11 Top RV Surge Protectors and EMS to Protect Your Rig in 2022

Maybe your rig’s electrical system isn’t at the top of your mind while you’re out on the road. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t run into some serious issues that cause it damage, or even worse, hurt you or your family.

Unless you’re a master electrician and you wired all your own power pedestals, you definitely need a surge protector for your RV.

Nothing beats the peace of mind knowing that you won’t wake up in the middle of the night to an electrical fire, or a broken electrical system.

So, if you’re shopping for a surge protector, you may have noticed there are a TON on the market. I’ve narrowed them down to a list of the 11 very best options. Plus, I included a guide on all things surge protection in case any of the terminology is confusing.

Let’s start with the quick-start guide!

best rv surge protectors

RV Surge Protectors and EMS Quick Guide

Before we get started, here’s a super-condensed guide to surge protectors and electrical management systems so you know what to look for.

Surge Protectors vs EMS

This is probably the most confusing part of shopping. What the heck is the difference between surge protectors and electrical management systems (or EMS)?

Well, technically, surge protectors do just one thing: shut off your power supply if there’s a voltage spike, say, from a lightning strike.

Electrical management systems do what surge protectors do, plus a lot more like monitoring for miswiring, low voltage, and a host of other electrical issues.

HOWEVER… pretty much all of the products on the market labeled “RV surge protectors” do all the things that an electrical management system does.

So, for the purpose of this article, I’ll be using the terms “surge protector” “surge guard” and “electrical management system” interchangeably. 

Do I Need a Surge Protector or EMS for my RV?

You absolutely need a surge protector for your RV. They’ll alert you to any issues with shore power at your RV park or campground. 

The best RV surge protector will protect you from some really dangerous situations — from power surges that can fry your electrical systems, to pedestal miswiring that causes electrical fires.

What to Look for in a Surge Protector

And finally, here are a few things you want to look for in the best RV surge protector for you:

  • Surge protection of at least 800 Joules
  • Fits your RV’s electrical system (30 amp for a 30 amp RV, and 50 amp for a 50 amp RV)
  • Weather protection
  • Easy-to-read LED indicator lights or digital screen

Ok, so now let’s move on to the list!

List of the 11 Best RV Surge Protectors and EMS

In my list of the 11 best RV surge protectors and electrical management systems, I’ve included a mix of 30 amp and 50 amp RV surge protectors, as well as portable and hardwired RV surge protectors.

Here’s my list and then I’ll go through each of them more in-depth:

  • Progressive Industries SSP-30XL 30 Amp Surge Protector
  • Camco 30 Amp Power Defender
  • Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X 50 Amp Surge Protector
  • Southwire 34930 30 Amp Surge Guard
  • Southwire 44380 30 Amp Surge Guard
  • Camco Power Grip 30 Amp Circuit Analyzer
  • Powsaf 50 amp RV Surge Protector
  • Progressive Industries SSP-50X 50 Amp Surge Protector
  • Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C Hardwired EMS
  • Southwire Surge Guard 35550 Hardwired 50 Amp EMS
  • Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50 Surge Protector

Progressive Industries SSP-30XL RV Surge Protector

Progressive Industries SSP-30XL RV Surge Protector
Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • A surge protector for use on 30 amp RVs that protects against many issues.

What’s good: 

  • Weatherproofing included
  • Lightweight 
  • A good deal for what you get

What’s not so good:

  • No screen display so you have to rely on indicator lights to read what’s going on
  • Surge rating is only 825 joules/22,500 amps

The Progressive Industries SSP 30XL is a popular EMS designed for use on 30 amp RV’s. It’s lightweight, weather resistant, and inexpensive compared to a lot of surge protectors on the market.

This model from Progressive Industries will detect open ground, open neutral, and reverse polarity. It’ll also indicate a miswired pedestal and surge failure.

It has a few different weatherproofing features including a weather resistant cover and claims to operate under conditions from -40 to 221 degrees Fahrenheit. 

