Basic 30 A surge protector vs Managed Electrical System

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Roger Leigh

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New to trailering, is the managed system version worth the higher price and why? not sure what situations would require the managed version. Thanks!

Roger
 

Lou Schneider

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A surge protector only protects against voltage surges and functions by clamping the excess voltage to ground and either disconnecting the incoming voltage itself or tripping the incoming circuit breaker. An EMS (Electrical Management System) also monitors and protects against other electrical defects such as low voltage (can damage motors in things like the air conditioner), reverse polarity and defective ground (shock hazards). Most will interrupt power and then restore it if conditions return to normal. It's up to you to decide if you want these extra levels of protection.

There's also another type of EMS that doesn't protect against electrical faults but instead limits the number of large appliances that can run simultaneously to avoid overloading a 30 amp connection. Such as a second air conditioner or letting the water heater operate in electric mode when the a/c is on. These are usually only installed by the RV manufacturer as they require being wired into multiple points in the RV's electrical system.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Lou briefly explained the types of electrical protection, but we aren't clear on what you mean by "managed system". I'm gonna guess you mean active power monitoring, as opposed to devices that do a one-time test when you plug in. The active monitoring/management systems will detect changes in the power source, which most commonly means higher or lower voltage but could include other parameters as well. A well-designed and properly maintained campground power system should stay within safe limits of voltage & frequency, but not all systems are well designed or maintained. It's not always obvious that the power system is weak or defective either. The system may function fine much of the time, but fall short when the campground is filled to capacity or on extreme hot or cold days when everybody is maxxing their use of a/c or electric heaters. And there will be literally hundreds of wire connections throughout the system, and after years some may be corroded or damaged.

If you travel much and visit a variety of campgrounds, sooner or later you will encounter some of these issues. They may or may not be severe enough to cause damage to your RV, but do you want to find out the hard (and expensive) way? Think of the power monitoring/protection device as an insurance policy!
 

Canuck Dude

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A surge protector only protects against voltage surges and functions by clamping the excess voltage to ground and either disconnecting the incoming voltage itself or tripping the incoming circuit breaker. An EMS (Electrical Management System) also monitors and protects against other electrical defects such as low voltage (can damage motors in things like the air conditioner), reverse polarity and defective ground (shock hazards). Most will interrupt power and then restore it if conditions return to normal. It's up to you to decide if you want these extra levels of protection.

There's also another type of EMS that doesn't protect against electrical faults but instead limits the number of large appliances that can run simultaneously to avoid overloading a 30 amp connection. Such as a second air conditioner or letting the water heater operate in electric mode when the a/c is on. These are usually only installed by the RV manufacturer as they require being wired into multiple points in the RV's electrical system.
I am new to RVing and need to know which kind of EMS system is best and will that protect me with either 30 and/or 50 amps service? My rig input is for 50 amps but only one a/c so I could easily get by with 30amps and and only have the adapters with no surge protection yet. I would like to get something permanent that would eliminate this problem and provide proper elec protection? Hope you can help if not please send me in helpful direction...new on forum as well.
 

Larry N.

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Kirk

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My rig input is for 50
This is part of your answer. Whatever you get, make it the 50a version. A 50a RV has 2 power leads that are each capable of up to 50a and in a practice world you have about 80a of useful power available. If you buy a 30a version you will limit yourself to never be able to exceed 30a and several other restrictions.

As to what is the best one, that can be a little bit subjective but I will recommend that you get either the Progressive EMS PT50X or the Southwire Surge Guard 34950 as either could be considered the best based on their long history of quality products. But there are several other manufacturers of competitive products. The two above are the most highly rated and both provide full power protection including under & over voltage, miss-wired outlet protection, missing neutral or ground, as well as power surge protection. As a retired service tech I have used one for our RVs since 2003.
 

CharlesinGA

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If you have a 50 amp RV, buy the 50 amp version, it will work fine when 30-50 adapters are used.

Three major players in the business. Progressive Industries (not to be confused with Progressive Dynamics), Hughes Autoformers, and Southwire's Surge Guard.

All three of these companies make units that do essentially the same thing. Lesser products in their line will merely indicate if there is a problem when you plug in and leave it up to the user to determine if they want to stay plugged in or not. Their top of the line units test for various problems upon initial plug in and keep checking while the unit is plugged in.

