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Author Topic: Generator while running down the road  (Read 977 times)

HitNtheroad

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Generator while running down the road
« on: January 03, 2018, 04:59:30 PM »
Ok...I just got home from a 2600+ mile trip up from OK to NJ and back. Very cold temps with some ice and snow. I was reading up before I left that I should run the generator while running down the road so that I could run the heat in the back passenger compartment. I turned the generator on but by the time I got done driving for the day the house battery was completely dead beyond repair (older battery) so I bought a new battery for the drive back home. Again I made sure the generator was running. The only thing running was the heater and occasionally the water pump. Nothing else was plugged in to outlets. I drove approx 800 miles before stopping for the night and discovering that the generator had died and the new battery was dead as well. I have not had a chance to check anything out since I got back home but will be digging into it this weekend. Any recommendations for a starting place would be much appreciated. House battery is a deep cycle marine battery if that helps.
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

Kevin Means

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 06:02:52 PM »
Is your house-battery also discharging while the coach is plugged into shore-power? The generator and shore-power supply 120 volts A/C to your coach. If your motorhome has an auto transfer switch, it will automatically select between those two power sources, usually giving preference to the generator. If your coach doesn't have an auto transfer switch, you'll have to manually plug your shore-power cord into a socket (usually in the power bay) to get generator-power to the coach.

In most motorhomes, if your house-battery disconnect switch is in the OFF position, your house lights will work, but your house-batteries will not charge. Try flipping that disconnect switch on and off. You should hear a "clunk" sound every time. The "clunk" sound is the solenoid that's doing the actual switching. If you're not hearing that sound, the solenoid may be bad.

Kev
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 06:04:23 PM by Kevin Means »
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 06:23:36 PM »
The genset does indeed need 12v power to operate, but whether it gets it from house or chassis 12v system, something ought to be continuously charging that.  The genset provides power to the house charging system, and the engine alternator provides charging for the chassis 12v system. And nearly all engine alternators also charge the house battery as well.  Apparently  something is wrong in one or the other in your coach.

You probably don't need to run the genset if you are using the propane furnace for heat - it needs only 12v and the engine alternator ought to be providing plenty for that (if it is working correctly). You only need the genset if you want to run an electric space heater.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 07:46:09 PM »
I will double check all of my connections. I guess it's possible something worked loose.  I will make sure the shore line cord is plugged in like it is supposed to be.  The chassis battery did just fine throughout the trip.
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 09:51:52 AM »
You should have a relay that closes when the engine runs and connects the house battery to the engine alternator for charging as you drive. If you have an Aux (emergency) start switch, it's the same relay that makes that work. Try it and see (if you have the Aux switch).

Since the chassis battery stayed up ok, it appears your genset 12v power comes from the house system and the house battery is not being charged. Either by the house converter/charger or the engine alternator. Question: do you have a house battery disconnect switch? If so, was it Off by any chance? That takes the house battery offline.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

TonyDtorch

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 10:17:12 AM »

You probably don't need to run the genset if you are using the propane furnace for heat - it needs only 12v and the engine alternator ought to be providing plenty for that (if it is working correctly). You only need the genset if you want to run an electric space heater.

Gary. 

What about all the talk in this thread (2 pages)..... "Safe to leave gas on while driving" ?   Oddly,  I did not notice any comment there from you about leaving the gas on ?...many people (myself included) really value your RV wisdom. 

I guess this answers that old question.. :)

My only question is... Does traveling down the road (wind) ever have any ill effects on the heater burner vent stuff ?  (still in Ca, so I have no idea)..

I understand all the gas/driving risks,   I just want to know "in reality"....does the propane heater (or fridge) ever really mess up in real RV life ?

thanks ..Tony
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 11:21:54 AM by TonyDtorch »

Frank Hurst

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 04:21:46 PM »
Kind of a simple thing, but are you sure that you are getting power from the generator to the unit? Would be sad to run that far with the breaker on the gen off.
Frank & Hilda Hurst
2003 Phaeton
2004 Malibu
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HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 08:05:14 AM »
You should have a relay that closes when the engine runs and connects the house battery to the engine alternator for charging as you drive. If you have an Aux (emergency) start switch, it's the same relay that makes that work. Try it and see (if you have the Aux switch).

Since the chassis battery stayed up ok, it appears your genset 12v power comes from the house system and the house battery is not being charged. Either by the house converter/charger or the engine alternator. Question: do you have a house battery disconnect switch? If so, was it Off by any chance? That takes the house battery offline.

I am very new to this RV and I don't know the answers to these questions but I will find out and check these systems. I appreciate all of the information. The weather is finally warming up and I will have some days off this weekend to check everything out!
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2018, 08:27:49 AM »
Probably should have learned my system better before setting off on this trek across country in freezing temps. It was a medically necessary trip for a friend...otherwise I would have had plenty of time to study up. Ignorance is no excuse though!
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2018, 08:41:42 AM »
No worries - you are not alone. Newbies near-always get sent on their way without 1/10th of the info they need, even when buying a new rig from a dealer. Maybe even especially when buying new!   We can help.

