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Old 05-28-2022, 06:23 AM   #1
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Using Onan Generator for Home Back up

We are expecting many black outs this summer in Southern Calif. so I am preparing for a generator back up for my home.
My question is there any problem using my Onan 4000 in my MH as a back up generator without damaging any components on my MH?
I would simply back in my MH in the driveway closest to the electrical panel and plug a cord from generator to a 30 amp manual transfer switch near the panel.
Generator would only feed power to fridge and lights.
Appreciate any comments!
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Old 05-28-2022, 06:34 AM   #2
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Do it all the time here, especially after a hurricane.
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Old 05-28-2022, 06:55 AM   #3
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Should just fine for limited loads, as mentioned. Two concerns: 1- please dont use "dead-man" cord [two male plugs]; and 2- dont know what transfer switch you are using but make sure main house breaker is tripped so you dont power outside utility grid.
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Old 05-28-2022, 07:04 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments. Itís nice knowing to have a generator available with a 50 gal gas tank attached to it in case of an emergency.
Yes, the transfer switch will shut down main breaker when in use by design.
Thanks again
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Old 05-28-2022, 07:17 AM   #5
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If it's a 120V genset, you can only feed one side of the panel, so fridge and lights would have to be on the same leg. On some Onans, you can wire it differently for 240V.
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Old 05-28-2022, 07:57 AM   #6
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While I like the idea of using a transfer switch, in your case with only 4000 W. available you might be better served using a couple heavy duty extension cords to power the fridge and a couple lamps.
Check the amperage draw on your fridge. Multiply the amps times 120 and you will get the wattage draw for the fridge. Any wattage left over is what you have available for anything else.
Any mistake in wiring a switch or anything else into your house wiring system can result in sending power out to the transformer on the electric pole in front of your house. You do not want to charge these lines. When the power is restored the power will more than likely fry your generator or anything else it reaches. I have seen this happen in a couple cases and it was ugly. One case burned a nearly new house to the ground.
We have occasional ice storms up here in the north. It's amazing what some unknowing home owners will do to try to power their homes. As a long time volunteer fireman I have seen some really bad results. One was a child who was nearly electrocuted when he unplugged a double male plug extension thinking he could plug in his play station into the wall socket. Another was a contractor's type 5500 W. generator which just plain blew up when power was restored to the lines. The home owner swore he had the main breaker shut off.
Not having a transfer switch is illegal here but folks like to cheat to avoid the cost of doing it right.
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Old 05-28-2022, 08:15 AM   #7
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I'm no electrician by any means so I am asking not telling. My coach has an outlet outside. If I am running my on-board generator I can plug any extension cord into that outlet and have power. I know OP has already paid for transfer switch wiring, but for someone who hasn't, is there any reason not to just run a heavy duty extension cord from fridge and lights you want to power to outlet on coach?
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Old 05-28-2022, 08:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbleiweiss View Post
I'm no electrician by any means so I am asking not telling. My coach has an outlet outside. If I am running my on-board generator I can plug any extension cord into that outlet and have power. I know OP has already paid for transfer switch wiring, but for someone who hasn't, is there any reason not to just run a heavy duty extension cord from fridge and lights you want to power to outlet on coach?
No, not at all.

I did this 2 weeks ago, ran a cord from the RV outside outlet into the house . In the house I plugged in a power strip and ran a cord to the fridge and another to the TV, Stereo and Dish receiver. When it got dark, I plugged in a lamp.

If it was summer and hot, I would have moved into the RV and just ran a cord to the fridge.
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Old 05-28-2022, 08:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbleiweiss View Post
I'm no electrician by any means so I am asking not telling. My coach has an outlet outside. If I am running my on-board generator I can plug any extension cord into that outlet and have power. I know OP has already paid for transfer switch wiring, but for someone who hasn't, is there any reason not to just run a heavy duty extension cord from fridge and lights you want to power to outlet on coach?
No reason , the single cord ; from the RV ;to power the fridge ( or freezer ) and
to odd light, is the safe , inexpensive way to go .

HD cord of a length to reach to the fridge .
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Old 05-28-2022, 09:04 AM   #10
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Good conversation and hope it may help others as well. I am happy just knowing my MH can be used for this purpose.
I did consider cords in lieu of transfer switch and decided switch more for convenience. Definitely have a electrician install it if you have any doubt in your own skill set.
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Old 05-28-2022, 06:31 PM   #11
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I forgot to add that we've had a 5K Onan genset out of our old Southwind as backup for a long time (in an enclosure, with a transfer switch, all installed by an electrician). 5K was enough for us until recently to run everything except my machine tools. 4K would do in a pinch with judicious load management, I think, but it would have to make 240V at need.

We need to upgrade substantially to accommodate the heat pump system we had installed that (among other things) obviates the need for our oil-fired furnace, which I'll remove soon.
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Old 05-28-2022, 10:52 PM   #12
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One of the pains of using the Onan is that it runs at a constant speed regardless of load. There's really no need for that but because Onan is using a constant speed generator instead of the more modern inverter types available for the past many years, it's a waste of gasoline. I raised the issue and made a video for the factory at their booth several years ago at FMCA's rally in Chandler, AZ. Still waiting to hear they've modernized but sadly, have heard nothing. I bought one of the smaller inverter generators and set it outside my MH on the ground. Have to listen close to know it's running and runs for hours on a gallon of gas.

Come on Onan, get with it!
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Old 05-29-2022, 05:11 AM   #13
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One of the pains of using the Onan is that it runs at a constant speed regardless of load. There's really no need for that but because Onan is using a constant speed generator instead of the more modern inverter types available for the past many years, it's a waste of gasoline. I raised the issue and made a video for the factory at their booth several years ago at FMCA's rally in Chandler, AZ. Still waiting to hear they've modernized but sadly, have heard nothing. I bought one of the smaller inverter generators and set it outside my MH on the ground. Have to listen close to know it's running and runs for hours on a gallon of gas.

Come on Onan, get with it!
All true, but the OP has what he has, and you can buy an awful lot of gasoline for what a backup genset would cost. I actually need a much larger backup now and I've been shopping for one.

Our 5K (a BGA) burns about half a gallon an hour when it's backing up the house. For the average outage, that's less than 5 gallons of gas.
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Old 05-29-2022, 05:38 AM   #14
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I do it all the time the power is out. I run a cord from the 7KW Onan into the house and plug in the ref and freezer. One thing I don't run it constantly I just fire it up every few hours and never had a problem.
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