Progessive has a comparison chart of their products and the functions they perform.
Portable & Hardwired Comparisons | progressiveind

Southwire has a similar chart, scroll to the bottom of the web page to see it.
Surge Guard RV Power Protection | Southwire RV

Hughes has a similar chart also, again just scroll down the page till you get to it.
Products – Power Watchdog | Hughes Autoformers

Each of these products have good and bad points.

Hughes uses Bluetooth to an app to show what is going on, volts, amps, etc. and is also compatible with the WhisperRV system (which is a third party product that integrates information from electrical, propane and tank levels plus security and other sensors and is capable of wifi or internet communication to keep you posted if fido is getting hot due to a power failure, etc.

Progressive does not have any Bluetooth units however their hardwired units have a very nice indicator that can be mounted inside the RV and shows the volts, amps and cycles, plus error codes. (these are the only USA made units that I know of, and the only ones to show you cycles/Hz)

I am not familiar with the Surge Guard products enough to know the features they offer, but they seem to be lagging in development of their products in comparison to the others.

Charles
 

John From Detroit

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New to trailering, is the managed system version worth the higher price and why? not sure what situations would require the managed version. Thanks!

Roger

Shot answer is yes the "managed" surge guards are better. way way way better..
But be aware that at 30 amp there are two companies that make devices they call energy manager systems.. Intelletec (NOT a surge guard) and Progressive Industries (IS a surge Guard) TRC/Southwire makes a product they call SURGE GUARD. it is.

The lower cost ones have a few lights and clip spikes.. Other than the lights they are nothing more than MOV's (Metal Oxide Varistors) Plug a 30 amp one into 240 volts the MOV's may well explode (Make noise no damage and no good after that) but they do nothing to protect your RV. Low voltage does not bother them. (NOTE many have plugged 30 amp TT-30 plugs into 240 volt and regretted it. two (well 3) ways this happens. one you have legal recourse more later.

The top end units HW-50c PTX-50 (PI models) or the 30 amp equivalent have a display (Remote on the hard wired ones) that displays Volts, Amps and other stuff (Error codes) not just lights.

First: They delay power on.. This is important because of two things. IF there is a power BLINK (off/on in less than a few minutes) it is hard on compressors like Air Condeitioners. MY Surge Guard held power off for over 2 1/2 minutes.. Progressive Industries eitehr 15 seconds or nearly 3 minutes (installer's chocie on hard wired, Longer delay on portables.. This means the A/C does a normal re-start (less damaging)

During this time it "Tests" the line. You plug a 30 amp plug into a 240 volt outlet that 2 1/2 to 3 minutes becomes forever as the display tells you of the problem

The display (and a bit of knowledge) has told me when a power issue was the park's problem. or mine, and what the problem was in a few cases.

LOW voltage is also an issue especially for compressors and guess what the better units shut down power if the voltage is too low (Same as too high)

How can you plug a TT-30 into 240 volts?
There is an outlet that is for Dryers or Air compressors, Deep fryers and the like that, though it is not designed for a TT-30, will accept one.

Once I was at an electrical supply house looking for a switch (no joy) and a professional electrician was buying a TT-30 outlet for install at a friend's house... He also purchased a standard dual ganged (240 volt)) breaker set... I pointed out to him where it said RIGHT ON THE OUTLET it was a 125 volt maximum (120 volt outlet) Yup he was about to blow all the electronics in his customer's RV (That's the legal recourse OPPS) I've heard of DIYers doing that too. (No Recourse) And in very rare cases. RV parks.

There is a way it can happen in an RV park that's accident as well.
 

Canuck Dude

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Ottawa, Canada
This is part of your answer. Whatever you get, make it the 50a version. A 50a RV has 2 power leads that are each capable of up to 50a and in a practice world you have about 80a of useful power available. If you buy a 30a version you will limit yourself to never be able to exceed 30a and several other restrictions.

