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Old 07-31-2021, 06:20 PM   #1
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EMS/surge protector

I have a 2018 Rainer trailer.
My wife and I have read some people recommend a EMS/surge protector and some people have been camping for decades with no problem.
Campers and RV's my folks have had over the last 40 yrs didn't use a surge protector, neither does my house. The bathroom outlets have a GFCI, which is different.

I do not understand the reason for an EMS. For example the power supply for my mac computer says input voltage is good 100-240V and 50-60 hertz. I haven't looked for electrical diagrams of every appliance or device in the trailer but good electrical engineering practice is for the first part of a device to see line power has power conditioning.
Over time there could be wear and tear but I do not understand reasons stated for a EMS.
I am thinking grounding problems would have been found by the last user before I plug into the outlet if there was some problem with a shade tree electrician.
I am all for not having an electrical issue, but I am not excited about spending $200-400 for a device to fix a problem with a remote chance of happening. I am not against a EMS or any safety device but would like to understand more before buying. Kind like not paying to change the air in the tires.

Thanks
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:26 PM   #2
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And.....we're off! Another EMS thread.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:41 PM   #3
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Progressive Industries, Southwire and Hughes are the three big players in the "more than a surge protector" market. They all have 30/50 amp options and internal/external choices. Expect to pay about $250-375 for the 50-Amp EMS, EPO, Surge Guard functions which offer additional protection, rather than just simple surge protection for $80-120.

The Hughes Watchdog is the cheapest and has Bluetooth to monitor your power from your phone and it will send alarms to your within-BT-range phone. Hughes has a modular surge protector board that can be easily replaced for $30 if you are hit by a large enough jolt to damage the unit. The others have to replace the whole unit if they are hit by a surge.

Southwire has a wireless option, but you have to spend another $50 for the small screen inside your RV, as they do not have a phone app. (Southwire is also the most expensive base unit)

Progressive used to be the gold standard for extra protection and they coined the term EMS, which is not used by the others. They were purchased several years ago and their customer support has tapered off, as well as their innovation has come to a stand still. The others have more features, so I would no longer consider Progressive the best in the market.

I chose the Hughes Watchdog for the reasons listed above, but any one of them will work for most situations.

As to the question are they needed, there are plenty of folks who swear they have saved them money by shutting off power when other campers were fried, and then, there are many who have camped for "30+ YEARS" and never had an issue. I consider them like an insurance policy. I hope I never need one, but am willing to pay the price for the protection.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:41 PM   #4
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And.....we're off! Another EMS thread.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJKris View Post
And.....we're off! Another EMS thread.
Kris, It's their first post!

Here's a few links to some recent threads:

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...on-183192.html
https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...0x-190345.html
https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...30-213692.html
https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ms-225502.html

And there are many more. Good reading.

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Old 07-31-2021, 06:46 PM   #6
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Much more likely to have the slim chance of a brownout than any surge at the campground. Only 2 things that can be hurt from a PROLONGED brownout would be the AC and the microwave. Everything else runs on 12V or is an electric heating element and those don't care if it's 50 volts or 120 volts they just put out less heat.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:52 PM   #7
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I can't speak for everybody, but I picked up an $80 surge protector for our TT shortly after purchasing it. I always used a surge protector at home for the tv, cable box, dvd player and computer; and it was cheap insurance. Towards the end of our second summer camping we experienced several power outages at a campground; and when we went to leave, the plug into the camper was so hot I could barely touch it. After I got home from that trip I bought a 30a Power Watch Dog EPO. It checks for wiring at the post and handles surges as well as low voltage situations. I've been very happy with it.
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by MillMitch View Post
I can't speak for everybody, but I picked up an $80 surge protector for our TT shortly after purchasing it. I always used a surge protector at home for the tv, cable box, dvd player and computer; and it was cheap insurance. Towards the end of our second summer camping we experienced several power outages at a campground; and when we went to leave, the plug into the camper was so hot I could barely touch it. After I got home from that trip I bought a 30a Power Watch Dog EPO. It checks for wiring at the post and handles surges as well as low voltage situations. I've been very happy with it.
X2, I have the 50amp version. Was at a campground last week during heat wave. Watch dog shut my power when voltage dropped below safe level. Automatically starts again when safe voltage level returns.
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:30 PM   #9
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And.....we're off! Another EMS thread.

So helpful.
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:47 PM   #10
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A surge protector is cheap insurance. I use it religiously in the RV.

I didn't have one at the house, though. Not long ago, the power went off for a second or two. Next time I used the kitchen microwave it made a horrible buzzing sound, which I found was a symptom of burn out. $200 later there's a new microwave -- and a surge protector on that outlet.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dfriedman View Post
A surge protector is cheap insurance. I use it religiously in the RV.

