View Full Version : Generator do's/don'ts??

07-21-2008, 12:45 PM
Is there anything I can do to extend the life of the generator? I have not found the Onan manual in the stack of paper that came with the rig but I imagine there's a maintenance schedule in there and I'll meet/exceed that.

Upon delivery I made a point of putting 3 hours use on the generator right away to make sure it was working as delivered. Now I will probably use it at rest stops for 20 minutes or so and maybe for a few 4-6 hour stretches if we end up boondocking enroute. Is there a break-in duty cycle that would be good for it?

Oh yes... how many hr/gallon should I expect under light load and with AC going?

07-21-2008, 01:32 PM
I can't answer your question but I am hoping you can answer my question. I had my Onan installed after I bought my rig and am curious about the installation. Do you have hoses from the LP tanks looped under your frame? Or is everything installed out of sight? If you have a chance a picture would be great but I understand if it is too much. It is alot to ask. I am anxious to see other responses as well since I already have almost 20 hours on my generator.

Thanks in advance,

07-21-2008, 07:57 PM
First, it's hard to get an answer without knowing the size/capacity of the generator you're talking about.

Then go to www.cumminsonan.com (http://www.cumminsonan.com/) and look up the specs for your model.

Here's a sample excerpt for Onan's 4KW gas-powered RV generator:

Average Fuel Consumption:
No Load (Gal/h) = 0.3
Half Load - 50% (Gal/h) = 0.5
Full Load (Gal/h) = 0.7

07-21-2008, 08:07 PM
OH... I didn't know the 3210 had genny options - I've got a 5.5kW gas genset. I was looking for "conventional wisdom" on gennys since I've never owned one.

Sorry about the question re: LP install... my factory install is all under the covers - nothing exposed. I have np posting pics for anyone that helps... but right now the FW is in storage (we'll be living in it next week and pics are easier then)

BTW ---- GREAT FORUM!!! The advice and info on my specific rig here is OUTSTANIDNG!

rob hutch
07-21-2008, 08:49 PM
I am kicking around the idea of installing a generator on my 3200bhs but not sure where to have it mounted anyone have any suggestions?

07-21-2008, 08:56 PM
I've owned everything from 12KW diesel to 2.8KW gas generators and a host of portable generators (I own a Yamaha and a Honda now).

Extend the life ???

1. Change the oil RELIGIOUSLY ... without fail. The first oil change on a new generator is critical; then every 50 hrs.
2. Exercise the generator at least monthly while in storage. That means starting it and loading it to at least 50% load for 15min.
3. Change the fuel filter at least once a year and more often if you think you're getting less than the best gas (Mexican, for example) OR you use it a great deal. I'd say every 150-200 hrs of run time.
4. Use Stabil or another fuel stabilizer if you will store the unit with gas in the tank for more than a few weeks.

07-21-2008, 08:58 PM
On small engines I run 10 hrs on conventional oil to break them in and then dump the oil and switch to a true synthetic and change oil every 50 hrs.

Synthetic oil is the best thing you can do to extend the life of air cooled small engines.

Treat the fuel with Stabil.

07-21-2008, 09:02 PM
Easiest location for a generator on a unit that wasn't built with one ...

on a rack at the rear end that is securely attached to the frame (I suggest a dealer if you're not sure about what you are doing). Make sure it is totally protected from moisture ... REAL sure.

IF it's not raining, you can actually run the unit for a couple of hours while you motor down the road to run the AC and pre-cool the unit.

FWIW, Onan makes a unit that is specifically designed to be mounted at the rear of the trailer on a deck.

There are other locations but there are also problems with most of them from exhaust issues to finding room and wiring it up. The deck at the rear is inexpensive, easily installed, practical and functional but not very pretty to look at.

07-21-2008, 09:40 PM

On my '09 Landmark with a factory installed gen, the black pipe has a T in it and a flex hose comes off the T and loops around and into the frame/underbelly.

Here's a pic:

07-21-2008, 10:52 PM
Thanks Jim - That isn't what mine looks like!! Once again, thanks Dan Gamel. My LP hoses loop under the frame on both sides. If for some unknown, horrible reason, my rig ever comes off my TV unexpectedly, my beloved Fifth wheel will become an incendiary device. One more thing to get fixed.

There is a whole in the I-beam like in your picture. I hope it is a simple matter of re-routing tubing.


07-22-2008, 05:33 PM
On small engines I run 10 hrs on conventional oil to break them in and then dump the oil and switch to a true synthetic and change oil every 50 hrs.

Synthetic oil is the best thing you can do to extend the life of air cooled small engines.

I may end up with 10 hrs on the genset in the middle of our next trip. How hard is an oil change? Maybe I can do it in the CG (since I'm on vacation anyway... I'll have the time).

Is there a specif synth Onan likes you to use? This seems like a good investment to me. I've never switched to synthetics on my big engines since I preferred to use a good oil and change it early (vs extended intervals on synth) ...and iirc there was all that talk about seals absorbing or not and leaking etc?

07-23-2008, 12:10 AM
Actually CumminsOnan wants you to use their OnaMax oil SAE30 in the air cooled gas models and SAE15w40 in the liquid cooled diesels and doesn't recommend to use synthetic in the diesel gensets.

Here's a link that will answer many questions you have. Onan RV Gensets (http://www.cumminsonan.com/www/pdf/rv/f-1123.pdf)

All that talk of leaking seals with synthetics overstated. Problem was people switching with old cars that leaked as it was and synthetic being slipperier (and more expensive) it easily found it's way out.

All I run is synthetic, engine, tranny, gear oil, everything. Been running synthetics for many years.

I've had 2 leak problems over the years.

I had was with a rear seal that I installed wrong on my 2000 F350 7.3 powerstroke with 325,000 miles on the clock. Only reason I changed it was because I already had the engine out for a repair to the front timing cover and so I resealed the whole engine while it was out as a preventative measure....... Unfortunatly changing the seal the second time wasn't fun withthe engine back in the truck DOH.
I forgot to replace the plug after filling the High Pressure oil resevoir and bleeding the HP oil system on the same 7.3 when I changed injectors shortly after the timing cover replacement. The truck fired right up first try and shot a solid stream of about a gallon of Rotella Synthetic up into the hood where it then ricocheted all over the entire engine compartment....... Even though I pressure washed the engine bay several times, the truck leaked oil everywhere after that for about a year as it worked it's way out of every nook and cranny it went into. DOH