If you have a battery disconnect, it is usually near the entry door so you can switch it on/off as you enter. It is sometimes labeled "Storage" or "Main", and some Rvers refer to it as a "salemen's switch", since rigs on the sales lot or an RV show display often have their power switched on/off using it.

An Aux or Emergency start button will typically be on the dashboard at the driver position, since it would bs used when attempting to start  the engine.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2018, 09:50:26 AM »
You should have a relay that closes when the engine runs and connects the house battery to the engine alternator for charging as you drive. If you have an Aux (emergency) start switch, it's the same relay that makes that work. Try it and see (if you have the Aux switch).

Since the chassis battery stayed up ok, it appears your genset 12v power comes from the house system and the house battery is not being charged. Either by the house converter/charger or the engine alternator. Question: do you have a house battery disconnect switch? If so, was it Off by any chance? That takes the house battery offline.

I have a house battery disconnect switch but it was on (green light showing) the entire time.
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

Kevin Means

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2018, 12:39:40 PM »
Is your house battery discharging when you're plugged into shore-power? It sounds like you don't have an auto transfer switch, so you have to manually plug your shore-power cord into a socket to get power from the generator. lf you've done that, and your generator is running, do any A/C appliances work? (microwave, roof AC etc.) If other A/C appliances work on generator power, but your house battery is discharging, your charger/converter may not be working. It could be something as simple as a blown fuse, a popped circuit breaker or...

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Lou Schneider

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2018, 03:11:37 PM »
Kind of a simple thing, but are you sure that you are getting power from the generator to the unit? Would be sad to run that far with the breaker on the gen off.

An easy way to verify the house is getting power is to look at the microwave.  It's front panel will only come to life if it's receiving 120 volts.

Stephen S.

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2018, 07:40:30 PM »
Yeah... I'm gonna put my money down on: it doesn't have an auto-transfer switch and wasn't plugged into the receptacle in the cord bay.
Stephen S.
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'99 Winnebago Chalet
2002 VW Beetle
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Home town: Mableton, GA

namumac1

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2018, 12:12:11 PM »
The plug in thing was a problem for me too. I must have not been listening when the seller gave me the once over instructions. Now all good.

Neal

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2018, 07:44:37 PM »
I would think a for sure easy way to check the generator and switches, would be to fire it up, and while the generator is running (shore power cord not plugged into pedestal), turn on the air conditioner (fan only if you want to). If it doesn't run, something is not connected correctly.
Neal,        2008 Winnebago Journey 39Z, Freightliner XC-S chassis,
Cummins ISB 6.7L 350 HP, Allison 3000,  2014 Honda CRV Toad.

HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 11:41:37 AM »
You guys are awesome and I feel like an idiot...I knew it had to be plugged in but in the cold I was fighting the cord and forgot to plug it in. {face palm} Thanks for your patience and help!!!
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

Frank B

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 05:03:08 PM »
Cold does nasty things to the brain.  ;D   This is why we headed S.


And, as far as feeling foolish....  I just replaced our aging battery bank with 6 new GC-2's from Costco, swapping them out in the parking lot.  But the storage capacity was not a bunch different than with the old ones.  I was discouraged.  Then, when checking the electrolyte, I noticed that two of the batteries were not connected....  Ah, man!  {face palm} indeed.


Glad you got it fixed.


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

John From Detroit

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2018, 08:51:41 AM »
One comment about running the Genny on the road (By the way I do that every month.. that is when I do my monthly maintance run)

When my Rig was new.. If I ran the beast for more than 2 hours parked  BEEP BEEP BEEP (CO alarm got very alarming, as well it should)
In fact I've had my net door neighbor's Genny trip it.

So I got a Gen-Turi, no more annoying alarm beeps.. But that only works parked.

Now going down the highway at 55+.. The exhaust fumes from the Genny (CO) .. By the time they got up to the point where they coudl enter the living quarters.. They were several vehicles BEHIND me and highly diluted by the 55 MPH "Breeze" blowing past.

OH, I've since hit 3 hours with no beeps. I think the added inch of exhaust pipe )(The Genturi connector) made a diference.

And I've replaced the exhaust pipe.. (the old one rusted out)

But The moral.. No problem running genny as your drive.

FIRST generator I ever worked on was an ONAN in an Ice Cream Truck... IT would not even tuirn over when  I arrived, I fixed it and we got it started.. The next repair was .. Well I knew how to do it but major engine overhauls are not something I do for a friend in his driveway... (That's a shop job)..

When they are working they shut down the truck. unplug from shore, fire up the generator and drive for like 12 hours stoppign to dispense soft serve. but the generator runs all day, parked or moving, till they get back to their base adn return to shore power.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

HitNtheroad

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Re: Generator while running down the road
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2018, 01:08:14 PM »
Good stuff John. I will look into the Gen-Turi. I did not have any alarms while driving down the road with the genny and the oil leak it had has stopped (yes it still has plenty of oil ;D). I will be watching it closely. I think it had not been run enough. Didn't know I had to run it once a month...learning all kinds of things these days. That's what I love about this forum. This newbie is very thankful for all the great experience and advice offered here!
Steph & Mak
2007 Four Winds 5000 28A
Class C motorhome.
2009 Toyota RAV4
2 Pescador Pro 12' Kayaks
Newbie owner/operator

 

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