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Turtle-Toad

Wherever I park (orig Kingston, WA. USA)

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Posted: 07/15/05 10:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you're planning on traveling in Mexico (and some places in Canada and the U.S) you're better off getting an autotransformer with surge/low/high voltage protection. They cost a little more ($400-$500 range) but still cheaper than replacing everything after a lightning strike or voltage spike/dip. The autotransformer portion will maintain the proper (120) voltage when shore power fluxuates. Just make sure you get a solid state one and not the "switching" kind. The switching is sometimes as bad as a spike or dip.


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Kirk

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Posted: 07/15/05 12:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NewRVerDiane

As you can see, there are a wide range of opinions, many based more on fiction than on facts. If you are interested, this opinion comes from one who made a living repairing things powered by electricity for 40 years.

First the guy who told you that your circuit breakers will protect you should put that into writing and sign it, so that you can go back and get him to pay for repairs when it doesn't. A circuit breaker is designed to protect you and your equipment from shorts, grounds and situations where excess current may be drawn. But they are not intended to protect from surges and they do not open nearly quickly enough to prevent damage from a large one, and if that surge is big enough it will weld the breaker shut. They just are not designed for that purpose.

Electrical surges have been around for years, but they are much more harmful today than in the past because we use so much more solid state electronic equipment. The old style appliances were much more tolerant of short term spikes than what we have today. Such surges can come from lightning, from industry, welders, and even from the starting of equipment inside of the RV park.

The lower priced surge protectors only protect you from surges and they have an upper limit, above which they do not provide protection and they also have a response time that is slower for the lower priced ones and thus they provide less protection. If you plan to buy one, I strongly suggest that you get one of the higher priced ones as they provide far more protection for the cost. The better units not only prevent surges, but the are actually power monitors that will protect your RV from over voltage, under voltage, miswired outlet and many other things that are actually much more common than dangerous surges are. The most common harmful problem from your power supply is actually low voltage. If the voltage of the supply drops below 108V for any extended period it will begin to cause damage to motors and some other types of equipment. That problem is very common in older RV parks and campgrounds and it happens very slowly as more and more RVs arrive and connect to the power supply. They also refuse to connect your RV to the power if the outlet is not wired in a safe manner. That too is pretty common.

I do use one, but I have not always done so. I can't tell you that you will have a problem if you do not use one, as not everyone does. But the odds of it happening grow with each increase in the number of RV owners and the increase in power used. It is very difficult to prove that a line monitor ever protected an RV from damage, but I do know of three RVers who have had repairs that cost in excess of $1500 when they experienced a major surge. I also had an incident where there were three RVs on the same row as we in an RV park who were all complaining of major electrical problems caused by the park's power when I was not effected, and I was using my Surge Guard. I don't know that it protected me, but since one RV was next to me, another directly behind and the third two spaces away, I strongly suspect that I was. There could have been others in our area that I do not know about. We left the following morning so I do not know the outcome of that incident. But we also had RVs for more than 25 years before I ever owned any kind of line monitor and we never had any problems with bad power in those years. I did repair minor electrical problems from time to time that could have been partly from power, but, who knows? I did have all of the lights in our pop-up fail at the same time on one occasion, and I suspect that was a surge, but that was a very long time ago and the pop-up had very little electronic equipment.

Quality line monitor equipment is expensive. But the electronic equipment in most RVs today is far more expensive. For me, I use one, just as I pay for insurance on my car even though I don't expect to ever have an accident. It is much the same thing. If you buy a line monitor and never have a power problem, the purchase will have been a waste of money. But if you should experience a major problem, and do not have any kind of power protection, they you will feel you made a mistake in not purchasing one.

Like many things in life it is a bit of a gamble. I choose to live on the side of safety, but the choice is yours to make.


Good travelin! ........Kirk
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Turtle-Toad

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Posted: 07/15/05 04:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A minor clarification on what Kirk said. More like nit-picking (sorry Kirk, as a retired electrical systems designer, breaker selection is one of my touchy subjects)

Circuit breakers (except GFCI's) are sized (in the design phase) to protect the cable that is connected to it. Some consideration is given to what kind of load the cable is connected to but the primary job of the circuit breaker is to protect the cable. The load is expected to have its own protection (ie, the motor controller, fuse, thermal breaker, overload, current foldback circuit, etc).

