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Best RV Surge Protector/Guard With EMS 30 Amp & 50 Amp 2020

Do You Really Need A Surge Protector For Your RV?

If you ever start talking to full-time RVers or snowbirds who frequent RV parks and campgrounds with hookups you will start to hear your fair share of stories about how the RV electrical system got fried. Many of the electrical appliances in RVs are sensitive to changes in voltage and power surges. Unfortunately, RV parks and campgrounds can be hotspots for bad or old wiring and a danger to your beloved home on wheels.

Related: Save 50% On Campgrounds All Over The United States With Passport America 

Do you really need a surge protector? Well if you ask me and many other RVers the answer is yes. We spend 95% of our days boondocking (dry camping) but we still have a 30 amp surge protector/guard for when we stay at the occasional RV park or campground. Even when staying with friends we use our surge guard because you can never be too careful when it comes to the wiring in your RV and the expensive appliances inside.

You may be wondering, what does a surge protector with an EMS (electrical management system) do? Besides the obvious surge protection, a high-quality RV surge guard with EMS will protect from reverse polarity, misfiring, low or high frequencies and voltages, and open or neutral grounds. Some will even display the current voltage coming from the power source so you can judge whether it’s safe or not to plug in your RV.

Related: How To Set Up At An RV Park Or Campground For Dummies

Not all RV surge protectors/guards are made equal and if you want the best, full protection, a surge protector with an EMS is the way to go. In this article, I’ll review some of the best RV surge guard options with an EMS along with their pros and cons to help you decide which is best for your RV.

When you decide on the brand and kind (hardwired or portable) of surge protector that is best for you remember to get the proper size (30 amp for 30 amp RVs and 50 amp for 50 amp RVs).

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector (50 A)
Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)
Close Second
Southwire Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp 120/240-Volt Wireless Communication-Capable Surge Protector
Best RV EMS Surge Guard
Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO Power Watchdog Smart Bluetooth Surge Protector Plus EPO with Auto Shutoff - 50 Amp Portable Version
Joules Of Surge Protection 50 Amp
3,580J
4,200J
4,200J
4,800J
Joules Of Surge Protection 30 Amp
1,790J
2,800J
2,460J
2,460J
Display Screen
Weatherproof (Portable Version)
Hardwire Option

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector (50 A)
Joules Of Surge Protection 50 Amp
3,580J
Joules Of Surge Protection 30 Amp
1,790J
Display Screen
Weatherproof (Portable Version)
Hardwire Option
Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)
Joules Of Surge Protection 50 Amp
4,200J
Joules Of Surge Protection 30 Amp
2,800J
Display Screen
Weatherproof (Portable Version)
Hardwire Option

Close Second

Southwire Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp 120/240-Volt Wireless Communication-Capable Surge Protector
Joules Of Surge Protection 50 Amp
4,200J
Joules Of Surge Protection 30 Amp
2,460J
Display Screen
Weatherproof (Portable Version)
Hardwire Option

Best RV EMS Surge Guard

Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO Power Watchdog Smart Bluetooth Surge Protector Plus EPO with Auto Shutoff - 50 Amp Portable Version
Joules Of Surge Protection 50 Amp
4,800J
Joules Of Surge Protection 30 Amp
2,460J
Display Screen
Weatherproof (Portable Version)
Hardwire Option

Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to view all products in the table.

Progressive Industries RV Surge Protector/EMS

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector (50 A)

Check Price at Amazon

Progressive Industries makes some of the most popular RV surge protectors on the market today and their surge guard/EMS is a great choice for full time RV park campers and weekenders. They have both portable and hardwire versions for 30 amp (click to view on Amazon) or 50 amp RVs and trailers.

Hardwire surge protectors (click to view on Amazon) are great for RVers who camp almost exclusively at RV parks or places with electrical hookups. They aren’t so great for those who boondock/dry camp a lot and use a generator because surge protectors can make it difficult to use certain kinds of generators without special equipment.

