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rv trips & travel

Do I Need A Surge Protector For My RV?

While traveling with your RV, you likely have at least a couple electrical appliances running. These can include refrigerators, a TV, phones, an oven, and other gadgets. These appliances make an RV extra convenient for long trips because they give you the option of using household items while on wheels.

Appliances like your fridge or electric oven can be expensive to replace, and frankly, a hassle. Especially on the road. While appliances do break down, we also ask – do you need a surge protector in your RV to keep your electronics and your RVs internals safe?

You should have a surge protector, or multiple surge protectors, in your RV to protect sensitive electronics. A surge protector makes a major difference in the impacts of surges of electricity throughout your RV.

Why do I need a surge protector for my RV?

RV’s can have unexpected electrical issues. Homes are more likely to face electrical damage because of storms and lightning strikes. RVs are a bit different.

Since RVs have more options for power, ranging from generator to plug to battery, there are more things that can go wrong. Power surges do happen. Sudden drops in available power also happen. 

A surge protector guards against all of these. Place a surge protector in your kitchen (assuming your kitchen doesn’t have outlets for the purpose) and you’ll keep your fridge protected. Plug the surge protector in first, then plug the appliance into the surge protector. That appliance is now protected! This is more applicable if you are running on battery.

Both of these situations are bad news for your appliances and anything hooked up to power. A good surge protector can detect these problems and cut off power because it arrives at your more necessary electronics. Some surge protectors are fried in the process, but are well worth the investment.

Using a surge protector on your RV is a bit different from your home though. The amount of electricity provided by either a battery or generator could also be too little without you knowing. Generators are sometimes called “dirty energy” because they are gas powered and their energy can wane. 

While having underpowered electronics isn’t as dangerous as having too much electricity, it can cause premature wear and tear on anything with a motor.

Homes are also generally well equipped for a lightning strike with a ground wire in the electrical box. A lightning strike on your RV could fry your electronics and electrical system causing a seriously expensive repair.

Basically, surge protectors are cheap insurance for all sorts of potential issues. They wll cost way less than trying to replace items, especially in an emergency while on vacation.

Is there a unique way to use a surge protector for an RV?

There certainly can be! If your RV is using an outside power source like a generator or a shore box at an RV park, you can plug that power source directly into a surge protector. You then plug the surge protector directly into your RV.

This is different from the needs of your home. Most people don’t install a surge protector in their home electrical box because of the ground wire, which helps prevent problems associated with lightning strikes.

When should I get a surge protector for my RV?

Right after you buy your RV. Whether you are doing internal or external surge protectors, you are better off being prepared and having one installed right away.

Start doing it right early and get in the habit.

What is an electrical management system?

An electrical management system differs a bit from a surge protector. An EMS generally installs near your battery or within the electrical management system. We won’t offer instructions on installing one and recommend you have a professional do it.

An EMS provides surge protection throughout your RV with one install. The wires within your RV literally run through it. With an EMS, you won’t need a surge protector at every outlet.

EMS’s also tend to display a lot more information. This can include the volts coming through along with a variety of information that is explained better in the manual for the EMS. 

Depending on the EMS you buy, it can cost less than buying individual surge protectors for your RV.

What else should I know about surge protectors before buying one?

You can get basic surge protectors or advanced surge protectors which offer you all sorts of info. Get one that provides info you will understand. Otherwise, this depends on your budget and level of concern for power issues.

When plugging into outside sources of power, get the right amperage in your surge protector. Most trailers are 30 or 50 amps. You won’t need to spend more for a 50 amp. 50 amp trailers will need a 50 amp protector.

Read the instructions before using your surge protector. Know their limitations. Ask an expert online or in person if you need help. We also don’t suggest installing the EMS plugs that plug directly into your power without some help.


You definitely need a surge protector in your RV to keep from frying electronics. The electricity provided to an RV can be less consistent than the power provided to your house. This is especially true when using a generator or battery backup.

You also have options to protect all the electronics in your RV. You can do individual protectors especially if you are on reliable power. You can also plug outside power directly into a surge protector to protect the entire RV. 

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