVs existing 12 volt outlet, giving it more protection than just the regular outlets.

How to choose a surge protector?

The first step is choosing the right kind of surge protector for your RV. There are two main kinds of surge protectors: 


They directly connect to the battery and have their own wiring. These make it more convenient since you do not need to worry about a power strip being unplugged or tripping over it when walking around in the RV.  

All you have to do is plug into an outlet and that’s all there is to it.  A disadvantage, however, is that if someone trips on the wire or pulls on it too hard they could damage either the harness or the wires inside.       

Power Strip Surge Protector

This type uses a power strip that is plugged into an outlet and they use the power strip itself to protect your electrical system.  The upside is that it is cheaper than a hardwired surge protector, easier to install, and more convenient since you can move it around with you as well as carry it on trips outside of the RV.  

There are times when you might want to move something or get something out of the way before tripping over a wire coming from an outlet.

However, there’s one major disadvantage: If someone accidently pulls on it too hard or if they trip on it, your entire electrical system could be damaged instantly because pulling out any other plug will set off a chain reaction for all the plugs in sequence.  

Therefore this type of surge protector is not recommended unless it is protected by a hardwire surge protector.

What to look for in a RV surge protector?

There are some features that you should be looking for when choosing the right surge protector for your needs:

Lightning Protection

Make sure it has protection from lightning and power surges.              


You want to make sure there’s an indicator somewhere on the RV that lets you know if there was a surge or not so you will always know when something happens.              


It should also ground, which means all of the sudden extra electricity would flow into an outlet with no place to drain off and therefore would not cause any damage to the RV.                        


The surge protector should be rated high enough to handle the amount of amps on your RV’s electrical system.  

For example, if you have an outside air conditioner with a 30 amp service and two 20 amp slide outs, you should choose a 45-50 amp surge protector so it can handle all of the electricity running through it.

What happens when using one?

If you use a surge protectors on an RVs electrical system then you will always know what is going in and out of your electrical system, if there are surges or not.

With this kind of protection from surges or any other damage that might happen to your RVs wiring you will have peace of mind and be able to enjoy your RV in the fullest.

Now that you understand how important surge protectors can be if used on an RV, look for a good one that has all of the features I’ve mentioned above and at a great price.

Does My RV Need A Surge Protector?

Yes, They do need surge protectors RVers should still have a backup plan in the event that one of their expensive gadgets gets zapped. What’s more, it’s possible the vehicle’s own battery could feed back into the RV and potentially damage its wiring and other electrical components down the road.

Most people live with the belief that their RV has a surge protector to keep it safe from power fluctuations when they are plugged in, however we want to tell you today that this is not the case.

Most RVs do not have a built-in type of surge protection which means the risk of your appliances being destroyed by power surges while on campgrounds becomes even greater.

There are various ways that you can protect your RV and its expensive equipment through easy steps such as adding a quality power converter/conditioner or using an automatic electronic device that will be turned off during storms and other conditions.

The Microwave may be one appliance worth protecting as over time microwaves stop working if they are put under too much stress related to heat or power surges.

Some surge protectors are built-in by the manufacture and can be located at the switch panel. These types of devices although helpful, do not offer protection from all electrical problems as they only provide limited protection to standard North American voltage appliances.

What is the best surge protector for an RV?

1. Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C/50C



  • One install and done
  • Fully protected from all power issues
  • No worries about theft
  • Can usually get to it from inside. No going outside in bad weather to read monitor
  • Cheaper than the portable EMS by Progressive
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Will cost extra if you have to hire someone to install

2. Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X



  • Fully protected from all power issues
  • No installation required
  • Built-in locking bracket
  • Lifetime warranty


  • More expensive than a hardwired EMS
  • Easy to steal if you don’t lock it
  • Use only in vertical orientation

3. Southwire Surge Guard EMS 35530/35550



  • Set up once and done
  • Complete RV power coverage
  • Price
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Does not offer 24/7 customer support like Progressive does
  • Not made in the US

4. Southwire Surge Guard 34930/34950



  • No installation necessary
  • Gives full electrical protection
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Easily stolen without lock
  • Does not offer 24/7 customer support
  • On a low pedestal, this could be on the ground, which is not advised

5. Southwire Surge Guard 44280/44290



  • Protects from power surges
  • No installation required
  • Lifetime warrantyc


  • Surge protection only – still vulnerable to power supply quality issues
  • Easy to steal without lock
  • Must remember to plug it in at every campground
  • On a low pedestal, this could be on the ground, which is not advised.

Do RV surge protectors work?

The best RV protector is the one that is installed as part of your RV build. If a protector is not installed, you should install one even if it is just a temporary fix. A protector will help to prevent surges from destroying your appliances and other items on your RV.

How well does an RV Surge Protector work?

The best way to understand how effective an RV Surge Protector actually works is if you can see several examples where they did not work in action such as when your laptop explodes into flames.

The last thing any nomad wants to have happen is to have their lives depend on a device that might not work in the case of an emergency. Surge protectors were created for safety reasons and should be treated as such.

This way, you can use your appliances without having to worry about what could happen if you did not install one into your RV at all.

How long do RV surge protectors last?

Most surge protectors last around 5 years before they become ineffective at protecting the appliances plugged into them during a power outage.

How much do RV surge protectors cost?

Depending on the brand and model, an RV Surge Protector can range anywhere between $200-$400+. Either way, most nomads agree that their investment was worth the money in the end because they were able to extend the life expectancy of many electrical appliances in one swoop.

Can I install my own RV Surge Protector?

Yes, you probably can. Some people have installed them themselves and say the process is not too difficult or costly.

If you are a handy individual than this could be an option for you to save some money over what service providers would charge but if you do not know how to install one then it might be better to just pay someone else in the end because they will do a better job than you trying to figure out electrical terminology as well as knowing which parts you need and which brands are best for your specific RV model.

You should also keep in mind that depending on your RV model, installation may take 8+ hours for someone with no experience and as quick as 4 hours for an experienced technician.


They definitely are. With an investment of $300+ you can extend the life expectancy of your electrical appliances by many years and if something does go wrong, you have a backup plan to make sure nothing catches fire or explodes without any intervention from yourself.

It is fairly difficult to get somebody else on board with installing it but once they see it in action, most service providers will be glad that they took the time to install one when asked again if they ever see someone needs it done for them. Surge protectors should never be taken lightly because even though a nomad may not notice much of a difference while at home, the protection could save thousands in repairs for their appliances later down the road such as what happened to me where I had an AC unit explode into the walls of my RV while on a trip in Texas.

They can definitely be your safety net to prevent something major from happening later on down the road so I highly recommend getting one for yourself or anybody you know who travels full-time through an RV.


We own and operate multiple camping and RV Trailer site. Its our passion to see the world thru camping and traveling. There is no bigger pleasure for us then to share with you our readers our experience in RV Travels and Camping.

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