A 50 Amp RV Surge Protector – Why You Need It

A 50 amp RV surge protector should not be optional equipment on your RV. If your RV has a 50 amp service you need to protect it. And as a certified NRVIA RV inspector, I highly recommend the use of a high-quality electrical surge protector. This one purchase alone can potentially save you thousands of dollars in electrical repairs. Let me explain why.

If your RV has a 50 amp service, you most likely have a lot of expensive components that need protection. These could be air conditioners, control boards for a refrigerator, a washing machine, computers, TVs, etc. The whole idea of having a 50 amp RV is being able to run lots of electrical devices. And many can be running at the same time.

What is a surge protector?

Actually, what is often called a surge protector is really an RV Electrical Management System, or EMS. But one of the major features of an EMS is to protect against sudden surges of electricity. Therefore it has become common for many RVers to just refer to it as a surge protector.

However, an Electrical Management System can do so much more than just prevent damage from electrical surges. It essentially monitors the electrical connection to your RV at all times. If it senses that there is any harmful situation, it takes action to protect your RV’s entire electrical system. And by extension it also protects anything that is plugged into that system.

An EMS can protect your RV against –

  • High voltage spikes
  • Low voltage drops
  • Reverse polarity
  • Open neutral
  • Open ground

A simple low-cost good surge protector may warn you that some of these dangerous situations are present. But they do not continually scan for electrical problems. And they don’t take action to save your electrical system and devices by killing the power to them.

Here is an example of a simple low-cost RV surge protector:

Surge Guard 44270 Entry Level Portable Surge Protector - 50 Amp

A high quality RV EMS – why you need it

As an RV travels around, the condition of the electrical service in each campground can vary widely. In some campgrounds, the electrical connection is great. In others, you can encounter potentially serious electrical safety problems at the RV power pedestal. We would all like to think that campground management is on top of these issues. But the plain truth is that the electrical connection we hope for is not always the case in reality.

Lightning is another factor that can harm your RV electrical system and devices. This can be hard to defend against since it is so sudden and can be catastrophic in damage. But a high quality RV EMS can shut off the sudden electrical spike from lightning in an instant. This protects all of the electrical components and appliances in your RV. It may fry the EMS unit, but better that than all of your expensive electronic devices.

Another harmful electrical situation is having the electrical voltage drop too low. This is usually because a campground becomes very full and their sub-par electrical service becomes overcrowded. When this happens, the voltage can drop so low that damage is done, especially to sensitive electronics.

Some of these electrical problems could even result in major damage to your RV wiring. But others could also do significant damage to all the electrical components and appliances that are connected to it as well. So why take this unnecessary risk at all? Why not insure against the worst by using a quality RV surge protector?

The best RV surge protector for your rig

As mentioned above, the best RV surge protector is actually an Electrical Management System. This is because it can give you peace of mind whenever you plug your RV into shore power. Yes, an RV EMS may cost more than a traditional surge protector. But considering the kind of protection it affords, I feel that it is well worth it.

You can get an EMS surge protector that is portable or one that is permanently installed. For most RVers the portable surge protector unit is fine. It is cost-effective and can go with you to another RV should you sell the one you have. Also, if it takes a high voltage hit from lightning, it can be replaced fairly quickly and inexpensively.

There are a couple of major manufacturers of the best quality 50 amp surge protector units. Either one can do a fine job, But I use the 50 amp RV surge protector manufactured by Surge Guard. Click on the image below to find out more about it.

Surge Guard 34850 Portable Model with LCD Display - 50 Amp

Here is another 50 amp Electrical Management System surge protector that is very popular. Either unit will do a fine job. Just click on the image below for information on the Southwire surge guard.

Southwire Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp Surge Protector
Duane explains 50 amp surge protectors and why you need a high-quality EMS

Please comment below if you have had any experiences with RV surge protectors or Electrical Management Systems.

RV Tire Pressure – The Easy Way To Monitor It

Checking your RV tire pressure regularly is not only important, it’s vital for safety! One of the most important contributing factors to RV tire failure is not having the proper tire pressure. Either over-inflation or under-inflation can cause safety hazards on the road. So how can you make sure that you always use the best tire pressure for your RV when traveling?

