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Old 07-15-2018, 06:06 AM   #1
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Surge supressors and what they protect

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what surge suppressors do.

Surge suppressors that I have taken apart only include what are called tranzorbs, a device that looks like a large ceramic capacitor but is actually a solid state device that breaks down when the input peak voltage, positive and negative, goes above around +-170V. These devices are placed directly across the AC input line and attenuate voltages above the 170V level. Their reliability is reduced as any surges are experienced and can eventually fail due to too many surges. They DO NOT protect against longer duration high voltage event but can help trip a circuit breaker if a prolonged higher voltage is present.

Luckily, surges are more rare than I think most people believe they are so they may not be necessary normally. If there are large motors being turned on and off, such as air conditioners, these events could introduce inductive spikes on the AC line if the power connections are in need of repair (RV Parks???).

Surge suppressor are not anything miraculous and will probably never save our motorhomes if there is a serious problem with the power source at an RV park.

Please let me know if you have any other factual information that is in support of buying these sometimes, very expensive units.
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thehobe1 View Post
There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what surge suppressors do.

Surge suppressors that I have taken apart only include what are called tranzorbs, a device that looks like a large ceramic capacitor but is actually a solid state device that breaks down when the input peak voltage, positive and negative, goes above around +-170V. These devices are placed directly across the AC input line and attenuate voltages above the 170V level. Their reliability is reduced as any surges are experienced and can eventually fail due to too many surges. They DO NOT protect against longer duration high voltage event but can help trip a circuit breaker if a prolonged higher voltage is present.

Luckily, surges are more rare than I think most people believe they are so they may not be necessary normally. If there are large motors being turned on and off, such as air conditioners, these events could introduce inductive spikes on the AC line if the power connections are in need of repair (RV Parks???).

Surge suppressor are not anything miraculous and will probably never save our motorhomes if there is a serious problem with the power source at an RV park.

Please let me know if you have any other factual information that is in support of buying these sometimes, very expensive units.
I have one of the expensive units you are talking about, Progressive Industries. But its more than a surge protector. Its an electrical management system, ems. Yes it protects againt a surge but does a lot more.

From their website:

Product Features:

Over/Under voltage Protection

Open Ground, Open Neutral & Reverse Polarity*Detection

Open Ground, Open Neutral & Reverse Polarity Protection*

Accidental 240V Protection

Miswired Pedestal Indication

Surge Failure Indicator

Amperage Meter Display

Previous Error Code

A/C Frequency Protection

Time Delay (136 seconds)

Adjustable Time Delay

Thermally Protected

Built-in Scrolling Digital Display

Remote Display

Field Serviceable*

UL Certified and Canadian Approved

Lifetime Warranty*



On my last trip the voltage dropped to 103 volts. The unit shut down to protect the electronics in the mh. All i was running was the a/c.

Would the low voltage kill the ac motor. Maybe maybe not. But im not risking my ac to low voltage so i was glad i had it.

At another cg it caught a faulty wire at the pedestal.

Are they worth it. Only you can decide that for yourself


Jerry
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Old 07-16-2018, 01:46 AM   #3
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Even the SurgeGuard units do much of what the Progressive Industries does -

Verifying the connections/voltages before allowing anything to touch the RV...
Open Neutral; Open ground, wrong voltage.
Could you do that part yourself with a multimeter before hooking up each time - sure - but will you??

Over/under voltage protection - 'brownouts' can be as bad as surges - Like Jerry, I have had mine cut out at a campground due to a wiring issue causing low voltage as more campers turned on their AC.. Can I prove that mine would have been damaged without it? Of course not - but to me not worth the risk. (Campground found loose connections/overheating in their main distribution panel when I reported the issue to them.)

Time delay - A very short interruption of power to compressors can be a bad thing - trying to restart before pressure dissipates can damage the compressor. Most (I won't say all.... lol) of our thermostats also have a delay built into them to protect the AC compressors - but residential fridges don't have that protection and can be damaged by a short interruption to power (though may be protected by inverter taking over).
Not as important an item to me.

From the surge side - I've had RV neighbors with damage from a nearby lightning strike when I've had none... and in sticks/bricks home - was about 20' away when a whole house suppressor attached to my service panel 'gave its life' (with a very loud bang) as a power surge came across the neighborhood at the end of a blackout... Multiple neighbors replacing appliances and electronics... I replaced a $75 surge suppressor.

Does it solve everything? absolutely not... (Ed's experience with his melted connector at RV connection is one example - wasn't a 'surge' or any other condition the device cared about.)

Is it peace of mind for me and a good investment - I think so...
But the choice is up to each of us whether it is worth it.
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Old 07-28-2018, 07:23 PM   #4
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Progressive Industries unit is the only way to go. It protects the entire electrical system and their customer service is excellent.
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Old 07-28-2018, 07:28 PM   #5
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Question: how often do you encounter electrical issues at an RV park?
(How necessary are these things? )
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Old 07-28-2018, 08:16 PM   #6
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I think you are doing a disservice calling into question surge protectors. All RV parks are not perfectly maintained and you never know when you might hit one with a bad electrical plug. In addition in many parts of the country and Canada, lightening strikes can be deadly to RV electrical systems. I had an A/C - heat system fried and a surge protector toasted over the years. I also had a boat system damaged by an electrical surge. A good surge protector is like insurance. How many insurance claims have you had and yet you still pay big bucks for insurance. A surge protector is cheap insurance.
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Old 07-28-2018, 08:24 PM   #7
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Easy now...
I sell insurance, and was just asking about the frequency of issues...
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Old 07-28-2018, 09:41 PM   #8
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I don't know about the frequency of the problem with the electrical system and I don't want to be one of the statics. I had a friend who lost two AC units due to low voltage and the replacement cost was much more than my progressive unit. (he bought one to replace his surge protector).

I also have a dog that I wouldn't want in the heat or cold if there were an electrical problem. So I also have a unit that starts the generator if the electricity fails.

Maybe it's overkill for some people and they have to decide for themselves. I choose the safety side with my choices and in the big scheme of things. I don't see it as and great expense for safety and my peace of mind when you take in to consideration what a person spends on an RV.
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Old 07-28-2018, 09:45 PM   #9
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That's a very fair assessment of the risk.
I've seen that Progressive seems to be held in the highest regard.
Since I know nothing about these units: are they protecting things that much better; than do the $100 ones?

Please understand my viewpoint: I have no experience with anything like them...
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Old 07-29-2018, 01:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
Easy now...
I sell insurance, and was just asking about the frequency of issues...
Actually I wasnít referring to your post, just the idea that surge protectors might be unnecessary. I am no expert on them, but I had to replace an A/C because the cheap one I had purchased did not protect it. Unfortunately only the expensive ones seem to be worth it.
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