Use An RV Surge Protector With A Generator (Open Ground Fix)

Why Won’t My RV Surge Protector Work With My Generator?

If you have a hard-wired surge protector in your camper or want to be extra careful and use an RV surge protector, you are going to run into some issues when you plug it into your RV generator.

While it can be done, most good RV surge protectors with an EMS (electrical management system) will come up with a warning when you plug it into most generators or inverter generators.

Related Product: Power an RV AC using a smaller generator using a Hutch Mountain Microair Easy Start (click to view on Amazon)

You will normally get a warning for open ground or reverse polarity and the surge protector will not allow electricity to pass.

That’s because many generators (especially the newer inverter generators) have what’s called an open or floating neutral.

A floating neutral is when the neutral is not connected to the frame of the generator or the earth’s ground.

The floating neutral acts as a safety feature to stop the potential for electric shock and is ok for RV generators.

If you want to use a generator with a surge protector whether it’s a hard-wired or portable one you are going to need to fix the floating neutral.

You can do this by using a neutral ground bonding plug.

See Also: Best RV Surge Protector & EMS For 30 Amp & 50 Amp

What Is A Neutral Ground Bonding Plug?

A neutral ground bonding plug more commonly called a “generator plug” or “grounding plug” is a simple way to tie or ground the neutral and get your RV surge protector working.

Note that this is not always necessary for all kinds of generators. Generators over 5000 watts will usually already be neutral ground bonded and work with surge protectors.

You can test for an open ground by using a receptacle tester like the Sperry Instruments GFCI Outlet Tester (click to view on Amazon.)

Related: How To Connect/Plug RV Camper Into Generator (15/30/50 Amp)

To use this receptacle tester first start up your generator and get it running. Once running plug the tester into one of the standard 15 amp (Edison) outlets.

Use the diagram on the tester so you know what the lights mean.

Sperry Instruments GFI6302 GFCI Outlet / Receptacle Tester, Standard 120V AC Outlets, 7 Visual Indication / Wiring Legend, Home & Professional Use, Yellow & Black

On this specific one, a single yellow light illuminated on the far right will mean you have an open neutral.

A single yellow light in the center will mean an open ground, either of these warnings should be fixed with the neutral ground bonding plug.

If both yellow lights are illuminated your generator is neutral ground bonded and you shouldn’t need a generator plug to use it with your surge protector.

Where To Get A Generator Neutral Plug

If you do need a generator plug to tie the floating neutral you can get this one made by Southwire.

Southwire Company Generator Neutral Plug

Southwire Company LLC Neutral-Ground Bonding Plug

Check Price at Amazon

Southwire is a fantastic company that makes some of the best surge protectors on the market today. Its products are always of high quality and this plug does the trick every time.

Just plug it into an open outlet (Edison plug outlet) on your generator and the surge protector should stop detecting an open ground or floating neutral and start working.

An RV surge protector next to a generator without an open ground plug
You will need to use a generator neutral plug to fix the open ground or neutral warning on your RV surge protector.

DIY – How To Make A Generator Neutral Plug (Ground Bonding Plug)

If you don’t have access to a generator neutral plug you can also make one yourself with just a few items that can be found at most hardware stores.

Note that this is a DIY project and should only be done if you are comfortable with electric wiring. It isn’t hard but if you don’t do it right it could damage your generator.

Make and use a homemade generator neutral plug at your own risk.

To make your own generator neutral plug all you need is a standard male three-prong Edison plug like this one (click to view on Amazon).

Even smaller less heavy-duty plugs will work as well.

Related: Will A 50A RV Surge Protector Work In A 30A Outlet?

The next thing you need is bare copper wire that is 12-14 gauge like this (click to view on Amazon.)

This is going to be the kind of wire you see used as grounding wire used in electrical outlets.

Next, you open up the plug and use a small piece of the copper wire to connect the neutral prong (White Wire/Silver Screw) to the ground prong (Green Wire/Green Screw).

Whatever you do, Do Not Wire The Hot Leg Prong To The Ground. It has to be the neutral connected to the ground.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this you are better off buying a generator plug that is already wired.

Once you have put the plug back together just plug it into an open 15 amp or “Edison” outlet on your generator and your surge protector should start letting electricity through.

See Also: Best Portable Quiet Inverter Generators For RV Camping

Final Thoughts On Using A Generator Neutral Plug

This is a simple trick that is used by many people to solve the open neutral problem with their generators and RV surge protectors.

It’s mostly for campers with hardwired RV surge protectors in their electrical systems.

Most people don’t use a surge protector with their generators. That doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s just that most people don’t feel the need to.

You should read the manual that came with your surge protector before plugging it into a generator.

Some companies have information about what kinds of generators can or cannot be used with their surge protector.

Sometimes plugging a surge protector into a certain brand or style of a generator can void the warranty.

Make sure you know your surge protector and its restrictions before plugging it into a generator, even one with a neutral plug or bonded neutral.

