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Old 12-05-2008, 12:41 PM   #1
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All the discussion about exercising your genset and which oil to use (which was great, highly informative) reminded me of an issue I have and forgot about.

TV, fridge, microwave, etc., all seem to run OK under generator power. Usually don't run 110VAC lights except when set up and plugged in, but this time we did; parked roadside, having lunch, in the middle of Nevada. Blinds down against the sun, turned on the (110VAC) light over the dining table, and it flickered so bad that DW could not read under it (prone to migraines.) Generator had been running plenty long enough to be fully warmed up.

Would really like some knowledgeable tech or user to tell me if I have a serious problem in the offing, and/or what should I do about it in the interim?
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:41 PM   #2
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All the discussion about exercising your genset and which oil to use (which was great, highly informative) reminded me of an issue I have and forgot about.

TV, fridge, microwave, etc., all seem to run OK under generator power. Usually don't run 110VAC lights except when set up and plugged in, but this time we did; parked roadside, having lunch, in the middle of Nevada. Blinds down against the sun, turned on the (110VAC) light over the dining table, and it flickered so bad that DW could not read under it (prone to migraines.) Generator had been running plenty long enough to be fully warmed up.

Would really like some knowledgeable tech or user to tell me if I have a serious problem in the offing, and/or what should I do about it in the interim?
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:48 PM   #3
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Do all the lights flicker or just the one?
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:19 PM   #4
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Reading lamp over sofa also 110VAC, it flickers too - so, both of them.
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:02 PM   #5
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Was hoping that the knowledgable tech person would have chimed in by now because I was just focusing on it being a bad bulb.

I have heard of generators causing flickering lights but sorry Im not techy enough on the issue.
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:19 PM   #6
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Very few RVs have 110/120v lights, so very few RVers have a chance to have/observe your problem...

Assuming we are talking about incandescent bulbs rather than fluorescent, the cause of flickering / pulsating lights normally would be irregular voltage. A failing fluorescent bulb can pulsate regardless of voltage. Irregular voltage could theoretically be caused by a bad voltage regulator, or could be caused simply by pulsating voltage from the power source. How much voltage pulsation is "normal" will undoubtedly vary from one generator make & model to another.

One important question would be "is this something new, or has this always/normally been the case with the 120v lights when running the generator?" Do you have a line meter plugged into an outlet inside the coach, and if so, does it indicate pulsating voltage when running the generator?

If it were my coach, I would want to talk personally with an RV tech who is very familiar with your particular coach make, model and year to find out what, in his experience, is "normal" for that particular generator setup, etc.
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:07 AM   #7
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Ken, what make and model is the generator? Was the only AC load the convertor and the two lights? Was the ref. set on auto? If so, do you know if it successfully switched over?
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:17 AM   #8
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Mike, thanks for responding.

<UL TYPE=SQUARE>It is an Onan 7000 gas, and I can't think of the model name. Will be at the coach later today, could get back to you with the name and model number.
<LI>No, we had both A/C units running; AZ, NV, late summer, early fall.
<LI>Yes, fridge was on Auto.
<LI>I assumed it switched over OK, had no reason at the time to believe it did not, or even to check it.[/list]
I will run the gen later today and try these things out, just to be sure I not speak with forked tongue.
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Old 12-06-2008, 05:11 PM   #9
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OK, Guys, the plot thickens:<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>Went over to the coach, started the generator (btw, it's an Onan Marquis III 7KVA genset,) let it warm up.
<LI>Turned on a small electric heater (maybe 1500-1800 watts,) the two 110 lights (total maybe 100 watts, )two TVs, and the rear a/c heat strip.
<LI>Everything running smooth, NO flickering! Awesome!
<LI>Then the small heater and one light shut off. I assumed a circuit breaker tripped, and tried to reset it. It didn't even appear to be tripped, but the ON position not very positive; the slightest touch would turn it off.
<LI>Then the generator went off line, taking everything of the 110 persuasion with it. The 12VDC lights just kept right on trucking, of course.
<LI>I shut everything down, on the premise that if it all cools down, maybe I can bring some or all of it back up - NOT.
<LI>Now the Onan engine is still running like a watch, but the digital voltage output readout has gone dark. (Note: Prior to any of this, a CW tech remarked on that readout, saying it may be getting ready to go south, because every since we've had the coach, it has jumped all over the place on a regular basis.)[/list]So now I have no 110VAC at all; the readout is dark, no lights or TV. I don't know if the generator half of the genset is gunny sack, or it there is a fuse somewhere (not in the circuit breaker panel, I checked those,) maybe something involving my one-year-old convertor, or something else on the list of items of which I have no clue.

I'm hoping that these symptoms mean something significant to Mike, or for that matter, anyone who might have some input. Otherwise my next step will be a call to an independent RV tech, then CW, then Onan (you know, the guys that want $225 to change oil and filters.)
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:11 AM   #10
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Check the circuit breakers at the generator. There probably are two of them. Does the converter have fuses? Have you done any wiring recently that may have a ground problem? Check you GFIs to see if something caused them to pop.

Good Luck
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:23 AM   #11
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Ken, definitely start at the generator. DO you have and know how to use a multimeter? If so, verify that you have voltage coming out of the generator. If so then proceed toward the transfer switch them to distribution panel if need be. You could have a breakdown at any point, so troubleshooting is the only way to find out where. Follow DSouthw524's suggestions first. Let us know what you find.
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:27 PM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by RV Wizard:
Ken, definitely start at the generator. DO you have and know how to use a multimeter? If so, verify that you have voltage coming out of the generator. If so then proceed toward the transfer switch them to distribution panel if need be. You could have a breakdown at any point, so troubleshooting is the only way to find out where. Follow DSouthw524's suggestions first. Let us know what you find. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
RV Wizard, DSouthw524 - Latest observations:<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>The fuse on the generator is fine; not blown.<LI>There are two circuit breakers on the generator panel; one was tripped.<LI>I reset both c/b switches, started generator motor - nothing. No power, no lights in the digital readout.<LI>Interesting observation: when I started the genset motor, it fired and ran smoothly instantly; not characteristic. Usually cranks for ten seconds, then surges until the sine wave settles down (whatever the heck that means) as the engine warms up. The impression is that the generator is not even attached to the engine; almost like there is a transmission, and it's in neutral.[/list]At this point, unless someone has another suggestion or a better idea, I think I will let Cummins Onan do the diagnosis ($165). Hey, at least it's not a boat. Do appreciate your help, guys.
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