See Also: How To Use A Surge Guard With A Generator (Open Neutral Fix)

Whether it’s hardwired or portable the protection from the Progressive Industries EMS surge guard is going to be the same. They both have an LED screen which will show you the voltage and amps coming from the power source as well as error codes that will tell you what problems the power source may be experiencing. There as also an auto-reconnect one conditions are safe again.

Unlike regular surge guards which only protect from power surges, EMS surge protectors will protect from surges, high or low voltage, open or neutral grounds, reverse polarity, and other things which can be harmful to your RV electrical system and appliances.

Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector (50 A)

The portable version is made with durable plastic that is weather-resistant and made for outdoor use including a rain/weather shield for the outlet. The 50 amp version protects from surges of up to 3,580J and is rated for 120/240V power or 12,000 watts. It works in temperatures as low as -40°F and as high as 221°F so you don’t have to worry about the temperature affecting anything.

The 30 amp surge protector has all the same weather and temperature features but only has 1,790J of surge protection and is rated for 120V or 3,600 watts. You should always get the size of surge protector that matches your RV but you can connect a different size if you have no other option and you can read more about that in this article here.

Because not every RV park or campground is totally safe the Progressive Industries EMS surge guard comes with a security locking bracket you can use to lock it up and stop anyone from walking away with it. There’s also a handle on the plug to make pulling it out of the power pedestal easier.

If you go with the hardwire version you can either get one that has the display screen on the surge protector or one that has an external screen you can mount somewhere else which makes it easier to monitor the voltage. The hardwire version is also UL Certified.

The Progressive Industries RV Surge Protector/EMS is an excellent choice for every kind of RVer. Even if you don’t camp hooked up to power all of the time you are going to want one to keep your RV safe on the occasion that you do connect to power whether it’s at an RV park or even at home.

Pros

  • Full EMS Protection
  • Detects & Protects
  • Weatherproof
  • Hardwire & Portable Option
  • Built In Lock Bracket
  • Display Screen
  • Hardwire Version Is UL Certified
  • Auto Disconnect/Reconnect

Cons

  • Portable Version Not UL Certified
  • Surge Protection Not As High As Other Brands

Camco RV Power Defender Surge Protector/EMS

Camco 50 Amp RV Power Defender Voltage Protector/Monitor with Integrated Surge Protection, Designed with Easy to Use PowerGrip Handles (55306)

Check Price at Amazon

Camco’s RV EMS/surge guard is a simple but powerful unit that will protect your RV from electrical problems like low or high voltage, wiring issues, ground faults, reverse polarity, open neutral, and other things that may harm your RV appliances or wiring.

There is no display screen but instead LED lights which will light in certain patterns to indicate what problem the power pedestal may be having. It is a bit of a downside because you can’t manually monitor the voltage going into your RV but the Camco surge protector will still protect your RV just as well as others if not better in some cases.

If the surge protector shuts off the power to your RV for any reason it will reconnect automatically once conditions are safe again.

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

Camco doesn’t make a hardwire version so if you’re looking for something you can perinatally attach inside your RV you will have to go with another brand. Because it’s portable there are grips on each end which make it easier to plug and unplug the surge guard and the body is made of hard durable plastic that is weather-resistant and made for outdoor use.

Like many other portable RV surge protectors, there is a bracket on it you can use to lock the guard so you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing it.

The 50 amp version offers 4,200J of surge protection and the 30 amp version up to 2,800J. Neither version is UL certified but they are CSA certified.

The Camco RV Power Defender Surge Protector/EMS looks simple on the outside but it offers all of the same capabilities as other EMS surge guards with high surge protection and intelligent outlet analyzing. The only thing you don’t get with this is a hardwired version or a voltage display. High surge protection is a huge plus with this unit and it makes it a great option for RV use.