Monitoring your air pressure

One of the RV inspections you should make frequently is an overall check of the condition of your tires. Especially before any RV trip. While making this inspection you should use an appropriate RV tire pressure chart to determine the safe tire pressure for your particular rig.

Armed with that information, you can then check your actual tire pressure. Of course, if you have installed a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, it’s a breeze. This is because you get constant feedback from the TPMS system about the pressure in your tires. But what if you don’t have this kind of system? They are not cheap, so what if you can’t afford it? In that case, how can you make sure that you are using the recommended tire pressure?

Using an RV tire air pressure gauge

The manual method of checking tire pressure is often the best way anyhow. This is true because it allows you to make a visual inspection of your RV tires at the same time. Too many RVers rely on the information provided by their tire pressure monitoring system as their sole tire inspection process. But nothing replaces a visual inspection of each tire on the RV.

While visually inspecting your tires you can also use a tire pressure gauge that is especially made for RVs. If you choose the right air pressure gauge, checking each tire should be a easy and simple process.

What kind of RV air pressure gauge should you use?

The best tire pressure gauge for an RV should have a long shank that allows access to tight areas. It should also have a large dial or readout that is easily readable by almost anyone. And if you have dual wheels on your RV or tow vehicle, it should have a dual foot chuck. Why are these features important?

A long rigid shank is needed for a tire gauge to be able to reach into difficult and tight areas. Some tire gauges have soft and bendable shanks, but these are best used on autos, not RVs. Those RV owners who have dual wheels often have tire pressure valves that are recessed and difficult to access. Having a long and rigid air pressure gauge shank can help in these areas.

A large dial or readout, whether it is digital or analog, is a must. This is because you want to be able to read the gauge accurately, without uncertainty. And the large readout helps give you accurate tire pressure information quickly.

If you have dual wheels on your rig, either on the RV itself or the tow vehicle, you will need a dual foot chuck. This allows you to press the gauge against the valve stem even when it is pointed away from you. Having a dual foot tire gauge often eliminates the need for tire valve stem extensions. And since many RVers experience failures with tire valve extensions, this can help reduce your overall tire problems as well.

Here is the tire gauge that I use (just click on the photo for more information):

RV dual foot tire gauge

Eliminate valve stem covers

Another way to make checking RV tire pressure easier is to get rid of the tire valve stem covers. RV valve stems can be in very odd and tight places. And it can be a chore to remove the valve stem covers. This is one reason why some RVers don’t check their air pressure more often. It just takes so long if you have to remove and replace all those valve stem covers. And they are usually in hard to reach areas in most RVs.

But these days there are covers that screw onto the valve stem that eliminate this problem. They are called valve stem gators. They are designed to allow you to check tire air pressure right through the valve cover. In the meantime, they also keep dirt and grime away from the valve stem. This makes checking your RV tire pressure simple and easy!

These valve stem gators make checking tire pressure a breeze. Just click on the photo for more information.

Valve stem gators for RV tire valve stems

Cheap RV tire pressure monitoring

By using a good RV tire gauge with flow-through valve stem covers, checking tire pressure is simple. And it is also very inexpensive. Neither of these items cost very much. Especially when you compare them with the cost of a tire pressure monitoring system. Those kind of systems can cost hundreds of dollars instead.

It is true that manually monitoring your own air pressure does take more time. But not a lot of time. When you use the right tools mentioned above in this article, quite a bit of time and effort is saved. So if a TPMS is not in your budget, use the tools recommended in this article instead. They can help make your RV life safe and simple!

Watch my video on RV tire pressure!

Please comment below and tell us about how you monitor your RV tire pressure

Diamond Shield – No More Cracking And Mold

Diamond Shield, or any clear front end protection film, can be a blessing or a curse for motorhome owners. And when you visit RV forums on the internet, you will see both extremes. Some love their Diamond Shield installation. On the other hand, some hate it. So why the extreme opposite opinions?

Diamond Shield – what does it do?

