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Old 07-31-2012, 03:22 PM   #1
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Good afternoon everyone! My family and I have been offered a wonderful opportunity. Our friend is offering us a 1987 Holiday Rambler AlumaLite XL 30' very cheap. We are completely green to RVing so bear with me.

He tells us that the generator needs to be replaced or rebuilt. It is an Onan 4k gas generator. I have read mixed threads about generators versus inverters. We plan on living and working from the RV, so it will be shored in most of the time. There will be occasional long term camping trips though.

Any help, not with just the generator, but with any nuance of this vehicle would be greatly appreciate! Thank you!
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:40 PM   #2
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Service for my Onan 4000 Genset BGE model would be around $500 to get maintenance performed. You can save money by changing the spark plug, fuel filter, oil, and air filter yourself. I changed all of those myself and it was easy. The only thing I did not do was open the cylinder heads to clean them out; I poured Seafoam into the oil mixture to let Seafoam clean out the cylinder heads. After that you should be good.

Inverter's are good. I have a Yamaha EF2000IS; it's great. Expensive, but great. You can buy a 3000 watt inverter generator from Yamaha or Honda for around $1900 - $2000. Those types of generator run very quite, around 51-53 decibals so it won't be a nuisance to yourself or your neighbors. The first option of servicing the generator yourself is inexpensive, so I would start there.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
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Thank you FW5000DRIVER. I'll do those simple upkeep to the generator and will let you know how that goes. Is the Yamaha or Honda units you mentioned both generator and investor built together?
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:09 AM   #4
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I think the previous post confused you. He was referring to inverter generators. They generate high frequency AC, convert it to DC, and then use an internal inverter to get 120V, 60Hz. That is not what you were asking about.

You asked if you should use a generator or an inverter to supply your AC. The answer is that unless you have an enormous battery bank, you probably need both. The inverter is more convenient than a generator, and is a whole lot quieter. However, once your batteries run down, you will want a generator to recharge them.

That being said, if you don't expect to do much camping without shore power, you could probably get by without a generator.

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Old 08-01-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Yes, the inverter generator as its called is and can be a great addition to your camping experience. If and when you fix the big Onan it will do what you need, but sometimes if you are dry camping in close proximity to others it is great to have another generator option. That option could a quiet fuel efficient inverter generator. You won't feel like you are being rude by running your loud Onan. Here is a video of my first day with the Yamaha EF2000iS. I am running it on my enclosed patio so the sound is a tad bit louder compared to the generator being out in the open.

Main difference is that your Onan Generator is louder, uses more fuel, and stores gas in the carburetor bowl. The Inverter Generator produces clean sine wave which is better and safer on sensitive electronics, it runs more fuel efficient and with the Yamaha you can run the carburetor bowl dry for storage.

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Old 08-01-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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RS, welcome to the forum and congrats on your purchase...
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Old 08-04-2012, 02:23 PM   #7
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Initially we are mainly going to be camping in areas where we can shore the power. Would it be
worthwhile to just buy a generator with an inverter? How much do they generally run? I saw pictures of 2 Honda generator banked to one another, is that more efficient? Do need to keep a mindful watch on the amps while shored? The Onan would be 30amps, logging all the power usage would help prevent a trip on the breakers? My wife is under the impression that once we are shored in with the campgrounds power, we can just go buck wild with the electricity. Thats not true right? We are still under the constraint of the generator's amp?

I apologize for all the questions, but I am truly new to this and very grateful for everyones' response.
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Old 08-04-2012, 04:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadschoolin
Initially we are mainly going to be camping in areas where we can shore the power. Would it be
worthwhile to just buy a generator with an inverter? How much do they generally run? I saw pictures of 2 Honda generator banked to one another, is that more efficient? Do need to keep a mindful watch on the amps while shored? The Onan would be 30amps, logging all the power usage would help prevent a trip on the breakers? My wife is under the impression that once we are shored in with the campgrounds power, we can just go buck wild with the electricity. Thats not true right? We are still under the constraint of the generator's amp?