See Also: The Best Camping Gas Generators That Will Run Your RV AC 

Have any more questions about using RV surge protectors with generators? Leave a comment below.

by Jenni
Jenni grew up in a small town in Idaho. With a family that loves camping, she has been towing trailers since a very young age.

19 thoughts on “Use An RV Surge Protector With A Generator (Open Ground Fix)”

  1. With a larger inverter generator capable of 240v, do you need ground/neutral plug for both circuit s (aka legs, or phases)?

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      If your generator is capable of 240V it should already be grounded internally and not require a neutral ground bonding plug to work with a surge guard.

      Reply
  2. Is there a problem using a neutral ground bonding plug on an inverter generator? I fear that there might be some design of the inverter that might be damaged by shorting these points.

    Reply
  3. I would like to run my two YAMAHA generators in parallel. (EF2000iSv2, 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts). A knowledgeable friend advised that I will only need one neutral ground bonding plug. I’m a bit skeptical. Is my friend correct of should I purchase a second neutral ground bonding plug?

    Reply
    • Hi Pat,

      I’m not an expert on parallel connecting generators. I’ve only done it myself a few times. I do know that when in parallel generators are connected with ground wires as well. I think your friend is correct but like I said I’m not super knowledgeable when it comes to parallel connected generators.

      Reply
  4. I have a new champion 4650 inverter generator and a Southwire 34931 surge protector. When I plug my 30 amp Keystone Passport 2019 RV into the suppressor I get the open ground light and no power to the RV. Read your blog and purchased a Southwire generator neutral-ground bonding plug (model 44400). Plugged it into the generator and still had the same results (open ground). What do I do now? Just not use the surge protector when using the generator? I do have the generator grounded to a grounding rod while doing all of this. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Hi Dick,

      I honestly don’t understand why the neutral ground bonding plug isn’t working. Champion recommends using one on their own website to fix the open ground problem.

      I would try using the grounding plug in different outlets while the generator is on and the surge protector is plugged in to see if that works. Or try having the plug in before connecting the surge protector.

      The problem could be that the 20 amp plug is only fixing the problem for the 20 amp outlets and not the 30 amp one. To test this you could try plugging the surge protector into the free 20 amp outlet instead with an adapter to see if the open ground is fixed there.

      If it still isn’t working there could possibly be a problem with the plug, the surge protector, or even the generator.

      Unfortunately using the grounding rod won’t fix the grounding issue for the surge protector but it would make using the generator without the surge protector a little safer.

      You could try contacting Champion directly to see what they recommend as well.

      Reply
  5. Hello, I was wondering if its safe to run my 30 amp jayco jayflight 2022 to my new champion 4450 starting watts 3550 running watts without a bonding plug. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      It’s fine, you won’t need the bonding plug if you aren’t trying to bypass a surge protector. And it’s not a requirement to use a surge protector with a generator.

      Reply
      • I have 2 Champion units (2000 w) to pair together with the pairing wiring. I can run one unit with using the 20 amp plug on one, but the 30 amp plug when paired together won’t work. Is there a solution to that? Have a hardwired Surge Guard 35550 unit

        Reply
        • Hi Al,

          Are you using the Champion parallel kit (click to view on Amazon) with the 30 amp RV outlet?

          Even with the parallel kit installed it will still have a floating neutral. Putting a neutral ground bonding plug in one of the 20 amp outlets should make it so the 30 amp outlet works with the surge guard.

          If the plug doesn’t work you can also ground one of the generators using the ground terminal, grounding rods, and grounding wires.

          Reply
          • Thank you for the response. Yes, I am using the Champion parallel kit. Tried it with grounding plugs in one and both 20 amp outlets and it still won’t work on the 30 amp. Will need to try the grounding rod.

            Guess if that doesn’t work I’ll need to look at bypassing the Surge Guard

          • You can check out this forum thread where they talk about an issue like yours.

            One of the RVers has a 73500i parallel kit and talks about swapping the AC wires to get the grounding plug to work. Maybe it’s a long shot but it’s worth looking into.

          • Thanks Jenni. I got it figured out. The 2 black plugs that go from the parallel adapter to the generator both look the same and there are no markings indicating whether they get plugged into the right hole. Well it does matter. by plugging it in and checking the voltage on the 30 amp plug I got it figured out and working.

            Thanks for you help

  6. I have a Watch dog 50 a.m. surge protector hardwired into my RV when I plug in my generator ( Predator 3500). I am getting the open ground warning that won’t let electricity pass. On my generator I have put an internal jumper (12 gauge ) from the neutral to the ground. The inside wiring all the neutrals and grounds run and series. Also when I plug in a tester into the 20 amp plug on the side of the generator I am getting a correct circuit 2 yellow lights. So it looks like the plugs on my generator are all showing properly bonded grounds. But my search protector still isn’t satisfied. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      It sounds like what you’re doing should be working.

      I would check the adapters you are using to plug your RV into the generator. I’ve heard that they can sometimes cause issues.

      If you’re using a short adapter you might want to try switching to a dog bone one like this (click to view on Amazon).

      Reply

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