I didn't have one at the house, though. Not long ago, the power went off for a second or two. Next time I used the kitchen microwave it made a horrible buzzing sound, which I found was a symptom of burn out. $200 later there's a new microwave -- and a surge protector on that outlet.

Was anything in the house damaged?

Ray
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:36 PM   #12
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My six year old Progressive PT30 started getting very hot with only a mid level amp draw. The case was showing 170+ degrees. Called Progressive and they instructed me to open the case and send pictures of the “hot” area. Got an email the next day saying a new unit will be shipped next week.

Seems like their customer service and lifetime warranty is still working good.
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by gunderthor View Post
I have a 2018 Rainer trailer.
Is it 30 amp or 50 amp?

If 50 amp there is a much higher likelihood of devastating damage to your 120 volt appliances due to a condition known as an "open neutral". For a 50 amp RV an "open neutral" will apply 240 volts AC to devices expecting only 120 volts AC.

For a 30 amp RV the "open neutral" likely will just cause a total loss of electrical power unless someone has done a very stupid wiring change where the electrical safety "ground" has been essentially short-circuited directly to the "neutral" inside the trailer somewhere. In that case the power should stay on, except maybe for GFCI outlets, but it can present a severe shock hazard to the occupants.

While your Mac power supply seems like a good comparison it's not because RV appliances typically are not designed to accommodate anything except 120 volts AC.

Both 30-amp and 50-amp RV air conditioners are susceptible to the same damage from low campground voltage so a protecting EMS (as opposed to just a surge protector) for a 30-amp RV will also protect those air conditioners.

If you are present and you notice the A/C acting up from low voltage, yes, you can just shut it off. But what if you're not there for the day and the low voltage causes the A/C to try to start the compressor for hours? I don't know if that is enough to overheat the compressor motor or not but it cannot be any good for it. That kind of damage may be cumulative.

If you have a residential fridge with a 120 volt AC compressor, it will be susceptible to the same low voltage damage as well unless it was designed for 120 - 240 VAC like your Mac. I've never seen one but maybe they exist.

With the price of an A/C by itself approaching a thousand dollars plus the replacement costs, and with the current parts shortages, I'd rather not go there. But you might be OK with it. An EMS that actually cuts the power off rather than just light idiot lights is just insurance or perhaps preventative maintenance, like so much else we do. You may never need it but it likely will not hurt, except maybe your bank account. At least a true EMS is just a one-time cost and not an ongoing cost.

Note that "protect" means "turns all power off to the RV". Some people think the cure may be worse than the disease. Some might bypass the EMS and just keep the A/C shut off for the duration of the power problem.

BTW, at a campground this winter, the campground had converted the entire back row from 30-amp only to 50-amp and 30-amp over the summer. During our stay, I noticed a Georgetown had moved from the back row to the next one over.

I asked one person why and he said there was an underground wiring fault that resulted in an open neutral. His EMS cut the power off so he was just relocated. Several other RVs, mostly fifth wheels, had their stuff fried and were now trying to get things fixed and find parts.

One RV owner had been plugged in for six weeks and just had the "idiot light" surge protector. They were gone for the day when the wiring fault occurred. They came back to their surge protector screaming UNPLUG NOW but it was way too late for them.

Hope this helps rather than confuses,

Ray
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:46 AM   #14
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Here’s my “How My EMS Saved Me” story (copied from a different thread here):

I can’t remember the year for sure, but I think it was 2013 or 2014 during the week of July 4th. It was one of the hottest weeks on record for the Lake George, NY area. We went there for ten days with our friends who were camping in their brand new Kodiak travel trailer. The first night there, at about 9:00pm, we were all hanging out at my camper when I heard my air conditioner turn off. I went inside to find that everything that wasn’t 12 volts had shut down. I figured I must have blown the pedestal breaker, so I went to check at the pedestal and found that my SurgeGuard 34830 had shut the power off. It went through its procedure of checking the power and it shut down again. And again. Back then, I wasn’t too familiar with how these things worked and what the different LEDs and codes meant, but I was smart enough to notice that the voltage the unit was displaying wasn’t what it was supposed to be — sometimes it would display very low voltage and sometimes it would display very high voltage. I knew something was wrong, though, so I called the office.

