One of the common issues we get is people have one of our Power Watchdogs – whether they have the EPO (emergency power off) unit with the dog’s face that lights up white or red, or they have the base model that has the green LED lights – and they download the wrong app. Because we have two different versions, we have two different apps. They are not compatible with each other.
If you do have the EPO unit you will need to download the app with the black dog’s face with the red accents in the icon.
If you have the base model unit you will need to download the app with the red dog’s face on a white background.
A common question that we get asked is “I have a surge protector. Am I protected from high voltage?”
The answer is “No.” Not unless you have an automatic shutoff surge protector. The base, non-EPO Power Watchdog unit does not have auto-shutoff. If you have the Bluetooth app with alerts set up, it will alert you if you’re over the set voltage, but it can’t do anything about it. It’s up to you to unplug, turn on a generator, or go to a different pole.
The Power Watchdog with EPO unit is a little bit bigger and has the dog’s face that lights up white or red if there’s an issue. If the voltage does go too high, then the unit will turn off and the dog’s face will turn red. If the voltage drops back down to an acceptable range, then 90 seconds later, it will turn back on.
So to be protected from high voltage, you need the EPO unit, not just the surge protector.
Power Watchdog EPO Units:
Question: “Will my surge protector protect me from lightning?”
The simple answer is “No.” Unfortunately, lightning is just too strong. The 50-amp Power Watchdog units have 4800 joules of protection – which is industry-leading – while the 30-amp units have 2400 joules. With all of our units, the surge module is replaceable, so if you do have a surge or spike that takes out the module part, you just replace that part, put a new one back in, seal it back up and you’re back in business.
Typical lightning is about 1-10 billion joules, so nothing man-made is going to be protecting you from a direct lightning strike. At the same time, a surge protector is something you should have because it is protecting against surges or spikes coming from your neighbors, arcing power lines, or if it’s a distant lightning strike that’s far enough away.
Here is a great question: “Why choose Hughes Autoformers when there are many other brands out there?”
Robert Hughes was an avid RVer who knew about damaging low voltage and other park power issues. He created and patented the Autoformer in 1995. There are more than 100,000 happy customers over the years. The patent-pending Power Watchdog brand of surge protectors won 2nd place for RVIA’s aftermarket product of the year in 2019. We are the only company that has a Bluetooth app that’s connected straight to your device. With the app, you can see your volts, amps and watts in real time, as well as if there is any power issue. We’re also the only company that features a replaceable surge module. If the surge module gets used up, you replace this part rather than the whole unit becoming trash. Essentially, it’s the last surge protector you’ll ever need.
Replaceable Surge Modules:
The proper hookup order with an Autoformer and a Power Watchdog depends on which Power Watchdog unit you have.
If you have a base model Power Watchdog unit, it’s just a surge protector and has no auto-shutoff, so that can come before or after the Autoformer.
If you have the Power Watchdog + EPO (emergency power off), that means it has the auto-shutoff function.In this case, it is important to have the Power Watchdog after the Autoformer. What you’re going to have is the pole/shore power going into the Autoformer, then going into the Power Watchdog + EPO. If the park is giving you 113 volts or less, the Autoformer boosts that 10%, then it’s going to go into the EPO unit, then into your coach. If the Autoformer boosts the voltage and it’s still too low – or too high – then you have the EPO auto-shutoff unit to protect your coach and prevent anything from going into your coach. If you have the EPO first, you may shut off the power to the Autoformer before it has a chance to boost.
We often get asked “What is the range of the Bluetooth?”
The Bluetooth we use in the Power Watchdog units is Bluetooth 4.2. Essentially it is the same Bluetooth that you have in the iPhone X. Optimal range (not from the phone or the unit, but in a dry, empty field) is about 100 feet. In reality, with the case around the Power Watchdog unit and any kind of phone covers on your phone, you’re going to get about a 30-50 foot range. Because it uses Bluetooth and has a free app available for iOS and Android, there’s nothing that you need to buy, no subscription fees, and no need for cellular data. Your phone just needs to be in range of the Power Watchdog unit.
