Surge Protection, Voltage Regulator or both?
Are you protected?
We have visited many RV parks over the years and never worried too much about poor quality electricity. That is when our mode of transportation was a Volkswagen Vanagon or our antique Prowler trailer. Neither of these had much in terms of electronics that could be damaged by low or high power. We only had lights and a small fridge.
All of that has changed buying a modern RV. Our 2008 Winnebago Journey has enough electronics just in any one of the rooms to call for investing some time researching how to protect devices like TVs, microwave/convection ovens, PCs and air conditioners (just to name a few devices) from power surges and low power conditions. Both can damage electronic devices.
The National Electric Code specifies a range of 126 Volts to 114 Volts as acceptable (105% – 95%) Average is about 117 volts. High voltage can burn out fuses (if you are lucky) or worse burn out your appliances and electronics. Low voltages can cause air conditioners and other larger appliances to work harder and heat up more. Both situations can results in fires and safety issues besides damaging equipment.
In reality, if I want the ultimate protection I need to buy both a dedicated surge protector and a voltage regulator… or do I?
Of the many surge protection and voltage regulator devices available these three stood out in our research.
50 amp Voltage regulator and Surge protector
Provides 10% boost in low power
Provides Spike and Surge Protections
Simple easy to understand
Boost indicator lights
Only 2 Year Warranty
High cost – MSRP $548.00
Hardwire installation kit is an extra $65.00
Not weather proof – must be covered if not installed inside
Industries ems-hw50c Surge Protection
Less expensive – MSRP $431.00 ($347 at Amazon)
Remote display included
Open Neutral and Open Ground protection
No Boost – shuts down power below 104 volts or above 132 volts
10175 RV Voltage Regulator – 50 Amp
Provides 10% boost as low as 95 Volts
Easy LED status panel
Can be mounted inside
More expensive – $660.90 at Amazon
Does not provide surge protection (Surge Guard does offer a variety of surge protection products)
1 year warranty
Other Resources used to learn about the products
Other Resource Links
Our Decision – Hughes Autoformers 50 Amp RV Power Booster
After looking at the various options we decided to get Hughes Autoformers. Even if the power looks good when you get to a park, that’s no guarantee that the voltage will remain good when everyone switches on their A/C during the middle of a heat wave – or when you arrive at the park and the section you’ve been assigned to has “Low Voltage” like you see below.
Here’s the unboxing and review on YouTube.
Besides providing surge protection it boosts the power between 3% and 10% depending on the situation. This would help out in those ‘Low Voltage in Section A’ situations. You may want to buy a surge protector anyways though – to protect the Autoformer!!!
The device came with no instructions however it’s fairly obvious how to set it up. No manual in the box must have been an oversight because I was able to find it online – but not at the manufacturer’s website! Plus their contact information is in a horrible blue against brown background that I can hardly read on my PC. However the product itself seems solid and well built.
One negative is that it is not weather proof, so either must be installed inside the bay (there is a kit you can buy for this conversion) or cover it up. We elected to cover it up for now, but will probably move it into the electrical bay sometime in the future.
The 50 amp power plug on the Autoformer plugs into the power pedestal at the park, then the rig’s power line plugs into the Autoormer. It has 3 lights on the side – one central status light and two outer lights that show whether there is 30 or 50 amps coming in to the device.
- Amber light – all is good – you have power and it’s within specs
- Red Light – Park power is low – boost in progress. It takes a few seconds for the Autoformer to analyze the power and decide whether to boost the power.
The Autoformer will boost when the park power is below 112 Volts and go into bypass mode at 115 Volts according to the manual that is posted here: Hughes_Autoformer
Always turn off the power at the pedestal when plugging in your RV power into the Autoformer or the Autoformer into the park pedestal.
You may need to supply pig-tails to go from the Autoformer’s 50 amp plug to a 30 amp park circuit if you buy the 50 amp Autoformer.
We only used the Autoformer for a long weekend and our park power was good. We will update you with another post as we use it more and when we get the conversion kit to keep it in the electrical bay.
As always, Happy Trails!