It was late, so the maintenance people weren’t there, but there was a girl who came to my site to see if there was something she could do. We decided that I couldn’t use the pedestal I was currently connected to, so, since I didn’t have a multi tester with me, I went from pedestal to pedestal with my SurgeGuard to check power to find a 30amp outlet on an unoccupied site that I could use. There weren’t any that were suitable within a couple hundred feet on my side of the road, so the girl went back to the office to get a 50amp to 30amp dog bone so we could see if I could use a 50amp outlet anywhere, but we found the same problem. We ended up checking pedestals on the other side of the street and finally found one about 200’ from my site that was OK. She went back to the office and returned with enough brand new 50amp extension cords from their store to reach from the good pedestal to my trailer where I connected their dog bone and my EMS. I had no more problems that night. However, my friend who didn’t have an EMS didn’t think it was a big deal that he had the same problem because everything in his trailer was working “just fine” — he thought I was being overly-cautious and laughed about how much time I wasted with the girl from the campground, and he couldn’t believe that she spent the time she did with me over something so trivial.

Well, the next day my friend was laughing no more. Neither were four other families on the same side of the street as me. They all discovered that they had no air conditioning that morning. They all had the same symptom — the fan would blow, but the air wasn’t cold — and it was hot that day...and every day after that for a week.

The campground had an electrical contractor out at 7:30 that morning who had the problem fixed about three hours later. Sorry, but I can’t remember what the problem was.

Nobody could find a mobile tech who could help them for a few days, so my friend ended up buying a portable air conditioner from Amazon via next-day delivery since nobody for hundreds of miles around had one in stock due to the heat wave. That thing was only powerful enough to cool one small area at a time, so my friend would move it around in his (pretty small) trailer to wherever he needed it. Amazingly, though, two days later, a mobile tech came out and took care of replacing the Dometic air conditioner (under warranty!) the day after that, and the replacement only cost my friend a service call of $80.00.

My friend’s next purchase from Amazon was a SurgeGuard 34830. He now owns a Redwood fifth wheel. He purchased a SurgeGuard 34850 while he was waiting for his new RV to be built.

Bruce

PS: I still own and use that very same SurgeGuard 34830. It has been plugged in, unprotected by a five-gallon bucket, year-round, exposed to every type of weather condition imaginable since I bought it.
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Old 08-02-2021, 10:02 AM   #15
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No, just the microwave. I read that the buzzing sound can indicate a toasted magnetron.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:47 AM   #16
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Campgrounds are notorious for under-maintained and overloaded power systems. Add to that some redneck engineering performed by unskilled campers. I often find burned receptacles at sites.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunderthor View Post
I have a 2018 Rainer trailer.
My wife and I have read some people recommend a EMS/surge protector and some people have been camping for decades with no problem.
Campers and RV's my folks have had over the last 40 yrs didn't use a surge protector, neither does my house. The bathroom outlets have a GFCI, which is different.

I do not understand the reason for an EMS. For example the power supply for my mac computer says input voltage is good 100-240V and 50-60 hertz. I haven't looked for electrical diagrams of every appliance or device in the trailer but good electrical engineering practice is for the first part of a device to see line power has power conditioning.
Over time there could be wear and tear but I do not understand reasons stated for a EMS.
I am thinking grounding problems would have been found by the last user before I plug into the outlet if there was some problem with a shade tree electrician.
I am all for not having an electrical issue, but I am not excited about spending $200-400 for a device to fix a problem with a remote chance of happening. I am not against a EMS or any safety device but would like to understand more before buying. Kind like not paying to change the air in the tires.

Thanks
$400 to protect my $35,000 investment.......well worth it in my book. On the off chance I do end up in a campground with a faulty electric hook-up, I would rather have piece of mind that I have a device that could same me thousands in repair bills than take the chance because I didn't want to spend the extra money. Chances are remote that I will get hit by a dumptruck today too, but if it happens, it will suck. Only for a little while though....lol
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Old 08-03-2021, 01:58 PM   #18
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Thanks for the time to write a very good response.
My trailer has the 3 prong 30 amp, single phase service. About the only time I have read about similar problems was with improperly installed Al wiring decades ago. There are ways for power to be mis-wired to produce an over voltage situation, but hopefully it is a remote possibility since the outlet starts with 120V single phase. Our AC is a domectic unit. I am guessing made in China. BTW, I wanted to put in new AC filters. It looks like they are rarer than hens teeth. I did let the smoke out of a 1950's era drill once by accidently plugging it into 220V single phase. I don't think an EMS unit will help with an open neutral problem with 30 amp service. At the power pedestal, the most I would expect is 120V potential. It might detect an open neutral, but it would be kind of a non-issue since there is not a over-voltage situation. If there is open neutral problem in the trailer, there could be a possibility of higher voltage, but I doubt an EMS unit would detect a wiring issue in the trailer unless multiple units are wired in. If we add solar, there would have to be some type of power management added.
Thanks for all the responses. I think this will be in the good to have category but not required. Our mostly new trailer has about 10 other items for fixing, like porpoising, broke stuff, etc.. Then I get to start the honey do list.
Sounds like the industry might want to think of an improved wiring standard.
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