Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by smilinjohn, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. smilinjohn

    smilinjohn New Member

    I have been reading and reading on this forum and have found it very informative......thanks. I want to protect our TT from surges of electric current to prevent damage to the trailer's wiring and installed devices when hooked up to 30 amp electric power in the campground. Also want to make sure campground hookup is wired correctly. Hoping for help in selecting a surge protection device. Any suggestions are surely welcomed. I don't understand the importance of joule-rating. So far I've come across the following that would seem to work for my application:

    1) Progressive Industries SSP-30, Smart Surge 120V/30A, $79.00 + shipping
    3-modes
    430 joules and 13,500 amp surge current rating
    surge status indicator
    integrated polarity tester
    portable

    2) Surge Guard 55-2764, Surge Protector Circuit Analyzer 120V/30A, $100.00 + shipping
    proper wire confirmation and presence of power
    checks for open ground, open neutral and correct polarity
    1020 joules surge protection
    portable

    3) Progressive Industries EMS-PT30C, Surge Protector with Voltage Protection 120V/30A, $309.00 + shipping
    104 to 132 voltage range protection, with time-delay and auto restore power to rv
    136 second time delay for Air Conditioner compressor
    surge indicator L-N, L-G and N-G
    1780 joule rating; response time
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    RE: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    It all boils down to the price ,, and what u need to protect ,, now i may be wrong on this ,, but the joul rating is how much of a so called surge the unit can take ,, wheather it be a lighting strike or a major power surge ,, but also ,, u need to look at what the item will do ,, if say the CG power drops below 120 volts ,, i am dealing with a CG right now with that type of prb ,, but u are on the right track ,, protecting u'r rv ,, and i approve of that ,, too many out there do not think as u do ,, but there agian if they did ,, i would be outta work :laugh: :clown: ,, but i am glad u thought of this :approve: :approve: :approve:
     
  3. Triple E

    Triple E Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    - The joule (pronounced DJOOL) is the standard unit of energy in electronics and general scientific applications. One joule is defined as the amount of energy exerted when a force of one newton is applied over a displacement of one meter. One joule is the equivalent of one watt of power radiated or dissipated for one second.
    In some applications, the British thermal unit (Btu) is used to express energy. One Btu is equivalent to approximately 1055 joules.

    Pretty impressive huh! To bad I don't know what it means. :laugh:


    :8ball:
     
  4. smilinjohn

    smilinjohn New Member

    RE: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Note: Original post to this thread.......4) nearly identical to 3), not 2), as stated. Could not figure out how to edit, after post was replied to. :(

    :) John

    "730", what do you mean by CG and prb??
     
  5. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors



    John, the specs probably tell something about something, but what you want is something that others have used and works. Right?

    I use one that has "brownout protection" built in as well as voltage surge protection. When the voltage goes beyond a set range, another tap on a transformer kicks in to raise or lower it enough to get it back into range. That's especially important to your A/C.

    Voltage surge protection is one of those black arts in electronics. Some work from experience; some work from design. You can never test them in real life. None of them will "protect" your RV from a local lightening strike. They will burn up before the strike is over. They "could" protect you from hits in the distance.

    I bought the Hughes model for 30 amp some years ago, and have had no trouble. (The company has since changed owners and become more pricey. I think I paid almost $300.)

    Here are links to some:

    http://www.surgeguard.com/10176-10175.html
    http://autoformers.com/?id=rv2130&loc=inc
    http://www.palrvtransformers.com/

    PS. It looks like PPL is having a sale on their Hughes units
     
  6. Triple E

    Triple E Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors



    Tex, Have you ever wished you went with the 50 amp. :question:



    :8ball:
     
  7. vanole

    vanole Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    smilinjohn,

    Here is comparison chart http://www.viprv.com/ems/ems.html#specs

    I have a PT50 presently. Thing has saved my bacon 3x since owning. The most recent was this past December when the park pole I was at had a zero ground and the surge protector worked as advertised and cut power to the motorhome.

    With surge protectors you get what you pay for. I would spend the little extra money and get the low voltage protection offered by a couple of the manufacturers. This will help you out when park power gets low and there is a potential that you could do damage to appliances in your unit.


    Concerning hardwire/non hardwire. I played with this for days/years. In fact on my previous coach I did hardwire one in. Then I really thought about it and figured if I took a hit would I want the unit inside the motorhome (albeit in a bay) or outside away from me on the park pole. I voted park pole. So on present unit I have the portable non hardwired unit. Thing is a bit bigger and bulkier than the cheaper unit offered from progressive industries but packs a bunch more features woth the price in my opinion.

    I too like Tex have and autoformer and it does provide a limited amount of surge protection but I would not use that as my sole source of protection.

