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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Built-in Onan Generator - inverter compatibility

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jcpainter

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Posted: 05/18/13 09:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As we were ending our "snow birding" stay in Florida this year, we had Camping World install a Cummins Onan Marquis Gold 5500 generator and a 2000 watt Nature Power pure sine wave inverter/charger.

Our request was for a "pure sine wave" system that was safe for all of our sensitive electronics.

After 2 days of installation we were told that "Everything checked out fine, here's the book to read how to use it". This was late on on Good Friday and the service dept was trying to close. We were rushed out the door.

On our way home to TN, we opted to try out our new system by dry camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I won't bore you with the details, but the system did not work fine. We've since taken it to a Camping World in TN. They had it for two days and are now saying that the two devices (that they sold us and installed in our rig) are not compatible. I believe they said that the inverter is a pure (true) sinewave, but the Onan generator is not. Apparently they are having this problem with other such systems that have been sold throughout the US recently and are "working on a solution".

I've been told that Camping World used to sell the Zantrex inverter and that it worked fine with the Onan generator. Going to the Zantrex site I see that they make both pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters. I see an old youtube video where the true sine wave Xantrex was sold by Camping World.

Does anyone have the Onan generator described above working with a 2000W pure sine wave inverter/charger? If so, what brand inverter?

Any help in "layman's language" would be greatly appreciated.

* This post was edited 05/18/13 09:39am by jcpainter *

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Posted: 05/18/13 09:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think there are some people working for CW that do not understand generator, inverter relationships and/or they installed it all wrong. If the generator is operating, the inverter is idle, except for the battery charger side, if it has one. All electricity from the generator, that is fed to the inverter, is passed through the inverter with a pass through relay. When the generator is NOT running, then the inverter produces AC from the batteries and feeds the circuits that are wired into the inverter. That is the basic of the system. It makes NO difference if you have a inverter generator, a straight generator, a PSW inverter or a MSW inverter, the principle is the same.


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time2roll

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Posted: 05/18/13 10:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Generator and inverter are neither compatible or incompatible. They are separate and should have been installed with separate transfer switches so that they do not connect at the same time.

We could try to help but I think you will need to rely on CW at this point.


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Posted: 05/18/13 10:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What are the symptoms?

The inverter and generator should not be powering the same AC systems at the same time. The charger portion of the inverter should be happy with the genset's output. What does not work? I wonder if they hooked up the automatic transfer switch wrong?

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Posted: 05/18/13 10:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jcpainter wrote:

I've been told that Camping World used to sell the Zantrex (Xantrex) inverter and that it worked fine with the Onan generator.
This makes no sense. As....
smkettner wrote:

Generator and inverter are neither compatible or incompatible. They are separate and should have been installed with separate transfer switches so that they do not connect at the same time..
That's pretty much layman's language as to what's wrong.

That's not the most expensive IC I've ever seen, and it appears to only have outlets, not hard wire, which is kinda weird for that type of unit.

OP- You may want to bore us with the details about what doesn't work.

* This post was edited 05/18/13 11:12am by 2oldman *

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Posted: 05/18/13 11:08am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Assuming they were installed correctly there is no way that I know of to be not compatible. They are separate systems and one works when the other one doesn't.

What were the symptoms. What was it doing or not doing.


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jcpainter

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Posted: 05/18/13 12:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The message below came from the inverter manufacturer when I emailed and asked about "compatibility" with the Onan generator:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Jean,

Thank you for contacting us.

In the case of our inverter + charger units (#38326 and #38330), they are designed to be fed from Pure or True sine wave AC sources only. If connected to shore power or a generator that supplies Pure or True Sine Wave they will be OK. In the case of ONAN generators it is my understanding that their output is not true sine wave. I would suggest contacting ONAN for confirmation on the actual output from the specific model you have in mind.

---------------------------------------------------------------------


I guess the question is . . . does the expensive Onan generator produce a pure sine wave output?

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Posted: 05/18/13 12:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes it is sine wave. Although the wave form might get a bit distorted under load. This may reduce maximum charging power when charging batteries but should not be an issue generally.

All generators that use a rotating armature are sine wave. The sine wave is a natural result during power generation.

The only way to have MSW would be an inverter generator that uses a MSW inverter to create the wave form. Kipor is the only one that I know that has such a model.

What is the real issue again?

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Posted: 05/18/13 12:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jcpainter wrote:

...we had Camping World install a Cummins Onan Marquis Gold 5500 generator and a 2000 watt Nature Power pure sine wave inverter/charger.


Its too late now, but having Camping World install anything was your first mistake.

jcpainter

Crossville, TN

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Posted: 05/18/13 12:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

John & Angela wrote:

Assuming they were installed correctly there is no way that I know of to be not compatible. They are separate systems and one works when the other one doesn't.

What were the symptoms. What was it doing or not doing.


During the install, a couple circuits were moved into a new breaker box that the inverter should "feed".

When shore power is turned off and the generator is not turned on, the devices attached to the circuits in the new box work properly.

HOWEVER, if the shore power is turned off and the generator is turned on (to power air, microwave, etc.), nothing in the new circuit box will run.

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