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Old 09-30-2018, 03:36 PM   #1
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Idling while parked and plugged in?

I tried to search for an answer but I'm not sure how to word it so couldn't really find anything.

I know in cars you should run the engine a couple of times to normal operating temperatures to keep the engine in good shape. Should I do the same with my motor home? My cars I try to idle once or twice every couple of weeks. Should I do that with the motor home too? If so when I do it should I unplug the 50 amp service first? The car lot guy started the generator while he was driving down the road saying it was fine to start the generator while driving/idling. Is that okay? Should I run it too? I want to make sure it's ready to go when I need to leave.

I just want to make sure I'm not damaging anything. Thank you.
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Old 09-30-2018, 03:44 PM   #2
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Gas engine, yes you should run it every so often, diesel no reason to. Generator once a month would not hurt at all. Unplug from shore power when running generator. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-30-2018, 03:53 PM   #3
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Thank you Sorry I forgot to add that. Yes, it's a gas engine not diesel.

So it would not be necessary to unplug it just to idle the engine but it is for the generator. Would getting them both going once a month work or should I do the engine more often like I do the car?
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Old 09-30-2018, 03:54 PM   #4
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Oh gosh, did you hear that? It was the sound of a can of worms being opened.

You're going to get conflicting answers, ultimately you'll have to do what makes the most sense to you.

*I* don't start any engine, gas or diesel, unless I intend to USE it.
If I start the RV, I drive it, I don't just let it sit and idle (I have the same 'rule' for a car). This gets all the parts of the drive train up to full operating temperature.

Yes it's fine to start the generator while driving. But if you do, then make it work - turn on the air conditioner and/or the water heater. Don't just start it, USE it.

Once a month is fine.
Running either, or both, the engine and the generator while plugged in is fine.

All of the above is simply my opinion, others will have differing opinions, pick the ones you like the most.
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Old 09-30-2018, 04:56 PM   #5
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Where did this"Start a gas engine every so often" was needed to keep everything nice and comfy? We leave a Minivan in our WI garage from Oct to May without starting. Only a smart charger plugged it. Maybe in time it might matter, but the van is 13 years old with 108,000 miles and runs like new. I'll check it in another 10 years for any problems. We leave our Acadia in our garage in AZ from May till Oct with the same results. I used to leave our bulk potato trucks sit from November till August without starting and they were fine too. Yes the generator should be started once a month with a load on it, but not for the engine. The purpose is to dry out any moisture that might accumulate in the generator windings. That said, I have stored our 20 and 30 kw Lima Mac farm generators for 6-8 months between uses for many years with no adverse effects.

Starting an engine every two weeks and only letting it idle up to temperature will over time accumulate more moisture in the engine from condensation which can be harmful. If an engine is to be started, it should be driven and worked for a short period to evaporate off any moisture that may have accumulated. I'm no certified mechanic, but I have owned and operated hundreds of engines in all types of equipment in our businesses over the last 60 years with no major engine failures from this practice.
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Old 09-30-2018, 06:42 PM   #6
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I agree with the "don't start any engine unless you plan to drive it" crowd. Also I often run the generator while driving down the road. No need to unplug anything when starting or running the engine.
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Old 09-30-2018, 06:51 PM   #7
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If you choose to run a generator once a month or so, as Onan recommends, there's no reason to disconnect from shore power. Transfer switches are always biased so they switch to generator if it is available. I try to limit the current draw at the time the switch transfers, but there's no reason to disconnect.

With a diesel generator, as is found with DP coaches, the primary purpose of running it for an hour or so each month is to drive condensation out of the armature and other electrical parts. I usually turn on the convection oven and our electric heat when I run the generator in order to put load on the generator.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:01 PM   #8
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As noted, simply idling a gas engine (or any engine for that matter) really doesn't do it any good. All my automotive manuals recommend driving the vehicle for 20 minutes or more in order to prevent rusting out the exhaust and to thoroughly warm the engine and burn off oil contaminants. However, a gasoline engine can sit for years without harm. Your generator, not so much.
If you feel better exercising the coach engine, then take it out for a spin.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:07 PM   #9
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Here is an eye opener for those who like to let their engine idle to warm up. It's the worst thing you can do to the engine.

https://antranik.org/the-myth-of-war...p-your-engine/

And another one:

https://community.cartalk.com/t/how-...to-be-run/9951
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:17 PM   #10
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As others have said. Start it when you are heading out. Since we live on a slope I also let it idle a minute or two to let the oil get where it belongs before putting a load on things.

