Generator Longevity

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Monty

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Posts
6
My knowledge of generators is sorely limited. My RV has a gas Onan 4000 with just 224 hours. What I would like to know is there any idea as to just how many hours the average generator can be run before it will need an overhaul? I see where some might run their generator all night, and day, to keep the AC going. Is this a good idea (realizing of course the necessity might occasionally arise)?  Should a real concious effort be made to run as few hours as possible?

Also, what is the best oil to use in a gas generator? Can something like Mobile 1 be used or is that too slippery for such small engines?

I tried to find something about this in the archives but no luck. My apologies if this has been previously discussed.         
Appreciate any and all tips about generator usage and maintaince.
 

caltex

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Posts
731
Location
North Texas/Northern California
I had a friend who used his houseboat generator every weekend, all weekend.  He finally had it overhauled at 2,000 hours.  I don't know if this is typical or not, but my guess is that it is pretty typical for a gas generator.
 

blueblood

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Posts
1,082
Commodore said:
My knowledge of generators is sorely limited. My RV has a gas Onan 4000 with just 224 hours. What I would like to know is there any idea as to just how many hours the average generator can be run before it will need an overhaul? I see where some might run their generator all night, and day, to keep the AC going. Is this a good idea (realizing of course the necessity might occasionally arise)?? Should a real concious effort be made to run as few hours as possible?

Also, what is the best oil to use in a gas generator? Can something like Mobile 1 be used or is that too slippery for such small engines?

I tried to find something about this in the archives but no luck. My apologies if this has been previously discussed.? ? ? ? ?
Appreciate any and all tips about generator usage and maintaince.

I think somone who posted here used it continuously 24/7 during the summer while in the north. A freind has used his genset for weeks 24/7 each time he gets smaked in FL from  hurricanes which unfortunately he has had to do repeatedly the last couple of years. I had standby power ONAN in my home in NY and had to run it 24/7 for several weeks after a major ice storm in the late 90's. bottom line they can run a long time if oil and filters are changed every 150 hours or so.
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
A generator will have more problems from non-use than frequent running.  Just use it whenever you need to and don't worry about the hours.  Change the fluids and filters according to the manufacturers recommendations and it will probably outlive all of us.
 

Chet18013

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
Posts
1,861
Location
Full time in RV. Home is where we are parked
We essentually run our Onan 7.5KW generator whenever we're on the road and the outside temps warrant Air Conditioning,  and spend a lot of time boondocking with generator running. I think nothing of running it 24+ hours at a time without shutting down. We now have 2900+ hours on it and it just runs and runs and runs.  During the winter when the MH is not being used, I run it for and hour--under load--every three weeks.

Chet18013
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,115
Location
Davison Michigan
I no longer know anyone who operates a soft-serve Ice Cream truck (but I used to) Now, understand he bought it used and abused and the Onan generator needed serious help (I was able to get it started, which was more than he could do, that was an electrical issue)

But let's see... My toad's engine lasted about 200,000 miles, now at 60mph that would be 200,000 minutes or 33,333 hours, of course in practice I can not average 60mph, perhaps 45, (make it about 50,000 hours)  Car engines lead a very hard life when compared to a generator engine.

I have to agree with the poster who said that if you do your regular maintance (Keep good oil in it, change plugs and keep the filters clean, buy clean fuel and keep it clean...  Your children, or grandchilderen may have to worry about an overhaul. You very likely won't
 

BernieD

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2005
Posts
5,877
Location
Goodyear, AZ
John In Detroit said:
But let's see... My toad's engine lasted about 200,000 miles, now at 60mph that would be 200,000 minutes or 33,333 hours,

John you slipped a digit, s/b 3,333.3 hours. ;)
 
E

Ernest Ekberg

Guest
Welllllllll-- on my Perkins/Kohler, I have 5621 hours. She runs great and generates 12,500 watts. Leaks a little oil, but I believe all Perkins, Detroit Diesel engines do. Ernie driving a wanderlodge- with a rebuilt turbo- less oil leaking, now
 
T

Tweedy

Guest
Lots of good info already posted-- but here is my 2cents worth (from experience)!
Make sure ALL ac loads are OFF before starting and before shut down-- the voltage regulator goes nuts without stabilized RPM and is an expensive ($300+) fix. In this regard, also make sure carb intake is set for the season. Summer setting in cold (winter) may also cause RPM hunting because of carb icing.
Regards from Memphis
 

waterdog

Active member
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Posts
31
I am still using the same 5.5KW RV-style generator I bought new in 1988 for use in our beach home in Baja, Mexico.? We ran it daily for 7 months a year until 2000.? Over 10,000 hours. Regular maintenance? (including oil/filter-air filter/etc changes every 100-125 hours) will keep a well-built generator running for many years.? I also converted the original gas to propane...propane runs much cleaner and more economically. Propane conversion kits are available for most gas gensets.? In late 2000 I purchased a super-quiet Honda EX5500K2A gas generator that has performed very well for our 5th Wheel and our Baja home.? I expect it will last another 10-12 years or more, too.? Costs were:? Generac $2000? -? Honda? $2950.

For home use..although they certainly could be uesd mobile...I have owned an Onan diesel genset that lasted 15 years,and a Home Station (Coleman) propane-fired model with a Briggs & Stratton engine that overheated immediately so I returned that one.? ?The Coleman supplier confessed that the? unit did not operate well in hot climates.? ?(Did he think Baja was in the artic?)? The store refunded my money but did not consider the 1600 mile round trip drive necessary for me to return it!
 

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