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Old 01-31-2014, 07:28 AM   #1
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Exercising - Generator, that is

I'd like some help regarding exercising our generator. We pretty much park in CG's where the coach is plugged in and when it's stored, we're plugged in to 30 Amp.

I know I need to run the generator now and then to keep it fresh and happy.

1. How often?

2. How do I put it under load? (Since there is power to the coach from the Shore Power, I assume there is no load on the generator.) Do I unplug or turn off the Shore Power and then what should be sure is running to create a reasonable load?

Thanks - I have trouble changing light bulbs so this is really rocket science for me.
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:40 AM   #2
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The manual says to exercise every thirty days, but I do mine about every 60 days. I do un-plug for two reasons, one to load the generator, also I don't like to throw the load on the transfer switch. I know they are designed for that, but they also wear out and fail, so I don't run shore power and generator at the same time.. Start the generator and let it run for a couple of minutes to warm up before putting a load on it. To load the generator, run the A/C's, but I live in FL and that is easy. For those in cold weather, turn on everything electric and might even plug in a space heater set on full blast. I normally let it run for 20 minutes while I am checking that everything is working.

Before shutting down, turn everything electrical off, let the generator cool down for 2 minutes before turning the generator off. This step should be done anytime the generator is used.
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:52 AM   #3
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Typically once a month for 30-60 minutes with load. Load being a heavy load, such as air conditioning. So you get to exercise and check the AC as well.

Leaving the shore power connected is ok, just don't have the heavy load operating while transferring to/from the generator.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brobox View Post
The manual says to exercise every thirty days, but I do mine about every 60 days. I do un-plug for two reasons, one to load the generator, also I don't like to throw the load on the transfer switch. I know they are designed for that, but they also wear out and fail, so I don't run shore power and generator at the same time.. Start the generator and let it run for a couple of minutes to warm up before putting a load on it. To load the generator, run the A/C's, but I live in FL and that is easy. For those in cold weather, turn on everything electric and might even plug in a space heater set on full blast. I normally let it run for 20 minutes while I am checking that everything is working.

Before shutting down, turn everything electrical off, let the generator cool down for 2 minutes before turning the generator off. This step should be done anytime the generator is used.
This is the best way. Also, we sometimes run the generator on the road. Depending on if we want heat or air conditioning. About an hour before we reach our destination for the day, turn on the generator set heat or air to give it a load, then your coach temp. Is comfortable front to rear when you park.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:05 AM   #5
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Forgot to add . TURN OFF ANY SYSTEM YOU ARE USING, LET THE GENERATOR COOL DOWN, THEN TURN OFF YOUR GENERATOR BEFORE PLUGGING IN TO SHORE POWER.
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Old 01-31-2014, 09:43 AM   #6
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Thanks all - Reading is good, but insights from smart people who have practical experience is better.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:05 AM   #7
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It depends to some extent whether the generator is carburetor equipped or EFI. If it's a carb, definitely exercise it every 4 to 6 weeks. In Dec 2011, I had to have cardiac surgery and was out of any serious activity for about 3 months. The generator hasn't run since!

Since we're FHU campers, it hasn't been an issue, but I'll have to get it fixed before we sell the rig.
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:20 PM   #8
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Hi IRV2 Friends,

In the "For What It's Worth" Department...

From the Cummins/Onan RV Generator Handbook:

"To prevent problems, it is recommended to run gasoline generators
at a minimum of 50 percent capacity (2000-watts, or one air
conditioner for a 4000-watt set) for two hours once every four
weeks. This is necessary to help keep moving parts lubricated,
expel moisture and control fuel varnishing in the carburetor.
A long two-hour exercise period is preferable to several short periods.
While traveling, this can be accomplished by running the air conditioning.
If you own a diesel generator, regular exercising can help reduce
internal condensation and helps keep seals
lubricated."

Cheers,
Gary & Carol
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Old 02-01-2014, 11:42 AM   #9
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Since you do not dry camp, I always found that running the generator while driving down the road to cool down your coach or??? is the best way to exercise it.
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Old 02-01-2014, 12:11 PM   #10
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It all depends on the type of generator you have. We have the 5500 Marquis Gold gasoline powered generator. The manual says:
EXERCISING THE GENSET
Exercise the genset at least 1 hour each month if
use is infrequent. Run the genset at approximately
1/2 rated power. See LOADING THE GENSET
(Page 9). A single exercise period is better than
several shorter periods.
Exercising a genset drives off moisture, re-lubricates
the engine, replaces stale fuel in fuel lines and
carburetor and removes oxides from electrical contacts
and generator slip rings. The result is better
starting, more reliable operation and longer engine life.

I would take them at their word. We religiously ran the one in our old motorhome according to the procedure outlined in the manual. When we did we never had a problem. One winter we went on a cruise and didn't get back for an extended time period. The next spring I tried to start it and had all kinds of problems. It only had about 160 hours but needed some very expensive repairs.
We make sure to run the one in our new motorhome regularly according to the published procedure.

On Edit: Our problem was not with the gasoline engine. A film of corrosion had formed on the slip rings. The brushes got caught on the corrosion when I tried to start the generator. 1 Brush broke taking the holder with it. The whole mess got caught up in the armature and peeled off a few segments. The generator had to be removed and disassembled. It required a new armature, brush set and holders, as well as a couple hours to clean all the broken junk out so it didn't damage anything else.
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Old 02-01-2014, 12:20 PM   #11
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If the motorhome is in storage or not fueled up at regular basis, I would be using premium fuel and stabil in the fuel tank to help prevent fuel degradation. Gasoline will start to loose octane ratings the longer is sits. Higher octane fuel will help with having a higher octane rating in fuel after months of storage and the Stabil will also help prevent the fuel from degrading the octane rating also. I use Stabil every winter in all my toys and I have never had any fuel system issue with anything I own. Even after years of storage.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:45 PM   #12
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How often: Monthly, Pick a date 1-28 (do not pick 29,30 or 31)

How to exercise: Shut off everything, You have two ways to do this, one is to trip the main breaker inside the motor home.

Start generator,,, Wait for 2 or 3 minutes or till you hear the transfer switch transfer (NOTE: Read the generator owner's manual, even if you have to download it first, for proper starting procedure.. On mine the manual is off just a bit.. It says to hold STOP till the light comes on then press start,, Hold STOP 2 seconds longer).

Once you hear the switch transfer (or are sure it has) turn main breaker back on.

Alternate to main breaker (How I do it) turn off all big loads (Water heater, A/C, Space heaters,, I even kill the fridge) turn off PARK power breaker.. Start generator,, When transfer happens lights and/or vent/furnace fans will speed up and get brighter, THEN turn on space heaters or A/C's to provide at least 1/2 load on the Genny.. TWO A/C units or two space heaters will provide 24-30 amps of load.. About right for a 5500 watt generator. (or one of each)

Returning to shore power.

Same procedure, Turn off all big loads.. Then stop generator, then turn on park breaker then restore loads.
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