Your RV Generator and How It Works

Updated on July 27, 2019
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a retired engineer and long-time motorhome owner who enjoys helping readers deal with the increasingly complex technology of RVs.

How the Generator in Your RV Works

I had a guy ask me one day; "OK, I am not in the least a technical person, so how does a generator work? All I know is if it gets fuel, it runs and I get electricity out of it."

This article will give you a basic overview of the different designs of RV generators, how they operate, and some basic generator service tips.

It will also describe basic differences in gas-powered generators and diesel-powered generators and how they function.

This knowledge may one day help you determine the cause of any generator problems you may have.

A History of RV Generators

In the early days of camping in the USA, there were “rough campers.” For these people, "camping" included a tent, a sleeping bag, a backpack of dried foods, bottled water, a few matches, a snake bite kit, and not much else.

And you know what? I've been there, and I've done that!

It was fun! Especially when I was young, healthy, strong, and had very little money.

And, later in life, when I was first married, and we had kids, I "rough camped" for a while. We camped at resorts, at beaches, and in the mountains. We used larger tents, nicer sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, a small cooking grill, several coolers for real food, and a few more accessories. And that was fun too, again, for a while!

After a few years, we purchased our first Tag-Along camper. It had rudimentary plumbing, electric lights, storage cabinets, a "porta-potty,” all more comforts for dealing with the vagaries of the weather, and then, of course, we had even more accessories to make our camping more fun.

Those first old campers of ours, way back then, had your basic accessories, such as electric lights, a water pump, a propane stove, but not a whole lot else. They did not have such things as television, air conditioning, hot water heaters, microwave ovens, and all of the amenities that you will find as standard equipment on the RVs of today.

RV and Motorhome Batteries

Our first couple of Tag-Alongs, way back then, did not have a generator, just a battery. This battery was usually a deep-discharge 12-volt DC battery, the same as what is used in an automobile.

It was usually tied down onto the front end of the Tag-Along, protected in a plastic case to protect it from the weather. You charged it up before you left home.

And, considering it only had to power a few 12-volt interior lights, and maybe a small water pump to provide water at the miniature sink, it was a more than adequate power system for a good week of fun.

Over time, as some campgrounds began to provide 115-volt AC at your site, camper manufacturers added small, efficient AC-to-DC converters, so you could charge your camper battery at the site.

And once you had an RV with AC as well as DC power, along came dual-mode light systems (110-VAC and 12-VDC), as well as connections for small appliances. RVs came to include showers, electric hot water heaters, larger water pumps, microwave ovens, TVs and multiple wall receptacles.

RV Battery Box

NOCO Black HM318BKS Group 24-31 Snap-Top Box for 12V Marine, RV, Boat, and Trailer Batteries
NOCO Black HM318BKS Group 24-31 Snap-Top Box for 12V Marine, RV, Boat, and Trailer Batteries

My motorhome batteries sit on a shelf that is open to the weather on the backside. They were getting dirty, so I found this great battery box on the web and put each of my batteries in one. The boxes keep road dirt off the batteries and (I hope) make them last longer.

 

Appliances for Motorhomes Created a Demand for Generators

The most important electrical addition manufacturers made to RVs and campers was extra electric receptacles, in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and so on.

Once the power was accessible throughout an RV, people started bringing their favorite appliances from home, such as coffee makers, hair dryers, toasters, portable TV's and radios, and on, and on, and on.

RV manufacturers had to react by adding electric breaker panels (versus those old fuses) to handle potential overloads, and heavier wiring for the current all these appliances pulled.

Eventually campers became accustomed to using such appliances everywhere: in state parks, in the woods, alongside streams and lakes, and pretty much wherever they went.

So, the next "necessary item" for the typical modern camper was—you got it—a good electric generator. We all wanted those conveniences and therefore that power, everywhere, all of the time. At the flick of a switch!

Underside of an RV generator (the red fluff is a shop rag that got sucked into it).
Underside of an RV generator (the red fluff is a shop rag that got sucked into it). | Source

Why Have a Built-In RV Generator?

Today, the average RV owner travels much further to reach their camping destination than even a decade ago.

On these longer trips, they often have to stop for the night at an interim campground or two along the way, or do the Wally-World thing (overnight in their parking lot?), or stop and sleep at a rest stop or other public parking lot. And the next morning they eat, pack up, and hit the road for the next part of their trip.

Of course, while on these longer trips they usually have a fridge that is packed with fresh food and beverages, and so they are able to eat very good meals and then sleep in that comfortable bed in the camper.

Myself, I have pulled into a rest area around 6-7 PM, fired up my generator, turned on the TV for local news and weather, eventually cooked a light dinner, and watched my favorite network TV shows, all with the AC running, and finally I'd go to sleep in my nice cool camper, on my own bed.

