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8 Best RV Surge Protectors Reviewed

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Best RV Surge Protectors

Howdy, nomad – it’s time to protect yourself! Here are the best RV surge protectors on the market.

The RV life presents a lot of highs and lows in the adventure. But one place we DON’T want those highs and lows is in our voltage. Like all the best things in life, we want consistency and dependability.

So that’s why I’ve summarised the best RV surge protectors around in this mega-review! I’ve evaluated a lot of factors in this review. But above all, I’ve prioritized the protection factor, the value for money, and the overall peace of mind you’ll get from the product’s reliability. There are no lemons here!

Spoiler alert: the results are in! Without a doubt, the Southwire Surge Guard 34951 is the best surge protector around! It will perform super effectively for nearly any RV set, plus its lifetime warranty will keep you set for life.

But if that doesn’t ease your worries, just keep reading! There are hardwired models, cheaper models, and more innovative models. We have stacks on stacks of surge protector reviews!

The best part is the heavy lifting has all been done for you. I’ve devoured the PDF manuals and warranty fine prints so you don’t have to.

So if you’re here, you want to know the BEST RV surge protector on the market. And I have the answers – eight of them, in fact! All categorized for specific RV types and traveler needs.

Prepare to be illuminated.

Do You Really Need a Surge Protector?

Whoah there, Nelly! I’m gonna stop you right there and give you a hard YES. 

RV surge protectors are like your insurance policy on the road. Sure, you can get actual insurance. But out there, in the boonies, who’s really going to have your back and protect your electronics?

The answer? A high-quality surge protector!

In a nutshell, surge protectors safeguard your RV electrical system and all your beloved gadgetry from a host of different nasties. This includes:

  • Power surges
  • Low voltage woes
  • Voltage spikes
  • Reverse polarity
  • And various wiring faults (e.g. open ground or open neutral scenarios)

While seemingly small, each of those situations can have huge implications. For example, reverse polarity is simply when you connect the wires on the wrong ends. Sounds harmless? Well, reverse polarity is actually pretty common in RV parks that haven’t been maintained properly. When reverse polarity occurs, devices that should be safe to touch when switched off can still be live, posing electric shock risks!

Even in a home setting, a surge protector is a must. These hazards can fry most home-based electronics with ease.

But in an RV, that goes double! You’re more prone to the elements and using more inconsistent power sources. Shore power can be quite unpredictable, and when you go to a new RV park, you never know whether a power pole is functioning until you plug in your RV. And some of that RV-specific gear is crazy expensive! (Here’s looking at you, 12-volt air cons.)

So the short answer is… Yes, you really do need a surge protector to redirect the power flow in those situations, seeing as most RVs don’t have built-in surge protection. The truest of true dirtbags might be running such slim rigs that their power needs are too low to worry. But everyone else with even a modicum of creature comforts in their motorhome will want to protect all their favorite gear.

As for the various nasties that are out to cook your setup to smithereens…

Power Surges 

Power surges are just that: sudden surges in power! There’s an electrical surge, the voltage coming through to your device spikes, and your device explodes. (Usually internally – there’s no need to worry that much.)

This can happen due to any number of reasons like lightning strikes or fluctuations in the campground’s electrical supply. Either way, it’s a seriously no bueno situation for all your fancy RV gear.

Though all RV surge protectors should be equipped for sudden power surges, it’s still crucial to ensure yours can handle them effectively. Look for one with a high joule rating, indicating its capacity to absorb energy. Ideally, no fewer than 2000 joules is what you want, though more is better.

Low Voltage

Sometimes, instead of high voltage, campgrounds and other hook-ups suffer from low voltage issues. This means your RV is getting less power than it needs. That, in turn, can harm your RV appliances and electronics. Particularly, if the issue is persistent.

Therefore, your surge protector should not only have high voltage protection but also low voltage protection. Opt for a model that can handle both ends of the voltage spectrum, whether it’s high or low voltage. Generally, most decent surge protectors will automatically shut off if there is a consistently low voltage. This is alongside protecting against sudden electrical surges.

Open Ground

Okay, now we’re switching to something more technical! An open ground means there’s a missing or disconnected wire in the electrical system. This is both a potential safety hazard as well as a fault that could damage your RV’s electrical system. 

If your RV’s electrical system isn’t properly grounded, you’re at risk of several potential hazards, including…

  • Electrical shocks
  • Electrical fires
  • Or direct damage to your electronics 

The no bueno continues!

