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Old 03-13-2021, 11:50 AM   #1
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Generators: Use Onan, RV generators for stick homes?

We recently moved to hurricane territory and need a whole home generator for health reasons.

Upon the recommendation of the mechanical engineer who designed our house and installed a neat electrical system with a UPS backup battery system, I bought a small portable Honda at Home Depot.

But I'm wondering if there is a way to use the Onan generator in our 40-ft coach as a backup as well? Has anyone done this?

Cummins engines are used in Generac, Kohler and other whole home generators.

And I think they make them for propane, which we will use if we buy a whole home generator?

Our house is in NE Florida and has about 4,000 sq ft. cooled.
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Old 03-13-2021, 12:05 PM   #2
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No reason in the world why an RV generator can't power your house.
You need to cut your house off from the "grid" and switch over to the genny and figure how to get the power from the genny to your master panel.
Any good electrician can install the switch and plug, and modify the genny to get the power to the house.

Been done lots of times out in the back country here in Colorado where folks have a cabin with a pad outside for their coach.
Just remember 25 gallons of propane @ $3.25 / gal is expensive electricity.

Mike in Colorado
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Old 03-13-2021, 05:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldedit View Post
We recently moved to hurricane territory and need a whole home generator for health reasons.

Upon the recommendation of the mechanical engineer who designed our house and installed a neat electrical system with a UPS backup battery system, I bought a small portable Honda at Home Depot.

But I'm wondering if there is a way to use the Onan generator in our 40-ft coach as a backup as well? Has anyone done this?

Cummins engines are used in Generac, Kohler and other whole home generators.

And I think they make them for propane, which we will use if we buy a whole home generator?

Our house is in NE Florida and has about 4,000 sq ft. cooled.
It depends on which genset you have and how much power you need to run the systems you need in the house. Our power requirements are small, and our house backup is an old gas Onan from our Southwind. But adapting the 120V-only 7500QD in our current coach has some challenges.
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Old 03-13-2021, 07:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Flyer15015 View Post
No reason in the world why an RV generator can't power your house.
You need to cut your house off from the "grid" and switch over to the genny and figure how to get the power from the genny to your master panel.
Any good electrician can install the switch and plug, and modify the genny to get the power to the house.

Been done lots of times out in the back country here in Colorado where folks have a cabin with a pad outside for their coach.
Just remember 25 gallons of propane @ $3.25 / gal is expensive electricity.

Mike in Colorado
Our Onan consumes very little diesel fuel when we run it. We have 100-gal tank. And two big truck stops are about 3 miles away so refueling would be easy so long as their pumps were working during a power outage.
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Old 03-14-2021, 06:41 AM   #5
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Our home is also wired to use one or two small gas generators, in the event of a power outage. When we were considering having the input panel altered to accept power from the motorhome, we realized it would just be simpler to move into the motorhome during a protracted outage. Similar comfort, similar amenities, but burning less fuel.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:08 PM   #6
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I think petrel has the right idea. We've lived in Florida for 40+ years and our motorhomes have always served as power back-up. For brief outages I just run an extension cord into the house; for extended outages we move us to the motorhome where we have hot water, plenty of power, and all our creature comforts.


But connecting a big power cord directly to the coach diesel is possible with some mods to the wiring. The Onan 7500 & 8000, however, are 120v only but could probably feed the same power inlet as you use for the small portable. If you have the larger 10k or 12k generators, they produce 240v and could be wired to the house power inlet that way.