One feature this one doesn’t come with is a digital display that tells you what’s wrong. Instead, you have LED lights on the front and you look up what they mean if one comes on.

Overall, though, this is a great 30 amp EMS for your RV. 

Check its current price on Amazon here.

Camco 30 Amp Power Defender

Camco 30 Amp Power Defender
Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • An easy-install surge protector for 30 amp RVs.

What’s good:

  • Automatic disconnection and reconnection to power source
  • Easy to set up
  • High surge rating makes for great protection

What’s not so good:

  • Doesn’t come with a digital display
  • May not be the most durable option

Camco’s 30 amp Power Defender protects against reverse polarity, open neutral, and has surge protection of up to 2,800 Joules.

It’s pretty easy to set up. All you do is plug it into the power pedestal at your campground or RV park, wait to see if any indicator lights go on, and then plug it into your RV’s power cord.

If anything goes wrong after it’s already plugged in, it’ll automatically turn your power off, and reconnect it once it’s safe. 

It does include weather protection, but only when installed in the “upright position”, so it may not be the toughest surge protector out there. 

While it protects against large power surges and has an easy setup, it is a bit pricey considering that it just has indicator lights and no screen.

Check that price here.

Progressive Industries PT50X 50 Amp EMS

Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • An EMS with a digital display for 50 Amp RVs

What’s good: 

  • Digital display screen
  • Locking bracket 
  • Great weather protection

What’s not so good: 

  • A bit pricey

The PT50X is a portable RV surge protector from Progressive Industries that indicates open hot, open ground, open neutral, and reverse polarity. It has a surge protection rating of up to 3,580 joules or 88,000 amps. 

It comes with excellent weather protection and has a locking bracket so it can’t be stolen.

All Progressive Industries surge protectors come with a lifetime warranty, so if you have any issues, you just have to fill out a form and they will mail you a replacement product. 

The PT50X also has a digital display which is really nice for understanding exactly what the issue is. 

This model is a bit pricey but I think you get a lot for what you pay for.

Check on the current price here.

Southwire 34930 30 Amp Surge Guard

Southwire 34930 30 Amp Surge Guard
Source: amazon.com

What it is: Southwire’s surge guard for 30 amp RVs

What’s good: 

  • Easy setup
  • LCD screen monitors amp and voltage draws
  • Good safety and security features

What’s not so good:

  • Southwire doesn’t have great customer support, so if you run into issues, they could be tough to resolve

The Southwire surge guard is a universal-fit EMS that monitors miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, overheating, high voltage, and low voltage.

The surge guard claims to have a super easy 10-second installation process. Once plugged in, it will continuously show you the current amp and voltage draws on the LCD screen.

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Southwire’s EMS will automatically disconnect if it detects an issue. It also has a 128-second delay to further protect your RV’s electrical system. 

The power cord also has a lock on it for extra security.

One drawback here is that Southwire doesn’t have great customer service. This could be a problem if you run into any issues with this product.

Check out the price on Amazon here.

Southwire 44380 30 Amp Surge Guard

Southwire 44380 30 Amp Surge Guard
Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • A cost-effective EMS for 30 amp RVs.

What’s good:

  • Weather resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Anti-theft lock

What’s not so good:

  • May not work at all RV parks or campgrounds
  • Company’s customer service isn’t the best

This Southwire Surge Guard indicates open neutral, open ground, reverse polarity, open circuit, surge protection, and overheating. 

It comes with indicator lights that are super easy to read – the key is right there on the product itself. 

The receptacle is also fully enclosed and it comes with an anti-theft lock for added protection. 

Unfortunately, the plug is not universal and may not work at some campgrounds.

But really overall, the Southwire Surge Guard 44380 pretty much gives you everything you need at a really affordable price.

Also, all Southwire electrical management systems come with a limited warranty so if you do run into any issues you can get a replacement (provided you can get in contact with customer service). 

Check the price on this Southwire EMS here.