Open Neutral

MEANWHILE, an open neutral is much the same with the only difference being in the technicalities. An open neutral situation occurs when the neutral wire in the electrical system is disconnected or broken. This can result in uneven voltage distribution and potentially cause damage to your RV’s electronics.

Surge protectors equipped for open ground/neutral situations will have labeled indicator lights. If either of these lights illuminate, they’re signaling that there’s a problem with the source’s electrical system. In this case, it’s best to proceed with caution or consult the campground staff to address the issue.

Either way, it’s worth mentioning that all of these risks are not just risks to your gear but also risks to you. A surge protector guards you against the very real danger of electrical safety hazards.

So now that I have most certainly drilled in that you DO indeed need a surge protector for your RV, let’s jump into the RV surge protector reviews and decide which one you should get!

The 8 Best RV Surge Protectors

You’ve met the no buenos, now meet the solucións! Whether you’re hauling around one coffee grinder or an entire deluxe espresso machine in your home-on-the-go, there is a surge protector to keep it safe.

Eight of them, in fact! Here are the eight best RV surge protectors tailored to the specific needs of all traveler types.


Best Overall

1. Southwire Surge Guard 34951

  • Portable or Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amperage: 50A
  • Joule Rating: 4200 joules
  • Shut-Off: <102 V/>136 V
  • Auto-Reset: 128 seconds

Taking the top spot as crown joule of the list (heh) is this primo portable offering from Southwire. This is because the Surge Guard 34951 simply packs the best balance of everything you want in a surge protector into one all-out RV guardian.

As an easy-install portable product, the Southwire Surge Guard has a track record of saving the patooties of RVers nationwide! It backs you up with complete protection on both line and load monitoring. Moreover, it’s built with commercial-grade brass materials for even more reliability.

Rated to 4200 joules, the 50-amp protector is well-equipped to handle even the chonkiest of RVs. However, there’s a 30-amp model too for those with lower power needs. PLUS, if you’re happy to purchase it as an extra add-on, Southwire has designed an optional Bluetooth monitoring unit to maximize the health of your device (and RV!).

This RV surge protector will also automatically reset on power restoration, which I found pretty cool.

The only criticism I can level at the Southwire Surge Guard is that it might be a little too all-around competent. It’s a high-quality jack-of-all-trades! However, you might be able to find a surge protector that better meets your niche of RV travel and for cheaper too. Or you might prefer a hardwired model.

But if you do want a portable jack-of-all-trades with mastery over the fundamentals of protecting your gear, you can’t look past the Southwire Surge Guard. It does exactly what it needs to do for a fair price. And given that it has:

  • A highly durable build
  • Weather resistance
  • A lifetime warranty
  • And anti-theft ring locks

There’s little doubt the Surge Guard will be keeping the lights on in your RV for a long time to come.


Best Splurge

2. Hughes Autoformer Power Booster with Surge Protection

  • Portable or Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 2,400 joules (30A)/4,800 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <91 V
  • Auto-Reset: 90 seconds

When we talk about power-packed performance, the Hughes Autoformer Power Booster sets the gold standard. This beauty combos surge protection with power-boosting to ensure a steady and sufficient current EVEN in low voltage scenarios.

Oddly enough, it’s the only US-patented device with a voltage-boosting feature. This feature boosts the voltage by up to 10% in low-voltage scenarios. So let’s say you were hovering around 90-92 volts and at risk of cutting out. The Hughes Power Booster kicks in, drives that voltage back up to around 100, and keeps the good times rolling.

It’s also got a couple of other features I’m a huge fan of alongside its top-notch performance and durability. Specifically, the replaceable surge module ups the longevity of the product MASSIVELY. If you do get a surge, you can swap the module out for a new one and be back in business without replacing the entire unit.

The only real downside to this product is the price. Surge protectors aren’t cheap at the best of times, and both the 30And 50-amp models of this unit outprice others in the market.

Truthfully though, I’d still pay that. When it comes to improving the lifespan of ALL your other gear, you don’t skimp on a good surge protector. And the added bonus of both protecting your electricals while being able to use them more overall (thanks to the power-boosting) is just pure fantasy come to life.

Two thumbs up for an electrifyingly good performance from Hughes!


Best Budget

3. Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X

  • Portable or Hardwired: Portable
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 1,790 joules (30A)/3,580 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <102 V/>132 V
  • Auto-Reset: 136 seconds

Alright, penny pinchers. Make some space in your RV because Progressive Industries is here to dazzle without dazing your wallet! If the last two devices were out of your price range, then here is the budget-conscious choice. It’s got all of the essentials with a much more digestible price of entry.

