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Open Roads Forum  >  Class B - Camping Van Conversions

 > Genny during storm power outage

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NJheart

Midwest

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Posted: 07/04/12 01:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OK, guys -- these days I do more listening to y'all than I do talking. Life has been more than busy for the past couple of years. But now I need to speak up and ask for some info from some wiser than me. The particulars: 2010 Pleasureway Excel, Onan 2.8 kw Microlite gas generator.

Here in Illinois we were hit last Sunday with a 90 mph squall, taking down trees, limbs, and power lines. Power was out in our area in 100 degree heat for over 36 hrs before being restored to our house. Although my van had been back in the shop for a continuing AC problem, I retrieved it hoping to run the generator to keep my fridge cool until we got power back. I started the genny (never a problem with it, just had the oil changed, 3/4 tank of gas in the van)and let it run for about 10 minutes. Used my Good Governor inside the van at a plug-in to check the voltage: it read 60/112. Everything inside the van was turned off and unplugged. At the outside plug I connected a heavy duty extension cord that was just long enough to reach inside the house to the fridge, read the output at the end of the cord, also 60/112. Plugged the fridge cord in: it would run the light but the compressor would not come on and run even after being plugged in. The generator did not "chug down" under any load and ran consistently without any bit of variation. I then tried unplugging the fridge and running a small Vornado fan instead, and it just hummed slowly but could not really blow a fly away; under house power it would sound more like a helicopter taking off. What did I do wrong or what could have been the problem?

We have used the generator before on the road to power AC, to power the microwave, to power a coffeemaker -- no apparent problems previously. Any ideas?


~marilyn (B@heart)
.....traveling with: my sis & the 'Dales


2chiefsRus

USA Somewhere

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Posted: 07/04/12 01:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

how long was the extension cord you were using? When you say, heavy duty, do you mean 10, 12, etc?


Dave & Kathy
2007 Monaco Knight 40PDQ towing 2003 Odyssey
Fulltime since October 2007
Before you give someone a piece of your mind, make sure you can get by with what will be left.
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Handbasket

Asheville, NC

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Posted: 07/04/12 01:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Puzzling. I'm guessing when you say 'AC problems', you mean A/C (air conditioning), not 'alternating current. Just to be sure they're making good solid contact, I'd try flipping the breakers in the RV power panel, and the one on the Onan. Then I'd try a different outlet in the van. Then I'd try a different extension cord. But I'm just shooting in the dark here.

Jim, "Senior citizen. Gimme my dam' discount."


'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory')

loving retirement

SF Bay Area

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Posted: 07/04/12 02:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NJheart, if I read your post correctly you tested your AC voltage INSIDE the RV at an outlet and plugged your extension cord into an OUTSIDE outlet. The first thing I would check is trying to run a heavy wattage device from that outside outlet.

NJheart

Midwest

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Posted: 07/04/12 02:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jim: You are correct: AC meant A/C (...we've had trouble with the fan on the AC since purchase. Several shops have "fixed" it (supposedly bearings? missing screws? You name it. The fan rattles and it doesn't cool that fast or well as a result. They're still searching out the problem. PW is involved now in trying to get something done thru Dometic.) I did not reset the breakers at the time as there seemed to be no need: output inside and outside seemed to be sufficient as far as readout. I can try this next. Right now it is too hot to even go outside much less play around on the black tarmac. It's an oven here.

Dave & Kathy: By arm measurement said extension cord's about 25 feet, heavy orange, labeled "15A/125V/1875W suitable for outdoor appliances." And yes, I did try a second, heavier duty but longer one at the time, just in case the cord was faulty. Same result.

Loving Retirement: Yes, I checked the voltage inside at an outlet, then outside at the end of the extension cord (since my Good Governor would not plug directly into the outside outlet.) Then I tried running a heavy duty appliance (my refrig) and a lower-power appliance (my breeze fan). Neither operated correctly.

My Roadtrek

Tucson, AZ.

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Posted: 07/04/12 02:19pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like the extension cord was too small for the length of the run. Remember, it's the size of the wires, not the size of the cord.
You might want to read this.
http://home.mchsi.com/~gweidner/extension-cords.pdf





NJheart

Midwest

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Posted: 07/04/12 02:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Roger/My Roadtrek: Thanks for this -- I just visited it and I understand about size of cord, length of cord, etc. I can go out and buy the heaviest (a #10, right?) and make it as short as possible between my back step and the fridge -- but two questions remain in my womanly mind: 1)if there was a voltage drop over the 25 feet of my cord, why would that not show on the Good Governor that I was using, and 2) even with a voltage drop, why would it not run a simple 12 inch variable speed breeze fan?

loving retirement

SF Bay Area

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Posted: 07/04/12 02:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NJheart wrote:



Loving Retirement: Yes, I checked the voltage inside at an outlet, then outside at the end of the extension cord (since my Good Governor would not plug directly into the outside outlet.) Then I tried running a heavy duty appliance (my refrig) and a lower-power appliance (my breeze fan). Neither operated correctly.


NJheart, From what you have said I do not believe that your problem is your extension cord nor the length of the run of those cords but the electrical contacts inside your outside outlet. This is why I previously suggested that you try connecting a high wattage device to that outside outlet in the RV. I have no knowledge about your Good Governor which you stated said you had 112VAC at the end of your extension cord, but I will bet that the Good Governor does not place a load on that circuit. You can sometimes test a dead 12 volt battery with a digital multimeter and still get 12 volts if it is not placed under a load.

NJheart

Midwest

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Posted: 07/04/12 03:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Loving: I don't have too many options as to a high-wattage device that might be plugged in outside: electric start on my gas snowblower, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, leaf blower, weed-whacker, air compressor. Can't use my ceramic heater; it will never turn on in this heat! I just went outside and started the genny, let it hum, and plugged my 1875 watt hair dryer in to the outside plug, turned the dryer on: It ran like a charm both low and high. Hot enough to do the usual job, no difference. ???

2chiefsRus

USA Somewhere

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Posted: 07/04/12 03:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NJheart wrote:

Roger/My Roadtrek: Thanks for this -- I just visited it and I understand about size of cord, length of cord, etc. I can go out and buy the heaviest (a #10, right?) and make it as short as possible between my back step and the fridge -- but two questions remain in my womanly mind: 1)if there was a voltage drop over the 25 feet of my cord, why would that not show on the Good Governor that I was using, and 2) even with a voltage drop, why would it not run a simple 12 inch variable speed breeze fan?


I'm not familiar with a Good Governor but I would think that the voltage drop doesn't show on the Good Governor because the power is good at that end because the voltage drop is at the other end of the cord - i.e. it is dropping all along the length of the cord until this isn't enough power left to run anything at the end of the line.

By the way, I picked up an extension cord for my sister to run her window air conditioner. It was $40 for a 25 foot 12/3 cord. It would have been $85 for a 25 foot 10/3 cord if they had had any left in stock. Sis is in the same situation as you in Northern Indiana.

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