Often, in a rest area, I will leave the generator running all night, along with a couple of roof fans, recharging my house batteries and providing just enough background noise to drown out most of the outside noise from the comings and goings of other vehicles, campers, and truckers in the rest area.

I will get up in the morning, make fresh coffee, toast a muffin, and boil or fry an egg for a hot breakfast, maybe even take a hot shower, all before I shut down my generator and continue my trip.

Now I have a motorhome, with a built-in generator that is designed especially for the appliances in my RV. It is ridiculously easy to operate. And, often, parked right beside me, might be a Class-C, a Fifth-Wheel, or a Tag-Along, all with their own built-in generators, providing those creature comforts we are all spoiled with. Ain't camping life a rough life?

Portable Generators Came First, Then the Built-In RV Generator

Before camper owners started buying their RV with a built-in generator, many of them used portable generators.

They were convenient, and reliable. But they took up a lot of room when it came to storing them.

And not many models were quiet enough for use at night in a campground.

Because by this time the RV manufacturers knew that they had to do whatever as necessary to make their motorhomes more competitive than the others, they all started installing built-in generators in the larger motorhomes.

So, Now We Can Talk About Generators and Motorhomes

Built-in generators are so popular today that it's actually hard to find a motorhome that doesn't come with a nice generator built into it.

Why only in motorhomes, you might ask, and not in towable campers?

Well, a motorhome already has a fuel source for its engine, so the generator can be fueled by the same tank as the engine.

You rarely see a towable camper with a built-in generator, because to install a generator the manufacturers would have to install a fuel tank as well.

Portable generator
Portable generator | Source

Troubleshooting: Reasons Why Your Generator Might Not Start Up

1. Fuel Supply

Every motorhome manufacturer today that includes an electric generator in their design also includes one little innovation: that is, they no longer attach the fuel line for the generator to the bottom of the RV’s main fuel tank.

They attach it now about a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the tank, so that it will only pick up fuel if the main fuel tank is more than 1/4 full.

This redesign was intended to avoid the situation where a camper out in the middle of nowhere runs the generator until it uses up so much fuel that there isn’t enough left to drive the vehicle back to a gas station and fill it up again.

So, if you are out somewhere rough camping and your generator won't fire up when you turn it on, check that your fuel tank is more than 1/4 full. And if your rig is parked on a slant, the tank may have to be even more than 1/4 full for the fuel level to reach the line to the generator.

2. Oil Supply

Many built-in generators won't start if the oil is down to one quart or less. And that's one reason why you should check the oil in the generator often.

3. 12-Volt Power Switch

To get started, your built-in generator needs power from the 12-volt Coach battery system in your RV. If the power switch to the coach's 12-volt accessories has been turned off, for example to prevent power drainage while the vehicle is in storage, the generator can't get power. Many RV owners don't know where this cut-off switch is. Find it and check it.

4. Fuel Pump or Fuel Filter

If the generator won't run, or runs sluggishly, and there are no fuel, oil, or connection problems, the generator itself may be bad.

But the problem is usually the fuel filter (which can become clogged, especially when using diesel). Fuel filters are common culprits but they are pretty cheap to replace.

Understand How Your Generator Works!

If you use an electric generator, you should have at least a general understanding of how it works, so that you can make sure your generator is there for you when you need it.

First of all, it has to start, easily and quickly. Then it has to run, smoothly, automatically, and efficiently.

Here are some basic facts about generators.

There are four basic functional sections of an electric generator. Of course you can tear a generator down to smaller and smaller working pieces, but I am not trying to teach you to be a mechanic, rather I want you to know how one functions from a high level.

That way you will understand the importance of those pesky preventive maintenance parts in a generator, and why they need to be monitored and even replaced occasionally.

The four functional parts of a generator are:

  1. a fueled mechanical motor
  2. a fuel supply system
  3. an electric starter motor
  4. an electric power generator

1. The Fueled Motor

Generators are run by a fueled motor of some kind, usually gasoline or diesel, as I have mentioned.

The motor uses the combustion of the fuel to keep the crankshaft of the motor turning.

Today, there are many different designs of motors, from the simple to the complex. An example I can describe here is a simple, cheap gasoline-powered lawn-mower motor with two cylinders.

Each cylinder contains a piston which is connected to a crankshaft. Each cylinder has a fuel input port and an air input port, as well as an exhaust port. The two cylinders are designed so that when one cylinder is firing, the other one is getting fuel and air to fire.

This whole assembly is mechanically designed so that you will get continual firing and exhaust, and the crankshaft will turn from all of this combustion action in the cylinders.

In a diesel motor, there is no spark plug; the combustion is achieved via high compression of the diesel fuel.