Renowned in the RV circuit(try) for their quality goods, Progressive Industries offers some terrific tech. And this beast is no exception! 

For a cheaper, portable surge protector, it’s got durability coming out the wazoo! More specifically, the EMS-PT features…

  • A weatherproof shield assembly
  • Thermal protection
  • Rugged Lexan housing 
  • And a locking bracket with a tough pull handle

For something that comes in at about half the price of the first two products on the list, it does NOT skimp on construction quality. Moreover, it’s got the performance to protect you from all the trials of RV life.

Now, it’s not total perfection. Stat-wise, it’s not totally keeping up with the Southwire and Hughes for power surges. It also feels a little stingy for Progressive Industries to not include a lock with their couple-hundred-dollar portable protector. But I suppose that’s the bargain hunter lifestyle!

However, what you do get with the Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X/50X is a quality RV surge protector without the high-end price tag. Reputable brand? Check. Excellent performance? Check check.

And… is it affordable? Oh, you betcha.


Best Budget Hardwired

4. Southwire Surge Guard EMS-35530/35550

  • Portable or Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 2,450 joules (30A)/3,850 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <102 V/>132 V
  • Auto-Reset: 128 seconds

Cue the trumpets – it’s a bonus bargain bonanza! Maybe the Progressive Industries EMS-PT hit all the right notes for you. Right price, right performance… the perfect fit.

EXCEPT, you want a budget hardwired surge protector for your RV. In that case, Southwire’s EMS-355 is your (and your appliances’) knight in shining armor.

As the brainchild of Southwire, the brand behind our top pick, this hard-wired unit offers similar performance as the EMS-PT. Similar joule rating, similar shut-off, similar price.

But the real biggest difference is that it’s hardwired – not portable. That’s a matter of personal preference. But it’s definitely nice to know that there are heavyweight, budget-priced products available in both categories!

Plus, for the tech aficionados, there’s a delightful cherry on top. You can purchase an optional Remote Power LCD Monitor add-on. If you really like keeping an eye on your rig’s performance, it’s a worthy addition to your utility belt.

Otherwise, it’s much like Progressive’s budget offering. A much cheaper price but with a very slightly diminished level of protection. It’s a bit lame the monitor isn’t included AND is surprisingly pricey. But also like the EMS-PT, that’s just the price we pay for budget living!

Think of the Surge Guard EMS as the close cousin to the Progressive EMS. If you’re on team “Hardwired” and don’t want to stretch the purse strings too far, this is the best RV surge protector you can buy that meets that criteria. It’s reliable, robust, and real value for money.


Best Durability

5. Camco Power Defender Voltage Protector

  • Portable or Hardwired: Portable
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 2800 joules (30A)/4200 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <102 V/>132 V
  • Auto-Reset: 140 seconds

Strap in, road warriors. And while you’re at it, plug this sucker in too! The Camco Power Defender is the ultimate sentinel, built to endure even the ficklest of Mother Nature’s mood swings. 

Weather-resistant and built for adverse conditions, this rugged protector is more than equipped for whatever you can throw at it. It holds up in the heat of the southern deserts and frosts of the icy northern peaks alike. Plus the internal copper terminals and contoured hand grips for easy installation up the durability of this device that much more.

On the protection side, everything checks out. It’s got a solid joule rating plus it’s equally prepared for both open ground/neutral, and reverse polarity scenarios with its reverse polarity detection capabilities. Meanwhile, as far as easy-install portable protectors go, this one couldn’t be simpler. It’s the plug-and-play solution!

That ease of uninstallation is a bit of a downside though. With no anti-theft mechanisms gracing this gallant guard and its Beatles-esque yellow submarine color, it’s a super easy target for thieves. It’s a protector, not a fighter! You’ll need to guard this guardian yourself.

But to be fair, theft is a case-by-case scenario depending on where and how you travel. It’s an incredibly durable and simple surge protector, and very portable too. 

Full-time RVers might want something more robust (and probably hardwired). However, weekend warriors hitting up family campsites will be delighted by the value-to-investment of this product. 

if you’re chasing durability with a capital D and want a protector that laughs in the face of extreme weather without the hassle of something more complex, the Camco Power Defender is your guy.