Camco Power Grip 30 Amp Circuit Analyzer 

Camco Power Grip 30 Amp Circuit Analyzer 
Source: amazon.com

What it is: A compact Camco RV surge protector for 30 amp RVs

What’s good:

  • Easy setup
  • Compact design
  • Affordable

What’s not so good:

  • Not weather resistant

This compact circuit analyzer indicates issues with open ground, reverse polarity, open hot, open neutral, and other electrical issues from the power supply. This rv surge protector protects against surges up to 1,050 Joules.

It’s a different design compared to most portable surge protectors. Its compactness makes it super easy and fast to set up. 

This surge guard is at a great price point, and will do almost everything the best RV surge protector could do.

That being said, you do get what you pay for with this surge protector. It doesn’t come with any weather protection and it’s not the most durable long-term.

However, if you’re looking for quick peace of mind on a budget, or if you don’t use your RV super often, this Camco surge protector will do the trick.

Check the price on Amazon here.

Powsaf 50 amp RV Surge Protector

Powsaf 50 amp RV Surge Protector
Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • A portable surge protector for 50 amp RVs

What’s good:

  • Great surge protection
  • Waterproof
  • Large, easy-grip handles

What’s not so good: 

  • No anti-theft lock
  • No digital screen

This 50 amp rv surge protector from Powsaf protects against open neutral, open ground, and other power supply electrical issues. 

It’s rated to protect against surges of up to 4,100 Joules–pretty high compared to a lot of other RV surge protectors on my list.

It’s fully waterproof so it won’t break in inclement weather. Plus, it also has nice big handles on both ends so it’s really easy to plug and unplug. 

There are three different levels of surge protection, so it could catch and protect against surges better than some other devices on this list. It’s also pretty inexpensive. 

The Powsafe RV surge protector doesn’t come with fancy features like a digital screen or an anti-theft lock. But it definitely works and will get the job done.

Check the current price on Amazon here.

Progressive Industries SSP-50X 50 Amp Surge Protector

Progressive Industries SSP-50X 50 Amp Surge Protector
Source: amazon.com

What it is:

  • A portable surge protector for 50 amp RVs

What’s good:

  • Heavy duty
  • Includes anti-theft lock 
  • Rugged pull handle makes for easy setup

What’s not so good:

  • Not fully weatherproof

The Progressive Industries SSP-50X indicates open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity, and miswired pedestals. It protects against surges up to 1,200 Joules.

The SSP-50X is designed for outdoor use but does not have a waterproof cover, so it could be susceptible to water damage. 

If you’re looking for more weather protection, opt for the SSP-50XL, which comes with a weather resistant cover. 

The weatherproof cover is really the only difference I can find between the Progressive Industries SSP-50XL and the SSP-50X.

The SSP-50X also has easy-pull handles and an anti-theft lock. Overall, I think it’s a really safe bet at a great price for what you get.

Check the price on Amazon here.

Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C Hardwired EMS

Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • A hardwired EMS designed for 30 amp RVs

What’s good: 

  • Protection against any and all power issues
  • Remote display continuously scrolls through power info
  • High quality and great customer support

What’s not so good:

  • May have to be installed by a professional 

The Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C is a hardwired electrical management system. That means it gets permanently installed directly into your RV’s electrical grid rather than between the electrical system and a power pedestal.

This product will indicate open ground, reverse polarity, accidental 240V, A/C frequency protection and high voltage and low voltage protection. 

It’s rated for surges up to 1,790 joules or 40,000 amps. 

The EMS comes with a remote display that continuously scrolls through information about your current power source.

While this EMS is pretty much top of the line, it is difficult to install. That being said, once it is installed, it’s in there for good and you don’t have to hook anything up each time you use a new power source.

Check the current price on Amazon here.

Southwire Surge Guard 35550 Hardwired 50 Amp EMS

Source: amazon.com

What is it: 

  • A hardwired EMS from Surge Guard made for 50 amp RVs

What’s good:

  • High-quality product
  • Great surge protection

What’s not so good:

  • May have to be installed by a professional

This Southwire surge guard protects against reverse polarity, power surges, miswired pedestal open ground, open neutral, low and high voltage, and high neutral current. This EMS is permanently installed (hardwired) into your RV’s system.

