Chances are that you have a surge protector for your computer(s) at home. You may also have one to protect other expensive electronic items like your big screen TV and your expensive console gaming systems.
You do so because you understand that a sudden surge of power could seriously damage these high-ticket items and that’s the last thing you want. But do you really need to invest in an RV surge protector?
In our opinion – and that of any RV’er who has ever had to deal with damage caused by an unexpected power surge – the answer is a resounding yes. And in this article we are going to explain just why that is.
How Campsite Electrics Work
When you are not parked up at a campsite, the electrics in your RV are powered by your vehicle’s onboard marine battery, or, if you have a more sophisticated motorhome, you may have a separate battery system that powers the electrical devices in your vehicle as long as the engine is running. In these situations a power surge is highly unlikely (although not impossible).
When you are not parked up at a campsite, the electrics in your RV are powered by your vehicle’s onboard marine battery, or, if you have a more sophisticated motorhome, you may have a separate battery system that powers the electrical devices in your vehicle as long as the engine is running. In these situations a power surge is highly unlikely (although not impossible.)
The vast majority of RV travellers do not rely solely on battery power while out adventuring though. It would not be practical most times (the battery would run flat too quickly) and often only a limited number of essential electrics can be operated when your RV is in ‘battery mode’. Therefore most of us plug in to park electrics when we can.
Most of the campgrounds you’ll head to will offer you a 120 volt electric source to plug into. You RV is equipped with a heavy duty power cord for this purpose that will either be rated 30 amp or 50 amp. At that point you can technically turn on as many of your electrical gadgets as you like and keep everything running for as long as you need to while you give your batteries a rest.
Your RV also has a fuse box system, just like the one in your home. But as is the case at home, surges in power can cause damage to electrics before a fuse can blow. And as you have no control over the campground’s electrical system, then you have no idea if it is prone to electrical surges.
Storms can also cause all kinds of power surge problems for any electrical system, and those too are hard to predict. And the fact is that many campgrounds have electrical systems that can’t exactly be described as state-of-the art, potentially putting your RV’s electrical systems at an even greater risk, increasing the need for – and usefulness of – an RV surge protector even higher.
What Electrical Devices the Average RV Has on Board
As RVs get more and more sophisticated, and people spend more time in them, they have more and more electrical systems and rv gadgets on board. In addition to the basics – air conditioner, lights, water pump etc. – most travelers also have their RVs loaded with TVs, stereos, microwaves, coffee makers and more, and they probably also make use of electrical outlets in the RV to charge their laptops, smartphones and game systems.
Which brings us back to RV surge protectors. Can you imagine how annoyed you’d be if a sudden surge of power from your chosen campgrounds electrical system wiped out your microwave or TV? Or if the same surge damaged your kid’s brand new game system that you just bought them for your trip? Or killed the laptop you were planning to use to do a little work along the way?
An RV surge protector can prevent these disasters and many more. So the better question here may be why would you ever consider travelling in your RV without one?
How important is an RV surge protector?
An electrical power surge occurs when the voltage rises to a level above the norm. Voltage is the name given to the measure of electric potential energy. The only reason that electric currents can travel is that there is more electrical potential energy at one end of a wire than the other. Essentially, it’s electrical pressure, as it acts just like a garden hose.
Hoses work because higher pressure on one end drives water to the lower pressure area. But if the water pressure is too high, the hose may burst. The same is true of electricity. If a power surge increase the electrical pressure the wire may ‘burst’.
Not all changes in power levels are classified as a surge. If an increase in electrical pressure lasts for just a couple of nanoseconds, it’s called a spike. Anything over that is a surge. And a surge may only last a second or so at most.
Even if an electrical surge or spike does not immediately damage your electronics and electrical equipment if it happens often it may put undue stress on their components, shortening their useful life.
At the most basic level, any RV surge protector will pass the electric current from its outlet to the devices plugged into it. If the voltage rises too high, even for a nanosecond, the extra electricity is diverted into its grounding wire, safeguarding your stuff. And by ensuring that you make use of an RV surge protector every time you travel you’ll be helping extend the life of all your gadgets at the same time.
Final Comments on Surge Protection
If you do not currently make use of an RV surge protector when you travel in your RV we hope that this article has helped change your mind and you are now ready to shop for one. When you do you will find that there are a lot of different options out there.
However, if you do a little pre-purchase homework – and there are lots of resources out there to help you – then any investment you make in an RV surge protector will be money very well spent.