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Old 10-28-2018, 10:12 AM   #1
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2016 26' Flying Cloud
Frederick , Maryland
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Inline Surge Protector Wiring Question

I recently purchased a 2016 26U trailer and will be adding a surge protector to my list of purchases. I want to install a hardwired model EMS-HW30C from Progressive Industries. The install looks pretty easy but would like to confirm where the surge protector gets wired. From what I've seen and would expect, the unit is the first line of defense so gets installed inline between the the shore power connection on the outside of the trailer and the breaker box. the pictures are what I found when looking into this yesterday. The orange wire with the "M" written on it comes directly from the shore power AC plug and I'm assuming this is the wire I cut and install the surge protector inline. Look right? Any questions and thoughts to help confirm or correct me are very welcome!

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Old 10-28-2018, 10:36 AM   #2
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You are correct. You can place the EMS box anywhere on that wire after the power inlet that is convenient to get to. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of wire to be able to maneuver - the wire is thick and can be difficult to work with.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:15 PM   #3
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Inline Surge Protector Wiring Question

A slightly more complete answer to consider:

You could consider putting the EMS on the output of the transfer switch if it is accessible. That way the EMS protects your systems from generator faults as well, or use of the generator input as a shore power connection (usually needed when the transfer switch has an issue).

Using an EMS with a generator also requires the generator neutral and safety earth (ground) is properly interconnected AT THE GENERATOR for both safety and to make the EMS happy. Just need a duplex plug with a wire between neutral (silver screw) and ground (green screw) stuck into any duplex outlet on the generator.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:44 PM   #4
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Hi

Backing up a bit .....

Best way to do this is to pop open the box that the wires go into (with all power removed of course). Pull the leads of the wire off the lugs in that box. Pull the wire back out of the strain relief and run it over to the EMS. Put in a new piece of wire from the EMS output to the lugs in the box.

If you are going to hit the transfer switch output (assuming you have a transfer switch in that box .... it's AS ... who knows ....) then the drill is similar. Since the wire may not be long enough to go anywhere, it may need to be replaced *and* another new wire added as well.

The whole point here is that you may not have enough extra length on that line to get to the EMS *and* still be able to move things around. You still need to be able to get the boxes in and out, as well as anchor them down. You still need some slack in the lines once you are done.

Lots of fun !!!

Bob
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the confirmation. I should have plenty of room on this trailer for the surge protector and access to work on it since I can see where the AC wire enters the trailer and the entire run to breaker box when I remove the panel under the cloths closet. I think I've picked a spot to mount the surge protector and then will mount the remote display in the cloths closet which already has a wire run coming into it from the area below.
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:22 PM   #6
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thanks for the idea to add wire as an option, I think I'll use it!
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:24 PM   #7
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Where would I find the transfer switch and what does this look like? Is this something thats before or after the breaker box?
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Old 10-29-2018, 01:12 AM   #8
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Inline Surge Protector Wiring Question

From your pictures the transfer switch is the square grey box with the white label on top of it. It is before your breakers.

Your G for generator and M for shore orange power cables go to terminals under that cover, and the output terminals feed your 30 amp main circuit breaker mounted in the panel. That wire is probably buried between the transfer switch and the actual breaker panel.
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:28 AM   #9
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Thanks. Now I'm understanding your first comment a little better, but I'm not sure what this part of what you said means:

"Just need a duplex plug with a wire between neutral (silver screw) and ground (green screw) stuck into any duplex outlet on the generator."

I know what a duplex plug is but I'm not sure I'm picturing correctly what I need to do.
Are you saying to take a plug and connect a wire from the neutral to the ground and then plug the plug in to the generator?
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:36 AM   #10
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Inline Surge Protector Wiring Question

Yes. Exactly. That “bonds” neutral and ground together so the EMS will be happy. It expects ground and neutral to be tied together only ONE PLACE outside the trailer. That is the only point they are to be tied per the electrical code.

Normally, ground and neutral are tied in the electrical panel by the meter in a house, or in the pedestal in a campground. The EMS requires this before it will turn on the power.

The reason they are not tied in the trailer panel is that the green ground wire (better described as “safety earth” in Europe) is tied to the shell and frame of the trailer. If hot and neutral are swapped by accident, a tied neutral and ground at the trailer would put 120 volts on the shell of the trailer and potentially kill someone that touched it. The EMS is designed to prevent this situation.
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:59 AM   #11
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On our trailer we often use the 'generator' 30 amp receptacle at the front of the trailer to connect to the campground pedestal if it is more convenient. You may want to wire the EMS between the transfer switch and the breakers if you think you may ever want to do that. That is one of the reasons that we opted for the portable EMS that connects to the park pedestal - so that both outlets and the transfer switch is always protected.
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Old 10-29-2018, 11:19 AM   #12
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Hi

When you put in the EMS (or any surge protector) understand that they (none of them) don't last forever. The "stuff" inside them only will handle a finite number of surges before it gives up and dies. Unfortunately none of them that I know of actually *tell* you when they have hit end of life. They simply stop protecting you. Yes that seems strange, but it's the way they work.

