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Old 09-26-2022, 08:40 AM   #1
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Onan generator not producing voltage

My DW and I have a 2015 Forest River Sunseeker 3010DS (gas) motor home, which we have owned since Nov. 2019, and we are the 3rd owners. It is equipped with an Onan 4400 series generator. The MH has approx. 30k miles on it, and the generator only has 120 hrs. on it (It had 80 hrs. on it when we purchased the MH from the 2nd. owner.). Up until this summer the generator has operated flawlessly. One hot night while boon docking the DW and I heard "thumping" sounds coming from under the bed (where the Automatic Transfer Switch is located). However the "thumping" stopped and the generator and air conditioner continued operating. The next day, however, while we were outside the MH the generator (and of course the air cond.) suddenly stopped running. I went into the MH and restarted the generator and it ran well as usual but. . . the air cond. would not start. Upon further investigation we discovered none of the MH's 120v outlets had power even though the generator was running. I suspected the ATS, so I asked my neice's husband, who is a union electrician, to see if he could locate the problem. (He also owns a 5th wheel, and has owned several others; he did, however, point out that he is "not an RV tech", but would be willing to do some basic electrical troubleshooting.) After checking at the ATS and then at the generator itself he determined that the generator was indeed not producing power. Since then I have looked at every you tube video pertaining to Onan RV generators not producing voltage I could find. I found it interesting that more than just a couple of the techs working on these generators stated (as if it is a fact) that "if the generator is not producing voltage it will not continue to run." Our generator, contrary to that, starts and runs flawlessly - it just doesn't make any voltage. So, if it is, in fact, actually making voltage, where is it going? Did my neice's husband misdiagnose it? Where specifically should the voltage be checked? (FWIW, I do have a multimeter and a non-contact voltage tester in my tool box.) Thank you for reading this, and I sincerely appreciate any and all suggestions offered.

Stephen
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Old 09-26-2022, 01:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmopar View Post
My DW and I have a 2015 Forest River Sunseeker 3010DS (gas) motor home, which we have owned since Nov. 2019, and we are the 3rd owners. It is equipped with an Onan 4400 series generator. The MH has approx. 30k miles on it, and the generator only has 120 hrs. on it (It had 80 hrs. on it when we purchased the MH from the 2nd. owner.). Up until this summer the generator has operated flawlessly. One hot night while boon docking the DW and I heard "thumping" sounds coming from under the bed (where the Automatic Transfer Switch is located). However the "thumping" stopped and the generator and air conditioner continued operating. The next day, however, while we were outside the MH the generator (and of course the air cond.) suddenly stopped running. I went into the MH and restarted the generator and it ran well as usual but. . . the air cond. would not start. Upon further investigation we discovered none of the MH's 120v outlets had power even though the generator was running. I suspected the ATS, so I asked my neice's husband, who is a union electrician, to see if he could locate the problem. (He also owns a 5th wheel, and has owned several others; he did, however, point out that he is "not an RV tech", but would be willing to do some basic electrical troubleshooting.) After checking at the ATS and then at the generator itself he determined that the generator was indeed not producing power. Since then I have looked at every you tube video pertaining to Onan RV generators not producing voltage I could find. I found it interesting that more than just a couple of the techs working on these generators stated (as if it is a fact) that "if the generator is not producing voltage it will not continue to run." Our generator, contrary to that, starts and runs flawlessly - it just doesn't make any voltage. So, if it is, in fact, actually making voltage, where is it going? Did my neice's husband misdiagnose it? Where specifically should the voltage be checked? (FWIW, I do have a multimeter and a non-contact voltage tester in my tool box.) Thank you for reading this, and I sincerely appreciate any and all suggestions offered.

Stephen
Is there a circuit breaker located on the side of the generator itself? My Onan
has one. Check to see if it does. And reset it if it is indeed tripped.
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Old 09-26-2022, 01:24 PM   #3
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Your generator, like your motorhome, has a motor that runs and is used to power a separate unit that actually generates the voltage. On your motorhome, the unit the motor powers is your alternator. If the alternator stops working it has zero impact on the motor running unless it breaks the serpentine belt. The same concept applies to the onan generator where to motor can run but it does not produce voltage. I have a brand new whole house generator in the shop that cranks and runs great but after the 4th use stopped producing voltage. I researched this board and the internet for generator voltage issues and found many quick checks to help assist in identifying the problem, unfortunately in my case, I suspect my generator probably has more than one cause that is the direct result of poor quality control during production.
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Old 09-26-2022, 03:09 PM   #4
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Many if not most RV generators will shut down if not producing some voltage

The ATS ( automatic transfer switch ) needs 90 volts or more to switch the power to the RV.
As far as testing, find the juntion box where the generator wires meet the RV wires and open the cover.
Check for good connections and measure for voltage there, with the generator running.

If you get steady 120 volts, generator is fine and in 30 seconds the ATS will switch that power to the main breaker panel.

Less the 90 volts means a generator engine issue, most likely a fuel problem keeping the RPMs low.

If over 100 volts then the ATS operation is in question.
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Old 09-26-2022, 03:29 PM   #5
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Thank you WeeBeenew and rffowler55 for your replies. The video posted was excellent. I had actually checked my generator's circuit breaker and made sure it was flipped to the "on" position. Learned about that while boondocking in the Arizona desert two years ago. Ended up calling the Onan tech support line who told me about the generator's circuit breaker and its "hidden" switch!. Thankfully that got us going again.

Regarding the shore power cord being plugged in/unplugged; my MH has an Automatic Transfer Switch, so I do not have the option of "forgetting" to plug the generator back in after being connected to shore power. Our old 1978 Minnie Winnie had the cord which had to be unplugged/plugged from an outlet in the generator compartment when going from generator to shore power and vice versa. No such outlet in the Sunseeker. Or am I missing something here?

Thanks again for your help.

Stephen
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Old 09-26-2022, 03:47 PM   #6
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Thank you twinboat. I know rxactly where the junction box you mentioned is. (I even had the cover off, but did not think to check the voltage there,) Also, it never occured to me that the generator's engine itself might have an issue preventing it from reaching the RPM it needs to make power. Just prior to the problem with the generator not making voltage occurred I had changed the generator's oil and replaced the air filter element. I did not have time that day to replace the generator's fuel filter, although I have one. I will definitely be installing the new fuel filter to see if that might help. Many thanks to you!

Stephen
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