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Open Roads Forum  >  Class B - Camping Van Conversions

 > Exercising a propane generator.

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My Roadtrek

Tucson, AZ.

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Posted: 02/26/13 12:15am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I thought I would post this to clear up some misconceptions as to why a propane generator needs to be exercised. Type of fuel is only one factor.

EXERCISING THE PROPANE GENSET
"Exercise the genset at least 2 hours each month if use is infrequent. Run the genset at approximately 1/2 rated power. See LOADING THE GENSET (Page 9). A single two hour exercise period is better than several shorter periods.
Exercising a genset drives off moisture, re-lubri-cates the engine, and removes oxides from electrical con-tacts and generator slip rings. The result is better starting, more reliable operation and longer engine life."
Onan does check the hours on the gen-set, and too few hours could void the warranty. Average of 24 hrs a year will assure warranty service.

Exercising a gas gen-set is even more important these days because of ethanol, but do not assume just because you have a propane generator it doesn't need the recommended run time.

Source: Onan user manual

PSW

Oklahoma City

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Posted: 02/26/13 06:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I love those ads for eight or ten year old RVs that say something like " only 13,000 miles on the odometer and the generator only has 26 hours!". When I see those, I think to myself: get ready! You are going to have a world of hurt.

Just as Roger posted above, if you don't have at least an average of 2 hours a month for the life of the unit, you are getting ready to probably spend some bucks on a generator........sometimes big bucks.


PSW
2013 Phoenix Cruiser 2350
2014 Jeep Cherokee behind it
and a 2007 Roadtrek 210P for touring

McK

Arkansas

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Posted: 02/26/13 08:32am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for reminding me why our unit does not have a generator.

During the four years we had a Class C, its generator was only run twice while on trips for a total of less than an hour. But every month, I had to go out there run the thing.

It's been six years since since we got the Sportsmobile and we have never regretted not having a generator installed.


Robert
2006 Sportsmobile Sprinter


bobojay5

Eastern Kansas

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Posted: 02/26/13 08:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Really about the only thing we use it for is to run the microwave in the morning or heat water for tea etc. after I disconnect from the power pedestal.
Also maybe if we stop for lunch on the road

But to add, we wouldn't own an RV without one

* This post was edited 02/26/13 10:37am by bobojay5 *


Bob & Sharon
Eastern Kansas
2013 Winnebago ERA 70A
Class B Van

Sandia Man

Rio Rancho, NM

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Posted: 02/26/13 09:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I find it takes very little effort to maintain these Onans as most of the problems are related to lack of use and/or fuel system issues due to not adding Stabil or Seafoam to gas. For the few months a year that we are not out RVing, it takes but a minute to walk out to our rig and press a single button to exercise the genny. We use ours extensively as we prefer boondocking. We have over 700 hours in 5 years since we often camp in temperatures requiring use of AC or 2 space heaters. We would never own a RV without an onboard genny, just love being able to power our entire rig with a flick of the switch.

Fastpaddler

Vancouver Island,BC

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Posted: 02/26/13 12:57pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Good report from My ROadtrek.Sometimes I read disparaging remarks about propane generators versus gas ones. Personally, after owning two rvs with gas ones and the current propane generator, I find the propane generator is quieter starts more quickly if left unused for a long while. I start mine about once a month and run it with the aircon on or all lights on. One should not forget to check the oil level too as they all hold very little oil and if one of them run--for very long--without an adequate oil supply the engine can seize up. I have mine checked by the dealer because the unit is inconveniently located under the back end of the PW Plateau and it takes a contortionist to remove the plate, check the dipstick and replace the cover. I agree with both schools of thought re generators:if you dont need one dont get one but if you have one they can be really handy, especially when boondocking or, in fact, if you are at a location where ONLY 110/115V shore power is available which might blow the cct breaker if using aircon--and, you can power up everything needsd for a certain time-frame.In short,you are independent.

My Roadtrek

Tucson, AZ.

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Posted: 02/26/13 07:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

McK wrote:

Thanks for reminding me why our unit does not have a generator.

During the four years we had a Class C, its generator was only run twice while on trips for a total of less than an hour. But every month, I had to go out there run the thing.

It's been six years since since we got the Sportsmobile and we have never regretted not having a generator installed.


My post was about exercising a propane generator, so start your own thread, and please don't take mine off topic. Thank you

* This post was edited 02/27/13 12:05am by My Roadtrek *

Davydd

Minnesota

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Posted: 02/26/13 09:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It seems Onan is a bit inconsistent in its information. One Onan Owner's Manual I have specifically says gasoline engines should be exercised for two hours.

It may seem strange that “not” using a machine could cause performance problems, but with RV generators that’s exactly the case. Regular “exercise” is an important part of keeping your generator healthy. Lack of exercise can cause moisture build-up and fuel system damage that make it run poorly. In fact, in as little as 30 days, the fuel in gasoline-powered generators can begin to break down into gums and varnishes that clog the fuel system. Fuel varnishing results in hard starting and surging. (A surging generator never settles at a stable operating speed.)

To prevent such problems, we recommend running gasoline generators at a minimum of 50 percent capacity (2000-watts, or one air conditioner for a 4000-watt set) for two hours at least once every four weeks. A long two-hour exercise period is preferable to several short periods.


Clearly the 30 day interval is a gasoline fuel issue. Then later in the manual it says run 30 minutes to thoroughly warm up then you can run intermittently. I suspect the 2 hour recommendation is primarily because of gasoline gum and varnishing issues. The 30 minute warm up would take care of the other concerns of moisture buildup and engine lubrication.

No where does it say anything about voiding a warranty if hours are not put on the generator in a given period of time.


Davydd
2015 Advanced RV Ocean One Class B
Visited states in an RV


My Roadtrek

Tucson, AZ.

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Posted: 02/26/13 11:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

All I know is that Onan states all three types of generators should be ran for a 2 hour period once a month. I suspect this is for water evaporation, and lubrication, as well as carb cleaning. I was a helicopter mechanic, and not a generator mechanic, but I would think exercising the gen. for 2 hours a month could only be good for it, and as far as the warranty goes, why take the chance.
I know for gas gens. Onan states warranty will not cover carb gumming if the gen-set has not been exercised, and they do look at the hours in these cases. Your correct, I have not read anything about internal rust voiding the warranty, but again, why take the chance.
I know you only have something like 8 hrs on yours, but being from a damp climate, I would think you would want to do all you could to make sure all the moisture was evaporated. Rust is very bad for internal engine parts.
I think the 30 min warm-up is correct, as long as the gen-set gets ran on a frequent basis, like several times a week.

* This post was edited 02/26/13 11:51pm by My Roadtrek *

mlts22

Austin, Texas

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Posted: 02/27/13 08:43am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Onan gives directions for storing a generator using Ona-Fresh and fogging it. I wonder how long a time that is meant to be.

In any case, the nice thing about a "B" is that one can fire up the genset, leave it on running the A/C, a well-anchored heater fan on half power, or some other decent electrical load while doing some chores, and that takes care of the genset exercise time.

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