When thinking about things you need to purchase for your new (or new to you) RV, a surge protector might not be the first item on your list. However, it may very well be one of your most important purchases.
While an RV surge protector may seem costly at first glance, compared to the cost of replacing the electronics in your rig, or the whole RV, it’s definitely a worthy investment.
Read on for our top five picks for the best RV surge protector to protect your home, electronics, and loved ones, including the family pets.
Our Top Picks
Best Hardwire Option
Power Watchdog H
You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your RV. Now it’s time to invest in the Power Watchdog, our top choice for the best RV surge protector to help protect your full-time or vacation home.
The Power Watchdog PW50-EPO tops our list as the best RV surge protector for its Bluetooth and plug-and-play capabilities, emergency shutoff, and power-on delay.
Let’s start with the EPO in the model number. What exactly does that mean? EPO stands for Emergency Power Off, meaning your Power Watchdog will shut down automatically if a dangerous situation occurs.
The second feature we like about this surge protector is that if an event causes your Power Watchdog to shut down, an alert will be sent to your smartphone.
The Power Watchdog not only monitors for spikes, it also keeps an eye on low-voltage situations. RVing is more popular than ever and today’s RVs have more electrical appliances than they did decades ago. All of this means that you can run into low-voltage situations at some RV parks, especially older parks.
Most people only think about spikes in electricity. However, low voltage causes your equipment to work harder to try and keep up, which can damage the wiring in your RV. If a low-voltage situation is detected, this best RV surge protector will shut down to protect your electronics.
In addition to high and low-voltage monitoring, the Power Watchdog also monitors for miswired or worn-out pedestals at the park.
When your Power Watchdog senses a problem, not only will it send an alert to your phone, but it will continue to monitor the situation. Once the issue is resolved, it will automatically power back on after 90 seconds.
If you want real peace of mind, consider upgrading your RV with the RV Whisper monitor. If WiFi is available where your RV is parked, you can monitor your Watchdog from anywhere. Otherwise, you’re limited to Bluetooth range, about 90 feet.
No more small LED indicator lights to try and read with the Power Watchdog. If all is well, the giant dog face on the front lights up white. If there’s an issue, it turns red and a default code is displayed on the bottom corner of the unit.
The last feature that makes the Power Watchdog our overall best surge protector is that if, and when, your module needs to be replaced you don’t have to replace the whole unit. For less than one-quarter the cost of a new unit, or the thousands of dollars it would cost to rewire your entire rig, you can order a replacement module.
If you love all the features of the Power Watchdog, but your RV is only 30 amps, no worries, it comes in a 30-amp model too.
- Auto shut-off and restart
- Alerts sent to your phone
- Surge protection module can be replaced
- Bluetooth range is limited
- Does not hook up to campground wifi
With a price tag of less than $50, the Powsafe surge protector is the most budget-friendly on our list of the best RV surge protectors.
The Powsafe surge protector, as you can imagine, is a basic waterproof surge protector without all the monitoring features of the Power Watchdog.
Powsafe monitors and protects your rig from high and low-voltage levels, as well as power surges. While it won’t restart after an incident is detected, or send an alert to your phone, it will shut down to help protect your equipment.
If you like to keep things as simple and cost-effective as possible, the Powsafe will be your go-to for the best RV surge protector.
- Budget price
- Easy to use
- Basic surge protector
- Does not reset automatically
- Cannot be monitored remotely
- Does not notify you if there is an issue
If you’re looking for a surge protector that can be hardwired into your RV, take a look at the Power Watchdog H for the best RV surge protector.
The Power Watchdog H has all the same great features as the Power Watchdog, so we won’t go over those again.
But the Power Watchdog H is hardwired into your rig, making it harder to steal…and forget! If you’re comfortable working with electricity, there are plenty of YouTube videos showing how to DIY install this unit. However, you might want to consider hiring a professional for this job just to be safe.
When you install this unit in your RV, remember that the dog’s face on the front of the unit is nice and bright. It could be a nice nightlight, or highly annoying, depending on how dark you like your home at night.
Like the original Power Watchdog, the Watchdog H also comes in a 30-amp model.
- All of the features of Power Watchdog
- Harder to steal and forget
- Complaints of a loud humming noise
- Indicator light can be too bright for inside
Progressive Industries is another option on our best RV surge protector list. The Progressive surge protector monitors for low and high voltage, reverse polarity, and miswired pedestals.
While it doesn’t have all the features of the Power Watchdog and won’t send an alert to your phone, it will store the last fault code, as long as the power wasn’t totally lost.
This surge protector is both UL-certified and Canadian-approved. It comes with an attached weatherproof cover and has a locking security bracket.
- Stores the last fault code
- Waterproof cover
- Small indicator lights
- No bluetooth or wifi technology
Last on our list of best RV surge protectors, but certainly worth your consideration, is the Surge Guard.
Like the other RV surge protectors on this list, the Surge Guard monitors for both high and low voltage, and faulty wiring at the power pedestal. Easy-to-read LED lights on the unit keep you updated on any issues.
The increased thickness of the brass on the receptacle helps reduce overheating.
The Surge Guard RV surge protector is another great option for entry-level protection without all the added features and cost.
- Lower price
- Monitors for high and low voltage and faulty wiring
- No remote monitoring
Best RV Surge Protector Buyer’s Guide
Now that you know our top picks for the best RV surge protector, here are a few things to look for when deciding which surge protector is best for you.