One of the reasons to avoid just letting it idle and cutting it off is sludge. The engine needs to get up to temp to avoid sludge. On our W22 we have motor-aid which feeds antifreeze to the water heater and a coach heater I canít even imagine how long it would take to warm all that up if itís not managed with a thermostat. Also, the transmission needs to come up to temp as well. That isnít going to happen when idling. On my outlander they found the vehicles in Russia and other very cold areas were having problems with sludge. They made it so the engine is warmer before sending warm antifreeze to the heater core. It makes a miserable beginning of a drive. Thankfully on the Lancer it isnít a problem.

I also remove the power plug when starting the generator. Yeah itís a transfer switch, thatís what it does but it could also fail. If it fails it could be an expensive mess. So on my 14 yr old rig I hope it works right if a forget to unplug, otherwise I do it myself.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:30 PM   #11
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I live in the Midwest. Gets really cold in winter. I have a schedule/routine where every couple of weeks I check fluid levels and start everything with a motor. Weed eaters, chain saws, generator, tractor, Zeroturn mover, push mower, Diesel Coach, Coach generator.
And fuel stabilizer in everything including the Coach.
I have a place to store it next to my workshop with a 50amp hookup. I never unplug it unless we are getting ready to roll. After 13 winters here I have come to believe this helps keep everything in good working order.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:57 PM   #12
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I only will start an engine when I intend to use it. All my equipment sits out in the weather covered up . The motorhome , boat , lawn equipment sit from October till mid May. The winter equipment ,plow tractor, snowblower , snow machines sit from May till November . Been doing that for over 40 yrs and no problems . It starts just as good after being stored as it does when it gets used.
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:06 PM   #13
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Onan recommends exercising the generator monthly with a load for2 hours. Doing so and following the service schedule it will run forevever. My coach is a gasser on the Ford 53 chassis. The original owner had his own trucking company and he changed the front hubs to oil bath. So I exercise the coach (drive it) every 2-3 months so the bearings don't rust. Also, Ford calipers on the disc brakes are prone to sticking if they sit for too long. I froze the right front brake on my 100 mile trip to service. Ended up burning up the anti-lock sensor as well as pads and rotor. New rotors both sides, pads, a brake line and anti-lock sensor (which was back ordered for 3 weeks) cost about $4 grand with labor plus sitting time at the dealer. Since then I have been exercising the coach and generator as stated and no problems.
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crasher View Post
Where did this"Start a gas engine every so often" was needed to keep everything nice and comfy? We leave a Minivan in our WI garage from Oct to May without starting. Only a smart charger plugged it. Maybe in time it might matter, but the van is 13 years old with 108,000 miles and runs like new. I'll check it in another 10 years for any problems. We leave our Acadia in our garage in AZ from May till Oct with the same results. I used to leave our bulk potato trucks sit from November till August without starting and they were fine too. Yes the generator should be started once a month with a load on it, but not for the engine. The purpose is to dry out any moisture that might accumulate in the generator windings. That said, I have stored our 20 and 30 kw Lima Mac farm generators for 6-8 months between uses for many years with no adverse effects.

Starting an engine every two weeks and only letting it idle up to temperature will over time accumulate more moisture in the engine from condensation which can be harmful. If an engine is to be started, it should be driven and worked for a short period to evaporate off any moisture that may have accumulated. I'm no certified mechanic, but I have owned and operated hundreds of engines in all types of equipment in our businesses over the last 60 years with no major engine failures from this practice.
Any internal combustion engine must be at normal operating temperature for at least 2 hours to evaporate any moisture in the crankcase. Idling for 30 minutes doesn't accomplish much but burn fuel.
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