Do you use a surge suppressor on your coach?

This is a great topic to discuss. Modern campers have a ton of sensitive electronics on board. I cannot even imagine the cost we could incur if we had a power surge through our rig. The answer is yes, most certainly we have surge suppression. We actually have several levels of surge and power protection on our coach.

If one were to walk by our rig at a campground it would look like we are directly plugged into power with no surge suppression whatsoever. We installed everything inside of the storage compartment behind the Nautilus Water bay. Keeping gear inside is a good idea. Expensive parts hanging outside on a power pole are open targets for theft. Even cable locks can be cut.

Our first line of defense is a 50 Amp Hughes Autoformer. The Autoformer is classified as a voltage booster with surge suppression. The device doesn't just monitor power like most systems, it actually interacts with the inbound power feed to bump up the voltage to a safe level that is around 120 VAC. The system has step up transformers inside of the unit that are designed to get the voltage to a safe level. If for any reason it cannot safely do so, the Autoformer will disconnect power. It is fully automatic and can bump either leg of the AC power source up by 10%. For example, one leg of power can be coming in as low as 108 VDC that would kill air conditioning compressors, computer power supplies, etc. and it will transparently step the voltage up to 119 VAC that is safe to use. The Autoformer also has a field replaceable surge protector that can safely dissipate 4800 Joules of power.

The second level of protection we use is also made by Hughes. It is called the Watchdog with Bluetooth, surge protection and Emergency Auto Shutoff (EPO). One of the items that really sets the Watchdog ahead of their competitors is the Bluetooth app. From the comfort of the couch I can see exactly what is going on with the power coming into our rig. It also has a cool watt counter that will track exactly how much power we have used. This is very helpful when trying to calculate how much power we need for solar and off-grid living. It is also useful when staying in parks that charge for power. It is nice being able to audit the bill. The watchdog also has a 4800 Joule field replaceable surge device like the Autoformer. Most of these types of devices are sealed and cannot be serviced in the field. Having a spare surge part can keep the rig running and protected.

The sharp eye reader may notice that I posted the picture of a standard unit that is not hard-wired in and recall that I said above that everything is wired inside of our coach. We chose to use plug-in devices so it would be easy to remove a device out of the system if we are experiencing problems. It is a major pain to crawl deep inside of the rig and un-wire heavy AC lines because a surge suppressor popped. The plugs make it easy to remove a device and fix it in the morning vs going all night without power.

To accomplish the feat of having plug in units effectively hard-wired in we used one more part from Hughes called the hardware kit. It has a heavy duty 50 amp cable that wires into the transfer switch. And a 50 amp plug that is wired into the line coming in from the outside. When the two are plugged together is is exactly the same as OEM. Power follows the same path. However, when the two are joined by putting parts like the Autofomer in the middle that is where the magic happens. This is the link to the install kit.

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