Best Monitoring

6. Hughes Autoformer Power Watchdog

  • Portable or Hardwired: Both available
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 2,400 joules (30A)/4,800 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <104 V/>132 V
  • Auto-Reset: 90 seconds

Ahh, Hughes, you’ve done it again, you sly dog! The Hughes Power Watchdog is essentially their flagship protector. Unlike the previous Hughes product I reviewed, this one is a dedicated protector without voltage boosting.

However, what the Hughes Power Watchdog does offer is nifty monitoring tech. And this time, there’s no extra add-on purchase or any such nonsense. Hughes has built this protector with Bluetooth connectivity and a free companion app for your phone. Easy peasy! 

This all means that you can keep tabs on your RV’s electrical health from the palm of your hand. Personally, I’d say that’s already a HUGE win. In my experience, constantly navigating to your protector – particularly hardwired units in awkward locations – is a massive hassle.

But the Hughes Watchdog gets solid protection too! Not only do the stats check out, but it has the same module-swapping feature as the Power Booster. There’s no need to replace the whole unit after being damaged by a power surge –  you can just replace the surge module. This is pure awesome as both an environmentally friendly and consumer-friendly initiative!

Much like the Camco, it is a very attractive steal. It’s easy to disconnect and is rather luminous at night. However, unlike the Camco, a locking bracket is included to ward off pesky pilferers. Or you can just buy the hardwired version instead!

Either way, it’s another bang-on product from a bang-on company. If you’re someone who relishes being ahead of the curve (i.e. prevention over protection), Hughes is the only watchdog you need. It’s not just protection; it’s SMART protection (or advanced surge protection as Hughes calls it).

Dive into a world where monitoring your RV’s electronics is as simple as checking a text message!


Best Easy Hardwired Install

7. Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C/50C

  • Portable or Hardwired: Hardwired
  • Amperage: 30A/50A models
  • Joule Rating: 1,790 joules (30A)/3,580 joules (50A)
  • Shut-Off: <104 V/>132 V
  • Auto-Reset: 136 seconds

It goes without saying that portable surge protectors are easy to install. That’s the whole point! But how about a hassle-free setup for a hardwired protector?

Recognized for its uncomplicated installation, the Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C/50C ensures that you don’t need a Ph.D. in electronics just to get up and running. The instructions are laden with pictures and text to guide you through. Plus, the rather attentive customer support line is on standby if you do encounter a hitch!

Beyond its installation ease, what you get is comprehensive electrical defense. I’d like to see a higher joule rating, but otherwise, it’s more than enough to cover your bases. And there’s an included digital display to keep you updated on power source details.

Of course, it has its minor flaws. Of particular note are some discrepancies with the warranty. Progressive only offers replacement parts and rarely replaces the whole unit, leaving repair costs or labor up to the customer.

That’s a bit wack, but it’s a small bump in the otherwise silky-smooth road ahead. These units aren’t exactly prone to total breakdowns. And given that it will be easily installed safe and sound inside your RV, warranty concerns shouldn’t be too weighing.

In essence, this Progressive Industries unit is for an RVer who leans towards the simplicity of a portable unit but still wants the sturdiness of a hardwired variant. Why compromise on peace of mind when the solution is this simple?


Best For Small Vans

8. Tripp Lite Isobar Ultrablok

  • Portable or Hardwired: Portable
  • Amperage: 15A
  • Joule Rating: 1410 Joules
  • Shut-Off: 15A Circuit Breaker
  • Auto-Reset: Resets when safe

Vanguards of the minimalist van life, meet your surge protection champion – the Tripp Lite Isobar Ultrablok! Designed to plug straight into a standard outlet, this unit is as portable and as straightforward as they come.

Even grungy vanlifers ought to protect their goods. This goes doubly so when you consider they probably don’t have the money to replace them! Compromising heavily on protection ratings, the Ultrablok instead prioritizes simplicity. It’s essentially a double adapter with surge protection built in.

Of course, for that reason, it’s best suited to minimal vanlifers with minimal tech. It’s durable, but it’s far from weather-resistant and is better off being returned to the van when not in use. It also only protects against surges – not wiring issues like open ground.

But, it’s far from ideal or even useful for mid-tier and upwards RV lifestyles. It’s more of an ad hoc solution than an all-the-time one.

That all said, it’s also the cheapest product on this list by far. And if it’s actually spot-on for your needs, you could buy two and still not even come close to spending as much as you would on a full-blown EMS device!

The bottom line? If you’re a minimalist camper or vanner who desires a balance between cost and basic protection, this is your pick. But if your rig is beyond a Class B, consider hunting for a heftier guardian. 