The purpose of a clear front end bra for an RV is mainly to help protect against rock chip damage. But it can also be helpful with bug splatter and road grime. There are other ways of providing RV front end protection, like a vinyl RV bra or a plastic RV shield. But the big advantages of clear protection film is its invisibility and ease of use.

Diamond Shield badge on a motorhome shield
The Diamond Shield badge identifies their installed product

In fact, the average person would usually not even know that Diamond Shield is applied to a motorhome. You have to get up close to even see the outline of the shield. And there is nothing to remove and clean like other forms of RV front end protection. Because the front end is clear it also doesn’t interfere with the paint scheme of the RV either. So why do so many RVers hate Diamond Shield, when it has so many clear advantages?

Clear front end protection film problems

The real problem with clear front end protection film is that it is easily affected by the Sun’s UV rays. Ultraviolet rays over time can bake the film, causing it to crack, yellow, and fade. Worse yet, when the shield begins to deteriorate, moisture can begin to penetrate underneath. When it does, mold can easily begin to grow. And once that happens, there is practically no way to stop the mold from spreading.

A failed RV front end shield that is cracked, yellowed and full of mold.
This is an example of a failed RV shield

So the once beautiful Diamond Shield installation can become cracked and filled with mold. When it does, the RV’s front end looks horrible. And this is why so many Diamond Shield owners are dissatisfied, to say the least.
So is there any way to prevent the deterioration of Diamond Shield? Yes, there is. The real problem is that in most of these cases, the Diamond Shield RV owners have not maintained the shield. And yes, some maintenance is required to make sure that Diamond Shield lasts a long time. It is not a product that can be installed and forgotten about.

But clear front end protection film does not require a lot of maintenance. In fact, it shouldn’t take more than about 5 – 10 minutes to do, with little effort. And anyone can do it, with products that are inexpensive and readily available. 

RV front end shields – how to maintain them

Remember that the enemy of an RV rock shield is the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. So the product that the Diamond Shield main office recommends most to maintain the shield is 303 Aerospace Protectant. This product is a high-quality UV inhibitor, and is highly reviewed and recommended. Just spray it on the shield and wipe the excess off with a high-quality microfiber towel. It is just that easy. 

Find out more about 303 Aerospace Protectant by clicking the photo below

303 Aerospace Protectant UV inhibitor

Some RV owners take their shield maintenance a step further though. They also use a polymer sealant on the shield before applying 303 Aerospace Protectant. This kind of synthetic wax sets up a moisture barrier that further protects the shield from mold. In fact, you can apply a couple of layers of the polymer sealant if you wish. Then layer the 303 Aerospace Protectant on top of the sealant. And all of this protection can be applied to the RV bug shield easily with microfiber towels in just minutes. 

There are plenty of good polymer sealant products for the auto and RV market. Almost any of them would work well. The one I like to use most often lasts longer than most. But if you have a favorite of your own, I’m sure it will work just fine.

I often use Optimum Car Wax as a polymer sealant. Find out more about it by clicking the photo below

Optimum Car Wax polymer paint sealant

How often should you maintain your Diamond Shield?

How often should this maintenance be applied to Diamond Shield? A good rule of thumb is to apply it once a month. But if your RV spends a lot of time in high humidity areas, you may want to do it more often. Perhaps even every couple of weeks or so, just to be sure the protection is adequate for the area. This is especially true in lower Texas and Florida, where humidity can be extremely high.

Of course, you don’t have to apply the polymer sealant too. Just 303 Aerospace Protectant alone will do a great job. But if you have the extra time, adding synthetic wax to the protection regime can be beneficial too. The key to RV shield maintenance with a diamond shield protective polish is having a regular schedule for it. Then follow that schedule consistently.

If you have Diamond Shield, or any other RV protection film, you can keep it looking great. And it isn’t hard to do. Make sure that your regular RV inspection also includes inspecting your rock shield. Then follow the maintenance guidelines in this article to get good results . If you do, your Diamond Shield should last a long time and look great while it does!

Thousand Trails – Is It Right For You?

