Whether you are recently retired, want a change of pace, or just like to travel, living in an RV is the right choice for many Americans. Living in an RV permanently or just for a little while, it only makes sense to make sure that it is as safe as possible. But too often than not people skip some vital equipment that ensures their RV is safe and protected all the time. One of those pieces of equipment you should never skip is a surge protector.
What is a Surge Protector?
An RV is filled with different electrical systems that require the proper voltage to operate efficiently and safely. Whenever there are fluctuations in the power supply like a sudden surge or drop, electronics from the air conditioning, TVs, stove, appliances, and anything else that gets plugged in can become damaged and, even worse, pose a safety hazard.
At its most basic definition, a surge protector comes in two different types. The first one is attached to the power pedestal, the part where you plug into the power supply at the RV park, and prevents both too high and too low of currents from entering your RV. Whenever it detects anything outside the acceptable range, it blocks it. That means the power is shut off but at least the electronics are safe.
The next type is the full service, newer surge protectors. They perform the same basic function of preventing the improper current but they have the added benefit of detecting if the pedestal is mis-wired or there is not a ground.
Are RV Surge Protectors Really Worth the Investment?
The first reason is more about practicality and common sense than anything else. The average surge protector, whether it is portable or permanent, runs between $100 to 200 dollars. To learn more, visit this site https://www.stayontrails.
While this may seem like a lot of money, especially for those that are cash strapped, in the long run, it will actually pay for itself many times over if you ever needed it. Think about it. The average RV starts at 10,000 dollars and can reach upwards of 100,000 dollars. The electronic equipment inside like the air conditioning, TVs, computers, appliances, and refrigerators combined can cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
The surge protector acts as an insurance policy on all of this equipment. Even better, it is only a one-time payment and not a monthly fee forever. You get it and that is it. Think about how much less financial hardship and trouble a surge protector would save against the small initial investment.
It certainly does not happen every day, but most of you have either experienced or probably know someone who has been affected by a lightning strike. These natural electrical surges can severely damage your RV and take out pretty much all the electrical equipment on board. It is pretty difficult to avoid these and the only thing besides unplugging all the electronics during a thunderstorm that will help you is having a surge protector installed.
Thankfully, direct hits are very rare, but indirect lightning hits are actually pretty common. An indirect hit happens when your RV is near a power pole, pedestal, or some other high voltage electrical component that receives a lightning strike near it. The strike then travels through the power grid into your RV causing the same effect as a bolt of lightning hitting the roof of your RV.
Lightning strikes are more common in open areas with little cover around, but they can still happen anywhere, and having a surge protector is the only thing that can save you from the catastrophic loss either hit would cause.
Improperly Wired Parks
RV parks, especially the older ones, are not known for how well their electrical systems are wired. Oftentimes to save money, less popular or less scrupulous park managers will have people who are not qualified to work on the wiring which can result in unintended power surges or drops. The end result might not even be intentional if the infrastructure of the park is just old, but you never know who last certified that equipment is safe to use.
The issue of improper wiring has become such an issue that a recent federal law was passed that all new RVs come equipped with reverse polarity detectors which indicate to the owner whether the wiring is mis-wired or faulty. What it does not do is protect you in case the indicator shows faulty wiring, and that is where a surge protector will come in handy.
As stated earlier, surge protectors protect against too high and too low of a voltage. But why exactly is low bad for your electronics and what causes it? Below is a quick explanation:
- As long as temperature and resistance stay the same, the voltage is directly proportional to the current and when the voltage goes down so does the current.
- Every appliance has its own voltage and current rating. When a lower voltage is supplied to the appliance or system than what it is rated for, it will create a new set of parameters to operate at the same capacity.
- What this usually means is that whatever appliance or system affected will draw more current to maintain its required power output. This makes more current flow through the conductor than what was intended.
- As more current passes through the conductor, it overheats and can start to burn wiring, start fires, and ultimately destroy the equipment.
These low voltage situations can often happen in RV parks where there are a lot of people trying to use the same amount of power at the same time. Those that are not equipped to handle all the use will cause the output for each RV to drop significantly. Of course, even when you go during the off-season you never know how many people are going to be there, and even going during popular times you should be unafraid of the power dropping.
High voltage situations are just as bad and happen even more frequently than low voltage situations. Below is a quick explanation about why high voltage damages your electronics:
Each piece of equipment has a maximum voltage it is rated from the wires to the resistors to the conductors and so forth.
If the load becomes too great on any of the components in an electrical system, it can fail or this load can jump from that part to another creating a cascading effect.
This cascading effect will produce a lot of heat which in turn destroys the electronics.
Even equipment that is supposedly “high voltage” cannot withstand certain, powerful electrical surges in the system and they will ultimately fail. There are a variety of causes that can make the power surge. As discussed earlier, lightning is one of those but that one is actually incredibly rare.
What is more common is instead of a large amount of equipment drawing power, a lot of high energy use equipment going off at the same time can suddenly force a greater than expected amount of power back into the system and cause the surge. Again, you cannot predict who is going to do this and when.
Surge protectors should be a no-brainer when it comes to protecting your RV and all the electronics inside of it. It is very cheap compared to the catastrophic damage that can be caused out there from a variety of sources. Whether it is people plugging in or taking out large energy requirements, faulty park wiring, or even lightening, there are just too many ways to get burned when a simple solution at the very beginning could have protected you.