Generator won't start

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
I had my genny going yesterday, started up great, let it run a bit and shut it down.
It is Onan Genset 4000.
I cannot get it started today. I just charged my house battery using my chassis alternator. It is clicking like there is not enough juice to start. I am letting it set and will try again.
I have been watching my battery and decided to try and start the furnace to dry out inside a little.
The manual is vague at best. I checked the altitude and that is set correctly. I have more than enough gas, oil and filter are good. As I said I have had it running. I also have a brand new house battery.
Could the starter be going bad? I am dry camping this week and I don't want to start my rig every time to charge the system.
I am at least happy that I have potable water and propane for the refrigerator and to cook with. Thank you all for your help.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
1,013
Location
Full-time , Escapee
It is clicking like there is not enough juice to start. I am letting it set and will try again.
That is a pretty good indication that you don't have enough power from the coach battery to crank the engine. Your coach should have an emergency start switch on the dash. Start the chassis engine and with it running, hold the emergency start switch down, which parallels the chassis battery and the coach battery, then try starting the generator while holding the emergency start. If it then cranks over and starts, that will confirm that your coach battery is the problem.
 

Bobtop46

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2011
Posts
766
Location
Bronson FL
1. The Onan needs a minimum of 1/4 tank of gas to run. The supply for the Onan is higher then for the RV engine. It is done this way to prevent you running the RV out of gas with the generator.
2. It does sound like you have a low battery situation. The furnace, water heater, frig, and A/C thermostat all run on 12v battery. You might have to at least start the RV engine in order to get the generator to start. I don't think that you need to wait for it to fully charge to get the generator started, unless the battery is very depleted. The alternator will help supply juice to get the generator started.
I would start your RV engine, let it run for 5 minutes and then try to start the generator. Once the generator is running and making power you can shut off the RV engine. Depending on the state of the battery you might need to run the generator for a few hours to get a good charge. Keep an eye on gas tank levels for the RV, see #1 above.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
Thank you I am above half with a brand new house battery, good alternator and good motor battery. I will check the above and get back. I also checked connections as well.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
By the way only thing I have on is the fridge, which is currently running on propane but I understand that it uses the battery to ignite. What about the breaker at the genny? Does that make a hill a beans difference on or off?
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
That is a pretty good indication that you don't have enough power from the coach battery to crank the engine. Your coach should have an emergency start switch on the dash. Start the chassis engine and with it running, hold the emergency start switch down, which parallels the chassis battery and the coach battery, then try starting the generator while holding the emergency start. If it then cranks over and starts, that will confirm that your coach battery is the problem.
Unfortunately it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. So I don't think I have emergency start.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
1. The Onan needs a minimum of 1/4 tank of gas to run. The supply for the Onan is higher then for the RV engine. It is done this way to prevent you running the RV out of gas with the generator.
2. It does sound like you have a low battery situation. The furnace, water heater, frig, and A/C thermostat all run on 12v battery. You might have to at least start the RV engine in order to get the generator to start. I don't think that you need to wait for it to fully charge to get the generator started, unless the battery is very depleted. The alternator will help supply juice to get the generator started.
I would start your RV engine, let it run for 5 minutes and then try to start the generator. Once the generator is running and making power you can shut off the RV engine. Depending on the state of the battery you might need to run the generator for a few hours to get a good charge. Keep an eye on gas tank levels for the RV, see #1 above.
Got my coach running like you said will let it run a bit. I checked out under the hood as well to be sure everything is tight. So weird that I had no issues yesterday, at least the sun is shining.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
1,013
Location
Full-time , Escapee
Unfortunately it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. So I don't think I have emergency start.
What RV do you have? I don't believe that I have ever seen a motorized RV that didn't have one. Some of them use other names but they have the switch.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
Ya, pretty sure I drained my battery. I will let the motor run a little while and hope for the best. My fortunate thing is that I am not really using anything but the fridge. I am guessing trying to use the heater was what drained me. Live and learn, gotta learn the hard way, I guess.
 

Krazeehorse33

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2021
Posts
104
Location
Kenton Ohio
The switch the guys are describing will be on the dash where you can access it while starting the vehicle. It will be a momentary switch, you have to hold it down while turning the key to start the coach. When you find that you can use it in reverse and hold it down while attempting to start the gennie.
 

Rob&Deryl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 27, 2017
Posts
1,448
Location
On the road from mid NH
The furnace fan is the largest 12v drain.

charging a depleted battery with the chassis engine takes a very long time compared with using the generator and converter. Think hours, not minutes.

oh, and running the engine at idle will charge even slower and I would not do that for an extended time. Get the generator running.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
Well so far I have the battery charged but not enough to start the genny, yet. I turned the fridge off for now.
I remember yesterday that it gave me a light on my check panel with the generator, so I guess once it's charged enough maybe she'll start up.
Thankfully it is not too cold outside for using the heat, regularly. I will just leave that off and use the fridge only like I have been.
All of you, have been a huge help. I guess I should have listened to my gut and let the genny run a while last night. I will also tamper down on any excess usage, like lighting. I am glad that I have a AAA tap light and an oil lamp if needed. I took for granted being plugged in all last week.
I am generally use to waiting and have no place to go. I am eight miles off the road and I will just enjoy the day.
Thank you again, all.
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
The switch the guys are describing will be on the dash where you can access it while starting the vehicle. It will be a momentary switch, you have to hold it down while turning the key to start the coach. When you find that you can use it in reverse and hold it down while attempting to start the gennie.
And I am almost sure I don't have said switch. All that is on the dash is my indicator for the jacks.
If it helps I am on an '95 Ford E350, like I said in another reply, not a lot of bells and whistles. Glad I have the virtue of patience.
 

Utclmjmpr

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2009
Posts
5,361
Location
Cedar City, UT
One of the first things newbes learn is that if you take out more than you put in,, you have a problem. ( And if you do it several times, you will have several problems )
 

kitto

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Posts
44
Location
Michigan
One of the first things newbes learn is that if you take out more than you put in,, you have a problem. ( And if you do it several times, you will have several problems )
Thank you for the reminder. Like I said, live and learn; sometimes the hard way.
 

JayArr

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2020
Posts
651
Location
Mission British Columbia Canada
L = LOW = 6V
F = FAIR = 11.2V
G = GOOD = 11.9V
C = CHARGE = 12.7V

A good Lead acid battery is considered 50% discharged at 12V. You are above 11.2 but below 11.9 so you definitely ran it down too low. If you want to get the generator started faster, pull the engine battery and drag it back to the genny and hook it onto the genny with jumper cables.
 

Bobtop46

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2011
Posts
766
Location
Bronson FL
Point was to try to start the generator while the RV engine was running, that way the alternator can add juice to start the generator. Once the generator is running you can shut doff the RV engine.
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
120,689
Posts
1,213,121
Members
125,771
Latest member
ORV270RKS
Top Bottom