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5 Reasons Every RVer Should Invest in a Surge Protector/EMS

The electrical system in your RV is considered by many to be the most important part of their rig. The A/C, microwave, TV, and all the other appliances depend on electricity. What many people don’t think about is that those systems all rely on that electricity to be delivered properly.

There is always the possibility of lightning or powerline issues, causing a surge of power that can wreak havoc on your appliances and electrical system. RV parks can be a gamble when it comes to wiring too. You never know who may have wired the pedestal you are about to plug into.  Many RVers are familiar with the basic RV surge protectors that you can get for $100.

Most of those have an indicator to tell you of potential wiring problems, which can be a big help. They will not prevent power pedestals with wiring issues from sending that power to your RV. Their only saving function is to divert large voltage surges to the ground before they get sent to your RV. They have a lifespan of how many times they can protect you too.

An RV EMS surge protector or electronic management system is the safest option when it comes to protecting your RV electrical system and all of the appliances. Below are five reasons why every RVer should have one.

1. They Protect From Power Surges And Drops.

Power surges happen for several reasons. Lightning is the first thing that comes to people’s minds, but we create small surges every time we turn an electrical device on or off. When it is just us in our home, we generally don’t turn things on and off too frequently or at the same time.

Power Surge

An older RV park may share all of its power posts with one transformer. Imagine the RV park is a house, and every RVer is an occupant in it. You may have 50 or more electrical devices in the form of washers, dryers, air conditioners, coffee makers, TVs, and many others being switched on and off constantly and at the same time. You will inevitably get some voltage fluctuations. It is important to note that not all RV parks are poorly wired or fit the wiring description above. It isn’t necessarily possible to tell though, while you are plugging your RV into their park.

Sometimes those fluctuations will come in the form of an increase of voltage for a fraction of a second. Others will be the opposite, and your voltage will drop to unsafe levels temporarily. It is even possible for too many high power devices to cause an extended voltage drop to the whole park. Both voltage spikes and drops cause damage to electronics. It may not destroy them right away, but it can shorten the lifespan of the device considerably.

A quality EMS/surge protector will detect these changes in voltage and cut power to the RV if the voltage falls out of safe levels. Unlike a basic surge protector, EMS systems will not only protect your RV from high voltage, but it will also prevent damage from low voltage.

Surge Protector

Portable EMS systems like the Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector require no setup. Just plug it into the power post.


2. They Can Prevent You From Plugging Into An Incorrectly-Wired Socket.

Sometimes a power surge is not your issue. Some parks have relied on unqualified workers to rewire plugs and even power pedestals. Other parks have old wiring in need of an update. It is possible to have a host of wiring issues at a campground.

Open Ground: This happens when the park’s power post is not properly grounded. The purpose of a ground wire is to send stray voltage into the ground to prevent electrical shock in the event of electrical leakage. Say a wire somewhere was nicked. A properly grounded system would send any stray electricity to the ground.

An improperly grounded system or open ground system can send stray voltage into your chassis or RV shell. Stepping on the steps or even touching your door handle, in that case, could result in a dangerous shock.

Open Neutral: In this scenario, the white or neutral wire in the socket is open or not connected. This can happen due to mistakes in wiring or old sockets. If you plug a 30 amp RV into a socket with an open neutral condition, you can still receive a shock from the sockets, but nothing will work.

Power Surge

If you have a 50 amp RV, however, the plug will go from carrying 120 volts through two prongs to potentially carrying up to 240 volts to part of your RV. This voltage can kill most electronics in your RV rather quickly.

Reverse Polarity: An unqualified electrician may accidentally cross the white and black wires of a socket. This is known as reverse polarity. Plugging into a plug that is wired this way can damage equipment.

An EMS will not only tell you when these faults are present, but it also will not let electricity go into the RV. Most will allow electricity to come back on after about two minutes, provided that the fault is taken care of.

3. Some Can Be Mounted Inside An RV To Prevent Theft.

One of the biggest problems people have with plug and play surge protectors, as well as plug and play EMSs, is the fact that they are easily stolen. It makes sense; it’s a high dollar item that is easy to take. Fortunately, some EMS models, like the Progressive Industries HW30C 30 Amp Hardwired EMS-HW30C RV Surge & Electrical Protector, along with the 50 amp version, are meant to be mounted inside the RV as a permanent install. This not only ensures electrical protection regardless of how you plug your RV in, but it prevents would-be thieves from walking away with it.

Indoor-Mounted Surge Protector

The Progressive Industries HW30C mounts inside your RV and has a remote digital display.

4. Many Come With An Amperage Meter Display.

If you have a 30 amp RV, or if you have a 50 amp and are plugged into a 30 amp, you know the pain of always worrying about running too many things at once. You may wonder at times how many amps you are running on average. Fortunately, many EMS systems have an amperage display so you can keep track of how close you are to maxing-out your RV’s electrical system.

5. They Are Less Expensive Than Replacing Your RV Electrical System And Devices.

Many people shy away from the $300-$400 price tag of EMS/surge protectors. That is until they start adding up the cost of replacing all of the electrical components. Imagine replacing your microwave, TV, laptops, air conditioner, and other electronic devices. That alone will cost at least a couple thousand dollars. We haven’t even discussed replacing broken components in your RV electrical system due to faulty wiring and power issues at an RV park. Ultimately, it’s cheaper to be on the safe side and keep your RV’s electrical system protected.


About The Author: Levi Henley

Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time.  They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats.  They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com 

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