I apologize for all the questions, but I am truly new to this and very grateful for everyones' response.
Shore power would still be 30 amps. While on generators it depends on the totals amps the generator(s) give. One Yamaha 2000 will give you 16 amps, but two Honda 2000 paired together will give you 30 amps (not 32 amps). It is great to have a quiet fuel efficient generator handy. I recommend you having one. It's worth it.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadschoolin View Post
Initially we are mainly going to be camping in areas where we can shore the power. Would it be
worthwhile to just buy a generator with an inverter? How much do they generally run? I saw pictures of 2 Honda generator banked to one another, is that more efficient? Do need to keep a mindful watch on the amps while shored? The Onan would be 30amps, logging all the power usage would help prevent a trip on the breakers? My wife is under the impression that once we are shored in with the campgrounds power, we can just go buck wild with the electricity. Thats not true right? We are still under the constraint of the generator's amp?

I apologize for all the questions, but I am truly new to this and very grateful for everyones' response.
When you are on shore power you aren't using your generator. The generator is one of two alternative sources for AC when you are NOT on shore power. The alternatives are the generator which produces AC from a motor, or the Inverter which produces AC from the battery bank - "inverting" 12VDC to 120VAC.

The generator will work as long as you have fuel for it. The Inverter will drain your coach batteries and without a generator to recharge them you could be stuck and unable to start your coach.

The Inverter is not a satisfactory choice for running an Air Conditioner, it will suck your batteries down in very short order.

Coach batteries are recharged either by the generator, or by the coach engine when it is running (from the alternator on the engine).

When you are hooked up to shore power you either physically disconnect the generator or Inverter, or your coach has an Automatic Transfer Switch which cuts out those alternative sources of AC current.

With 30amp shore power you will have enough wattage to run one Air Conditioner and just about anything else. You need to pay some attention to loads. You might run into problems (tripping circuit breakers) if you try to run both the A/C and a microwave or a the wife's hair drier, etc. But most loads will be easily handled.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-06-2012, 12:04 PM   #10
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Be advised that replacing or rebuilding the generator could well cost as much as the old price of the RV itself. Lots of labor and the parts cost is high for rebuilds. New built-in generators are just plain expensive.
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Old 08-06-2012, 12:43 PM   #11
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraKen View Post
When you are on shore power you aren't using your generator. The generator is one of two alternative sources for AC when you are NOT on shore power. The alternatives are the generator which produces AC from a motor, or the Inverter which produces AC from the battery bank - "inverting" 12VDC to 120VAC.

The generator will work as long as you have fuel for it. The Inverter will drain your coach batteries and without a generator to recharge them you could be stuck and unable to start your coach.

The Inverter is not a satisfactory choice for running an Air Conditioner, it will suck your batteries down in very short order.

Coach batteries are recharged either by the generator, or by the coach engine when it is running (from the alternator on the engine).

When you are hooked up to shore power you either physically disconnect the generator or Inverter, or your coach has an Automatic Transfer Switch which cuts out those alternative sources of AC current.

With 30amp shore power you will have enough wattage to run one Air Conditioner and just about anything else. You need to pay some attention to loads. You might run into problems (tripping circuit breakers) if you try to run both the A/C and a microwave or a the wife's hair drier, etc. But most loads will be easily handled.

Hope this helps.

Just to clarify when UltraKen is saying "Inverter" he is referring to your coach battery power being converted into watts. When I state "Inverter Generator" I am referring to a gas powered portable generator (inverter for short) producing wattage.

This one is big enough to run almost anything in your RV with the exception of the A/C (too many surge watts).
Amazon.com: Yamaha EF2000iS 2,000 Watt 79cc OHV 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator (CARB Compliant): Patio, Lawn & Garden

This one though is big enough to run anything in your RV including the A/C. (3000 surge watts are more than enough to start a 13500 BTU A/C)
Amazon.com: Yamaha EF3000iSE 3,000 Watt 171cc OHV 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator With Electric Start (CARB Compliant): Patio, Lawn & Garden
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