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Old 10-13-2014, 03:32 PM   #1
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Not being able to run generator during winter storage

I've always stored my motor home outdoors. I run the generator under load (gas) every month for at least a 1/2 hour. I have an opportunity to store indoors in a heated building at a reasonable price but there is now access to run the generator. So my generator would not be ran 4 to 5 months. I know this isn't good but in my mind it seems to outweigh the wear and tear from outdoor storage. Last winter it got so cold in Ohio my bathroom floor split.
Any thoughts?
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:37 PM   #2
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Use Sea Foam in the carb and I think the indoor storage will do no harm to the generator. Being out of the weather should be better for the rest of the RV.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:47 PM   #3
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Here's my take,
The reason for running the generator under load at regular intervals is to keep the windings from accumulating moisture since, during normal operation, the generator is exposed to varying temperatures and humidity.

So, If you are storing the coach in a heated facility, even if only moderately heated, the chances of moisture accumulation is virtually nil. Storage inside a heated facility trumps all.
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Old 10-14-2014, 07:09 AM   #4
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The reason for running the generator under load at regular intervals is to keep the windings from accumulating moisture since, during normal operation, the generator is exposed to varying temperatures and humidity.

The problem with that theory is that warming the generator would only burn off the moisture 1 day out of 30. It would also leave a warm generator cooling off in damp winter weather so the condensation would be right back within hours.

I have a friend with an old Onan 4kw unit from an RV that powers his off-grid island summer place. It gets Sea Foam and Sta-bil early each fall and never touched till the end of May and has for years.

It starts and run perfectly each spring. No problem.
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Old 10-20-2014, 03:05 PM   #5
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New to RVing and Generators, please enlighten me on what Sea Foam is and where to purchase it. Also, I have anti gel conditioner in the MH main fuel tank for the winter months, gen set runs off of main fuel tank.
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Old 10-20-2014, 03:08 PM   #6
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New to RVing and Generators, please enlighten me on what Sea Foam is and where to purchase it. Also, I have anti gel conditioner in the MH main fuel tank for the winter months, gen set runs off of main fuel tank.
Sea Foam is a fuel system cleaner. You can read about it here and find where to buy:

Homepage - Sea Foam Sales Company
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Old 10-20-2014, 07:57 PM   #7
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Onan has always recommended monthly exercises for their gensets, gasoline or diesel. In all actuality it has more to do with the field brushes becoming stuck in the brush holder or becoming stuck on the slip rings from sitting for so long. The absolute worst thing to do is start it and only let it run a few minutes with zero load on it and never coming up to running temperature. So IF you are not able to move your coach outside once a month to exercise the generator properly, then the next best thing would be to simply allow it to turn over just once or twice without starting. This will help prevent the brushes from becoming stuck in the brush holder and help to prevent them sticking to the slip rings and breaking the brushes.
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:06 PM   #8
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The problem with that theory is that warming the generator would only burn off the moisture 1 day out of 30. It would also leave a warm generator cooling off in damp winter weather so the condensation would be right back within hours.
Not a "theory", running the gen for an hour or so each month is exactly what most of the gen set manufacturers say to do.
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:13 PM   #9
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I'm not going to say what I do is right or wrong, just what I do & it's worked for 9 seasons. When we winterize in Oct, Stabil goes in the fuel tank & the gen is run under full load for at least an hour while I'm doing interior packing/cleaning. Then it's shut off & not started until at least April as it's stored in a place not easy for us to get to over winter.

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Old 10-20-2014, 08:28 PM   #10
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Not a "theory", running the gen for an hour or so each month is exactly what most of the gen set manufacturers say to do.

You mean the manufacturers who have a bunch of lawyers writing all that crap that they hope will get them out of a warranty claim or lawsuit?

Yes, I said "theory", do you have facts and or scientific data to prove otherwise? Because I have proof that running an engine a few minutes a month versus putting it away properly is a poor choice.
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:45 PM   #11
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Let's watch the tone folks. Community Rules:
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Do not engage in personal attacks. Challenge others' points of view and opinions, but do so respectfully and thoughtfully.
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Old 10-21-2014, 12:32 PM   #12
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It appears that the addition of ethanol to gas in the last few years has caused build ups of varnish in the carbs of small engines when they sit for some time.
I used to be able to run the gen every few months (in a dry climate) and had no problems but three years ago I had a hip replacement and didn't run it for a whole summer.
Before we headed south I could not get it to start. In our winter RV park I worked on it. I could get it to run (very roughly) by holding the choke down. After doing that for a while it would run for a while with the choke released. Finally the carb got clean enough for the gen to run normally.

This year we are no longer snow birding so I added Stabil to the motor home fuel tank, waited a few days for it to mix with the 50 gallons of fuel in the tank and ran the gen for about an hour.
I will find out in the spring if this will work or not.
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Old 10-21-2014, 01:29 PM   #13
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Seafoam really works well to remove the varnish. Stabil is more of a prevention then a "treatment" once the varnish has taken hold.
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Old 10-21-2014, 01:38 PM   #14
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I agree with Clay L, gasoline doesn't do well in long storage, especially in carburetors. Stabil and SeaFoam can help. It's interesting that the reason to run the generator monthly is being given as to keep the brushes, stator, and windings in good condition, not the passages in the carb. Of course diesel and LP generators don't suffer from varnish and the issues of the gasoline models. In a perfect world running the generator to keep the electrical parts shiny and bright would be a good idea, but I think it's a bit overstated that you'll suffer doom from letting it rest through the winter. The electrical contacts mentioned are mostly copper and will be buffed shiny after a long winter's rest within seconds of starting to spin. JMHO
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