The system continuously monitors for electrical issues and displays them via LED lights. Surge Guard also sells a remote digital display for this model that you can purchase separately.

It protects against surges up to 3,850 Joules and has a 128-second reset delay to protect your A/C compressor. Plus, it automatically resets itself each time it loses and regains power.

Like with any hardwired EMS, you may need a professional to install this product. However, once it’s in, you won’t have to worry about setting it up each time you move your RV.

Check the current price on Amazon here.

Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50 Surge Protector

Source: amazon.com

What it is: 

  • A hardwired EMS for 50 amp RVs

What’s good:

  • High quality
  • Built in display-screen
  • Continuously scrolls to show current power source information and previous or current issues

What’s not so good:

  • Difficult to install

The hardwired EMS-LCHW50 indicates over and under voltage, open ground, open neutral, reverse polarity, miswired pedestal, and pretty much any other electrical system issue you could have.

Once installed, it will continuously scroll on the built-in screen. The screen will show current voltage, current, frequency, and any error code and previous error code based on your power source.

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The only difference between this unit and the Progresive Industries HW50C is the location of the display. On LCHW50 the display is located on the EMS itself, and on the HW50C, it’s located on a remote display that you can place anywhere inside your RV.

It’s made really well and has a lifetime warranty–as long as it gets installed by a professional. 

Check the price on Amazon here.

Wanna know more about RV surge protectors? Keep reading!

In-Depth Guide to RV Surge Protectors and Electrical Management Systems

If you still have questions, here’s my guide on all things surge protectors and electrical management systems.

I compiled all the ins and outs of surge protectors right here, so keep reading if you’re confused, or just need to know more before you make a purchase.

Common Problems Protected by an EMS

The best RV surge protectors can save your life (and your RV’s electrical system) from these problems that you may run into while you’re on the road…

Power Surges

This is one you’re probably familiar with. EMS and RV surge protectors are mainly known for protecting against power surges.

A power surge is when very high voltage unexpectedly comes through your power source, typically due to lightning. A power surge can damage or completely destroy all of the electronics in your RV.

Ideally, during a power surge, your EMS or RV surge protector will cut the power supply to your RV, protecting your devices from the surge.

power surge explanation

Low Voltage

Low voltage is another scenario that can cause almost as much damage as a power surge. Low voltage is when your RV is not getting enough voltage from the power source it’s attached to.

This could be caused by your RV park or campground being really busy with a lot of people using the park’s electrical grid. Without a device that continuously monitors your current voltage, your RV’s electrical system can incur some serious damage from having a low voltage. 

Faulty Wiring

Traveling to new RV parks and campgrounds all the time means you’ll probably stumble upon a park with faulty wiring. This could be from loose connections, wiring that is super dated, or wiring that was just installed incorrectly by an electrician. 

Improper shore power wiring can completely fry your RV’s electrical system.

Never assume that your campground’s electrical system is safe. A quality surge protector will let you know right away if something’s wrong with the wiring. You’ll know your campground has faulty wiring if you plug in your surge protector and it displays a code for “miswired pedestal”.

season 3 wall GIF

What Codes on Your RV’s EMS Mean

When researching an EMS for your RV, you’ll probably run into a lot of terminology you’re unfamiliar with (unless you’re an electrician). 

So, now I’ll go over some common problems that an EMS finds in your electrical connection, and what they mean…

Reverse Polarity

If your electrical management system detects reverse polarity in your shore power, this means that the “hot” and “neutral” wires are switched in the power source.

While reverse polarity cannot damage your RV’s electrical system, it’s still dangerous. Reverse polarity can cause shock hazards from your RV appliances. If you notice a reverse polarity reading, alert the park manager that their power pedestal has improper wiring.

Open Ground

An open ground reading on an electrical management system means that voltage from exposed metal in your RV is not connected to the ground.