Lubrication

One of the most important things to watch is your generator motor's lubrication. Your generator motor uses oil to keep all of those mechanical parts running smoothly as they rub against each other. You should always make sure you have enough oil in the motor, and always change the oil filter on the motor as scheduled by the manufacturer.

Cooling

Some electric generators are air-cooled. But a larger generator will often have a cooling system similar to an automobile engine, using a water-and-antifreeze cooling liquid.

If your generator is one of these, you need to check the level of the coolant reservoir regularly, and assure the level is kept within the indicated limits. And, as with an automobile, you need to consider the amount and strength of antifreeze appropriate for the season and region where you are using the generator.

2. The Fuel System

Gasoline Combustion: A Simplistic Explanation

A stand-alone gasoline generator gets its fuel from its own fuel tank. The gasoline is usually fed via gravity to the carburetor on the motor. In the carburetor, the gasoline is mixed with air (or oxygen) and injected into the motor's cylinder where a spark is provided via a spark plug.

This spark causes the mixture to explode, and forces the piston in the cylinder to slide open, which moves the crankshaft of the motor. All of this is done via mechanical timing, which keeps the motor turning.

In a coach with a built-in gasoline generator, the functions are the same, but the gasoline comes from the coach's main fuel tank.

Diesel Combustion: A Simplistic Explanation

A stand-alone diesel generator also gets its fuel from its own fuel tank. The fuel is fed via a fuel injection system directly into the cylinder of the motor, and mixed with oxygen there. Then the piston moves to compress the diesel fuel to the pressure necessary for it to explode.

No spark is needed, nor is there any carburetor on a diesel motor. When the fuel mixture explodes, it forces the piston to move to the open position in the cylinder, thus turning the shaft of the motor. This cycle repeats itself via mechanical timing which keeps the motor turning.

Fuel System Service

These parts of a generator's fuel system will need occasional service:

  1. The fuel filter
  2. The carburetor fuel jets (on a gasoline motor) or diesel fuel injector jets (on a diesel motor)
  3. The spark plugs (on a gasoline motor)

If the fuel filter gets dirty or blocked, even partially, then too little fuel will be provided to your motor, and it may not run. If it runs, it may miss or turn off sporadically.
In a gasoline generator, the spark plug will, over time, need replacement. It can become fouled with carbon or dirt, and eventually the contacts will wear out.

If the fuel jets are blocked, then the motor may not run for lack of fuel. If they are worn, the wrong mixture will be provided, and the motor will not run properly.

You can replace a fuel filter, and maybe even a spark plug if it is placed conveniently for you on the engine, but when it comes to replacing the fuel jets you really want a trained mechanic to deal with that.

3. The Electric Starter Motor

Your generator has to be started by turning the motor until it goes through several firing cycles of several cylinders. Once the motor gets going, the starter is no longer needed, as the motor will run on its own.

The starter motor is electric and requires voltage to turn, and in your coach, this voltage comes from your house batteries. It takes a significant amount of current to turn your generator motor, even more with a larger-sized motor/generator combination.

You should also know that because a diesel motor uses a higher level of compression to force combustion, it is harder to turn, and thus its starter requires significantly more current than a gasoline motor to get it to turn at a high enough speed.

The reason you need to know this is simple. There are some hefty wires coming from your house batteries to the generator of your coach. And you should check occasionally to make sure the following things are true:

  1. Your house batteries are in good shape, and hold a strong charge.
  2. Your connections to your batteries, as well as to your generator are clean, without corrosion, and attached tightly at each end.
  3. When your starter turns, it doesn't make weird sounds, and is actually turning the generator motor's shaft.

4. The Electric Power Generator

Here’s a simple description again, this time of the part of your generator that actually generates the electricity.

Picture a coil of wire wrapped around a shaft. This coil of wire spins inside the opening of a larger outer coil of wire. Visualize that the shaft of your generator is attached to the shaft of the fueled motor and turns when the motor turns.

Leaving all of the electro-mechanics out, if you connect a voltage to the ends of the inner coil of wire, and spin it inside the outer coil of wire, and then attach something like a charger or inverter to the ends of the wires on the fixed outer coil of wire, you will get AC voltage from these output wires.

Again, I have left out all of that complex design stuff like the magnetic metals used, the complex ways that the wires are wound, the contacts used, and on and on. I just want you to know that there are parts in here that sometimes require maintenance.

Luckily, the generator itself is designed for minimal maintenance, and if there is a problem with yours, you need to see a trained generator mechanic.

Useful Reference

RV Electrical Systems: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement
RV Electrical Systems: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement

Even though I have owned several motorhomes, I purchased this book so I could see how other brands are wired. I found information on several different RV electrical wiring systems that I wasn't aware of and I have been able to help other RV owners who had electrical problems.