Quote:
Cummins engines are used in Generac, Kohler and other whole home generators.
I hate to disappoint you but few, if any, RV Onan generators have Cummins engines - Cummins doesn't make any small diesels. Most of the Onan diesel gensets use Kubotas. Maybe some of the huge (1500 KW) industrial gensets are big enough to utilize a 300+ Hp Cummins diesel, but most units have much smaller needs.
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Old 03-17-2021, 06:32 PM   #7
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Our home is also wired to use one or two small gas generators, in the event of a power outage. When we were considering having the input panel altered to accept power from the motorhome, we realized it would just be simpler to move into the motorhome during a protracted outage. Similar comfort, similar amenities, but burning less fuel.
Our thoughts, exactly. Hook up the 2,000 kw Honda generator to the house to run the refrigerators. Move into the coach for the duration.
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Old 03-17-2021, 06:37 PM   #8
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I think petrel has the right idea. We've lived in Florida for 40+ years and our motorhomes have always served as power back-up. For brief outages I just run an extension cord into the house; for extended outages we move us to the motorhome where we have hot water, plenty of power, and all our creature comforts.


But connecting a big power cord directly to the coach diesel is possible with some mods to the wiring. The Onan 7500 & 8000, however, are 120v only but could probably feed the same power inlet as you use for the small portable. If you have the larger 10k or 12k generators, they produce 240v and could be wired to the house power inlet that way.




I hate to disappoint you but few, if any, RV Onan generators have Cummins engines - Cummins doesn't make any small diesels. Most of the Onan diesel gensets use Kubotas. Maybe some of the huge (1500 KW) industrial gensets are big enough to utilize a 300+ Hp Cummins diesel, but most units have much smaller needs.
Thanks for the correction.
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Old 03-17-2021, 08:59 PM   #9
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My parents used their RVs 5kw Onan to power their home in the mountains. They had an electrician install a manual transfer switch on their house, which powered a few selected 120V circuits on the sub-panel.

In late 2019, my mom had a Generac stand-by generator installed, with an automatic transfer switch.
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Old 03-18-2021, 06:59 AM   #10
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In late 2019, my mom had a Generac stand-by generator installed, with an automatic transfer switch.

I did this at my house March 2017. 22KW Generac on propane. This past October, during the ice storm in Oklahoma, it started at 5 am Tuesday morning and shut down at 4 pm Saturday. Since my MH stays parked at my house, plugged in, I have the RV panel on the house wired in to the house panel as well.

Funny story though. The day we bought the MH and got it home (Januuary 2015), I had it sitting on the driveway, plugged in, with all the slides extended. I was putting things inside away, storing stuff, loading the bays with MH stuff. Wife had just started making dinner in the house and the power went off for no apparent reason. So, we started the genny in the MH, and she finished cooking dinner in the MH and we had a nice little campout on the driveway.
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:15 AM   #11
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Lots of good input here....don't know about the heating and cooling systems in your home but depending on ambient temps, cooling a house with normal residential HVAC requires way more power than most RVs generate. Heating is also challenging unless you have propane or NG for primary fuel [solar or wind is a whole other discussion]. An all-electric home would be a major problem, without a properly sized stand-by generator.
I think the UPS you speak of is an automatic system that momentarily keeps the power on for lights and a small amount of select, critical equip. like computers or medical support. These systems are designed to fill a short time gap until your back-up generator can be activated.
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:40 AM   #12
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I drilled maybe a 3" hole in the side of the house and put a weather cover over it. The hole is next to the clothes dryer plug to a 30 amp breaker. I have a 8000w hurricane/construction generator. The 30 amp output cord goes into the house and plugs into the dryer wall plug. The generator powers the whole house except for the heat pump. We put a window AC in the main bedroom. We built this home 14 years ago. 2 of the 5 or 6 hurricanes in that time have had me hook up the generator.
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:46 AM   #13
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….soooooo, you use a male to male [dead man's] cord to connect your genset to the dryer plug [assume old style dyer 240 plug--no neutral?], and no positive transfer switch/breaker controls in the breaker panel?
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:42 AM   #14
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Ö.soooooo, you use a male to male [dead man's] cord to connect your genset to the dryer plug [assume old style dyer 240 plug--no neutral?], and no positive transfer switch/breaker controls in the breaker panel?

I read that too.
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