That means that exposed metal could potentially shock you. The shock risk is slight but it’s still unsafe to run power with an open ground. This, again, is usually an issue with the park’s power pedestal. 

Open Neutral

An open neutral reading on a surge guard means there has been some damage to the neutral wire in the power pedestal. Electricity can flow through the wire into the RV, but not back into the pedestal. 

This can cause the neutral wire to become very hot and potentially start an electrical fire. So, it’s important not to use the power source if you get an open neutral reading.

Portable vs Hardwired Protectors: Which One is Better?

There are two general types of RV surge protectors you’ll see on the market: portable and hardwired

With a portable surge protector, you’ll set it up each time you’re at a new park or campground. Set it up by plugging the surge protector into the power supply, and then plugging your RV’s plug into the surge protector.

Hardwired surge protectors are installed one time into your RV and serve as sort of “built in” surge protection. If there are any issues with the power supply, a hardwired EMS will show the issue on its display screen or turn off if necessary.

But which one is better?

Well, it may just come down to preference. 

That 70S Show 90S GIF

Hardwired EMS will generally have a bit better protection, and may be able to show you more info about your power source, though this isn’t always the case.

Hardwired protectors are difficult to install, and you may need a professional to do it. But once you’ve got ‘em in, you don’t need to worry about surge protection. With a portable protector, you’ll have to set it up each time you move sites.

In general, when choosing between a portable vs hardwired protector, you can decide based on if you’d rather deal with a once-and-done by hiring a professional to install a hardwired EMS. Or, if you’d rather set up your portable device each time you move sites. 

If you do end up choosing a hardwired protector check here for tips on hiring someone to work on your RV. 

30 Amp vs. 50 Amp Surge Protectors

Power requirements differ based on the RV you own. Your RV’s power cord will either be 30 amp or 50 amp. The easiest way to tell which one your RV has is to look at the prongs on the power cord. 

If the cord has three prongs, then your RV has a 30 amp connection. If it has 4 prongs, then you have a 50 amp connection. You can also look in your owner’s manual if you want to double-check.

Once you know the connection your RV requires, you should only shop for a surge guard that fits your power requirement. There are aftermarket dogbone adapters that will turn 50 amp to 30 and vice versa.

30 amp vs 50 amp surge protectors

Source: amazon.com 

Here’s a 50 amp to 30 amp dogbone adapter from RV Guard. This brand also sells 30 amp to 50 amp RV adapters.

While adapters are generally a safe option, I’d always recommend just purchasing a surge protector made for your RV’s power requirements if you can.

Do I Need a Display on my Protector?

Surge guards on the market usually come with one of two ways to read what’s going on with the electrical system: LED lights, or a digital LCD display.

But do you need one over the other?

Protectors with LED indicator lights sometimes have a color code, where you have to look at the color of the lights and then compare them to a small chart to determine the issue. Protectors with digital displays are usually more pricey, but they can be easier to read.

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Both give you the same information and one is not necessarily better than the other. If you want to spend a bit more and have an easier-to-read surge protector, I’d say go with one that has a display.

Surge Protector Response Time

When you’re shopping for a surge protector, you’ll often see in the descriptions of products what their response time is.

But what exactly is a surge protector response time? 

The response time is the amount of time between the surge event (i.e. lightning strike), and the surge protector shutting off power to your RV.

In essence, it determines the amount of time that your RV’s electrical system is exposed to the surge event. So, the shorter the response time the better.

Pop Tv Speed Of Light GIF by Big Brother After Dark

Response times are usually measured in nanoseconds–nanoseconds are one billionth of a second.

When you’re shopping, try to look for a surge protector with a response time of under one nanosecond. 

Surge Protector Manufacturers

There are just a few surge protector manufacturers you’ll see when shopping. I’ll cover a few that I talked about earlier here, and what they’re known for.

Progressive Industries

Progressive Industries is by far the most popular RV surge protector manufacturer. They make high-quality, reliable surge protectors and have great customer reviews across the board.