 

Generator Parts That You Can Check and Service

I will now list the things that can and should be serviced periodically. If you want your generator to last for decades, replace the parts below at the intervals suggested by the manufacturer. Running the generator once a month or so is a good idea.

The fuel pump and fuel filter are the parts that most commonly give trouble. Here's an article with pictures on how I replaced a fuel pump and fuel filter in my Onan 5500 generator.

If any of the terms or abbreviations in use here are new to you, check out my article on electrical terms. It might help.

Tips for Generator Maintenance

Part
Notes:
Spark plug
With a gas generator, I suggest keeping your old spark plug after you replace it, in case you need one in an emergency.
Fuel filter
Keep a spare, just in case, especially if you use your generator a lot.
Air filter
If the generator is running rough, sometimes you can remove and clean the air filter for better performance, as a temporary solution.
Gas jet
Only a trained mechanic should service this.
Diesel injector
Only a trained mechanic should service this.
Fuel lines
Check for wear or leaks, especially if you smell fuel.
DC and AC wiring
Inspect wiring periodically for wear, torn insulation, and loose connections. If necessary, get a trained mechanic to replace wires.
Motor oil
Check oil level and change as needed, or when suggested by the manufacturer.
Oil filter
These are easy to change. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Coolant
Use the manufacturer’s suggested coolant (anti-freeze) mixture. Monitor the level regularly when using the generator, and keep the level within the limits marked on the reservoir.

Comments Are Welcome

Hopefully, I didn't lose you with my attempt at simplifying how an electric generator functions.

If you experience a problem with your generator, check the comments below for troubleshooting tips, and feel free to post a comment about your own issue!

Basic RV Generator Maintenance

RV Generator Troubleshooting

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • When I disconnect the coach battery the generator dies. 1998 Coachmen Catalina. What's up?

    Your motorhome's generator uses the COACH battery to start. And, the Coach battery provides power to your Power Control panel as well as a number of other equipment in your RV.

    This battery must be kept in good condition and fully charged for everything to operat properly.

  • If I have no appliance battery in the RV but the ground for the circuit is plugged in; will it kill the vehicle?

    Not a lot of information, but here goes;

    1- What you call the appliance battery is normally referred to as the COACH battery. It is used only for the camper trailer or motorhome 12-VDC accessories and appliances.

    2- The COACH battery on a motorhome (which I am guessing you are talking about) is not a part of the "vehicle" electrical system.

    At the same time, if you have not been using your CUT-OFF switch to disconnect the engine battery when the motorhome is not in use, the electrical devices that operate on your engine battery, even when OFF will drain your engine battery.

  • Can I start my onboard generator without my RV running?

    Yes, The onboard generator starts using your COACH battery. And, when it is running, the external power is switched OFF.

    And it is common for some motorhome owners to run their roof air conditioners and some other equipment while they are driving on the highway.

  • We can't figure out why the roof air in our motorhome isn't working with our 5000 onan generator while traveling. We know there is a 20 and a 30 amp switch on the generator, and then inside the RV, there are two switches by the door; one switch says main battery, and the other is a diff battery. The air works fine while plugged in at camp. We are new to this RV and camping thing, and cannot figure this out. Can you help us resolve this?

    The two switches are called Cut-Off switches and are used to turn OFF your 12-VDC from your Chassis and Coach batteries, so the batteries do not discharge while the RV is in storage.

    Your Coach batteries are used to power your power control panel as well as your temperature control panel and other equipment.

    So make sure your Coach batteries are fully charged before you check anything else.

    I am pretty confident that your main problem is the charge on the Coach batteries.

  • Our onboard generator starts just fine. I let it run for maybe 5-7 minutes before slipping the 30 amp switch to begin sending power to the appliances etc. They (the coffee maker, microwave), show they are getting power, but then it clicks off. After maybe 30 seconds or a minute, it will look like they are on again, only to click back off again. Do you have any thoughts?

    You didn't tell me what kind or model Rv you have, but most that have a built-in generator has an automatic power sensing system and transfer switch, so I assume you have your 30-Amp Main Breaker turned OFF?

    Placing a normal load on your generator should not force it to turn OFF. If your load was too much, then one of your AC-Voltage breakers should have kicked OFF instead. A good generator should operate normally with a load on it.

    So, I suggest that you check out your generator as follows; 1-change the fuel filter on the fuel input line, 2- check the electrical connections for any loose wires, 3-If these things seem OK, you should get an electrician to service the generator for you and find the problem.

© 2010 Don Bobbitt

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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 days ago from Ruskin Florida

      Rod - No, your generator is not designed to shutdown after a period of times. It will run for days if all is OK!

