Power Protection

surge-protectors-lead

by Chris Hemer
May 3, 2016
Filed under Trailer Gear, Trailer How To

 

Electrical surges are a common part of RV life. Here’s how to keep the electrical components safe

Traveling the country by tow vehicle and trailer is often a game of unknowns. We usually don’t know what we’ll see, who’ll we’ll meet along the way, and may not even know where we’re going. We’re OK with that — in fact, a little mystery is what makes the RVing lifestyle fun. But pulling into an unfamiliar RV park and plugging into a power source of unknown condition isn’t something anyone looks forward to, particularly those of us who have seen the dark side of electrical power.

Most of the time, whether at home or on the road, we plug into an outlet and never give it a second thought. As long as everything works, we’re happy. But electrical power is far from perfect; in addition to fluctuation and outages, surges are a common occurrence. In fact, low-level power surges can happen dozens or even hundreds of times a day, and while they won’t necessarily melt parts or blow fuses in electronic components, they can gradually degrade internal circuitry until it eventually fails. Anything with a microprocessor is particularly susceptible, and this includes TVs, computers, microwaves and even some dishwashers and refrigerators.

Power surges occur when the flow of electricity is interrupted, then started again, or when prevailing conditions send electricity flowing back into the system. Surges can range from just a few volts when you turn on an appliance like a hair dryer (an internal surge) to several thousand volts if lighting strikes a transformer or a tree falls on a power line (external surge). Surges can also occur when power comes back on after an outage.

If you own a permanent residence, you likely take care of your home and make sure there are no wiring or grounding issues. But in an RV park, you’re not necessarily in control. Not only can the wiring in the campsite pedestal be questionable (something we’ve all experienced), the whole park could have problems. Add bad weather and/or an unreliable power grid to the equation, and there’s a good chance you’ll fall victim to bad power at some point in your travels.

That’s why it’s important to use a surge protector (not to be confused with an outlet surge suppressor, which is commonly used for plugging in computers and TVs at home). A surge protector prevents bad power from entering the RV when it is hooked up to shorepower, preventing costly damage to electrical appliances. They can even protect you from your own mistakes, such as accidentally plugging the 30-amp power cord into a 220-volt AC outlet (more common than you might think).

Surge protectors are available in portable versions, which are easy to connect and relatively inexpensive, and hard-wired units that become a permanent part of the RV. Like most aftermarket products, surge protectors range in their features and price, so we’ve compiled this handy guide to help you find the right one for your RV. After all, a little protection now can save you a lot of trouble and expense later.

Hughes Autoformers

Hughes_rv_2130
Not really surge protectors in the strictest sense, although they do incorporate surge protection, Hughes Autoformers are designed to increase voltage to the RV and help eliminate low-voltage appliance damage. The Autoformer’s “sense circuit” adjusts the output based on the load demand, so you can run additional appliances on a 30-amp circuit. With the increase in the voltage to the RV (when plugged in through the Autoformer), the amperage demand will be lower, and the overall performance will be greater, according to the company. An operating range of approximately 94 to 115 volts AC input will boost RV voltage to safe and efficient levels. Two models are offered, with install kits available separately.

Voltage-Boosting Transformers
RV2130 (30-amp, 3,600-watt)
• Fully automatic 10 percent boost when needed
• Park-power diagnostic light
• Boost indicator light
• Spike and surge protection
• Size: 5½ inches wide by 5½ inches long by 12 inches high
• Weight: 21 pounds
• Two-year limited warranty
• Made in the USA
MSRP: $368

Hughes_rv-2250RV220-50
(50-amp, double-phase 12,000-watt)
• Fully automatic 10 percent boost when needed (95 to 115 volts AC)
• Park-power diagnostic light
• Boost indicator lights for each line (two)
• Spike and surge protection
• U.L. listed
• Size: 5½ inches wide by 8½ inches long by 12 inches high
• Weight: 35 pounds
• Two-year limited warranty
• Made in the USA
MSRP: $548

Hughes Autoformers | 888-540-1504 | www.hughesautoformers.com

Progressive Industries


Founded by a full-time RVer, Progressive Industries offers a product line that includes everything from basic portable surge protection to portable or hardwired complete RV power protection for 30- and 50-amp service.

Portable Surge Protectors
The Smart Surge SSP-30X (30-amp, 120-volt AC) provides three-mode protection, 825 joules and a 22,500-amp surge-current rating. The SSP-50X (50-amp, 240-volt AC) provides five-mode protection, 1,650 joules and a 45,000-amp surge-current rating. The built-in surge-status indicator tells whether or not the surge protector is functioning properly, and the integrated polarity tester checks the status of the power source prior to use. Progressive recently released its new SSP-30XL ($116.65) and 50XL ($151.85), which offer similar features, plus the added benefits of higher-rated wire, an all-weather receptacle shield, a cable splash-up guard and a rugged pull handle.

Progressive’s line of portable Smart Surge Protectors includes the 50-amp SSP-50X, which comes with a built-in polarity tester that checks power status at the source.

Progressive’s line of portable Smart Surge Protectors includes the 50-amp SSP-50X, which comes with a built-in polarity tester that checks power status at the source.

SSP-30X (30-amp)
• 5 inches wide by 13½ inches long by
3 inches high
• Portable design
• Bright three-color LED indicators
• Open ground indication
• Lost/open neutral indication
• Surge fault indication
• Thermally protected
• Weather-resistant
• Lifetime warranty
MSRP: $89

SSP-50X (50-amp)
• 5 inches wide by 13½ inches long by
3 inches high
• Portable design
• Dual-line polarity tester
• Bright three-color LED indicators
• Open ground indication
• Lost/open neutral indication
• Surge fault indication
• Thermally protected
• Weather-resistant
• Lifetime warranty
MSRP: $132

Also portable, the EMS-PT50C includes a digital display that continuously scrolls through power-source information.