And if you’re unsure, then I’d still buy something meatier than the Ultrablok just to be on the safe side.


Things to Consider

Alright, you’ve made the wise decision to protect your RV and its electrical gear. And you’ve seen the best of the best surge protectors to do it with!

But navigating the world of RV electronics can be a tad overwhelming. Trust me – it gets easier. While I’ve faced my fair share of electrical mishaps during my travels, those experiences have equipped me the the key info you need. 

Let’s delve into some crucial considerations about surge protectors to ensure you get the right one for your nomadic journey!

30-Amp RV Surge Protector Or 50-Amp RV Surge Protector?

When it comes to surge protectors, one size doesn’t actually fit all. Your first decision is determining whether you need a 30-amp or a 50-amp protector.

If you’re rolling in an RV that typically has a lower electrical demand, such as smaller travel trailers or campers, a 30-amp surge protector should suffice. Look for a 30-amp model with the features and protection levels you need. And always ensure 30Amps is enough before making the purchase.

Meanwhile, for larger RVs and those with higher electrical demands, a 50-amp surge protector is the way to go. If you’re running home-based appliances like an ac unit or washing machine, you’ll need the extra amperage.

Portable or Hard-Wired?

Another decision to make is whether you want a portable RV surge protector or a hard-wired one. This is more of a personal preference decision than the amp levels.

Portable RV Surge Protectors are just that and super easy to use. If you want to skip the hassle of hard installing something, go for a portable protector. You can use it across different RVs, lend it out, and if it does break down, getting a new one is a piece of cake!

Conversely, hardwired RV surge protectors are installed directly into your RV. That makes them theft-proof and safe from the weather. Plus, it will already be working when you plug in your RV to shore power, and there’s no leaving it behind at a campsite. (Guilty!)

They can be a headache to install. But once they’re in, they’re in. If you prefer to get something out of the way once and then never think about it again, the long-term convenience of hardwired protectors might be the better choice.

Joules Ratings

The joules rating of a surge protector is basically its capacity to absorb energy and protect your RV. Higher joules ratings mean better protection against power surges. It’s like having a thicker shield in a sword fight. 

Check the product specifications for the joules rating. Never go less than 1000 joules, more than 2000 is ideal, and 3000 joules and up and you’ll still be laughing after a lightning strike.

EMS VS Surge Protector

Most of the products in this review are Electrical Management Systems (EMS).They offer more comprehensive protection than surge protection alone.

Technically, a surge protector only protects your power supply against surges, and that’s it. For all the comprehensive RV protection we’ve been discussing in this article, you’ll need an Electrical Management System.

If for some reason, you ONLY need surge protection in your RV, get a surge protector! It’s cheaper and simpler. Otherwise, I can’t see any reason you wouldn’t want to be protected against low voltage, open situations, and other hazards.

If you’re investing in peace of mind for your pricey RV and all its pricey gear, don’t skimp on the insurance policy. Get an Electrical Management System.

Our Verdict

And now you ARE ready for all the highs and lows of the road. And all that open ground too!

I hope I’ve made my point clear. You most definitely DO need RV surge protection. You’ll be heading out with a rig that costs up to six figures–and it’ll be loaded with gear that might cost up to five. Doing that without any protection is downright dumb.

And when it comes to getting the best surge protection for your RV, you can’t do better than the portable Southwire Surge Guard 34951! It’s value-loaded performance in an incredibly easy-to-use package.

However, if you’re actually in the market for a hardwired surge protector, we have that too! Try the Hughes Autoformer Power Booster With Surge Protection. Surge protection is one thing, but the added capability of boosting your voltage only increases the versatility of your RV’s overall electrical system.

But one way or another, buy one. This ain’t no superfluous glamping product like a washing machine or air con! A surge protector is a completely crucial essential for the RV life.

Or don’t buy one. And go camping. And then when a freak lightning storm blows out your whole system, you can rue the day you didn’t listen to me while you buy a surge protector for your entirely new system.

But personally, I think the former option is better. Stay safe out there, nomads! And always lock up your surge protector.

Sticky fingers be everywhere. Even in the boonies.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

A professional dirtbag by trade, Ziggy Samuels owns a beloved RV, aptly named Stardust, which allowed him to wait out the pandemic in the mountainous wilds of Tasmania, the island at the bottom of the planet. These days, you can find him on-again-off-again riding solo in his home of the Blue Mountains, still appreciating the sky from the comfort of his portable home.