      I would check my COACH battery to make sure it is not an old one and that it has water in it. If these things are OK, then your Converter should keep your battery charged. If the battery voltage drops very low then several things can happen but the most common is that your power control panel could malfunction. Also, I should ask, how long has it been since you changed out your fuel filter to the generator, these are cheap and can "gum up" after sitting for a while.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Rod Sredwos 

      6 days ago

      Don, great article. Thanks for posting. I recently acquired a 2014 39' Winnebago and am looking to use it in cold weather the next couple of weeks in the midwest for football game tailgating before I put it away. My generator runs fine but automatically shuts off after some period of time. My question is...does it do that when the coach batteries are fully charged? I can't find anything in the manual about an auto-shutoff so I am curious why it would shut off.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      10 days ago from Ruskin Florida

      George - This built-in safety feature can be a nuisance for RV traveler, especially if you do a lot of off-road camping. But I'm glad you read my warning and took care of the problem.

      Because of this little feature, when I am traveling, when the gas gauge in my motorhome drops below 1/2 tank, I will often start looking for a gas station, just to be sure I always have enough fuel.

      I'm glad my articles were of some help.

      Have a Great Day,

      DON

    • profile image

      george scully 

      11 days ago

      I was running my generator for awhile to just keep it in good shape when it stopped. primed it & cranked it. no start. Then disconnected the fuel line, primed & cranked it , nothing. I suspected the main tank needs to be above 1/4 full. It was not. Read your article to reconfirm my thoughts. I'll get some fuel as this seems to be the problem. Thanks, George

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Probably the first thing you should do is make sure your COACH battery is fully charged. The reason is that it provides the 12-VDC that your Power Control Panel uses to sense and control your AC-Voltage systems.

      Your Power Control system senses when your generator is running and producing power, and then it powers your TRANSFER Switch that switches your RV AC systems over to the generator from the external power source. This switch is a high current solenoid that can go bad and need to be replaced.

      Your symptoms indicate one of these could be your problem; either the Transfer switch solenoid, or your COACH battery voltage being discharged.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Gritty Eileen 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks for the information. Quite helpful. I have a 1995 Europa MH with a built in Generac 4500watts. Generac no longer makes RV generators. Parts availability are dwindling. The generator powers up but there is no power to the MH. How to pinpoint the problem in order to see if it can be repaired?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      4 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Sam Royder - You'll find that a propane generator is surprisingly similar to a gas one. The major differences you will see will be at the fuel input and management system. The rest of the generators are the same.

      Have Nice day,

      DON

    • profile image

      Sam Royder 

      4 weeks ago

      Don Bobbitt,

      Thanks for the info on gas and diesel generators. Can you provide any maintenance or repair info on propane generators. I have a 2500 Onan that operates on propane.

      Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Jeff - The generator should already be receiving its fuel from the regular RV fuel tank.

      I am not aware of any "return line"? in a motorhome.

      DON

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      7 weeks ago

      have class b motor home 1995 chevy 30 coachman with 2800 Onan generator

      can the vechile return line be used to supply generator

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Motorhomes have a safety design to protect the owner from running out of gas.

      They only put the fuel hose for the generator down into the gas tank to the 1/4-full line.

      This allows the owner to have enough gas to get back to civilization when they have been "dry camping".

      Try adding gas to the tank.

      Have a Nice Day,

      DON

    • profile image

      shari 

      2 months ago

      my generator won't turn on. I took the gas hose loose and there is no fuel going through the hose. what should I do to fix this problem

    • profile image

      Lisa ARA 

      2 months ago

      Thanks Don!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Lisa - Thanks for the response. So, your generator runs and starts, so your core problems is that you have no output voltage from it.

      And I can say, with some confidence that your RV electrical system itself is not involved in your not getting power from the generator.

      You may have to bite the bullet and call that manufacturers customer service number 1 (888) 436-3722) for help and if they can't help you, then look for a reliable generator technician nearby.

      You could try going to the RV owners site called IRV2. They are a group of campers who own Rvs and they help each other out with problems that pop up. I recommend that you check with them.

      Sorry but that's the best I can do for you remotely and not having worked on a Generac before myself.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Lisa ARA 

      2 months ago

      Yes, the generator was factory installed.

      Yes, the generator is running. There is one glass fuse that tests fine.

      You stated to check if there is 13.5 or higher VDC to the starter terminal. Is this any relation to "starting" up the generator? Or a separate funtion?

      I've been combing the internet trying to find a service manual for this model (02010) to pinpoint said test points....etc.

      Any ideas are welcomed!

      Thanks!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      First, I need a little more information. Is this generator factory installed in your RV? Or was it added?

      If this is a factory installed generator, then it gets its power to start from your RVs COACH battery. So, I am assuming your generator is starting and running, but you have NO AC-voltage at its output?

