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Damage to your RV electrical systems can be totally disabling. This is why I suggest using surge protectors to protect your RV. However, you might wonder, are RV surge protectors worth it? Are they hard to maintain, can they get wet? I have camped in a lot of weather so let’s dig into the surge protectors.

Can RV surge protectors get wet?

Most new RV surge protectors can get wet. The manufacturer will state if the unit is weather-resistant, meaning that it can withstand some rain and wind. However, the surge protector must not be submerged in water.

Furthermore, surge protectors may have a plastic cover over the connection points. If you are concerned about moisture you can contact the manufacturer to learn more about your specific surge protector.

Here are some articles that may also be helpful for you:

What Does a surge protector do for an RV?

RV surge protectors are plugged in between the power source and the power connection on the RV. They are designed to safeguard your RV electrical systems and devices against power surges and spikes (such as lightning) that may cause damage. 

You must first understand what power surges are, to get how surge protectors function. A power surge occurs when the quantity of electric current through electrical equipment surpasses the maximum point of 120 volts. High-powered gadgets, poor wiring, or a malfunction from your equipment can all cause a surge.

Related reading: RV Electric Setup Basics (RV Plugs and Voltages)

Surge protectors safeguard against the harm that unexpected power surges might cause. It operates by sucking power between one outlet and sending it to the surge protector’s connected devices. It has a MOV (metal oxide varistor), which diverts any excess voltage to keep equipment at a steady power level. 

Now that you know what power surge and protectors are, you might be wondering if they are waterproof or prepared for weather changes during travel.

Are RV Surge Protectors Necessary?

gray surge protector, isolated on white background
PetrMalyshev via

To keep your RV systems and electrical devices safe from damage, an RV surge protector is necessary. The power supply may be interrupted by a surge, a spike, or lightning. Without a surge protector, the systems and appliances in your RV will malfunction and break.

To answer your question directly and without any hesitations, yes, you need surge protectors for your RV to ensure your family and the safety of your rig.

Let’s compare the cost of surge protectors versus the cost of damage to electrical systems.

Surge protectors can cost anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on if they are portable or hard-wired. Damage to the electrical system of an RV may cost from $500 to $4,000.

Even worse, the electrician may tell you they can’t fix what they can’t see. Since the wiring is on the inside behind the walls, the damage will not be apparent. In that case, your RV may not be able to be salvaged.

So yes, $250 for a surge protector may appear to be a substantial amount of money, particularly for someone on a tight budget. It could repay itself several times over during the longer term if you need it.

Think of it as your insurance deal for all your equipment in your RV. Buying a surge protector is a one-time cost to protect your investment in the RV and your devices.

Types of RV Surge Protectors

Portable RV surge protectors

The simplest solution is to use portable power surge protectors, which you just connect to the shore power pole at the RV park.

Another advantage is that this surge protector sits outside your RV between the power pole and your plugin. So if a surge or spike occurs and you are depending on the surge protector, it happens outside your RV.

For example, if lightning strikes, you may really want that barrier outside the wall of the RV.

Keep in mind that you may also want an anti-theft device if you want to use this type to prevent it from being stolen.

It is the easiest one to use compared to the Hard wired, but this costs a little more than the other type. It is simple to replace, and you do not need wiring installation.

Hard-wired RV surge protector

Hard-wired surge protectors provide built-in surge protection from inconsistent power at campsites. The unit is placed behind the power connection on the RV and connected to the writing bundle.

In that case, we highly encourage getting a professional to install it to ensure your safety.

Just like any other device, the hard-wired type has its pros and cons. The pros of this type are that it is permanently installed in your RV, and the chances of getting it stolen from you are minimal. You don’t need to remember to plug it in as it is permanent.

On the other hand, it also has its downsides. You need to have someone professional install it to ensure that it will function well. Also, it does sit inside the camper itself. Some people are not comfortable with this.

Are RV Surge Protectors Waterproof?

In general. RV surge protectors are rated by the manufacturer as water-resistant, meaning that they can withstand some rain and wind. However, the surge protector is not waterproof and must not be submerged in water.

Your RV surge protector supplier defines surge protector’s weather resistance. It’s challenging to offer a definitive “Yes” or “No” response to this issue. To put it another way, various surge protector types and manufacturers do not all have the same waterproofing properties.

Most of the RV surge protectors sold in the market are built to have water resistance to ensure the long-term usage of your surge protector. 

Can a surge protector be in the rain?

New portable surge protectors can be in the rain. They are designed to withstand the elements when plugged into the power pole.

