How to Test RV Surge Protector? Check 7 Possible Techniques

Surge protectors are a critical piece of equipment. When they don’t work right, your entire electrical system is at risk. When they have problems, you may experience downstream problems, as well. But how do you know if the issue is your RV surge protector or something else? Here are possible techniques on "how to test RV surge protector?". 

Here are 7 ways to test your RV surge protector

Method 1: Check the display.

Before you break out your tools, check the display on the surge protector. Most surge protectors have red and green lights to indicate the state of the surge protector. You can have false green readings because something inside is malfunctioning or false red lights because the root cause is upstream, such as in the power pedestal. And you may not see the lights at all if the lights are burned out. However, you may have a good initial warning of issues based on the light colors. 

Furthermore, the surge protector may give you an error code to give you specific warnings such as over-voltage or low voltage. That may be a direct error code like E3 or something you may not notice unless you read the manual like “three quick flashes of the red light means the fuses need to be replaced”.

Method 2: Plug it into something else.

Is the problem the surge protector’s internal components or the power source? A simple test is to plug it into another power pedestal or wall outlet. If the power still won’t flow through the surge protector, now you know it is the surge protector and not the power outlet.

You can also try to connect a different item to the surge protector. If you can’t get power for the RV through it, can you get a vacuum cleaner to work through it? If so, then the issue may be a burned out fuse in your RV or a burned out electrical panel, not the surge protector.

This will also rule out the cases where the root cause is a burned out fuse or disconnected wiring in a power strip.

Method 3: Check the voltage.

Plug the surge protector into an AC power outlet without any load connected to it. (Don’t plug something into the surge protector.) Set the multimeter to measure AC voltage or use a voltmeter to perform this test. Then check the voltage. It should be between 110 and 120 volts.

If the fuses have engaged or components have burned out, you’re not going to be able to access regulated power through the surge protector anymore, so replace it.

Method 4: Check the resistance.

How do you test a rv surge protector for its level of resistance? This test must be done with a multimeter. Set it to read resistance. That is indicated by the ohm symbol. Test the resistance with the multimeter. 

The unit may make a sound if there is continuity on the line. You want continuity, because that is how power flows through the surge protector. If the fuses have burned out or there is a break in the wires, it won’t have continuity.

Given the importance of surge protectors, replace the unit if it isn’t something you can fix by replacing the fuses.

Method 5: Consider its life expectancy.

How old is the surge protector? If it is five years old or older, it may simple have deteriorated to the point it isn’t good anymore. And it needs to be replaced. Some manufacturers even recommend replacing them every two years.

If it has suffered repeated hits, it has probably burned out, as well. Then it needs to be replaced. With cheap surge protectors, a single hard surge is enough to break it. In all of these cases, simply replace it.

Method 6: Pay attention to the surrounding damage.

Did the surge protector fail because it protected you from a heavy load? A simple test is to ask around. Did anyone else experience a power surge, shorting out surge protectors or burning out electronics?

Alternatively, you can test the voltage of the power source you’ve connected to, assuming you have the right equipment and know how to do it correctly.

In some cases, it is as simple as seeing if the reason the surge protector may have died is that you plugged a 120 volt line into a 220 volt power source.

Method 7: Visually inspect it.

LED lights are not fool-proof, but there may be other indications of damage. Does the surge protector have burned or melted plastic on the housing? Is the wiring frayed or burned? The surge protector is beyond repair, so replace it.

Is the plug dirty or corroded? This could be cleaned away with cotton cloth, and then you can try to surge protector again. Does the surge protector have internal fuses you can check? You may be able to open it up and see that things have literally burned out.

Is there a battery in the surge protector? If that’s corroded or melted, the surge protector obviously took a hit. If you replace the battery and start to hear an alarm, you know the surge protector should be replaced.


Surge protectors are a critical piece of protective equipment. Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to test. You can follow our advice for troubleshooting your surge protector, but if in doubt, simply replace it.

John S.

Hello guys! I'm a 37-years-old author, traveler, writer, blogger, and a camper. I enjoy life as much as I can and love to visit beautiful places in my RV. That's why while traveling I have decided to dedicate some time to share my experiences with everyone that might be interested in traveling, camping, and RVs.