      Considering you say everything works properly when you are on Shore Power, but you have no voltage at the generator's output pins (2-wires with 110-VAC on each each when referenced to COMMON, then the generator has a problem. Check the generator for any fuses it may have on its body somewhere, and check that you have a good 13.5-VDC or higher to the generator's starter terminal from your COACH battery.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Lisa ARA 

      2 months ago

      I have a Generac Primepact 50G generator that has no AC power going to the 30 AMP plug in the next compartment.. I have flipped all internal coach breakers. When plugged into shore power all is well. I placed a meter in the 30 AMP outlet and got zero volts. Tracing the power cable from the outlet to the generator, it arrives at two separate breaker switches (20 AMP and 30 AMP). The 2 neutral wires and gnd from the same cable are tied to a common ground bolt.

      There is a Voltage Regulator module (F9719) that has a RED Led that never lights up. There is also a Control Board (9931 printed on the side).

      What do I need to check for? I figured it may be one of these two modules, and probably the RED LED does light during some point.

      How should I proceed?

      Thanks!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Johnny, You have not given me very much information about your RV, but generally speaking, in a motorhome, the generator uses the battery to start and while running it should power your Converter which in turn keeps your battery charged.

      So, check that your battery is OK, and can be charged?????

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Johnny 

      3 months ago

      My generator runs fine but my battery runs low thrn my generator stops running

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Becky Wachtman - Your generator starts using the COACH (Aux) battery. And once it is running, it provides AC-Voltage for your Converter which keeps your COACH battery charged.

      The only time your Engine (MAIN) battery is involved with the generator is when you use that (AUX) rocker switch to temporarily tie the two DC-Voltage systems together when the COACH battery is too discharged to crank the generator.

      Remember when you are dry camping you are using that COACH battery for all of your interior 12-VDC accessories.

      From your symptoms, I suggest that your COACH battery may be getting old, or it maybe low on water, because it seems that it does not have enough power to start your generator after a night of dry camping.

      Have a Nice Day,

      DON

    • profile image

      Becky Wachtman 

      3 months ago

      I understand our generator needs to pull from the chassis battery to start. It appears to be charging the house batteries fine! But it also appears to be draining the chassis battery as it runs. Its an onan generator in a fleetwoid tioga class c. When dry camping, the first couple of times we start the generator, it starts fine. But the 4th or 5th time it cranks and wont start. If we hold down the rocker switch, we can get it to start from the house batteries OR if we start the engine first, then we can start the generator. What are we doing wrong?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Ideally, you always want your RV to be leveled. The generator and the Fridge are relatively forgiving, but they do call for level conditions within 3-5 degrees to function properly.

      Have a nice day,

      DON

    • profile image

      Karen Waring 

      3 months ago

      I have a Class C RV Four Winds Chateau. Do i need to be level for my generator to work right ?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      MIlesnorth - RV electrical systems are confusing to many people who are not trained or at least used to them.

      I fear that your main problem may be the fact that your RV is a customization of a commercial bus into a motorhome.

      I say this because there is no way for us to know if the one who customized the electrical systems attempted to make their "new motorhome" function the same as standard ones do?

      I do recommend that you try to make yours as close to these standard configuration as possible if you are going to drive it. But if you are essentially building a "house" that will never move, then you can more easily follow defined house wiring standards, even for how to wire a backup generator.

      As to looking at pictures of pieces of equipment? I actually recommend that you post these on my electrical troubleshooting article for others to see, as well as myself to help, with identifying.

      And, I recommend that you join the site IRV2. This is a group for RV owners who help each other with problems.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Milesnorth 

      3 months ago

      Hi, I am trying to figure out the systems in a 42 ft bus converted into a RV. We are at a bit of a loss as to where to start actually. I wondered if I might be able to send some pics of the systems for some help identifying them (and how they work together). I am located in Chugiak, Alaska, and I haven't had alot of luck finding anyone up here to assist in the adventure. You look like you know your stuff. If you would be willing to look at some pics and offer some advice, that would be fabulous!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Lois - Your symptoms are a little confusing, but I am assuming that you have a motorhome with a built-in ONAN generator???

      If this is so, then using it as a power source for a few appliances, assuming that you used your RV's electrical receptacles, should not have damaged the generator at all.

      One thing you can check though is if your COACH battery is still OK, in that it should have water in it and have a full charge on it because it is used to start your generator.

      PS. Remember that your generator will not get gas if your fuel tank is below 1/4 full.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Lois 

      5 months ago

      We ran our Onan generator without turning the engine(gas) on when we lost power in our house. We connected our main appliances to it. Now the generator won’t run. Did we make a big mistake. Just bought the generator last year.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      8 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      First of all, your Ford Brougham has one battery for the engine, and depending on the year, it can have one or two batteries for the HOUSE (or COACH) equipment.

      The two generator start switches are there to give the operator the option of starting the generator from either spot.

