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Old 04-29-2017, 02:56 PM   #1
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Onan Generator breaker help

Onan generator mod. HGJAB 5500, 2002 or so.

Not sure when or for how long but while on the Gen, we can't use the front A/C. Rear works fine. Also, can't run microwave. All works if plugged into shore power.

Checking the generator breakers I notice we have 2. Both say 30 amp (we have a 50amp system, class A, 2002 Damon Intruder)

TOP breaker was OFF, bottom was on. Turned top on, Gen won't start. It shuts off after a few seconds. Turn off and gen starts but still have no front a/c or micro.

Could the breaker be bad?? Suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2017, 04:01 PM   #2
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Can you clarify here, you say the generator won't start then you say it shuts off after a few seconds, which one is it, and does the breaker trip?
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Old 04-29-2017, 04:52 PM   #3
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I believe the generator will shut down if it detects a short circuit in one of its output legs.

The breaker that was off, may have tripped due to a short.

You need to look over the wiring from it, to the transfer switch.
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Old 04-29-2017, 06:48 PM   #4
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Sorry for any confusion in my post. Running generator, rear a/c only works. Front ac will not. Microwave wont work either.

On shore power, both ac's and microwave works.

today, at a dog show dry camping, i checked breakers inside, fine. I checked breakers on generator. I have 2, both say 30amp. bottome one was on, top was off.

With gen off, i flipped the top breaker ON, so both are on. Gen would start but then shut off after a second. Got 3 flashing lights on switch. hit the off button flashes stopped.

turned top breaker OFF, gen started fine, then back to the beginning with only front ac working, no microwave, no rear ac.
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Old 04-29-2017, 06:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
I believe the generator will shut down if it detects a short circuit in one of its output legs.

The breaker that was off, may have tripped due to a short.

You need to look over the wiring from it, to the transfer switch.


On the Intruder, it would be very hard for me to trace wires as 80% of the generator is behind solid rv body. Small door to access gen.
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Old 04-29-2017, 06:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric1959 View Post

TOP breaker was OFF, bottom was on. Turned top on, Gen won't start. It shuts off after a few seconds. Turn off and gen starts but still have no front a/c or micro.

Could the breaker be bad?? Suggestions?

Thanks!
I just went through something very similar... in my case, a bracket underneath the coach sofa/dinette slide had broken, so when the slide was in the 'closed' position, the wiring was touching the exhaust. At some point, the wiring burnt through the insulation and shorted out the 110v circuit. If that specific breaker was turned 'off', the generator would start, run, and put out power. Turn 'on' the breaker, it shorted out and took down the generator. It was quite the adventure figuring out what was wrong! -RT
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:10 PM   #7
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The way to check it is to use an ohmeter or similar setup. Turn off the main breakers in the motor home and disconnect the shore plug so the system is dead. Disconnect the wiring at the generator and check for a short between each hot and neutral. There should be very high resistance between each leg. Infinite is high. It would be even better if you had a megger or insulation tester available. If you see a low resistance then disconnect the wiring at the transfer switch.

If you still have a low resistance the cable has worn through somewhere hidden and has to be replaced or bypassed.

If the problem goes away when disconnected then there may be a problem with the transfer switch. That depends on how the transfer switch works. Many just connect the coil of the relay to one leg of the 120 VAC so there will be a low DC resistance. I'd test it with a suicide cable and extension cord to see if it pulled in the relay or popped the breaker. YMMV. (Suicide cord has male plug on one end and test clips or bare wire on the other.) If the transfer switch is DC operated (reduces hum) then the power supply can also be bad.

You could also just have a bad breaker but the error code would send me looking at what the manual says. The fact it is sensing a fault argues that the breaker is not the whole problem. When you fix the other problem the breaker might also be stressed enough to derate and pop. In that case I would not expect an error code. The available devices have made it possible to sense a lot more things so it is best to check the error code and see what the programmer who wrote the code thinks happened.
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:14 PM   #8
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yes, it sounds like one of your breakers is not grounding properly, and the generator is 'telling' you that there is a problem when it BLINKS - these blinks, when read correctly, and using the owner manual(you can probably download online), will tell you what the issue is.... or these BLINKS may be listed on the top of the Generator itself.

since it works with only one of it's breakers operational, I suspect that the other breaker either should be replaced(bad), or there is a short somewhere between it and the coach breaker panel. Hopefully it's just a breaker replacement.

