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Old 01-02-2019, 02:21 AM   #1
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High Desert , Las Vegas , Nevada
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ONAN Generator Useful Info for Newbies

Since I have never owned an RV LPG generator (own a Honda gas residential one), everything about it's usage & maintenance is a new learning experience for me. While I have learned a lot in the forum, I did pick up many other helpful tips from the Onan literature that applies to all their different gens. If you want to have your own copy, I have attached pdf. file below.

Here are just 3 things I learned just tonight (excerpts from pdf):

1.
Q: Is it practical to power the roof air conditioner with
my generator while traveling on the road?
A: Yes, that is what a generator is for, mobile electrical power.
In fact, it can help economize your vehicle fuel because the
generator uses less fuel. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to
exercise your generator. Any appliance that can run in a
stationary position can also be powered while driving.
Avoid running your generator while traveling in a heavy downpour
or adverse weather conditions. Most of our generators are bottom
breathers and there is a possibility of water ingestion
.

2.
Q: Once the generator is started, should it continue to
run for a certain length of time?
A: Ideally, Cummins Onan Gensets should run for a
minimum of 45 minutes to give them a chance to warm up.

Once warmed up, running your generator for five-minute
intervals should be fine. Remember to turn on some
appliances so the generator works while it’s running. Running
it for more than 45 minutes at no load only burns fuel
unnecessarily and adds costly maintenance.


3.
Things that effect the available power

Altitude
Altitude derates 3.5% for every 1000 ft.
– Approximately 16% in Denver
A 5.5kw genset turns into 4.6kw
– Altitude adjustment on Gasoline sets
– Don’t change any other settings

Temperature
Temperature derate 1% for every 10 deg F over 77 F.

Nameplate rating is set at 500’ altitude and 77 F. at air inlet
Don’t forget hidden loads


So, this 3rd item makes me very happy. During my summer use, I have been able to run, start, restart (at will) my QG2500 at 8,500 ft. asl in 90 degree temps. And at 3,500 ft. asl in my general community at 110 degress with no issues. Based on above figures, my generator was derated by anywhere from 15-30% during this time (2175-1750) and still ran my a/c flawlessly the entire summer without a single hiccup). Unless my numbers are way off, this is impressive performance IMHO
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Cummins_Onan_Generator_Seminar_Apr_2017.pdf (2.46 MB, 36 views)
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Old 01-02-2019, 07:15 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Alex AVI View Post
In fact, it can help economize your vehicle fuel because the generator uses less fuel.
No, it can't. The generator uses less fuel than the engine, but since the engine can't power the rooftop A/C anyway, while you're driving you'll be using both diesel for the engine and propane for the generator. So no "economizing vehicle fuel" by running the generator to power the rooftop A/C while driving.

Unless you use the rooftop air conditioner INSTEAD of the dashboard air conditioner. In which case you save about 1mpg on your diesel consumption, which is the difference between running the engine without A/C versus running it with A/C. But at the cost of burning about a gallon an hour of propane.

But in any kind of a hot climate where you'd want to run the rooftop A/C while driving, heat gain through that big greenhouse windshield means that you have to run the dashboard A/C anyway while driving, just to keep the front seat occupants from sweating buckets, whether you run the rooftop A/C or not. So you'll be using both A/C units at the same time.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
No, it can't.
PROTAGONIST - I appreciate your inputs and well stated excellent points. But the claim/statement is not mine. As I prefaced, they are excerpted and direct quotes from the ONAN published info that I copied/pasted from the attached pdf. I do not have the capability (as you may have) to prove or debunk ONAN's claim on fuel economy. If it is inaccurate, you will need to debate this with ONAN. Just trying to pass their recommendations, because I figure they are a reliable authority of rv generator usage. Pls. don't shoot the messenger. I am only trying to help newbies like me who know nothing about rv gensets
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex AVI View Post
Since I have never owned an RV LPG generator (own a Honda gas residential one), everything about it's usage & maintenance is a new learning experience for me. While I have learned a lot in the forum, I did pick up many other helpful tips from the Onan literature that applies to all their different gens. If you want to have your own copy, I have attached pdf. file below.

Here are just 3 things I learned just tonight (excerpts from pdf):

1.
Q: Is it practical to power the roof air conditioner with
my generator while traveling on the road?
A: Yes, that is what a generator is for, mobile electrical power.
In fact, it can help economize your vehicle fuel because the
generator uses less fuel. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to
exercise your generator. Any appliance that can run in a
stationary position can also be powered while driving.
Avoid running your generator while traveling in a heavy downpour
or adverse weather conditions. Most of our generators are bottom
breathers and there is a possibility of water ingestion
.

2.
Q: Once the generator is started, should it continue to
run for a certain length of time?
A: Ideally, Cummins Onan Gensets should run for a
minimum of 45 minutes to give them a chance to warm up.

Once warmed up, running your generator for five-minute
intervals should be fine. Remember to turn on some
appliances so the generator works while its running. Running
it for more than 45 minutes at no load only burns fuel
unnecessarily and adds costly maintenance.


3.
Things that effect the available power

Altitude
Altitude derates 3.5% for every 1000 ft.
Approximately 16% in Denver
A 5.5kw genset turns into 4.6kw
Altitude adjustment on Gasoline sets
Dont change any other settings

Temperature
Temperature derate 1% for every 10 deg F over 77 F.