      The generator has its own fuel pump, normally mounted near or under the generator itself.

      The fuel pump/fuel filter combination are two pieces that you will find in the fuel line and the filter must be clean and the fuel pump is powered when the generator start switch is pushed.

      A dirty fuel filter is the most common problem for an RV's generator, with a bad fuel pump being second.

      I would change both out.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Tracy 

      8 months ago

      Hi Don I got a 1984 Ford Brougham.

      I can get the generator to run I just can't find a switch to flip the fuel pump on it's not getting gas and there's no obvious switch other than the generator start switchs. One on the unit one in the coach also trying to figure out where a wire goes underneath on the house batteries and I just found two more house batteries.

      I'm stumped I need this gen to start

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      8 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Rebecca - Considering the age of your Bounder and its past service history, this is likely buildup in some of the oil lines and particularly in the oil pan.

      And I am assuming that your engine is not smoking and there is no heavy black buildup in your exhaust pipe. If there is buildup at the exhaust pipe you may be actually burning oil which can often be caused by worn piston rings.

      I would hope for the best and check with your local Ford truck service center and have them check the engine out for you.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Rebecca 

      8 months ago

      My 1988 bounders, oil is still runing black after new oil change , do you know what is causing this?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      10 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Vidhan - You are absolutely right, there are a number of small portable generators that are quite adequate for the load a smaller camper will be.

      And, the size of the load a larger camper like a motorhome provides requires a generator that is hard to haul around, thus the reason so many have generators that are built-in.

      In fact, because of the smaller electrial load, there are several companies who make Solar Panel kits that can be installed in a Pop-Up or small towable trailer camper. They work well with an Inverter and there is not gas purchase required.

      CHeck these out for a viable power option, especially when you are out boondocking.

      Have a Great Day!

      DON

    • profile image

      Vidhan 

      10 months ago

      Towables like small travel trailers, teardrop trailers, fiberglass eggs and even many pop up campers can be operated on a less expensive portable generator.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      11 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Mark - I am not familiar with that particular external generator, but if it is only putting out such a low voltage then you will need to get it checked by a service shop. It may have internal problems that a user should not try to fix.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Mark 

      11 months ago

      I have a general 110 voltage generator that’s only putting up 48 V what is the problem

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      12 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      truth2ak - Yes, I'm afraid so.

      But, in most motorhomes you will have a couple of receptacles that will be pwered by your Coach batteries via an INVERTER which uses the 12-VDC to generate a limited amout of 110-VAC.

      These receptacles exist normally to provide power for your TV sets and often for a computer receptacle near the passenger seat.

      Have a nice day!

      DON

    • profile image

      truth2ak 

      12 months ago

      When driving do you have to run the generator to run the appliances and outlets?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      14 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Lennie - Your Bounder is wired so that you can use it, even while on the road, for your roof AC's and other equipment.

      Your '96 will only have a 30-Amp service standard, so I would only run one of the AC units to avoid any problems with overloading the generator.

      FYI: Your RV has a power control panel which does several things allocating power to equipment, but most importantly it switches to the generator when it senses that there is a generator running.

      So, while sitting in your campground, plugged into campsite power, see if you can start your generator? Your Rv should sense it is running and switch the "transfer switch" over to the generator. If it switches over, then this function is working so you can then turn your Air ON. IF it runs OK, then your switching system is OK. If it doesn't run, then you are overloading your generator and you need to check it out.

      Bing new to you, I would suggest that you do the following to your used generator anyway; 1- change the generator oil and oil filter, change the fuel pump and fuel filter, and change the air filter.

      If it still doesn't take the load, you may need to get a generator tech to check it out for you; you can usually contact the generator manufacturer's customer service and ask them for the nearest certified tech.

      Being a Rv traveler for many years, I do suggest that you keep your generator serviced and in tip top condition.

      So, check the things I mentioned and have a great time with your new/used Bounder.

      DON

    • profile image

      Lennie 

      14 months ago

      I jis bought a 96 fleetwood bounder self contained with a 5000 onan generator and we cant figure out for the life of us, how to run the roof airs while going down the road, idk if we are not turning on the right switches on the main battery/and the other battery on the wall inside the rv, or if we are suppose to have it on 20 or 30 amp on the generator, but we cant get either air to come on while driving, but if plugged in at a camp, it will.....any ideas?

    • profile image

      karen 

      19 months ago

      Useful and informative. Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      20 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Phyllis Waltman - First of all, an RV with a builtin generator also has an automatic switching power controller so that you can only have one thing providing power to your generator.

      So, to use your external generator you will need to be the proper adapter cables so that you can plug your RV into the generator when you need power while boondocking or camping anywhere other than a campground.

      But, check your RV to see if it has a builtin charger (Converter) that will use the ACV from the generator (or campsite) to recharge the Rv batteries.