As to what is the best one, that can be a little bit subjective but I will recommend that you get either the Progressive EMS PT50X or the Southwire Surge Guard 34950 as either could be considered the best based on their long history of quality products. But there are several other manufacturers of competitive products. The two above are the most highly rated and both provide full power protection including under & over voltage, miss-wired outlet protection, missing neutral or ground, as well as power surge protection. As a retired service tech I have used one for our RVs since 2003.
Thank you so much for this info.
 

Canuck Dude

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Ottawa, Canada
Shot answer is yes the "managed" surge guards are better. way way way better..
But be aware that at 30 amp there are two companies that make devices they call energy manager systems.. Intelletec (NOT a surge guard) and Progressive Industries (IS a surge Guard) TRC/Southwire makes a product they call SURGE GUARD. it is.

The lower cost ones have a few lights and clip spikes.. Other than the lights they are nothing more than MOV's (Metal Oxide Varistors) Plug a 30 amp one into 240 volts the MOV's may well explode (Make noise no damage and no good after that) but they do nothing to protect your RV. Low voltage does not bother them. (NOTE many have plugged 30 amp TT-30 plugs into 240 volt and regretted it. two (well 3) ways this happens. one you have legal recourse more later.

The top end units HW-50c PTX-50 (PI models) or the 30 amp equivalent have a display (Remote on the hard wired ones) that displays Volts, Amps and other stuff (Error codes) not just lights.

First: They delay power on.. This is important because of two things. IF there is a power BLINK (off/on in less than a few minutes) it is hard on compressors like Air Condeitioners. MY Surge Guard held power off for over 2 1/2 minutes.. Progressive Industries eitehr 15 seconds or nearly 3 minutes (installer's chocie on hard wired, Longer delay on portables.. This means the A/C does a normal re-start (less damaging)

During this time it "Tests" the line. You plug a 30 amp plug into a 240 volt outlet that 2 1/2 to 3 minutes becomes forever as the display tells you of the problem

The display (and a bit of knowledge) has told me when a power issue was the park's problem. or mine, and what the problem was in a few cases.

LOW voltage is also an issue especially for compressors and guess what the better units shut down power if the voltage is too low (Same as too high)

How can you plug a TT-30 into 240 volts?
There is an outlet that is for Dryers or Air compressors, Deep fryers and the like that, though it is not designed for a TT-30, will accept one.

Once I was at an electrical supply house looking for a switch (no joy) and a professional electrician was buying a TT-30 outlet for install at a friend's house... He also purchased a standard dual ganged (240 volt)) breaker set... I pointed out to him where it said RIGHT ON THE OUTLET it was a 125 volt maximum (120 volt outlet) Yup he was about to blow all the electronics in his customer's RV (That's the legal recourse OPPS) I've heard of DIYers doing that too. (No Recourse) And in very rare cases. RV parks.

There is a way it can happen in an RV park that's accident as well.
Thanks John, much appreciate your input.
 

Canuck Dude

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Location
Ottawa, Canada
If you have a 50 amp RV, buy the 50 amp version, it will work fine when 30-50 adapters are used.

Three major players in the business. Progressive Industries (not to be confused with Progressive Dynamics), Hughes Autoformers, and Southwire's Surge Guard.

All three of these companies make units that do essentially the same thing. Lesser products in their line will merely indicate if there is a problem when you plug in and leave it up to the user to determine if they want to stay plugged in or not. Their top of the line units test for various problems upon initial plug in and keep checking while the unit is plugged in.

Progessive has a comparison chart of their products and the functions they perform.
Portable & Hardwired Comparisons | progressiveind

Southwire has a similar chart, scroll to the bottom of the web page to see it.
Surge Guard RV Power Protection | Southwire RV

Hughes has a similar chart also, again just scroll down the page till you get to it.
Products – Power Watchdog | Hughes Autoformers

Each of these products have good and bad points.

Hughes uses Bluetooth to an app to show what is going on, volts, amps, etc. and is also compatible with the WhisperRV system (which is a third party product that integrates information from electrical, propane and tank levels plus security and other sensors and is capable of wifi or internet communication to keep you posted if fido is getting hot due to a power failure, etc.

Progressive does not have any Bluetooth units however their hardwired units have a very nice indicator that can be mounted inside the RV and shows the volts, amps and cycles, plus error codes. (these are the only USA made units that I know of, and the only ones to show you cycles/Hz)

I am not familiar with the Surge Guard products enough to know the features they offer, but they seem to be lagging in development of their products in comparison to the others.