What to do if surge protector gets wet

When the surge protector gets wet, you have to unplug it as soon as possible. Then let it dry. Before you plug it back in to check if it is still working, make sure that it is completely dry.

Moreover, you should test it outside your rig for everyone’s safety.

Importance of Surge Protector Covers

If you are thinking about how you can keep a surge protector dry, you can use a clear thick plastic bag as a covering to maintain the surge protector. Or you can use an extension cord and keep it in the bay.  

Cut a hole at the lower part of the do-it-yourself cover to insert the protector’s neck, then tape it shut. Now, the bottom is vented, and it also keeps the significant parts of the surge protector dry and well-functioning.

How do I choose an RV Surge Protector?

The choices for RV surge protectors are diverse in terms of kind, features, and amount of safety. Your needs will determine the cost of the ideal power surge protector for you.

Take into account the following criteria, establish your objectives, and carefully consider each purchasing option in light of them.


A decent RV surge protector ranges from $100-$300. There are a variety of low-cost options that function well for the $100 mark. All you have to do now is assess your alternatives to make a more informed decision.

AMP Rating

The electricity you’ll need while plugging in your RV is stated on the surge protector. You must select a suitable surge protector for your needs, such as 50 amp or 30 amp. The correct rating reduces the chance of combustion and various electrical issues, and excessive heat.

Joules Rating

You should also look at the joule protection rating. The surge protector must disperse the heat if surges cause excessive electricity. Search for a device that can safeguard you from the hazards of extreme heat.

LED Display

Most of the top RV surge protectors have warning and indication screens. However, several screens are hard to read, night-time, and even during the daytime. Invest in a model with a good LED display for your convenience.

Indicator Light

Opt for a protector with an indicator light that lets you know if the protective elements are working. After numerous power surges, all devices, including the most acceptable RV surge protectors, will wear off, but the protector would still operate. You have no means of confirming if your protection is still working correctly without an indicator light.


When some models are turned on, they create sounds. We encourage you to pick a good model that produces lower sound than others. It may be irritating and disturbing, mainly if your RV is situated in a quiet, calm, and peaceful area. 

Is the watchdog surge protector waterproof?

One of the most popular surge protectors on the market is the watchdog model. This is considered one of the best surge protectors you can buy. So many people ask specifically if the watchdog surge protector is waterproof. Here is what we found:

The portable Power Watchdog units are IP65 rated, which means it is weather resistant against rain and snow. The watchdog is not fully waterproof and can not be submerged in water.

The Hughes Autoformers PWD50-EPO Power Watchdog actually has the blue tooth and the EPO. This is the highest-reviewed surge protector. Check the price on Amazon here.

Can You Plug an Extension Cord into a Surge Protector?

Technically speaking, yes, you can plug them together. Extension cables and surge protectors are thought to be compatible by some individuals. Surge protectors often include plugs with prongs that can fit into extension cable sockets. 

Surge protectors may be connected to extension cords without any physical obstacles, but it is against the safety rules of the National Electrical Code and the Occupational Safety Administration.

Why is it against the Safety Rules, you may ask? If you decide to connect your surge protector and extension cord, you are at risk of electrocuting yourself. You are also risking yourselves for having a fire.

The ideal option for reducing danger is to buy a surge protector extension cord. These devices offer the advantages of a surge protector, typically with several outlets and a power cord that is several feet long.

Moreover, this surge protector extension cord can offer you a more extended service while reducing the possible risks of connecting the separate extension cord to the surge protector. Apart from that, you can also utilize it as a temporary power outlet in your walls or ceiling with the power strip mount.

How Long Do Surge Protectors Last?

When the usability of the surge protector reaches the end, it will provide you with an alarm or light indicator.

These indicators are not always reliable, so you must not always depend on them. The MOV (metal oxide varistor) is most likely not to function if the light on your surge protector is not working anymore.

Surge protectors should be replaced every two years, according to professionals. Surges differ by location; it’s vital to realize no universal norm when to change them. 

After two years, your surge protector has a chance of it being deteriorated and needs a replacement or also not. When you consider the cost of a surge protector and the cost to replace all of the devices you’ve connected to the equipment, it’s a no-brainer because buying a surge protector to protect all of them is always way cheaper than risking your life and your appliances. That is also why it is advisable and highly encouraged to purchase high-quality and long-lasting surge protectors.

Final Thougths about Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are necessary to keep you and your RV safe from power surges or low power drops. Most new surge protectors will be safe to leave outside in the rain. The manufacturer will state whether the unit is water-resistant in the weather.

If you want more information about electrical systems in an RV you will enjoy our other articles:

Can an RV be plugged in all the time?

Do you need an RV Battery if you are plugged in?

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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