Thousand Trails campgrounds are not for everyone. If you search the internet, you will find opinions for and against Thousand Trails memberships. And there are valid arguments for both sides. But for many, they are a way to be able to affordably full-time travel by RV.

In this article, I just want to point out one advantage that Thousand Trails campgrounds provide that is often overlooked. And that is how affordable the 1000 Trails campgrounds can make traveling by RV in the Eastern US, especially New England.

Camping costs by region – not all are equal

Many full-time RV campers like to spend their time in the western states to save on campground costs. This because there is plenty of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in the west. And campers can often stay at designated areas on these government managed lands for free. Of course, it means that they have to boondock, or forego hookups of any kind. But if you have the right rig and can adjust to the demands of boondocking, you can save money. Primarily in camping or campground costs.

But in the eastern states, the camping situation is totally different. There is very little BLM land in the east. Therefore there are also very few places to be able to camp for free. So campgrounds generally charge more in eastern states simply because they can.

Thousand Trails campgrounds to the rescue

This is where a 1000 Trails membership can really shine. If it is used in the eastern part of the country, serious campground savings can be had. Even if you only have a Thousand Trails Zone Pass, the savings will still be substantial.

This is because a Zone Pass only costs about $585 at the time of this writing. A Zone Camping Pass allows you to stay at Thousand Trails parks for two weeks for free with full hookups. You must then stay outside the park system for 1 week wherever you choose. After that week you can stay at another Thousand Trails park for two more weeks. Then just repeat the process.

Many regular campgrounds in New England’s popular areas will cost about $50 per day even on weekdays. Therefore a month of camping at these campgrounds could cost $1500 or more in New England. But for two weeks out of three, you can stay at Thousand Trails parks for free. Of course, there is the cost of the Zone Pass, which would be roughly $50 per month. Obviously then, there are savings to be had with a TT membership, especially in the northeast.

A map of all Thousand Trails campgrounds in the US
The Thousand Trails Zones and map of campground locations

Encore RV Parks make camping even better

As you can see Thousand Trails can really help lower campground costs, especially in the northeast. But if you add the Trails Collection (TC) of Encore RV parks to your Zone Pass, it gets even better. This add-on gives you camping in Encore RV resorts nationwide for an additional $214 a year. Just to be clear, you can use the Trails Collection Encore parks anywhere in the country. Even outside your TT Zone Pass area.

The Trails Collection also adds significantly to the number of campgrounds available to you in New England. They are found in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. And the same rules applies to the TC parks as to TT parks. That is, 2 weeks in, 1 week out, rinse and repeat.

Yes, the TC does add to your overall camping costs. But for what you get, and the small extra cost per year, I think it’s a great bargain! And Encore campgrounds are typically a cut above TT parks in amenities too.

Can Thousand Trails help in other eastern states?

Campground savings in the rest of the eastern states may not be quite as dramatic, but they are still significant. Your free camping options may be slightly better in the lower eastern states. But they are still severely limited compared to what is available in the west. So that is why TT is able to deliver such value for camping costs in those areas as well. And, of course, there is always the added benefit of the TC Encore Parks in many of those states too.

Final thoughts about eastern Thousand Trails parks

You should base your decision on buying a TT Zone Pass on many things. And the availability of eastern camping options should only be one of those reasons. But for those who want to travel in the eastern states too, it’s a great way to do that and save money. If you have a TT upgrade membership, like the Elite or Ultimate Odyssey, you can even save more! But that discussion is for another time.

The Smoky Mountains are incredible to see. So are the Adirondacks. New England has breath-taking scenery and unique history. What a shame to miss all of that and more because camping costs are too high. And if you have family in that area like we do, all the better.

Please comment below and tell us about your thoughts or experiences with Thousand Trails

RV Ants? Get Rid Of Them Now

It may seem that RV ants have their own classification as they seem to just appear from nowhere. And before long they just take over your RV. When that happens, camping is no longer fun! But whether it is carpenter ants, sugar ants or some other kind of ants, they have to go.

