RV electrical systems are very sensitive. Costly damage can be done if these systems are exposed to surges or low voltage. When I started my research, I looked for the best RV surge protectors on the market. After learning more about RV surge protectors, I found the better options are electrical management systems (EMS) which do more than just protect against surges.

Top 5 RV Surge Protectors and Electrical Management System

While surge protectors are designed to protect RVs from voltage spikes, electrical management systems are designed to protect the RV from voltage spikes and other electrical damage. Additional protection includes: low voltage, open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity, accidentally plugging into 240 volts.

Before making a purchase, here are a few things to consider:

Do you want a portable or hard-wired unit?
Is your RV setup for 30 amp or 50 amp service?
Does your RV already have an electrical protection system built-in?

1. Progressive Industries EMS – Portable

Progressive Industries makes one of the leading electrical management systems on the market. The portable EMS is easy to use, no installation required. We use the older version (PTC) of this portable EMS, which I talk about in the video below as one of our must have RV gadgets.

The new Progressive Industries EMS (PTX – PT30X and PT50X) has a few new features: weather shield to protect it from the elements, a pull handle to make it easier to disconnect the unit, a better bracket for securing the unit to the pedestal. We have been using the older unit since 2015 without any issues. Read the full review of Progressive Industries PT30C.

Features:

  • Made in the U.S.A. Lifetime warranty.
  • Will automatically shut off power to the RV when AC power falls below 104 volts, or is higher than 132 volts.
  • Will not allow power to the RV when there is reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, or when 240 volts is detected.
  • Will shut down power if AC power frequency deviates +/- 9 hertz from 60 cycles per second.
  • Designed for outdoor use with a security locking bracket to prevent theft.
  • Time Delay for Reset: 136 seconds
  • EMS-PT30X is for RVs with 30 amp service. Total Joule rating of 1,790, 44,00A surge current.
  • EMS-PT50X is for RVs with 50 amp service. Total Joule rating of 3,580, 88,00A surge current.

2. Progressive Industries EMS Hard-Wired

Similar to the portable EMS, the hard-wired version comes with a display that can be installed on the inside of the RV.

Features:

  • Made in the U.S.A. Lifetime warranty.
  • Will automatically shut off power to the RV when AC power falls below 104 volts, or is higher than 132 volts.
  • Will not allow power to the RV when there is reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground, or when 240 volts is detected.
  • Will shut down power if AC power frequency deviates +/- 9 hertz from 60 cycles per second.
  • Remote digital display can be wired inside the RV to monitor status of the power source.
  • Time Delay for Reset: 136 seconds
  • EMS-HW30C is for RVs with 30 amp service. Total Joule rating of 1,790, 44,00A surge current.
  • EMS-HW50C is for RVs with 50 amp service. Total Joule rating of 3,580, 88,00A surge current.


3. Southwire Surge Guard RV Power Protection – Portable

The newest Surge Guard product will protect the RV when there is high or low voltage, open ground, open neutral, elevated ground line voltage, overheating receptacle, reverse polarity. Read the operating and installation instruction for more details or watch TechnoRV’s video below.

Features:

  • Limited lifetime.
  • Will automatically shut off power to the RV when AC power falls below 102 volts, or is higher than 132 volts for more than 7 seconds.
  • LCD display indicates: power surge, open ground, reverse polarity, voltage >136 or <102, overheating plug, abnormal voltage on ground, open neutral
  • Time Delay for Reset: 128 seconds
  • Model 34930 is for RVs with 30 amp service. Total Joule rating of 2,450, 6,500A surge current, maximum watts 3,600.
  • Model 34950 is for RVs with 50 amp service. Total Joule rating of 4,200, 6,500A surge current, maximum watts 12,000.

4. Camco Power Defender Voltage Protector

Camco also makes a portable voltage protector that will shut off power to the RV when low or high voltage is detected. The display will show other electrical issues, but will not stop power from going to the RV.

Features:

  • One year limited warranty.
  • Will automatically shut off power to the RV when AC power falls below 102 volts, or is higher than 132 volts.
  • Shows faults for reverse polarity, open neutral, and other power pedestal wiring issues.
  • Time Delay for Reset: 140 seconds
  • 55301 is for RVs with 30 amp service. Total Joule rating of 2,450, 6,500A surge current.
  • 55306 is for RVs with 50 amp service. This unit has a total Joule rating of 3,850, 6,500A surge current.

5. Hughes Autoformer Power Booster with Surge Protection

The Hughes Autoformer is a power booster with built-in surge protection. When the input voltage is below 113 volts, the Autoformer will go into boost mode to increase the output by 10%. It does not draw power from the campground or any source the RV is plugged into.

Keep in mind the units are heavy. The 30 amp version is 21 pounds, the 50 amp version is 35 pounds. The company does offer an installation kit for outside storage compartments. They do not recommend hard-wiring the unit to the RV as that will void the warranty.

Note: we’ve stayed at campgrounds that do not allow products like this to be plugged into the pedestal.

Features:

  • Made in the U.S.A. Two year limited warranty.
  • Will automatically boost low voltage in the range of 95 to 115 volts.
  • Designed to absorb electrical surge or spike. If the Autoformer is damaged during a massive spike, the unit has to be sent in for service.
  • RV2130SP is for RVs with 30 amp service. Total Joule rating of 4,800.
  • RV220-50SP is for RVs with 50 amp service. Total Joule rating of 4,800.

Why Do I Need an EMS over RV Surge Protectors?

With antiquated campground pedestals, basic RV surge protectors will only provide limited protection. Although an electrical management system is more expensive, it offers more protection. I think of it as an insurance policy for the RV. Better to spend a few hundred on protection now to avoid spending a few thousand on repairs later.

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