Pros

  • Full EMS Protection
  • Detects & Protects
  • Weatherproof
  • Built-In Lock Bracket
  • CSA Certified
  • High Joules Surge Protection
  • Auto Disconnect/Reconnect

Cons

  • Portable Version Only
  • No Display Screen/Live Voltage Info

Southwire Surge Guard/EMS

Southwire Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp 120/240-Volt Wireless Communication-Capable Surge Protector

Check Price at Amazon

Southwire is an excellent company that makes a lot of great electrical tools and equipment. Their RV surge protector is a great unit that offers protection from tons of common power pedestal problems like open ground or neutral, reverse polarity, improper wiring, high or low voltage or frequency, and the 50A version even offers protection against elevated ground current inside the RV.

It’s one of the smartest EMS RV surge guards out there and a great option for people who are connected to power often or want the most protection they can get for their RV. After a surge or dangerous even the Southwire RV surge guard with turn back on once conditions are safe again.

On the portable versions, the body is made with thick durable plastic and is weather/rainproof. There is a display screen to help you monitor the voltage as well as LED lights which indicate whether the surge protection is on or if there is a problem. There is also a thick bracket for locking the unit.

See Also: Best 12V Lithium Batteries For RV Use + How To Charge

The 50 amp version offers 4,200 joules of surge protection and the 30 amp version has 2,460 joules of protection. We use the 30 amp portable version (click to view on Amazon) on our travel trailer and it has worked well over the years. We’ve had it protect our trailer a few times from bad outlets at old RV parks and I recommend surge guards with EMS protection to all RVers, even ones who boondock most of the time like us.

The Southwire hardwired RV surge protectors offer all the same protection as the portable versions with a50 amp (click to view on Amazon) and a 30 amp (click to view on Amazon) option. The hardwired surge guards have LED lights on the units to indicate whether everything is good to go or if theirs a problem and what the problem is.

Surge Guard 40300 Optional Remote LCD Display for Hardwire Model 35530

If you want to know the voltage there is an optional external display (click to view on Amazon) you can install in the RV.

The hardwired versions are UL certified and a great option for RVers who are connected to shore power most of the time.

The Southwire Surge Guard/EMS is a fantastic choice. They are durable, offer a ton of protection, and work great. We’ve had a few close calls in sketchy RV parks and we are glad we were using our surge protector.

Pros

  • Full EMS Protection
  • Detects & Protects
  • Weatherproof
  • Built-In Lock Bracket
  • UL Certified (Hardwire Version Only)
  • High Joules Surge Protection
  • Auto Disconnect/Reconnect

Cons

  • 30 Amp Version Can Be Hard To Find

Hughes Autoformers Power Watchdog Surge Protector/EMS

Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO Power Watchdog Smart Bluetooth Surge Protector Plus EPO with Auto Shutoff - 50 Amp Portable Version

Check Price at Amazon

Hughes Autoformers surge guards are a little different than the others on this list. The hardwire and portable versions offer fantastic protection from power surges, high or low voltage, open or neutral grounds, as well as an automatic power reconnection once conditions have returned to safe for 90 seconds.

There is a small display on the portable and hardwired units but they are also Bluetooth compatible so you can monitor your RV remotely using a smartphone. It will even send text alerts when a problem has occurred. It’s an excellent feature so you know when there’s a problem immediately.

The portable 50 amp version has super high surge protection of 4,800 joules, it’s the same for the hardwired version as well. The 30 amp portable RV surge protector (click to view on Amazon) offers 2,400J of surge protection.

See Also: Everything You Need To Know About RV Autoformers + Reviews

The portable versions are weatherproof/rainproof and have grips on the ends for easy unplugging. There is also a security bracket so you can lock it up.

The hardwired versions offer all of the same capabilities as the portable ones including Bluetooth. There is a 50 amp (click to view on Amazon) and a 30 amp (click to view on Amazon).

Another awesome feature with the Hughes Autoformers Power Watchdog Surge Protector/EMS is the surge protection units are replaceable. That means if a large power surge occurs you don’t have to buy an entirely new surge protector you just replace the unit. Huges is one of the only brands that do this.

