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Old 07-22-2012, 02:30 PM   #1
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Generator shorts out headlights

Hello all. Hopefully you can help me with an issue of when I'm running my generator for about an hour my headlights start to turn on and off intermittently. I'm driving an 1983 Coachmen Leprechaun 25' with a 5k Onan generator. I'm fairly certain it is the generator causing the problem because this has happened twice now and after turning the generator off the headlights stop turning on and off. thanks!!
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Old 07-22-2012, 07:37 PM   #2
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That's bizarre! There shouldn't be any connection between the two systems. I wonder if the generator is started from the chassis battery and maybe is applying a charge to it? Or maybe draining power from them until it affects the head lights? That's abouyt the only interconnection possibility I can think of.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:40 PM   #3
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I do believe the chassis battery is used to start the generator. Could it be the voltage regulator on the generator?
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:48 PM   #4
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Could it be vibration? Not sure what would be happening- maybe the light switch on the dash is loose- ever had any issues with the headlights?\
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Does this happen every time you run the gennie?
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:28 PM   #5
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I've only owned the RV for a week and the two times I have driven it at night with the generator running I've encountered this problem of the headlights turning on and off. When I shut down the generator the headlights were fine, so I don't think it's the switch. Baffling indeed.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:25 PM   #6
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Do you have the headlight switch on when this happens? If so maybe the Gen is causing them to go off NOT on. The Headlights are protected with a thermal circuit breaker (not a fuse) it can make the lights cycle if they draw to much current. Could be the Gen is overcharging the battry or the charge voltage is to high causing the thermal CB to open. Measure the Battery voltage with the Gen running, it might be a clue.

Does it happen on high or low b eam or both? Check the Head Lights you may have a short or loose filement causing a short.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Could it be the voltage regulator on the generator?
The generator's voltage regulator is regulating 120vac, not 12vdc.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:21 PM   #8
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Wonder if it is just plain heat from the generator engine? How close is the generator mounted to the headlamp circuit breaker (overload).
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:51 PM   #9
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Yeah i should have been more clear. the lights are on and then they start to turn off and then back on again repeatedly. i did not use the brights so i don't know if that would be affected as well. i will check the battery voltage. there are two batteries, one used to start the vehicle and one to run the lights. would these be getting charged by the generator or the alternator?
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:52 PM   #10
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i don't know how close it is mounted to the headlamp circuit breaker as I am not sure where that would be located? The generator sits in the passenger side rear quarter panel
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:06 PM   #11
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Here is what I found when testing each batter (chassis and house) with my voltage meter:

Chassis Battery House Battery
DCV engine gen off: 12V 12V
DCV Engine and Genset on: 14V 14V

ACV 28-30V with engine and generator off or on for each battery

Does this point to probably a bad headlight switch?
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:55 AM   #12
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so i went ahead and picked up a new headlight switch from O'Reilly's for $15 bucks and installed it in hopes that my problem is a weak switch. Haven't had a chance to test it yet as I really don't want to waste the gas letting it sit in my drive running just to see what it does. fingers crossed
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