Nameplate rating is set at 500 altitude and 77 F. at air inlet
Dont forget hidden loads


So, this 3rd item makes me very happy. During my summer use, I have been able to run, start, restart (at will) my QG2500 at 8,500 ft. asl in 90 degree temps. And at 3,500 ft. asl in my general community at 110 degress with no issues. Based on above figures, my generator was derated by anywhere from 15-30% during this time (2175-1750) and still ran my a/c flawlessly the entire summer without a single hiccup). Unless my numbers are way off, this is impressive performance IMHO
Newbie here, in the heat, how long can you run AC without a propane refill?
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:27 PM   #5
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Add to the list the annual oil change, the unscheduled visit to the Onan dealer to get it working when it won't start, and the awful noise and vibration, and you got it covered.

Mine starts when it wants to. Sometimes, sometimes not.

I hate that thing with a passion. You would think that they could design a similar genset like the Honda 2200i, which is quiet, reliable, small and lighter.
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gmillerok1 View Post
Add to the list the annual oil change, the unscheduled visit to the Onan dealer to get it working when it won't start, and the awful noise and vibration, and you got it covered.

Mine starts when it wants to. Sometimes, sometimes not.

I hate that thing with a passion. You would think that they could design a similar genset like the Honda 2200i, which is quiet, reliable, small and lighter.
I've thought this myself. Has anyone tried to replace the Onan with one or two Honda 2200i companion set up or single?
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Old 01-02-2019, 01:22 PM   #7
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GMILLEROK1, CHARLIEOSCAR - No argument here. I would love to replace mine with 2x Honda 2200 setup as companion duet if there is a way to control via the Firefly controller. A current thread is discussing the Honda for house a/c usage. People say 1 unit can be used to run it with if a/c is installed with Easy Start. 2x Honda 2200 < 100 lbs.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...er-185059.html

CHARLIEOSCAR - full tank to empty, ran mine for 5 days in +100 degree summer in high altitude (Grand Junction, CO) during daytime driving. Full hookups at night.
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CharlieOscar View Post
I've thought this myself. Has anyone tried to replace the Onan with one or two Honda 2200i companion set up or single?
The big problem is dimensions. The Onan fits underneath the Interstate without reducing vehicle ground clearance when mounted, and is the largest propane generator for which that is true.

But if you want to carry a generator inside when traveling, and set it up outside on the ground when parked (and maybe dismount the Onan to save weight), the Honda 2200i is an excellent choice.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:36 PM   #9
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Auto start when voltage is low

I read somewhere here on the forums that there was a part / retrofit for the Onan to have it auto-start when the house battery voltage dropped to a specified level. Does anyone know about that and know the part number info?
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ChrisCow View Post
I read somewhere here on the forums that there was a part / retrofit for the Onan to have it auto-start when the house battery voltage dropped to a specified level. Does anyone know about that and know the part number info?
CHRISCOW - Yes, contact FireFLy customer support direct. AS won't help you there. IIRC it is between $400-500. IIRC it was BOOM23. Do search for BOOM23 and AGS and FireFly and you may find a bit more details. But to make things simple for you, just call FireFly. They will sell anybody willing to pay. I have not pulled trigger yet due to price and not sure if we really will use it; haven't needed it to date. We leave no pets behind.

Update - not sure any parts are involved since all the hardware to interface/control the gen is already there. I suspect it is more of a firmware upgrade, as they have done on my unit to rectify an a/c control issue.
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Old 06-24-2019, 01:44 PM   #11
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I agree 100%. I have 2 Honda's and they are light years more advanced, reliable, quiet and fuel efficient than the Onan. I had to replace my original unit at about 200 hours and now I'm 120 hours into a new Onan and it has developed a vibration. Just got back from the Cummins-Onan Service center (2 hour round trip) and they confirmed it has a vibration...have to take the coach back later this week when they have time to remove it since there is basically zero access while installed under the coach. Argh @!#$%^. It should still be under warranty....I hope !! less than 2 years old.
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Old 06-24-2019, 02:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by solar-guy View Post
I agree 100%. I have 2 Honda's and they are light years more advanced, reliable, quiet and fuel efficient than the Onan.
SOLAR-GUY - If Honda ever makes a unit that can be mounted under the AI in the same location and run propane remote controlled, I would throw away my Onan in a heartbeat. Well, maybe not theow away but relegate to emergency residential use
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
No, it can't. The generator uses less fuel than the engine, but since the engine can't power the rooftop A/C anyway, while you're driving you'll be using both diesel for the engine and propane for the generator. So no "economizing vehicle fuel" by running the generator to power the rooftop A/C while driving.
The Onan tips are generalized for all of their generators. The fact is that LP generators are sort of a red-headed-stepchild in the world of gasoline generators. While it's NOT true for LP generators, the statement IS true for MOST of Onan's gasoline product lines... and in fact I occasionally run my Onan 7.5 KW genset and one or both 13,500 btu units in my Born Free 32RQ when I'm running down the road, depending on where I am and the ambient air temps.
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Old 12-07-2019, 07:51 AM   #14
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Talking New IS 19

My new 19 seems to have a slightly better install vibration/noise wise, than the EXT unit. BUT....they positioned a Steel support strap right in front of the access door for oil check/fill......
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