Charles
Thank you Charles. Great info
 

Canuck Dude

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Posts
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Location
Ottawa, Canada
I am new to RVing and need to know which kind of EMS system is best and will that protect me with either 30 and/or 50 amps service? My rig input is for 50 amps but only one a/c so I could easily get by with 30amps and and only have the adapters with no surge protection yet. I would like to get something permanent that would eliminate this problem and provide proper elec protection? Hope you can help if not please send me in helpful direction...new on forum as well.
Thanks Lou. Great info.
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
There are basically 3 levels of these surge supressor / EMS devices, though the transition from one level to the next is a bit nuanced, and the names don't always imply what the product does going both ways.

1, Simple surge suppressor, which these protect from electrical surges

2 EMS systems which check for correct wiring, low and high voltage disconnect, as well as surge protection

3, Electrical management devices which support sensing if you are plugged into 30 or 50 amp connections and will actively load shed devices to keep from overloading a 30 amp connection, ie only allow one air conditioner to run at a time when plugged into 30 amp, etc. mostly removing the need for a human to manage their electrical loads when they have a 50 amp RV plugged into a 30 amp outlet.

As to why one needs such a device, and which one to buy, for the most part I would say you want one in the category 2 level, which does surge suppression as well as senses correct wiring. The reason for this is simple, electrical outlets in RV parks are often maintained by staff members, and handy men and not certified electricians, so the potential for mis-wiring as well as problems due to wear is high.

To me this makes the math simple, $150-$250 for a good hard wired EMS unit such as https://www.amazon.com/Surge-Guard-35550-Hardwire-Model/dp/B01AASJHGO vs the real potential of frying $3,000+ worth of appliances if you plug into a miswired outlet. I have yet to run into an outlet that was badly miswired, though I have ran into one that my SurgeGuard EMS refused to connect to due to wiring polarity issues. My solution in that case was to report it to the RV park office, and they moved me to a different pull through site, if they corrected the problem I do not know.
 

CharlesinGA

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50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
The problem with permanent or hard wired devices is that they are..... well..... permanent, when you go to sell, there goes your $200 or more with the RV. On my motor home, I installed a permanent Progressive unit, and sure enough, I sold it. With the trailer I bought the portable unit. It stays in the container with the shore cord so it is really not any extra work to install. I do use a bike lock cable most of the time, but I think that theft in a campground is a non-issue for the most part, so I cannot see that as an issue with not using the portable unit.

I would recommend the following........ for a permanent unit, the Progressive EMS-HW50C. This unit has the remote display that uses a simple modular phone cord to connect it and the display will continuously scroll the volts, amps, cycles, and error codes. I don't recommend the unit with the display built into the face of the unit, as it probably going to be mounted in some place difficult to see or totally inaccessible.

For a portable unit its a toss up between the Progressive EMS-PT50X and the Hughes PWD50-EPO

Progressive is USA manufactured and possibly uses better components, that is debatable however. It is less clunky than the Hughes as it (Progressive) only has a flex input cord and plug and the outlet is a part of the case. The Progressive unit has a digital read out window to give you the error codes. Power goes out, you have to go to the unit on the pedestal and check it.

The Hughes has a much higher profile as it has a cord out the bottom with an outlet on it. My experience has been that most power pedestals are not tall enough and whatever you have ends up laying on the ground. The Hughes has a face that lights up white when the power is correct and red when it detects problems, but there is a digital error code window also. At night the white face is screaming "steal me" in addition to the fact that it is bright and annoying to everyone around, and I finally opened up mine and unplugged the white/red face illumination from the circuit board. If there is an error or problem the digital error code window will tell me or I can check the app.

Lastly, getting around as to why you need one at all. I actually put surge suppression way down the list. Its nice that it does have surge suppression, but the important part is that it checks for crossed neutral/hot, and open neutrals, high voltage and low voltage. Everything else it kinda nice stuff but you want to protect the A/C and other equipment if the voltage drops way off due to overloaded loops in the campground or miswiring of an outlet (not so likely to happen with a 50 amp, all too common with 30 amp.)

Charles
 

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