    V/R
    Jeff
    GO NAVY
    Fly Navy
     
  8. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors



    Jeff, what electrical event is it that you are calling "a zero ground?" I've never heard anything described that way. Most of the gadgets that have this kind of detection circuit check for "high voltage on ground" or "open ground" or "open neutral" wiring problems. If your electrical system doesn't have a good connection to "earth" (preferably right there at the pole you plug into), NONE of the rest of the "protection" solutions will be reliable.


    Steve, the 30 amp or 50 amp is specified to match the rating of your RV (the max current.) It doesn't have anything to do with "protection" from the gadget. (I'm just making that clear for others reading.) Since my MH electrical system is rated for 30 amps, that is why I matched the autoformer I bought to that RV rating. If you go with a higher rating than your RV is rated for, you risk having overheating problems when you run into an RV park with old breakers that don't trip at their rating any longer.

    I've never had any problem with it overheating or anything like that even the one time we spent a month at the lake in the dead of summer. Now, my Hughes is portable and is hanging from a bracket that is under my MH near the electrical inlet, so it is protected from the elements. Jeff is exactly right in my opinion. I wanted the "protection" gadget OUTSIDE of my RV. If it "protects" me, I want the smoke to escape out there in the wide open spaces.


    I situated the autoformer very near the MH rather than at the pole so the extension cord was on the inlet of the autoformer. This allows any voltage drop in the extension cord to be detected in the "protection" circuit.

    I don't think there are any "surge protection" gadgets available for an RV that can truly "save your bacon" during a really high voltage surge. They will "protect" you in a sense by dieing if an inductively induced voltage spike appears on the line, but we try anyway. Like Jeff says, what they will "protect" you from is the much more common problems of wiring faults and wiring defects.

    If your selected gadget does not "protect" you from these wiring problems, find one that does. This season I'm adding something that does what the Surge Guard® 30A Portable Model 34730 Rated 120V 30A 10/3 AWG Cord does to my electrical inlet for additional "protection." (That is if the current Progressive US administration allows me to keep my "change.")

     
  9. vanole

    vanole Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Tex,

    You are absolutely correct. I should have stated "Open Ground". I also agree with you on real high voltage surges nothing will protect you from that.

    V/R
    Jeff.
     
  10. westom

    westom New Member

    RE: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    So view what those 'magic' boxes claim to do. Lightning is not stopped by three miles of non-conductive air. What is the 2 cm part inside that box going to do?

    A destructive surge is hundreds of thousands of joules. How many joules in that magic box?

    Appreciate what they did not claim. Where does it list each type of surge and protection from that surge? It does not. It only protects from a type of surge that typically causes no damage. And can be destroyed by surges too small to harm your wiring or appliances.

    Yes, we all need protection from the rare surge that can overwhelm protection already inside every appliance. Typically a surge that occurs maybe once every seven years. A number that can vary significantly in different locations. No protector provides protection. Yes, that is correct. No protector provides protection. Does not even claim to. Protection is always about where energy dissipates. Either a protector connects that energy harmlessly to earth. Or it does nothing.

    Earth ground is the protection. Therefore the best protector connects as short as possible to the earth ground on that power pole. Either the protector connects surges harmlessly to earth. Or the protector may simply give that surge more destructive paths inside the RV.

    Protection is always about where energy dissipates. The NIST (US government research agency) says what every protector must do:
    > You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it. What these protective devices do
    > is neither suppress nor arrest a surge, but simply divert it to ground, where it can do no harm.

    So, which protector discusses its short and dedicated connection to earth ground? I see some $5 boxes with some ten cent protector parts selling for how much? They don't have to do anything but enrich the manufacturer. Then protection already inside each appliance does superior protection.

    Your task is to find the few protectors that actually do connect short to that power pole. That actually requires a good connection to the relevant ground - earth ground.

    No protector can stop or absorb destructive surges. The effective protector shunts (connects, conducts, diverts) hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly into earth. The effective protector will be obvious. It does not have silly L-N, L-G, N-G connections (which means only 1/3rd and never more than 2/3rd of the unit does any protection). It has only one connection that is typically ten feet or less: L-G. The N and G wires need no protection. They are also connected that short (ie 'less than 10 feet') to earth.

    Protection has always been about where energy dissipates. Either absorb harmlessly in earth. Or destructively inside the RV - with or without protectors inside.
     
  11. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Now I'm really confused :laugh:
     
  12. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    What 'westom' is trying to say in too many words is that you should forget about the claimed "surge protection" of these gadgets. You probably won't encounter anything that they will "protect" you from anyway.