But how do they get into your RV anyway? The truth is that there are plenty of little cracks and holes in most RVs. And ants are persistent! The colony sends out scout ants first. Their job is to go find the food. Once the food is found, they leave a scent trail for other ants to follow. Before you know it, you have a steady stream of ants coming and going in your RV.

What kind of ant remedy should you use?

There are lots of ant remedies being discussed all over the internet. Some work well and others, not so much. Of course, many campers turn to using some kind of insecticide in the RV right away. But there can be problems with this approach. If you have children or pets, it is possible for them to be harmed by the poison in the insecticide. And even adults can be affected, if the ant poison isn’t applied correctly.

So today, we are going to discuss mostly natural remedies for ants instead. They can be just as effective and don’t have the harmful side effects of insecticide poisons. Some of these natural ant removal techniques take a little work on your part. But they are also very effective!

Remove the RV ants food source

The first ant removal technique is to simply remove the food source. Ants are not out there just marching around to find a camper that they can irritate. Although it may seem that way at times. Remember, that scout ants are always on the lookout for food. Only when they find food will you see the rest of the colony in your RV. So it stands to reason that if you remove the food source, they will leave you alone.

This means that you can’t leave food sitting out where it is easily found by the scout ants. So when your meal is over, put the leftovers away as soon as you can. And don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink very long either. Of course, it is tempting to leave them for later. But the ants may get to them before you do!

And if you have food along on the camping trip that ants love, protect it! That means that if it is going to be outside the refrigerator, put it in a container that can be sealed. There are several plastic containers for sale that are ideal for storing foods in this way. Especially foods that are sweet should be sealed away from sugar ants and other prying insects.

Thoroughly clean your RV

After removing the food source, clean your RV thoroughly, especially where the ant trails are visible. This is the extra step that many campers do not take. But it is critical if you don’t want to see any more ants!

The reason for this cleaning is to remove the ant scent trails that were left for ants to find the food. If you just remove the food source, the ants will still keep coming in for a while. This because the scent trail for food is still in place. So, if you remove the ant scent trails, you reduce your ant problem significantly and quickly.

Many campers use a product called Pine-Sol to clean their RV. This is because Pine-Sol effectively destroys ant scent trails right away. The ants may still come in your RV for a while but they find no scent to follow. So they become disoriented and usually leave.

Use ant bait liquid

The use of ant bait liquid is very effective in removing ants. There are several brands of ant bait liquid on the market. But one of the most popular is Terro ant bait. It is the product that we have used in our motorhome and it worked great! If you look into Terro ant killer containers on Amazon, you will see that the product is well reviewed. And the reviews are very high too!

I use and recommend Terro ant bait containers. Find out more about it by clicking the photo below:

Terro liquid ant bait containers for removing RV ants

It works well because it contains borax, which is lethal to ants. However, Borax has very low toxicity for humans and other animals. So, it is more of a natural ant remedy. The ants are attracted to the borax ant killer in the containers. They ingest it and take it back to the colony. The colony ingests it and is wiped out. No more ants!

All you have to do is just place the ant bait in strategic areas. These could be in cupboards, cabinets around the kitchen area, along known ant trails, etc. If you use the Terro ant bait containers, they are simple to distribute and there is no mess.

Kill RV ants outside

All of the ant removal remedies I have mentioned so far have been inside the RV. But why not stop the ants from coming in to your RV in the first place? Ants must have a way to get into your RV and there are only a few ways to do that. RVs usually only have contact with the ground through the tires, leveling jacks or hoses. So as part of your regular RV inspection, include these areas where ants can gain entry to your RV.

A product that has worked well to kill ants outside is diatomaceous earth, or DE for short. DE is sold in pool supply stores for use in pool filters. It’s a white or gray powder that is very fine and is lethal to the skeleton of ants. So if you apply DE around anything that touches the ground from your RV, it can be very effective. Ants often approach the diatomaceous earth, sense that it is harmful to them and just back away. But if they don’t back away, it kills them quickly.

There are plenty of other ideas for getting rid of RV ants, but these are the ones that have been most effective for us.

Duane explains how to get rid of your ant problem right away

Please comment below and tell us about your experiences with ants in your RV