Circuit breaker response time to any kind of fault other than a direct short circuit is way to slow and the setpoint way to high to protect people.

So don't expect the circuit breaker to protect either you or the load. Remember, 120 VAC kills more people in a month than medium and high voltage combined kills in a year.

Sorney1

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Posted: 07/15/05 05:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NewRVerDiane wrote:

I can see there are many views on this topic. I talked with a person from at WIsconsin RV World who said a surge protector wasn't needed as the circuit breakers would trip if there were a power surge or other problems.


I would get future information from somebody else at wisconsin RV world if I were you.

Just MHO

colbee

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Posted: 07/17/05 11:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We advanced from a 171/2 ft TT with 2 110v lights and a 20 years old 3 way fridge to a 'modern' rv. We read a lot about folks who lost appliances of one sort or another because they didn't have a surge protector. We also read about quite a few folks on this website that got surge protectors after they lost an appliance or two. We are now one of those people. While we were gone from our 5er for about 6 hours the campground that our rv was in happened to be in the center of an intense thunder and lightning storm. When we returned to our 5er the fridge alarm was going (can't remember the code), and the lights were very dim. DH unplugged the unit and then plugged it back in and every thing seemed to be fine. The next morning the campers were talking about the intense storm that went through and we thought we were pretty lucky as everything seemed to be working fine. We had to replace the main board in our fridge within 3 weeks -- the result of a power surge. We are now the proud owners of a $350 voltage protecter. It is supposed to shut the power down if the voltage gets too high or too low, however, it is not a polarity checker. We have to do that separtely. We have decided not to get the water regulater AFTER the fact. Gook Luck on your search.


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Turtle-Toad

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Posted: 07/18/05 06:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I wouldn't put too much stock in what an RV salesman has to say on the subject of surge protectors. He's obviously going to push whatever the store carries.

This is a subjuct best left to the people trained in the electrical sciences. I know Phd's that don't really have a handle on the "magic science" (as in "It's all magic to me!).

Also, keep in mind that he may very well may have been a used car salesman in a previous occupation. [emoticon]

RVerDiane

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Posted: 07/18/05 10:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The strange thing is the guy from the RV store didn't push buying any kind of surge protector. I thought that strange.

But after all the posts about it, I will go out and get one; it appears most use them.


Thanks


Diane
Madison, WI
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BabyBear

North Carolina

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Posted: 09/25/05 11:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NewRVerDiane wrote:

I can see there are many views on this topic. I talked with a person from at WIsconsin RV World who said a surge protector wasn't needed as the circuit breakers would trip if there were a power surge or other problems.


Circuit breakers will trip if there is a power surge/spike,but they won't do anything buy fry if the power is too low. "Brown-outs" are caused by low power,adn probably kill more tv's,computers,refrigerators,VCR's,etc than power surges. I once fried the computer in a MIG welder by using a 100 foot extension cord that wasn't think enough to carry the amps over that long a distance.

Uxorious

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Posted: 09/25/05 11:43am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

Quality line monitor equipment is expensive. But the electronic equipment in most RVs today is far more expensive.


Therein could be part of the reason there are so many opinions. While most RV's today have more and more electronic equipment, there are a lot that do not.

My camper has no microwave, no TV, and an older refrigerator, that I sometimes wish would break. [emoticon] I have nothing I feel needs a surge protector in the camper.

Before spending a lot of money on one, be sure you really need one. Most RVs do but many don't.

NCHornet1

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Posted: 09/25/05 04:11pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do a search for a post entitled "surge protectors????" and read my personal story regarding surge protection. I do not plug my trailer into any power source without my Surge Guard. It is one of the few that protects your unit from both low and high voltage. More damage is done every year by low voltage than high, but when a high voltage spike hits it's destroys things right away where low voltage destroys over time. Read my post I think it will help you.


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