    I'm saying you should pick a gadget that checks for wiring problems and possibly corrects (or detects) some low or high voltage situations that you might encounter.

    PS. No offense meant, 'weston'. :clown:
     
  13. brodavid

    brodavid Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    good advice
     
  14. westom

    westom New Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    TexasClodhopper discusses a threat to motorized appliances. Voltage variations do not harm electornics. But are so harmful to motorized appliances that AC mains must not vary by more than 5%.

    These voltage variations mean a surge protector remains inert - does nothing. The number on its box makes that obvious. A 120 volt protector will list a let-through voltage of 330 volts. That means the protector does nothing - is completely inert - until 120 volts exceeds 330 volts.

    One useful tool for detecting voltage variations is an incandescant light bulb. When any appliance powers on or off, the light must not dim or brighten. Intensity changes is the first indication of defective 'shore' power. And a very good reason for reading voltage from a multimeter (for $18) or a Kill-A-Watt (for $30). BTW, power factor from that more expensive solution would also be useful.
     
  15. Triple E

    Triple E Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    So, if I understanding what you are saying, Weston, we should connect a ground, jumper, from the frame of the Rv to the camp ground water pipe?


    :8ball:
     
  16. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Now I'm scared to hook mine up :eek:
     
  17. westom

    westom New Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Absolutely not. The sentence said:
     
  18. Triple E

    Triple E Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    Weston, I am trying to understand what you are saying. Lets talk about a house. The power company brings to your home L1, L2, and N. No ground. Unless you want to call N ground, to my electrical panel. At the electrical panel on my side, I install the ground by running a ground wire from my N/G bar to the ground rod that I pounded 8' feet into the ground. Now I am assuming the camp grounds are the same way. The power box where you plug in your motor home is ground at the box two ways. One.Directly to ground. Two.Thru the N back to the main power panel which should have a ground grid. Not at the pole. So, if this is correct. When you connect to the box, are you not grounded to earth? Is this what you mean by "best protector connects as short as possible to the earth ground on the power pole". Also are you agreeing with Tex that one should have some short of gadget such as the Autoformer but not to depend on any gadget that is for surge protection? My water line comment would work if you cannot trust the ground at the box. If the water line is made of metal pipe and not PVC. Like I said, I am just trying to understand what you are saying. :) :8ball:
     
  19. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors



    Steve, you've mostly got it (98%.)

    What we're discussing about "earth ground" is really not anything you can do much about except to detect a problem. Also, very important, we're not discussing normal current carrying wiring when we speak of "earth ground." If you have current in your "earth ground", then there is a serious problem. The "earth ground" is there as a safety addition.

    You have to remember "... as short as possible to the earth ground ...". While parked and camped, you will most likely be a good distance away from the source of the power you are plugged into. IF you didn't have a close connection to "earth ground", that distance would translate into a shocking voltage between that source's "earth ground" and your RV frame (the parts of it that you touch) IF there was a fault in your RV AND that fault caused current to flow in the safety ground wire AND you touched the frame and "earth" at the same time.

    Ever see those round black donuts under your RV? They are really good insulators. The tires don't allow your RV to naturally connect to "earth." So, your RV is wired with an additional wire that connects to the frame and the "earth ground" at the pole in your camp spot. The shortest path to "earth" is a ground rod right there at the pole. You may have seen one, but I always look for one. (Forget the water line, Steve. You don't know what condition it is in underground, and there may be a PVC 'link' somewhere even if it's metal.)

    Remember, when discussing "earth ground", we're NOT discussing current carrying conductors (unless there's a fault in your RV.)

    Now on to voltage variations. Generally, I'm NOT talking about variations in the voltage caused by YOUR RV. I'm speaking of a general low voltage condition within the park caused by insufficient supply of current/voltage by the PARK'S electrical source. You might run into that in the summer when everyone is using the A/C. There is so much extra current being used in the park that the source can't maintain the voltage. Theoretically, an autotransformer gadget will correct for that low voltage condition, but only at your RV. (My Hughes autoformer says when the, "... input voltage is 116 volts or below, the output is 10% over the input. When the input is over 118 volts, the output is 2% over the input....")

    Yes, "surge protection" is a real background concern. IF there was a particular kind of voltage condition (say, a "spike") the widgets inside the box MIGHT keep it down to 330 volts or so. They burn up in the process, so how will you know they are still working? I say that's a real background concern.

    Some folks are fond of saying things like, "My surge protector is the best, because one time it popped off and kept all my electrical stuff safe and saved me a ton of money." I usually just smile and let it go. :)


    Back to you, 'westom.' :clown:
     
  20. brodavid

    brodavid Senior Member

    Re: Newbie confused by the various surge protectors

    WOW
     

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