Progressive industries also offer a lifetime warranty on all of their surge protectors/EMS. So, if your protector fails or breaks, all you have to do is fill out their warranty form online and they’ll send you a replacement product. 

They’re also known for having great customer service in general, and will be able to help you with any issues you’re having.

If you’re unsure which manufacturer to choose from and don’t want to do much research, progressive industries is a very safe bet.

Southwire

Southwire is a close runner-up to Progressive Industries in terms of product quality. They’re a bit less pricey and still get great reviews.

Southwire also doesn’t manufacture as many different options as Progressive Industries does. You’ll have a bit less to choose from when shopping from Southwire’s line of surge protectors.

Like Progressive Industries, Southwire also offers a warranty on all of their surge protectors. However, the warranty has a lot more fine print and it may be harder to get a replacement product.

They’re also a smaller company in general so if you have any issues, it’s generally more difficult to get a hold of them as they don’t seem to have a very robust customer service department.

Camco

And lastly, I’ve also listed a couple of surge protectors from Camco, a brand US RVers know and love. 

Camco is a huge company known for their RVing and camping products, and it turns out they also manufacture surge protectors.

The biggest plus with Camco is that their surge protectors are significantly less expensive compared to Southwire’s and Progressive Industries’.

That being said, Camco’s surge protectors are not super rugged, and the company does not have the best customer service. But, if you’re looking for an inexpensive surge protector, and maybe you don’t go on RV trips so often, they’ll definitely get the job done.

Can I use EMS with a Generator?

If you use a portable generator to power your RV, you might be wondering if you can use an EMS with your generator.

While portable generators are generally less prone to issues compared to shore power supplies at campgrounds, you can be extra safe and use a surge protector with your generator.

If you’ve tried this before, you may have noticed that when you plug in your EMS to your generator, you get an “open ground” error code. 

This is because inverter generators have what’s called a  “floating neutral”. A floating neutral is a safety feature that many generators have where the neutral is not connected to the ground or the inside of the generator.

To get around this issue, you’ll have to purchase a neutral ground bonding plug

Source: amazon.com

Here’s a neutral ground bonding plug for generators from Southwire. 

When this is plugged into your generator, it will “close” the open ground and you’ll no longer get an error code on your EMS.

Protection Rating: How Many Joules Does my Surge Protector Need? 

Each surge protector or electrical management system has a different surge protection rating. The surge protection rating means that the protector will reliably be able to protect your RV against a voltage spike of “x”.

The protection rating is typically measured in Joules, which is a unit of energy. For example, if your surge protector has a protection rating of 1,000 Joules, this means it will absorb up to 1,000 Joules in extra energy (from the surge), to protect your RV.

The higher the Joule rating, the more protected your RV will be from surges.

For a 30 amp RV, try to find a surge protector with a rating of at least 800 Joules. For a 50 amp RV, try to find one with a rating of at least 1,000 Joules.

RV Surge Protector FAQs

Can I use a 30 amp surge protector on a 50 amp RV?

You can! But you’ll definitely need what’s called a dogbone adapter. This adapter will allow your 30 amp surge protector to be compatible with your 50 amp RV.

You can also use a 50 amp surge guard on a 30 amp RV with a 50M to 30F dogbone adapter.

How long do RV surge protectors last?

Unfortunately, RV surge protectors aren’t designed to last forever and should be replaced every 2 to 5 years.

How do I keep my RV surge protector from being stolen?

Surge protectors are a pricey item that you keep outside your RV, which makes them prone to being stolen. If your surge protector doesn’t already come with a lock, you can use a chain and padlock to secure your surge protector to the power pedestal.

Happy Surge Protecting!

If you’ve learned anything from reading all this, hopefully it’s that you absolutely NEED a surge protector!! No matter which one you get, they’re super important for the safety of you and your family, and for the longevity of your RV. 

Thanks for stopping by! While you’re here, here’s some more of my articles about all things RV life:

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