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Old 08-28-2016, 08:29 PM   #1
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Generator basics please

Trying to understand a little more about generator use here. I know I have a switch in my motorhome but do not know how it works, for example if I am on shore power and want to start my generator for ride home what is procedure, do I turn off a/c, etc or not. Should I disconnect shore power prior to generator start up? I usually shut off all heavy loads, turn off shore power at breaker, disconnect power cord then start generator let it smooth out and restart loads, like a/c, etc.

Next question, what is life expectancy of gas generator, I have Onan Marquis 5500 and currently have shy of 560 hours. I have not used much in past couple of years but am now using on every trip so I can run roof air and leave dash air off, dash a/c feels like it puts too much load on engine especially on the 90+ days. More comfortable in coach too this way.

Leads to my last question, do most folks travel with generator and roof air of dash air, or maybe both (though I don't know why that would be necessary). Wondering what impact is on gas mileage, I can't tell much of difference, is it possible the engine without the a/c load uses enough less gas to compensate for what the generator is burning? Not sure the fuel burn per hour on the Onan.
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Old 08-28-2016, 09:05 PM   #2
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Your generator will last a long time if proper maintenance is performed. Oil and filter changes, new plug, etc. go a long way to keeping it healthy.

If you've been on shore power, I'd suggest turning the A/C off, unplug and stow shore cord. Then start generator and let it 'settle down' for a minute or more. In that time, the high pressure built up in the A/C unit at shut down will have had time to even out. You can then start the A/C and cool going down the road. Starting the A/C immediately is a sure way to damage the starting circuit, but they usually have a delay built in to prevent that from happening.

It's up to you as to whether you use dash air and rooftop air at the same time. Many feel like the roof air is enough, but driving into the sun can be helped by the dash air. You will use more fuel running both, and it is a HP hit on the engine, but unless climbing a grade it's not too bad. Some even claim the generator uses less fuel than the engine A/C, I'm not convinced that's so, but if it makes you feel good, so be it!

We have usually been able to just use the dash air with a small fan helping move air around, but have switched to roof air and generator when it get's uncomfortable.
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Old 08-28-2016, 09:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trode View Post
Trying to understand a little more about generator use here. I know I have a switch in my motorhome but do not know how it works, for example if I am on shore power and want to start my generator for ride home what is procedure, do I turn off a/c, etc or not. Should I disconnect shore power prior to generator start up? I usually shut off all heavy loads, turn off shore power at breaker, disconnect power cord then start generator let it smooth out and restart loads, like a/c, etc.

Next question, what is life expectancy of gas generator, I have Onan Marquis 5500 and currently have shy of 560 hours. I have not used much in past couple of years but am now using on every trip so I can run roof air and leave dash air off, dash a/c feels like it puts too much load on engine especially on the 90+ days. More comfortable in coach too this way.

Leads to my last question, do most folks travel with generator and roof air of dash air, or maybe both (though I don't know why that would be necessary). Wondering what impact is on gas mileage, I can't tell much of difference, is it possible the engine without the a/c load uses enough less gas to compensate for what the generator is burning? Not sure the fuel burn per hour on the Onan.
Your coach probably has an automatic transfer switch to go from shore power to generator, BUT, the contacts in this switch will last a lot longer if you disconnect shore power before starting the generator. or visa-versa. In other words, most experienced MH owners never connect both at the same time.
Fuel usage is probably about the same for running dash air or roof air, and as you note, dash air is a large power drain on the drive engine.
The Onan website has a spec page with fuel consumption for every model they make. Here is yours: https://powersuite.cummins.com/PS5/P...ets/a-1425.pdf
Onan life expectancy depends on regular maintenance schedule in your owners manual. For a gas engine you can expect 4-6,000 hrs. when properly maintained, and close attention; ignoring maintenance may lower that to >2,000 hrs.

This old irv2.com thread may be helpful: Generator life span
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:24 AM   #4
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The way I modified mine because it didn't have an automatic transfer circuit was to give the generator priority over shore power. It will switch to generator after a 30 second warmup delay. If shore power is on and it switches to gen it could cause a big surge if the two power lines are not in sync, (very likely). So I always kill the shore power before starting the gen. The anti slug delay in the AC thermostat delays the AC's for 3 minutes before it tries to restart the AC's
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Old 08-29-2016, 02:23 AM   #5
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In hot weather, I hang a blanket from ceiling to floor directly bebind the drinver and passenger seats to keep the dash cold air up front.
I use an adjustable shower rod to hang the blanket (light quilt).

Works very well. I'm alone so I dont have anyone wanting to be in back while underway.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:17 AM   #6
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From what I read you are doing correctly. Turn off all heavy loads, turn off breaker at pedestal, remove power cord, start Gen, let's stabilize, add load. You should do a 1000 hr maintainance as well as your normal 100-150 hr or yearly, plus the monthly warm-up when gen is not used regularly. The life expectancy of the Gen is many 1000's of hours. As to running the A/C down the road as far as fuel most likely a toss up. I run cab air until I need more then the Gen with air and several times to cool coach an hour before reaching camp sight.

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Old 08-29-2016, 09:19 AM   #7
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While researching some of the threads already mentioned above, you should find mention that a happy/healthy generator, is an exercised generator! So during down times between travel, try to run the generator every 4-6 weeks. Get it up to temperature, and put at least a medium load on it (AC on, plug in a heater and turn it on, etc.). running for 45-60 minutes, gets it up to good temperature, and will also help bake out any moisture that may work it's way into the coils.

As far as going down the road. It's usually 50/50 on what is more economical. If climbing in mountain regions, running the generator will allow more power to the wheels from the chassis engine, and could help on lowering engine temperatures too.

Another thing that some to, is close off the door to the rear, say if you have one at the kitchen bulkhead, close it off. Then only run the front AC zone, will allow the generator to run a mid speed vs high speed, and save some fuel.

The other plus to running the generator and roof top airs, is the coach is pre cooled when you get into the campground.

And remember the reverse of the start up process when going to shore power. Turn off the AC's, turn off the generator, then plug into shore power, then turn back on the AC's.

Best of luck to you, and have fun,
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:33 AM   #8
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Let you genny run at no load (or as close as you can get to no load) for a minute or two before you you load it up, and before you shut it off. This helps the genny warm up before it goes to work, and cool down before it goes to sleep.


Also, let the roof ACs sit for a minute or two after you shut them off, before you start them up, like when cycling power from genny to shore or vice-versa. When turning, the AC compressor builds pressure, flow against resistance. Letting it sit in off allows this pressure to equalize, and allows the compressor to start easier and build the pressure, without starting against pressure.
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Old 08-30-2016, 10:55 PM   #9
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Having a DP, we run the A/C before stopping if we're driving into the night and I want the rear bedroom cooled of so we can go to sleep right away.

Other than that, we have excellent dash A/C. When the generator and air are running, I still use the dash A/C so that it keeps my feet cool..........

Bill
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