Also portable, the EMS-PT50C includes a digital display that continuously scrolls through power-source information.

Progressive’s portable Emergency Management System (EMS) devices provide surge and voltage protection in a compact unit. The digital display continuously scrolls all of the AC power information, including voltage, current, frequency, error codes and previous errors. Driven by a state-of-the-art microprocessor, the units are weather-resistant and feature a built-in lock bracket that allows them to be secured to the power source.

EMS-PT30C (30-amp)
EMS-PT50C (50-amp)
• Three-mode/five-mode surge protection
(30-amp/50-amp)
• Surge fault indication
• High/low voltage protection
• Time delay for A/C compressor
• Reverse-polarity protection
• Open neutral protection
• Open ground protection
• AC frequency protection
• Accidental 240-volt AC protection
• Previous error code
• 5 inches wide by 16½ inches long by 3 inches high (30-amp)
• 5 inches wide by 16½ inches long by 43/8 inches high (50-amp)
• Lifetime warranty
MSRP: $310 (30-amp), $431 (50-amp)
Hardwired Surge Protectors

Progressive Industries’ hardwired EMS-LCHW30 automatically shuts down power in adverse conditions.

Progressive Industries’ hardwired EMS-LCHW30 automatically shuts down power in adverse conditions.

Progressive’s hardwired EMS devices offer similar protection to the portable units but are permanently wired into the RV. The modular design makes repairs user-friendly, according to the company, and an enclosed jumper wire allows users to bypass the computer circuit in the EMS in the event of a failure, thereby allowing power back to the RV. If mounting in an area where the readout is not readily visible, Progressive offers the EMS-HW30C ($299) and EMS-HW50C ($410), which have the additional benefit of a remote display.

EMS-LCHW30 (30-amp)
EMS-LCHW50 (50-amp)
• 5 inches wide by 9 inches long by 3 inches high (30-amp)
• 5 inches wide by 9 inches long by 4 inches high (50-amp)
• Lifetime warranty
MSRP: $258 (30-amp), $349 (50-amp)

Progressive Industries | 919-267-6948 | www.progressiveindustries.net

Technology Research Corporation/Surge Guard


TRC offers a wide range of surge protectors under its Surge Guard line, including portable and hardwired units. Here are a few of the company’s most popular models.

Portable Surge Protectors
44260 (30-amp)
44270 (50-amp)
Billed as entry-level portable surge protectors, these models identify faulty-RV-park protection, analyze circuits to verify pedestal power and test for open ground, open neutral and correct polarity. The 30-amp model offers 2100 joules of surge protection, and the 50-amp model provides 4,200 joules.
MSRP: $107 (30-amp), $131 (50-amp)

34830 (30-amp)
34850 (50-amp)
The new 30- and 50-amp Surge Guard portables with LCD displays offer more features than previous models. These units continuously monitor for surge failure, voltage, amp draw and reverse polarity (such as a miswired pedestal or elevated ground voltage). Compact and easy to use, the 34830 and 34850 models are suitable for use on any trailer with 30-amp or 50-amp service, respectively.
MSRP: $344 (30-amp), $487 (50-amp)

Surge Guard power protectors (from right): The portable 34830 has an LCD display and monitors voltage, amp draw and reverse polarity. The hardwired 35550 tucks away in the RV’s utility compartment and is available with a remote LCD display. The entry-level 44260 is perfect for pop-ups and small travel trailers.

Surge Guard power protectors (from right): The portable 34830 has an LCD display and monitors voltage, amp draw and reverse polarity. The hardwired 35550 tucks away in the RV’s utility compartment and is available with a remote LCD display. The entry-level 44260 is perfect for pop-ups and small travel trailers.

• Protection from faulty park power
• Built-in intelligence
• Automatic reset on power restoration
• Automatic power shut-off when open ground, open neutral, low-/high-voltage conditions exist
• Thermal protection against plug/receptacle overheating
• Multi-mode surge suppression
• 128-second reset delay protects air-conditioner compressor
• 2,450 joules (30-amp) or 3,850 joules (50-amp) of power-surge protection
• Convenient easy-pull handle
• Weather-resistant

Hardwired Surge Protectors
35530 (30-amp)
35550 (50-amp)

The 34590 Universal Lock Hasp secures 30- and 50-amp portable Surge Guard devices, helping prevent unauthorized removal or theft.

The 34590 Universal Lock Hasp secures 30- and 50-amp portable Surge Guard devices, helping prevent unauthorized removal or theft.

Offering the same features as the portable models, these hardwired units have the additional benefit of being permanently installed within the utility compartment of a trailer, which deters the possibility of theft or damage from the elements. The optional LCD display plugs into a remote port and features 16 detailed fault screens plus a joystick for easy screen navigation. The LCD display is also compatible with previous models with a telecom jack.
MSRP: $260 and $366

Universal Lock Hasp

Portable surge protectors aren’t cheap, and, unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals out there who will steal them if given the opportunity. To help protect all portable Surge Guard products, TRC offers a Universal Lock Hasp (model 34590) that easily attaches to standard 30- and 50-amp plugs. Attach a padlock to the durable, weather-resistant, high-quality plastic lockbox, and the Universal Lock Hasp does the rest.
MSRP: $25

Technology Research | 800-780-4324 | www.trci.net/products/surge-guard-rv


 

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