Since the life of the parts is rated in some number of "hits" at some energy level, there is no exact way to say they will last 6 months or 60 years. Hit one hard enough and it will go up in smoke from the first hit, that's pretty unusual. More normally there is no smoke they die quietly. A typical rating would be 125 hits at X,XXX joules of energy.

About the only real answer is to replace them at some point and accept that you are flying blind. Maybe you *assume* 20 hits a year and replace at 6 years. If it's only plugged in 1 week a year, that's likely too soon. If it's plugged in when you are in storage, it may not be soon enough.

Warranties aren't a lot of good in this case unless you have some way of measuring the device to see if it's ok. Yes, you *could* set up to do this, it's a bit of a scary thing to do ...

Again, this is not specific to an RV device. It is at least as dependent on your electric feed as any other variable. We went through way more of these gizmos on the end of along power feed in the country than we do living more or less in town. That said, the worst power I've run into so far was when camping < 1/2 mile from the TVA dam that was sourcing the electricity.

Bob
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Old 10-29-2018, 04:52 PM   #13
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Thanks. I'll be ordering the surge protector and hopefully installing in the next couple of months and definitely installing between the transfer switch and breakers.
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Old 10-29-2018, 04:53 PM   #14
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So no way to know if it's working or not? interesting!
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Old 10-29-2018, 05:43 PM   #15
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The problem is that some of the surge suppressor components fail in different ways.

Most of the parts are Metal Oxide Varistors, or MOVs. These have the characteristic that they conduct a lot of current at high (surge conditions) voltages, and darn near nothing at their rated voltage. These parts are connected across all the leads in the box, and tend to shunt high voltage surges to ground.

Depending on the exact type, they can fail when overloaded in a shorted condition, or an open condition. If they fail shorted, they will blow breakers continuously, which is a good indication of failure. However, if the surge is really, really big--they simply disintegrate internally, often with a light puff of smoke, as the paint burns off the outside. In this case, the breaker may or may not trip at the surge, but you no longer have protection. Some components are designed such that the outer covering changing colors is an indication of failure, but most EMS boxes bury these parts inside, and you cannot see the toasted parts.

Other internal parts include fuses and wiring that bay or may not burn out--if so, the EMS does protect you because it no longer passes power.

So yeah, its possible to have no protection depending on how the EMS has experienced surges--and there is no easy way to tell. Fortunately most of them either blow internal fuses, or fail shorted. If you get a big close lightning strike, all bets are usually off, and If I was aware of that history, an internal inspection looking for toasted parts would be in order...or just buy a new one.

My plan is to open the box when I install it, and take pictures of the internals in color. That way I have a reference photo of what 'new' looks like, and if stuff turns toasty, I may be able to detect it.

Last time I had hardware take a big lightning surge, the first indication of trouble was loose electronic bits rattling around inside a power supply--that would not power up. From looking inside, and the smell, I was able to tell that some parts had done their job, and passed to a different plane of existence, leaving behind burned traces and lots of toasted parts, if they weren't just physically gone!
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Old 10-29-2018, 05:56 PM   #16
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After working for a newspaper plant for 29 years, my experience tells me that it is easy to tell if your suppressor is working. The working parts of the unit are MOVs. When the surge is above its rating, it opens up. Sometimes explosively! They do not reclose and the unit passes no current. It must be replaced. Surges high enough to damage the MOVs are rare. In 29 years, it only happened to us once.
In RVs the concern is normally voltage that is too high or (most times) too low. A good surge suppressor will shut down the power and reset when the proper voltage comes back. Thats why I still check with a meter after plugging in. As all suppressors will eventually fail, (potentially catastrophically) an easy to get at location, away from other electronics, is best in my opinion. Mine is outside, plugged into the pedestal. It protects everything. It won't even turn on if voltage is too low.
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Old 10-29-2018, 06:30 PM   #17
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we hard wired ours inside the sport 22FB

under the closet next to the incoming SMARTplug and water supply

we also wired a remote display
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:12 PM   #18
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Or, Progressive makes the same protector in a package that plugs into the pedestal or your generator then your power cord plugs into it. I'm camping tonight just south of you in Montgomery County. My EMS-PT30X monitored the power here that charged my iPad so I can reply to your post. In my experience, protecting for low voltage from generators (if you plan to use them) or being able to plug power from a campground to either the front or rear hookup is essential. It's your choice, of course, but for convenience I prefer the unit inline with my power cord.

One more point... Progressive replaced my unit under warranty. Easy for the standalone unit... not so much if I had wired inline and had to remove the unit for return then reinstall the replacement.
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Old 10-30-2018, 08:31 AM   #19
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Hi

Well, on maybe a hundred or so surge protectors I've trashed over the last 40 years, well over 95% have had the MOV's fail in the "open" (often as in cracked in half) circuit condition. That may simply be a function of the brands I buy, but that's what I've seen.

Bob
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:27 PM   #20
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Yep, I'm going back and forth on buying the pedestal or hardwired Progressive model. I like the idea of it being inside the trailer and just plugging in without dealing with another piece of equipment when setting up or possible theft. Although I really wonder how often a pedestal mounted protector really gets stolen.
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