Pros

  • Full EMS Protection
  • Detects & Protects
  • Weatherproof
  • Built-In Lock Bracket
  • UL Certified (Hardwire Version Only)
  • High Joules Surge Protection
  • Auto Disconnect/Reconnect
  • Replaceable Surge Protection Unit

Cons

  • Can Be Hard To Use Without A Smartphone

My Choice For Best RV Surge Protector/Guard

Hughes Autoformers Power Watchdog Surge Protector/EMS

Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO Power Watchdog Smart Bluetooth Surge Protector Plus EPO with Auto Shutoff - 50 Amp Portable Version

Check Price at Amazon

After reviewing some of the best EMS surge guards out there the one that sticks out the most is the Hughes Autoformers brand. They offer the highest amount of surge protection and the replaceable surge guard unit is a nice touch.

I like the Bluetooth capabilities and although it could be a con if you don’t have a smartphone it’s a definite pro for those who do have one. Even if you don’t have a smartphone there is still a small display screen so you can monitor the power going into your RV.

See Also: Camco Sidewinder RV Sewer Hose Support Review + Homemade

If you’re going to use an RV surge protector you should get one that’s going to actually protect your RV’s electrical system and appliances. That’s why I highly recommend going the extra mile and getting a surge protector with an electrical management system (EMS) like the ones on this list. You never know if what you’re plugging your trailer into is safe and EMS surge protectors are a great way to diagnose RV park and campground power so you know if it’s safe or not.

An RV surge protector/EMS like the one Hughes Autoformers makes is a fantastic option with all the capabilities of the surge protectors on this list and the highest surge protection rating. The RV surge protector unit is also replaceable, which is something no other RV surge protector company offers at this time.

Always plug the RV surge protector/guard into the outlet first followed by the RV power cable.

Frequently Asked Questions About RV Surge Protectors

Do I need a 30 amp or 50 amp surge protector?

As a rule of thumb, you should always get the surge protector that matches your RV’s power rating. 50A to 50A or 30A to 30A.

That being said it’s easier to have a bigger surge protector than a smaller one. If you currently have a 50A surge protector and a 30A RV that will work better than if you have a 30A surge protector and a 50A RV. A 50A surge protector will still allow your 30A trailer to use all the power it can but a 30A surge protector will limit the power usage in a 50A RV because it won’t let all the power you need through.

For more information on using different surge guards with different outlets and RVs check out this article on that subject here.

What is the difference between 30 amp and 50 amp campsites?

30 amp power doesn’t sound that different from 50 amp but the electricity they use is actually more than double. 30 amp power supplies a total of 3,600 watts to an RV and 50 amp power supplies 12,000 watts of power to an RV. That’s more than 3x as many watts. The reason for this is a 50 amp plug actually supplies 100 amps of power to an RV because it’s made up of two 50 amp wires.

Usually when talking about 30 and 50 amp campsites a 30 amp campsite won’t have a 50 amp plug but a 50 amp campsite will often times have a 30 amp plug. Even if a 50 amp campsite doesn’t have a 30 amp plug you can still use an adaptor for your 30 amp RV and use all the electrical appliances normally.

On the flip side if you need to plug a 50 amp RV into a 30 amp outlet you aren’t going to be able to run as many appliances at one time as you are used to so be careful especially with the AC units as 30 amp power can barely run one AC at a time.

How do I secure my RV surge protector/guard?

Most RV surge protectors/guards like the ones on this list will come with a “security bracket” you can use to lock the RV surge guard to something so no one walks away with it.

You can lock an RV surge guard to your RV or the power pedistal using the security bracket.

In this picture, you can see the lock is connected to the security bracket and then to a long cable I use to secure the RV surge protector to either the power pedestal or the RV. Most of the time I’m able to secure the lock directly to the pedestal without having to use the cable and we don’t stay in RV parks very often so I haven’t invested in a better chain but if we do start camping with hookups more I’ll definitely get something beefier than the small wire cable shown in the picture above.