as far as 'two 30a breakers' on the generator, even though you have a 50a coach - that's actually normal for most coaches. The generator is able to put out close to 55 or 60amps of power, so two 30 amp breakers(two separate lines within your coach breaker box) are correct. Each 30a breaker supports items on each line, such as one AC on the left, the other on the right breaker... etc., just like your coach's breaker box has two 50a breakers to divide the coach up evenly(50a Shore Power is actually TWO 50a sides)...

the newer Onan gens, like my 6000k, only have ONE 30a breaker - the other is actually tied to it and hidden behind the cover, so if one breaks, both break.
One thing that I would like Onan to provide is an 'ALERT' to let you know when your generator is running, but the breaker is tripped. The only way you normally find out is either the AC will still not operate, you look at your Inverter panel and it still reads 'Inverting', or you don't realize it and your batteries start to lose power to such a low point that all your power goes off, even with the generator running!
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:02 PM   #9
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I've also noticed my house batteries are not getting charged very well. Could any of this be caused by the failing convertor? I have both an invertor and convertor.

Coach lights aren't very bright especially when the furnace is running like it is now.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:45 PM   #10
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I would first remove cover to breaker panel and switch box to look for any obvious signs of melted or burnt wiring.

I know you stated that you checked breakers and that can mean a few different things. Sorry if these suggestions are redundant.

I would then turn off all breakers in the breaker panel. See if the gen cranks with both gen breakers on and runs normal. Turn on breakers one at a time to see if one trips the gen, provided it cranked and ran normal. If a panel breaker trips the gen then you have isolated the problem to the panel or downstream from the panel.

This method would help you isolate a problem. Of course if the gen does not crank without a load, then I would suspect it is the gen breaker or something in the cable before the panel.

You also stated the possibility of inverter converter issues and lights dimming, I would not discount these issues and these issues would also lead me to check batteries under load. One dead or weak cell can cause cause all sorts of weird issues.

With everything off flip your gen breakers and listen and feel for a difference in the breakers, something obvious will stand out. This is not a definitive approach but a simple diagnostic approach before following cables and metering like others have stated. I would look up the codes as well to add an item to the list that needs to be inspected.
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Old 04-29-2017, 08:52 PM   #11
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The generator has 2 power outputs, half of your stuff is on the breaker that works and the other half is on the one that you have turned off.

If your converter is powered by the side, with the breaker off, your not going to get any charging.

Since you say everything works while plugged in to shore power, the problem is between your generator and auto transfer switch.

Has any work been done in those areas ? New longer screws that hit wires, sawzall cutting that can hit and short a wire, electrical work.

Always look where the last guy worked.
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Old 04-30-2017, 08:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
The generator has 2 power outputs, half of your stuff is on the breaker that works and the other half is on the one that you have turned off.

If your converter is powered by the side, with the breaker off, your not going to get any charging.

Since you say everything works while plugged in to shore power, the problem is between your generator and auto transfer switch.

Has any work been done in those areas ? New longer screws that hit wires, sawzall cutting that can hit and short a wire, electrical work.

Always look where the last guy worked.
Problem is between generator and transfer switch. Other issues are because one circuit is open. Fix that circuit, problems cured.
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Old 04-30-2017, 07:40 PM   #13
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Transfer switch? Where would I find that on the converter or inverter?

Update. Had to jump start the house batteries from the chassis battery. Let them charge for a few minutes, started generator. Reason being the gen would not start. House bat's were below 9v

Generator would NOT charge batteries. Soon as we got packed up, slides in, we headed home. Stopped at Cabela's to dump tanks. House batteries were charged. I assume from the chassis system.

1. could the converter be going bad
2. would that cause the one generator breaker to trip

We also during out trip home could not get the AC units working, neither one of them, while the Generator was running and we were driving.

Plugged it in once we got home (110 ac), BOTH AC units would run, not at same time of course but each one ran fine.

So thats the update. Looking at replacing the converter anyways, it's OLD
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Old 04-30-2017, 08:16 PM   #14
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You need to confirm power is getting to the converter before you condem it.

Your chassis charging system will charge your house batteries. That's normal.

Follow your power cord into the MH. It will end at the transfer switch. That is also where the wires from the generator go.

The transfer switch chooses which power, shore or generator, to send to your breaker panel.

If after you plugged in at home, your batteries charge, and not trip a breaker in your house, it's not the converter causing your problem.

You need to address the generator tripped breaker issue.
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