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Now that the kids (and RVs) are snug in their beds, it’s time to think about what we might want in time for the spring of 2022 camping season. Yes, I know that lots of things are backordered, so I really don’t expect you to get something for your RV in time for the holidays.
So let’s order now and plan on getting it in your hands by the first day of spring, which is March 20, 2022. That should give you plenty of time to get it installed in your RV and ready for the 2022 camping season.
What you really need under the tree…
I’m a firm believer in preventive medicine, and I think one of the best proactive things you can do is add a Full Protection (EMS) Surge Protector to your RV. I’ve always been a fan of these devices, especially when connecting to campground power.
And for the last year I’ve been doing a deep study on how poor pedestal power can damage RV electrical systems. But that one topic is a series of articles all by themselves.
That was then, but this is now!
Suffice it to say that even if you’ve been camping for the last 20 years without any kind of surge protector, campground power is being strained to the limit by the electrical demands of the latest RVs. Plus, there are campgrounds out there that perform little or no maintenance on their pedestal breakers and outlets (you know who you are!).
Sadly, there’s little that can be done right now to require yearly pedestal maintenance and inspection. And poor pedestal conditions can not only cause low voltage for shore power (which is bad enough), it can also create voltage surges (aka spikes) and constant high voltage, which can damage your RV electrical system.
These voltage surges tend to damage the expensive stuff. While your (inexpensive) water heater electric element is probably safe from an occasional voltage surge, your expensive converter/inverter won’t be.
Same goes for your convection microwave, home entertainment system, and anything else you happen to plug into your RV’s 120-volt outlets (like your expensive laptop, cell phones and other electrical gadgets).
Basic surge protectors are okay, but…
Yes, none of us likes to spend money. But the basic surge (only) protectors that you can buy for less than $100 only protect your RV electrical system from voltage surges. These are the types of things that creep into the campground electrical system from a nearby lightning strike or a big electric pump motor shutting off.
Voltage spikes can also occur when the power company switches over transformers due to load increases in the grid, or when power lines short out due to a vehicle crash.
Voltage surges aren’t pretty and the damage to your electrical system is cumulative. So a few dozen voltage spikes that make it into your RV can trash your microwave, residential refrigerator, the controller in your 3-way propane fridge, or converter/charger. And, yes, these inexpensive surge-only protectors can stop these voltage surges (spikes) from getting into your electrical system.
But wait, there’s more…
However, voltage spikes are just one thing. My studies of campground power over the last year has found pedestals that regularly dip below 100 volts AC, and rise above 130 volts. And sometimes the voltage goes as high as 240 volts on something expecting 120 volts AC.
And that’s why you really need a Full Protection (EMS or EPO) Surge Protector that monitors the voltage and ground conditions of your RV and disconnects it from pedestal power if things go wrong.
Watch my 9-minute video on Surge Protector types
Here’s my video explaining everything you need to know about Surge Protector types, with my hands-on demonstration comparing Basic and Full Protection types. No I don’t actually blow up anything in this video, but I could if I really wanted to. In any event, this shows exactly how they respond to high- and low-voltage conditions. I had a lot of fun making it last year. To watch it, click HERE or on the picture.
I really like the Full Protection units from SurgeGuard (since I’ve tested everything from every manufacturer in my lab), but Progressive Industries and Hughes also make Full Protection (EMS or EPO) units that do a good job, as well. So long as it includes MOV voltage surge/spike protection, and a relay to disconnect you from shore power if something goes wrong, then you’ve added an important protection device to your RV.
What about Hughes Autoformers?
I just made my presentation to the NEC (National Electrical Code) committee on the use of Autotransformers and Autoformers in campgrounds, and the ban on Hughes Autoformers in campgrounds will officially be removed from Code by the spring.
That’s right. There’s no longer a code ban on portable Autotransformers for RVs. So if you’re in campgrounds with chronic low-voltage conditions, that’s another thing to ask for under the tree. Expect a full report on my Hughes Autoformer Study in a few weeks.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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