Progressive Surge Protector Troubleshooting; 10 Solutions
In this progressive surge protector troubleshooting guide, we’re going to provide solutions for the most common reasons why surge protectors don’t work. We’re going to go through solutions in order of severity and difficulty so that you try the simplest fixes and eliminate the most common issues before you chase unusual problems.
Here are Pro Surge Protector Issues and Fixes
Solution 1: Make Sure There Is Power
We typically plug power cords into the surge protector that’s connected to the generator or the wall outlet. When there is no power, we assume the problem is the surge protector. Try another power source like another power plug to verify that power is being supplied.
The issue might be the wall plug or the power port on your generator, not the surge protector. If you’re at a campsite, try another power pedestal.
Solution 2: Check the Surge Protector’s Connection
Suppose the best surge protector works when you’ve plugged it into another source. Then the issue isn’t the surge protector. You can try the surge protector at the original location or continue using it where it works. It may not have worked because it wasn’t plugged in far enough or damage to the power pedestal prevented it from making a proper connection.
You can also run into problems when you try to plug the surge protector to a power source using a non-RV approved adapter. Really long power cords can result in it getting so little power that things don’t work, either.
Solution 3: Take Care of the Plug
What if the surge protector isn’t working or is working intermittently? Inspect the plug itself. If it is very dirty, it may not form a good connection. If there is heat damage like pitting or discoloration, you shouldn’t continue using it. If the prongs are bent or damaged, they may not form a good connection, and that is certainly the case if a prong is loose.
If in doubt, replace the surge protector. If the pins or prongs are discolored, replace the surge protector. If the surge protector body has obvious heat damage or wiring damage, discard it immediately.
Solution 4: Check the Error Codes.
Many surge protectors are smart enough to come with error codes that tell you what is wrong. Some will have a color code, green for good, red for bad. And you may not know more than red is bad, get rid of it if you’ve already verified the power source and plug is good.
If the surge protector has advanced reporting, your first step is to check the user manual or internet for the meaning of the error code. It can then tell you if the issue is high voltage, reverse polarity or an open ground.
Then you’ll know if you can reset the unit or have to replace it.
Solution 5: Break Out the Voltmeter
You may get error messages regarding line voltage that may or may not be the fault of the surge protector. If you get low line voltage error messages, verify that the voltage of the power pedestal is low.
For example, a power pedestal putting out only 110 volts instead of 120 volts will cause low voltage notices in the surge protector and kill the protector if you connect a heavy load like an air conditioner.
If the power pedestal actually has high voltage (over 130 volts), then the surge protector isn’t the problem, either.
Solution 6: Check the Environmental Conditions
If you only see a line frequency high error once in a while, consider when you get it. If the error code only occurs at sunrise and sunset, it may be due to motion sensing lights or neon lights. These lights can trigger a line frequency error. If you get the error at other times, then test the surge protector on another power outlet.
Another issue may be weather related. Did your surge protector get flooded by sitting in a puddle outside or hit by heavy rain? Was it potentially struck by lightning? Either of these issues could short it out unless you actually had a weather-proof surge protector.
Solution 7: Determine If Things Burned Out
Sometimes the surge protector isn’t working now because it worked properly when you weren’t noticing. In a cheap surge protector, it may work well once but never again. Does your surge protector have the ability to handle several major surges? If your surge protector was connected to power lines hit by lightning, the surge protector may have protected your downstream connections but won’t work again.
The surge protector itself may tell you this with an error message “surge occurrence” or a light status that indicates it was used.
You might be able to solve the issue by replacing the fuses in the surge protector, though not all surge protectors allow you to do so. And you may not be in a location where you can easily get replacement fuses.
In other cases, the surge protector can only be replaced if you want to maintain protection for your system.
Solution 8: Check Your Generator
Have you repeatedly burned out surge protectors? One possible solution is that you need to have a bonded neutral generator. That means you need to improve the electrical grounding of your generator.
Another possibility is investing in higher quality surge protectors that can handle repeated surges before going bad. This is only practical if the issue isn’t your regular power source.
Nor is this a valid solution if you experience the same issues no matter which power pedestal you’re using.
Solution 9: Check Your Wiring
We already mentioned grounding for the generator. This step of progressive surge protector troubleshooting is something an advanced do-it-yourselfer may be able do.
One possible solution is to tighten every cable connection from the distribution transformer in your power pedestal to the power connections in your power panel.
This is a viable solution if you have voltage differences between different “legs” of the power system or intermittent and otherwise unexplained failures.
Solution 10: Call an Electrician
In some cases, there is an interaction problem between the EMS unit and the transfer switch. The issue may cause the EMS to not read the frequency properly after the relay engages. Or there may be internal wiring problems in the generator that need to be troubleshot by a trained professional.
If you have unusual readings from your electrical multimeter or otherwise can’t resolve the problem, you have no other option than calling in a professional.
Surge protector problems could be within the surge protector itself or the fault of the power source it is connected to. We’ve provided advice for determining the root cause and resolving most issues yourself. And you’ll know for certain that a professional’s assistance was required before you called for help.