The most important thing to consider when shopping for your RV surge protector is whether you need a 30-amp or 50-amp unit. Your surge protector needs to match your RVs amps.
If you’re not sure which you need, an easy way to tell is to look at your RV power cord. If the outlet has three pins, you need a 30-amp surge protector. Four pins means you need a 50-amp surge protector. Most older and smaller RVs have a 30-amp system.
Also in looking for the best RV surge protector consider if you want all the bells and whistles, or just a basic unit. If your RV is your full-time home, monitoring all the things can give you peace of mind when you have to be away.
However, if you’re only taking your RV out for family vacations once or twice a year, a simple less-expensive surge protector that still does the job but without all the fancy features, may be your best option.
One other thing to keep in mind when considering features for your best RV surge protector is whether or not you can read the display. When you lose power in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm, a nice bright simple display, or the ability to look at an app, may just turn out to be your favorite feature.
When purchasing your best RV surge protector, you may notice the word Joule in the description. This is the amount of energy the surge protector can absorb before it fails. The range of protection for RV surge protectors is generally from 825 to 3500 joules of protection.
In super simple terms, the higher the number of joules of protection, the better the protection. The Power Watchdog surge protector offers 4800 Joules of advanced surge protection.
When purchasing a portable surge protector that plugs into an RV power pole, how to keep your surge protector from being stolen is another feature to consider. Some surge protectors have a loop attached to the cord that you can run a cable lock through. Others, like the Power Watchdog, have a security bracket attached to the handle itself.
Warranties on RV surge protectors can range anywhere from one year to a limited lifetime warranty. Be sure to check the warranty on the model you choose. After purchasing your RV surge protector, don’t forget to register it to activate the warranty.
No, a voltage booster is not a surge protector. So why do we have it included in our list of the best RV surge protectors? Well, when you’re at a park that has a bunch of RVs running their AC units off an older power grid, a surge protector is great for protection from a low-voltage situation. Until the voltage drops too low, and your surge protector shuts down to protect your rig, as it should.
However, if you have a Hughes Autoformer Voltage Booster with Surge Protection hooked to your home, you’ll not only have surge protection, but you’ll also get a voltage boost. This means your AC unit can keep running when others may not. And that means, your home is nice and cool at the end of a long hot day out hiking and fishing!
If you’re like most RVers, you have a routine for setting up and tearing down your RV camp spot. And, one thing we can’t get enough of is storage bags and tubs!
When it comes time to store your best RV surge protector, Camco makes an electrical accessory bag that will even accommodate the rather large Power Watchdog. This bag has tons of compartments for your surge protector, cords, and all the accessories you didn’t even know you needed.
Best RV Surge Protector Frequently Asked Questions
My RVs circuit board has breakers, do I still need a surge protector?
For the best protection, the answer is, yes you still need a surge protector. Your RVs circuit board breakers are designed to protect against overloads inside your RV. Surge protectors protect against issues from the power pedestal to your RV. This means that the surge protector protects your home before the potentially catastrophic failure gets to your circuit board.
What are the advantages of a hardwired vs portable surge protector?
When shopping for the best RV surge protector, the real advantage to a hardwired unit is you don’t have to plug it into a campground power pedestal every time. Just install it once, and you’re good to go. You also don’t have to worry about it getting stolen, or accidentally driving off and leaving it behind when you move to your next destination.
However, with a portable surge protector, you don’t have to pay a contractor to hardwire it into your home. Another advantage is that should it ever need to be replaced, it will be easier to replace a portable surge protector.
Do I really need to buy an expensive surge protector?
The better question is, how does the cost to replace your big-screen TV, rooftop AC unit, or even the whole electric system in your RV compare to the cost of a surge protector? The answer to that may help you decide if it’s worth it.
I have a 50 amp rig, and the pedestal at the campground is only 30 amps; now what?
The good news is, you can still use your 50 amp RV surge protector on a 30 amp park power pole. You just need a dogbone adapter to hook your surge protector to the park power.
One thing to keep in mind is that this doesn’t increase the park’s power from 30 amps to 50 amps, though. If they have 30 amp power, that’s all the power your RV is going to be able to pull. A dogbone is simply an adapter that allows you to connect to the park’s power pole so you don’t have to listen to the generator run all night.
Wrapping up the Best RV Surge Protector
As you’re preparing for your next trip, or full-time RV living, and considering things to make life in an RV easier, don’t overlook an RV surge protector. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but it will definitely make your RV life easier and more enjoyable if you do need surge protection and have one.
Now that your RV is protected with the best RV surge protector, where are you off to? If you need ideas, we have a great campground guide to help you decide. Happy Trails!
- About the Author
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Melissa Goins is a lifelong resident of Indiana and currently resides on a 15-acre homestead with her family where she has lived full-time stationary in a 2000 Travel Supreme fifth wheel for the past two years.
She has always loved traveling and in 2000 she and her husband purchased a fully self-contained semi truck and hit the road with their two kids, visiting all 48 contiguous United States and learning about our amazing country along the way.
Melissa has learned a lot about living full-time in an RV over the past two years and loves sharing tips and tricks with others — which is why she loves writing for Beyond the Tent. From staying cool in the summer to preparing for winter, to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 12 in an RV, there’s so much to learn, enjoy, and share Beyond the Tent.
When she’s not writing or enjoying the great outdoors, Melissa loves to spend time with her family. She is a proud wife, mom, and grandma to three beautiful grandbabies.