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Old 10-14-2021, 05:23 PM   #1
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Generator starter leads

Question for those with onboard generators in something like a truck camper, travel trailer or 5th wheel. Not sure how or if self-propelled RVs like vans and motorhomes would compare.

Anywho... I'm curious where and how the factory leads (cables) for the generator *starter* are terminated and/or landed. Keep in mind I'm talking about the *starter*, not the output leads.

As an example, our truck camper came with an onboard Onan 2500 LP generator, and the factory generator pre-wiring consisted of #2 AWG wires ran from the generator to the battery compartment, which the dealer landed directly on the battery terminals. No fuses, inside the main battery disconnect, etc.

How is yours wired up?
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Old 10-15-2021, 11:19 AM   #2
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The installer did what you find in most small trucks and automobiles. The distance between is short. In some cases there is a simple "fuse" built into the connector at the battery.

For longer runs a fuse or circuit breaker at the battery end is safer, but I don't know what wiring codes may apply.
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Old 10-15-2021, 01:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Persistent View Post
For longer runs a fuse or circuit breaker at the battery end is safer
Question is, what would you fuse it for? Typically fuses protect the wire... but the current draws I'm seeing are way beyond the 'normal' ratings of #2 wire.

Quote:
I don't know what wiring codes may apply.
That does seem to be the crux of this... what *is* the reference guide / authoritative source for this sort of installation? No one seems to know.
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Old 10-15-2021, 04:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memilanuk View Post
Question is, what would you fuse it for? Typically fuses protect the wire... but the current draws I'm seeing are way beyond the 'normal' ratings of #2 wire.


That does seem to be the crux of this... what *is* the reference guide / authoritative source for this sort of installation? No one seems to know.
How many amps when cranking?

The online calculator that I used showed #2 copper wire being good up to a bit over 80 amps. I imagine the wire can handle more during a short start cycle. This of course, if the length of the wire isn't too long.

A 100 amp fuse or circuit breaker would be good if the draw happens to be around 80 amps.
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Old 10-15-2021, 05:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudfrog View Post
How many amps when cranking?
Two successive cranks this morning. Put the meter on 1000A DC scale, set MAX hold, put it on around one of the starter leads, and cranked the engine - which started in about 2 seconds. Let it run for about 15-20 minutes. Pulled the meter, took the 1st pic, reset the MAX hold, and put the meter around the other lead. Shut down the generator for about 15-20 minutes, and repeated the process for the second pic.






In the past I've measured 340-375A; this last one was a new high

And no, it's not missing a decimal point.
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Old 10-16-2021, 08:18 AM   #6
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There are a few different Onan 2500 models. Here is the manual for one of them.

https://www.norwall.com/product_pdfs...stall_2018.pdf

As far as I can tell, the installation meets requirements. There is reference to a long list of other codes which I did not pursue. There is no reference to using a fuse or circuit breaker in the starter cable.

Minimum Battery
Rating 360 CCA @ 18 C (0 F)

6.3.2 Battery Cable Sizes
TABLE 7. BATTERY CABLE SIZES FOR TEMPERATURES DOWN TO 29 C (20 F)
Total Cable Length1 Cable Size
0 to 13.7 m (0 to 45 ft) 2 AWG2
14 to 18.3 m (46 to 60 ft) 0 AWG
18.6 to 24.4 m (61 to 80 ft) 00 AWG
1. Battery cable lengths are total lengths from battery to the generator back to the
battery and when using a total of 1000 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps).
2. A total length of up to 6 m (20 ft) may be used in warmer climates or when
battery capacity totals at least 1000 CCA.
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Old 10-16-2021, 09:29 AM   #7
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Shows what I know. Had no idea a genset starter motor pulled that many amps.
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Old 10-16-2021, 12:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mudfrog View Post
Shows what I know. Had no idea a genset starter motor pulled that many amps.

Well, to be fair, it does seem a bit high for that small of a motor. Been going 'round and round with folks on other forums... first telling me that I have the wrong meter, then that I'm on the wrong range, then that it's *too* sensitive... basically that it's not possible for this particular starter to pull that kind of starting current.


Of course, none of them have a similar generator to put a meter on and give readings for comparisons
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Old 10-16-2021, 12:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Persistent View Post
There are a few different Onan 2500 models.


...

Minimum Battery
Rating 360 CCA @ 18 C (0 F)

6.3.2 Battery Cable Sizes
TABLE 7. BATTERY CABLE SIZES FOR TEMPERATURES DOWN TO 29 C (20 F)
Total Cable Length1 Cable Size
0 to 13.7 m (0 to 45 ft) 2 AWG2
...

Thank you for that!


So... it looks like the starting current might not be that far out of spec (360 CCA), and the wiring is exactly what is called for (#2 AWG) for the distance involved.
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