Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Protecting your RV from the Campground

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Protecting your RV from the Campground

Chances are that you will eventually stay at a campground. Boon-docking is becoming more and more popular, but sometimes, it's not feasible i.e. when the temperature drops below freezing or it's summertime heat. Is it safe to connect my rig to the campground's utilities? Don't they have some kind of responsibility to protect my property? In short, no. In fact, every time you check in to a campground, you've probably signed a waiver that pretty much says that the campground isn't responsible for anything, at any time, anywhere.  So the best thing to do is write your own insurance policy - protect yourself.  There are a limited number of ways that you connect to the campground's hook-ups, so we'll keep it simple.

For your electrical, you probably have 110v, 30amp or 50amp hookups.  For 110v, any outdoor-rated surge protector (the higher the joule rating, the more the protection) will work to protect your devices. We have used the combination (left two) below and have found it to work great when we had our 23' toy hauler. 


Most RVs are going to have 30 or 50 amp hookups.  I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on what the difference between the two are.  There is a helpful forum here that explains the how the two differ.  For the purposes of this discussion, they behave in the same way.  Techonology Research makes a few different levels of surge protection.  Since we have sensitive (some expensive!) electronic equipment, we wanted to make sure that we had the best odds against some of the following:
  • Faulty campground wiring
  • Power spikes and surges
  • Lightning strikes
  • Bad or faulty grounds 
Since we have a 50 amp hookup, we opted for the Technology Research 34850.  This one offers a convenient LCD readout giving you status updates and indications on how it's protecting your RV (pics below).  In addition to offering AC (shore power) protection, the portable device also offers 12v DC protection for all of your lighting and DC-powered equipment (cigarette lighter type plug-ins).  TRC (Technology Research) has a built-in battery monitor which is convenient for making sure your batteries are charged safely and maintained at the correct levels, which the 34750 does.  You can see the LCD readout at any time cycling through each of its data points feeding back crucial info on how it's protecting your rig.  Since this is an expensive surge protector, you may want to consider the purchase of a locking kit made specifically for TRC's line of portable products.  It's simple peace of mind (insurance) against an unscrupulous neighbor or someone casually walking by - it's a whole lot easier to steal one without a lock!

The second connection area that you want to ensure that is protected is with your water connection.  Most commonly, you'll find that the water pressures at campground are around 40-50psi.  This is a good range for RV water piping.  Remember what I said about campgrounds having no liability?  I was just in the office of Manatee Hammock Campground last night where I overhead a story about a campground who routinely "burst tested" their lines causing fluctuations in water pressure as high as 100psi!  This will surely damage most RV piping.  Valterra adjustable water pressure regulator.  It has a liquid-filled dial that precisely measures the incoming pressure.  The adjustable regulator allows for the flexibility of disconnecting the water line from the RV inlet and cranking up the pressure (if higher pressure is available) for uses like car cleaning, etc.  The next step down is the stainless steel version without the pressure gauge.  This one is regulated to factory preset 45psi - safe operating pressure for your pipes.  The next is is a lead-free brass version while the last, and cheapest, is listed as the standard brass version. 

The final layer of protection that you should afford your RV is water filtration.  "But how does this affect my RV?"  Ask anyone who's had to de-calcify their sink or bathroom faucets.  Or worse, the shower head.  On top of that, the minerals in the water at campgrounds can shorten the life span of your coach.   We use the Camco one pictured on the right.  It filters out 99% of all the "bad stuff" that we won't want in our pipes (or to drink!)  Both Jeanine and I are self-admitted water snobs - we don't drink bad-tasting water.  I said it! :)  Feel free to tell me I'm wrong if you know better, but I'm not aware of any campgrounds that have filtered water running to their sites, so for us, a filter is always a necessity.

 While the filtration system that we use and below is only a filter, you could also opt for a reverse osmosis system.  This is a much more involved (and costly) system, but you can be assured this is the cleanest water you'll get.  When tested with a PPM meter, you should be reading right at, or just above 0 ppm.  Reverse osmosis filters, while expensive, do give you truly pure water.  Usually they are not practical for the whole RV.  We have the one listed on our Amazon store that we use in our home.  It has a three gallon tank, so don't expect that you'll be able to use this for much more than under-the-sink type applications.  At home, we use it for our drinking water, the water to our refrigerator (for ice making and drinking) and to our dog's water bowl (of course!).
That wraps it up for your connections to your RV.  Yeah, I know I didn't talk about the sewer connections.  I didn't address that because most places don't have sewer and the sewer isn't coming in (thankfully!), it's just going out.  There are also cable connections and phone line connections at some campgrounds.  My suggestions for those are also to be protected with a surge protector.  Since we haven't used any devices ourselves and probably won't, we'll leave those for you to check out!

Disclaimer:  We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions.  We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback. 

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