Ultimate RV Electrical System Protection – Hughes Autoformer & Power Watchdog

TheRVgeeks Electrical, Updates & Upgrades 18 Comments

It’s time to start Phase 2 of our big RV Battery & Electrical Upgrade Project by installing the ultimate protection for our RV’s electrical system: a Hughes Autoformer & Power Watchdog. A massive solar upgrade will be the main event this time around, but first we’ll focus on protecting our entire electrical system and all of our sensitive gear.

Thanks to all of the fine companies that are participating in this project for providing the expertise, equipment and service required to get this big job done.

UPDATE! Amazon prices for Hughes can sometimes be lower. Check here!


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Comments 18

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  1. Great description of the ‘what and why’ of your approach. In our Country Coach, the SurgeGuard (Same unit and era as yours.), is tucked behind an audio cabinet in the bedroom, requiring Plastic Man Twisting into the closet and to look into a small access plastic panel to see the lights. We installed our 1st Hughes Autoformer in this same cabinet with the same Shore Power > Autoformer > EMS/SurgeGuard sequences. (Say 1st Hughes, as that unit took one for the team in the Yukon, when a park powered by Generator had a bit of a problem back in 2104. The DW swears at time that she can still smell the burned electrical! Thus, were on unit # 2.)

    About two months ago, we had new burned wire smell coming from the cabinet area where all of this gear is. We rapidly shut off the power at the pole. And I took my infrared gun back in Plastic Man way to start shooting the gear. Hughes = fine, SurgeGuard = fine, the Male plug into the Female wall mount from the Shore Power – was 129 degrees. (Probably 90 seconds from the time we smelled it, and I sent the DW out to turn of the Shore Power before reading the temperature. (Took things apart, and could really not distinguish if it was a failed female or male – as they both showed charred protection of the wires… So replaced both.)

    This now being the second time since 2010 that we’ve had ‘hot electrical smell/burned wires. So I used a bit of our RV Contingency funds, and added two things. 1) A smoke detector within this cabinet; 2) A second one in the bay where the Mangum MS2812 and other electric gear, is located.

    And I then made a punch list to upgrade electrical feed and management into the coach:

    1) The beautiful non snake like 50’ shore power cord!! (Can also ditch out spare 50A Extension Cord!); 2) New Hughes Autoformer, as I like the Modular Repair capability. (Will sell the existing still perfectly fine unit to a buddy with a Grand Banks.); 3) And while I have a perfectly fin Progressive spare EMS to use if ever needed, I’d already decided to upgrade to the Progressive unit with the Remote Panel access…. But then the Hughes EMS/EPO unit came out, and I like the idea of having the Hughes Autoformer working with the Hughes EMS/EPO. And that I don’t need to cut yet another hole in the cabinet for another display unit. The remote access is cool; 4) Well our coach was built in 2003, and will swap out the ATS at the same time…

    We have these currently slotted for our end of year heavy maintenance schedule, as long as nothing else more pressing pop’s up:)!

    I envy your easy access in the bay of the Newmar:)! (But then again, theoretically I should not need to really interact with this gear too often.)

    One key thing your video does to help me, is work with the DW to understand what I’m talking about with all of these changeover’s of gear. Now, the fact that she was recently scared by the smell of hot wires helps!! But I showed her your video, and she say’s ‘I get it!’… So no more argument on this line item for this years expenditures. (Now, if you could just do a video on the necessity of at least 12 year old Scotch – it would be very welcomed too:)!).

    Best to you both, and look forward to the next chapter!
    Smitty

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      Oh wow, Smitty! Nothing scarier than that smell of hot electrical components! We know how your wife feels… once you’ve smelled it, you can’t stop! 😉 We’ll see what we can do on the 12 year old Scotch “problem”! 😂🤣

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  2. Last week, I attended an Advanced RV Electric Seminar.During the seminar, it was mentioned that in the near future (a year or three), the electric code that covers RV park wiring will be updated to improve the safety and reliability of RV Park electric service. One change is that, specifically, use of the Hughes Auto Former will NO LONGER be allowed (I believe it had something to do with the introduction of three phase power). Do you know if the company that makes the Auto Former will be making a new model which will be compatible / compliant with the updated code? The Auto Former is an expensive piece of equipment and, I’d hate to have such an expensive piece of equipment become useless is such a short period of time.

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      Hi John! We’re aware of the proposed code change you’re referring to, but it is just that… proposed. There is no way of knowing at this point if it will eventually be successful. But one thing we’re confident of is that even if it is, there is no way it will lead to RV parks suddenly having the proper infrastructure. We all want to protect our RVs from damage. Until parks provide clean, robust power, we’re all footing the bill, either by using protective equipment, or through the early failure & replacement of damaged gear. It’s not all about the ability to pull maximum amps… we often see low voltage when we’re just sitting working on our laptops, pulling only 5-10 amps. This is all a result of the NEC only requiring RV parks to be capable of providing full power for up to 80-% occupancy. That’s incredibly unrealistic, and makes it it obvious that the NEC isn’t concerned about protecting us as RVers.

  3. Another good one guys. Too bad Hughes doesn’t put all the features of their surge protector into the Autoformer too, but they are all good units. These things just keep getting better all the time- wish the prices would go down a bit though.

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      We’d love to have 100% of the features in one unit, since, as we mentioned, this ultimate set-up involves both components, of course at higher cost. Hopefully Hughes will be able to incorporate Bluetooth and EPO into the autoformer at some point.

  4. Greetings from Sarasota FLA ! as usual superb I noticed a door over your shoulder with a vent cover Is that your Aquahot furnace extra venting for heat dispersion?? Thanks as always best wishes tommyO’

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      Thanks Tommy! The only two things over my shoulder are our Suburban propane furnace and our Suburban propane/electric water heater. Our rig isn’t equipped with hydronic heating.

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  5. Great video was wondering does this notify your phone if the park power goes off which can help if the air conditioning goes off and you have a pet in the coach so you can get back to reset.

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      Thanks so much, Pat & Rita! Just to make it really clear, since the Watchdog uses Bluetooth, not WiFi, it only sends messages to your phone or tablet when you’re on board, not remotely over the internet or cellular system. That said, Hughes has partnered with a third-party device called RV Whisper that enables remote alerts for the Watchdog, as well as lots of other benefits: https://rvwhisper.com This would alert wherever you are, as long as your RV and your phone have internet access.

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