One question we get asked is “What is EPO?”
We have two models of our Power Watchdog line. We have the base model model which is PWD30 for the 30-amp and PWD50 for the 50-amp. Then we have the upper end models which have emergency power off (EPO). Essentially it’s a surge protector that has a computer that analyzes the incoming power and a switch or contactor that either allows power to go into your coach or it shuts it off. So when you hear EPO, it’s the same thing as EMS (electrical management system), which means it has an auto shutoff function.
For example, normally you would have around 120 volts coming in from the park, which is good. If the volts drop below 104, then the unit sees that as too low and will cut power to your coach, sparing your coach from damaging low voltage. The Power Watchdog units with EPO will also look for reverse polarity, open ground, open neutral, high voltage, low voltage and too many amps, as well as open neutral from the coach end. If any of those faults are detected, the Power Watchdog’s face turns red, displays the error code on the faceplate, and if you have the unit paired to your phone, you will get an alert letting you know it’s detected a problem. On the app it will let you know what the error is, why it’s potentially bad, what you may be able to do and more information on that particular error.
Power Watchdog EPO Units:
A quest we get asked is “What causes a surge or spike?”
Essentially when you’re at an RV park and everybody is plugged in, you have electricity running through the wires from the park pole into your Watchdog or surge protector, into your Autoformer or whatever, going into your coach. Everybody is plugged in, they have a lot of draw or load on the line – their AC units, water heaters or microwaves working – there’s electricity flowing through the wires into that coach. If somebody doesn’t shut down or unplug from the pole properly, you can have a surge or a spike.
Picture electricity like water flowing through a pipe. If somebody goes to the pole and just yanks their shore cord out of the pole, that electricity – that water flowing through the pipe – hits a wall and has to go back through the powerline and can easily have an effect on anybody that’s still connected around that RV. So, a surge can be caused by your neighbors.
Obviously, if there’s a distant lightning strike hitting the ground or power lines, you can have a surge or spike that way. If it’s windy and you have power lines that are arcing, you can have a surge or spike. Even just simply turning on and off large equipment – washing machines, electric dryers, or devices with a high amp load – they can cause surges when they kick on and turn off. You’re essentially changing the flow of electricity. It’s this sudden change that causes that surge or spike. It can either go into your RV or somebody else that is near you if they’re still connected and you’re sharing some wires.
So essentially, you do want a surge protector. It is something that is necessary to prevent damaging surges or spikes.
A big question many RVers ask is “What causes prongs or plugs (or sockets or the receptacle) to melt?”
Typically, the two most common causes of a melted plug or socket are a loose connection or low voltage. As long as you have a good, full connection at proper voltage, there should never be any issues.
Improper/loose connection: When you have electricity flowing through wires, it is like electrons moving down an eight-lane freeway. If there is a loose or bad connection, there is a point of high resistance – it’s bottlenecking. It’s like that eight-lane freeway going down to two lanes. Electrons will be bumping into each other at this point. This will generate heat, which causes the melting. Heat in itself is resistive to the flow of electrons; this causes more heat – which is more resistive – and so on, until that point melts or burns out.
Low voltage: Low voltage can also be a cause. This is because with inductive loads, the lower the voltage, the higher the amp draw to compensate. For example, your AC unit that is usually only 12 amps now requires 16 amps at a lower voltage. Amps are the flow or volume of electrons going through the wires. So if you increase your amps to compensate for low voltage, the wire will heat up. Again, heat is resistive to the flow of electrons, so it causes higher resistance that requires more amps and so on.
One question that we get asked is “What are common power pedestal issues?”
There can be several.
The Power Watchdog with Auto Shutoff can be on guard for these dangerous conditions and automatically shut off to prevent dangerous electrical conditions from entering your coach.