How do I get my RV surge protector to stop showing open ground?

EMS surge guards like the ones on this list have a power pedestal diagnosis feature that will test the outlet and make sure everything is in good shape before sending electricity to the RV. One common problem we’ve had in RV parks and campgrounds with hookups is an open ground.

Sometimes this can be fixed by turning off the breaker and turning it back on again with the surge guard plugged into the outlet. It doesn’t always work but if you try turning the breaker on and off or unplugging the surge guard a few times it might stop showing the open ground and start working.

What is a safe voltage for my RV?

Even though electrical hookups are supposed to supply 120V to your RV a lot of RV parks and campgrounds can’t do this because of the high electricity demands, especially if there are a lot of RVs connected to power. We’ve been to trailer parks that have only been able to supply 114V to our RV and other parks have shown voltage as high as 124V.

As a rule of thumb only hook your trailer up to power pedestals that are supplying 114-126V of power, any more or less may damage sensitive appliances inside your RV like the refrigerator or air conditioner.

It’s more common for RV parks to be supplying less voltage than more. One way to combat this is to use an RV autoformer or step-up transformer. You can read everything you need to know about them in this article here, and the one reviewed also has a built-in surge protector so you may want to check that out before purchasing a surge protector.

What do I plug in first, the RV, or the surge protector/guard?

You should always plug the RV surge protector or guard in first followed by the RV power cable. You want the surge guard to be a close to the power source as possible. You can still use adaptors if you are plugging your RV surge guard into a different size of outlet or your RV into a different size of surge guard.

If you have a hardwired surge protector it will be wired somewhere inside the RV and won’t be near the shore power outlet. Hardwired surge guards are made to be hooked up like this and don’t need to be plugged directly into the shore power outlet like the portable versions do.

Are RV surge protectors/guards ok to use in the rain?

Portable RV surge protectors/guards are made to be used outdoors and will be fine in the rain so long as they are hanging and not sitting on the ground where water collects. Make sure you look at the specific model you own to make sure it’s rated to be used outdoors.

Hardwired RV surge protectors/guards are not made to be used outdoors and need to be wired somewhere safe and dry inside the RV.

How does an RV surge protector work?

An RV surge protector is a device that stops surges or spikes of electricity from passing through it and into your RV. Common sources of power spikes come from lightning, faulty wiring, and blackouts. You never know when a surge will happen and many RVs have had their wiring fried by miswired power pedestals in RV parks or campgrounds.

Replacing electrical appliances or rewiring an RV can be costly so it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to things like that. RV surge guards are a bit of an investment but a good one will last for years and may save your RV from disaster.

What does the EMS stand for in RV surge protector with EMS?

EMS stands for electrical management system. You may have noticed that the RV surge protectors/guards with EMS are not nearly as affordable as standard surge protectors. That’s because and EMS protects your RV from more than just power surges. They can evaluate the wiring in a power pedestal and protect from things like open or neutral grounds and unsafe voltage levels.

I always suggest getting a surge protector/guards with EMS because it’s more worth it, in the end, to protect your RV. Having to replace the refrigerator or air conditioner is going to be much more costly in the long run and an EMS will protect those sensitive appliances from unsafe conditions.

Have any more questions about RV surge protectors/guards with EMS? Leave a comment below.

1 thought on “Best RV Surge Protector/Guard With EMS 30 Amp & 50 Amp 2020”

  1. I just bought an Aktiv 1.0, with Ecotreks, Voltstart, solar. i rather not buy anything unnecessarily. I’m thinking about just checking the CG power outlets with a simple outlet checking device. I have 130K miles on my older 2005 Airstream Westfalia with no mishaps. I will not connect if anything looks dubious. What do youn think?

    We may see you in VT. Currently hanging out on a Cayuga Lakeside friend’s home while I familiarize myself with the Aktiv. The Westy was so easy, the manual was well written and instructive. With the original German gel batteries I could boondock for 4-5 days easily before I installed a 2000W inverter.

    Reply

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