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Old 05-22-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
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Default Surge Protectors ??

How many use a surge protector on their travel trailer?

I've been wondering if they are worth the investment from slightly under $100 to near $300 depending on type.

I don't think they come as standard equipment or an option on the Fun Finders so wondering how necessary they are. I would think the reputable campgrounds and state/national park campgrounds would be wired correctly to the electrical pedestals you plug into and power surges would not be a big issue.

Anyone with experience and or recommendation on this subject
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Old 05-22-2012, 04:32 PM   #2
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Eagle;
I just posted a reply under battery charging with a reference to the Fun Finder power center. Maybe that link can help with your surge protector question. Please post what you find out.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:09 PM   #3
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While a campground's initial installation may be up to code to pass the inspection, there are, to the best of my knowledge, no "annual inspections" to make sure they stay that way (my father and I owned a bowling center eons ago and we had no "annual inspections). There is no telling when or who has worked on those circuits since their original installation and no telling what "unreported" changes have been made since that time. Just because they met code at one time, doesn't mean they are still up to "code"; a code that is continuously evolving.

The better devices (not the $100 ones) will also protect you from nearby lightning strikes (externally induced surges), sagging voltage and mis-wired (handyman repairs) pedestals. Sagging voltage, IMHO, is more dangerous to your equipment and more likely to happen than the other problems.

Most campgrounds were built in the era when few rigs actually drew any where near 30 amps. Now, most rigs are right at their 30 amp drawing capability (or over, depending on what appliances they've added - check the forums for folks asking why they can't run their crock pot along with the hair dryer and the A/C ). During the high heat of summer, a fully loaded campground's voltage can be taxed to the point of a severe "brown out"...voltages of less than 108-109 can damage computer circuitry, A/C compressors and other digital devices. The better surge protection devices will actually shut off the electricity when those low voltage events happen, before damage can occur.

Now for real life experiences. I towed a FunFinder 210WBS for a number of years and now tow a Cougar 5th. Along with the built-in electronic devices, I also carried computers, upgraded television and DVD hardware and other miscellaneous digital pieces of electronic hardware. My SurgeGuard has cut the power to my trailers 5 times over the years. All the instances were during high heat stays in the desert southwest and once in Idaho. Would I have been OK without the SurgeGuard? Who knows. The cut off periods weren't long (I think the longest was around 10 minutes) and I didn't mind the loss of electricity...a minor inconvenience compared to maybe replacing my microwave or a new compressor for the A/C or some other damage. Another instance was during a thunderstorm in Nebraska. The power went out in our area of the park after a nearby strike (scared the heck out of the cats!)... I still don't know if it was the SurgeGuard that protected us or luck of the draw, but, the guy next door was calling around the next day trying to locate a new controller board for his refrigerator...we were fine when the power came back on.

Do you need one? Probably not. Many, many folks out there don't use one, haven't ever used one in the 300 years they've been camping and don't ever plan on getting one and they do just fine. Then again, you could be the guy trying to find a Dino board for your refrigerator on a Saturday night and trying to figure out where to get enough coolers and ice to get you by until the repair can be made...

I've had one (30 amp and now a 50 amp version) for my rigs. Compare the cost of one to the cost of repair to your electronics along with the downtime and then what you want to "gamble" on the odds. I've never been much of a gambler when the protection is so relatively cheap (cheap and RVing don't go together, no more so than boats, I know, I've been that route, too ) I'm retired IT and know about surges, sags and brown outs and what can happen to delicate equipment. All of my equipment in the sticks and bricks is also protected in a like manner and some are even connected to UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) for further protection...why wouldn't I make the same investment to protect the devices in my RV?



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Old 05-22-2012, 08:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfunfinder
Eagle;
I just posted a reply under battery charging with a reference to the Fun Finder power center. Maybe that link can help with your surge protector question. Please post what you find out.
Thank you for the reference.

Ok, you are referring to the WFCO distribution center. Yes, there is one in the XT276 and I had quickly grazed thru the manual about it.

A closer look and it appears this may act as a surge protector so an additional in-line accessory unit would not be required ... correct

And thanks for the input webslave, but think I'm covered now.
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:41 AM   #5
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A word of caution... A distribution center is not a surge suppresor nor is it protection against sagging voltage. A distribution center is no more than the panel box in your home ( a housing for the circuit breakers ) and the addition of a two, or in your case, a three stage charger along with conversion capabilities of AC to DC. While it does what it is designed to do, handling short circuits and the normal "circuit breaker" type overloads, it does not have the circuitry to respond to sagging voltage nor the immediate surge of large amounts of electricity (lightning strikes). There is a reason that there is a large market for hardwired and portable surge / sag protection devices out there.



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Old 05-23-2012, 08:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for the clarification webslave. I'm a little slow on electrical stuff sometimes.
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:42 PM   #7
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Not a problem...we all have to learn somewhere, that's what forums are for!

The distribution center is a combination of "things"; a circuit breaker panel section to handle the 120v circuits (just like your house), a fuse section to handle the 12v circuits (just like your car), a converter to handle the conversion of 120v AC to 12v DC to run those 12v circuits when connected to shore power and a battery charging section to keep your batteries charged when connected to shore power. It distributes the current required by your trailer's various electrical connections, hence the name Some are smaller, some are bigger, but, the job they do is the same in all RVs. Many folks in larger rigs will get a hardwired device that provides surge protection installed either by the factory (ordered option) or as an "aftermarket" add-on. For example, the portable SurgeGuard by TRC that I use, can also be had in a hardwired version that connects to the power line between the outside shore line connector and the input portion of the distribution center. There are also devices available that in the event of a voltage sag can "boost" the voltage back up to acceptable levels via transformers, but, those are even more pricey than the good surge / sag protection devices and are aimed more at the full-timers that depend on their RVs for their main living quarters year-round. The above is a simplified explanation; an indepth coverage would require a lot more space than the forum wants taking up space. There is much reading for you on the internet if you are so inclined, but, the technical stuff (sine waves, solid state components, etc.) can get pretty boring (my wife's eyes just glaze over when I get started and I know then that I've crossed the "more than I needed to know" line! )



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Old 05-24-2012, 07:04 AM   #8
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webslave

You have been a great help.

After doing some checking, reading and an internet search, I'm leaning toward this one that I believe will prove adequate for me.

http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0CMwBEP0IMAA

What is interesting is the variation in price.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:48 AM   #9
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Yep, I'm in agreement with Don on the above. I use the TRC brand that is mentioned in the link above. In the month of March that I was in Texas. it cut off the power three times. Again, as Don says, would I have been okay even if it did not cut the power ? Who knows.....but I like the added insurance that it likely provides.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw photographics
Yep, I'm in agreement with Don on the above. I use the TRC brand that is mentioned in the link above. In the month of March that I was in Texas. it cut off the power three times. Again, as Don says, would I have been okay even if it did not cut the power ? Who knows.....but I like the added insurance that it likely provides.
It has been ordered. I look at it as cheap insurance for the electrical system/equipment in the camper.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:49 PM   #11
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Yes sir. You are quite welcome.

That TRC is the unit I used with my 210 WBS for years. I've still got it, in my "spares" area in the 5er in the event 50 amp isn't available, I can use the 50 to 30 adapter and the 30 amp surge guard. Nominally I use the 50 amp version for the 5er. Good reliable units, and you are correct, it is available at a very wide range of prices; pays to shop around.



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2014 Thor Tuscany 40RX DP
2011 Ram 2500 Longhorn CTD HO
2011 Keystone Cougar 318SAB (now gone)
2008 FunFinder X 210WBS (Sadly gone)
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