      Here are some tips for you if you are going to use a generator, built in or external.

      1- campgrounds do not allow generators at all or some few will allow their use up to a certain time at night.

      2- Many Walmart stores allow RVers to camp in their parking lots for a day or two, but only if they comply with their rules. There is a Walmart group on yahoo called walmartrving, or something like that. Check it out.

      3- Some cities, towns and counties do not allow overnight camping anywhere, but many do allow it in some places. Many people will overnight in church and large shopping center parking lots, but you must check the local laws.

      4- I recommend that you get some one to expand your RV battery capacity, and keep them charged. Many people will run their RV on the batteries while cooking or watching TV (you can add a cheap Inverter that will convert 12-VDC to enough 110-VAC for one TV). They then just recharge the RV batteries the next day.

      Good luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Phyllis Waltman 

      20 months ago

      Our son offered us his generator he used at his house to camp with our 5th wheel. My husband said you have to buy a special generator just for rvs. We did not buy an rv with a generator and in traveling can not stay free anywhere overnight. We we are on a low budget so I am anxious to hear what you tell me.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      20 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Michael - First of ll, your RV batterie will only lat a few days with the load of a fan and a TV before they ill need charging.

      (PS What about the fridge, it uses 12-VDC??).

      Check and make sure the batteries are being charged when the generator i running, by measuring the voltage across the battery terminals. When being charged the voltage should be around 14.5 VDC, if it is 13.2 or loser it isn't being charged.

      It they ae being charged, then you only need to charge it occasionally.

      You might want to pick up a cheap solar charger for the RV to simplify your problem.

      Good luck, DON

    • profile image

      Michael 

      20 months ago

      I am a total newbee to the RV world, so please bear with me. I have a 5th wheel parked on a remote spot on my property. My partner's adult son is living in it. We anticipate that he will only be using power for lights, LPG heater fans and possibly tv. Would the 12 volt batteries suffice if they are periodically charged by the LPG Onan generator that is currently in the trailer? If so, for how long would it need to be charged? Also, I have a deep auto battery charger that I typically use by plugging into an outlet in my garage. Could this be used to charge the trailer batteries (by toting the batteries back and forth from the remote area to the garage)? I appreciate your tips.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      20 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      pbtwins - Yes, your Rv is designed for your Gen. to be your major power source, and your RV does not need to be operating. Also, when you turn your generator ON, your RV power control panel will automatically switch everything OFF of your campground (or external) power.

      Have a great day,

      DON

    • profile image

      pbtwins 

      20 months ago

      Great article! I am a newbie and my question is do you turn the engine off when you use the generator? how does that work? we have a 1993 fleetwood flair class a Thanks!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      21 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Elizabeth - Standard clothes dryer, water heaters and electric Furnaces will typically require 220-VAC to handle the high currents required.

      On the other hand, if you used a solar-assisted water heater and maybe a propane furnace the current needed would be significantly less. Of course if you're talking about a motorhome you have to use what fits their designs.

      God Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 

      21 months ago

      Hi Don,

      I was wondering, since you seem to know a lot about generators, if I were to use a generator for heating water, a washer and dryers and for heating, what kind of voltage should my generator have?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      21 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Diana - First of all, an RV with a built-in generator is usually designed to handle the full load of power that the specific RV might demand. Secondly, it is wired into the RV so that is is safe to use, as well as being set up to "kick out" if there are any kind of wiring problems. So, trying to use a larger capacity generator is not recommended without having a certified electrician wiring it properly.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Diana 

      21 months ago

      Hi,,, We are renting an RV (2016 Coachmen Leprechaun) and we were wondering if we could plug in our generator instead of using the generator that the rv comes with?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      23 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      Steve - Sorry, but you said it yourself; the life of a diesel generator is dependent on how well it is maintained. I have seen people in 20 year old diesel RV's whose generators are still running great, and I've seen some getting major repair after only a couple of thousand hours of run time. There are just too many variables involved. One thing I would suggest is for you to pull out the generator manufacturers owner manual and read how far out it projects their maintenance schedule?? Sorry again.

      DON

    • profile image

      Steve Kass 

      23 months ago

      Hi Don, I am looking into buying a used DP. I was wondering how many hours of run time on the diesel generator is too many. I can assume it will depend on how it was maintained. But can you ball park it for me.

      Thanks,

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Jim - our RV system is designed to do this. When your generator is running then it will not allow your external power source to be accessed. If there were two sources on the same appliances, etc, there would be some serious electrical damage in your RV.

      DON

    • profile image

      jim vestergaard 

      2 years ago

      my generator cut my house power to my rv for a few hours when i run the generator

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Dave Gutman - All gas powered Onan generators I know of are cut OFF by removing the 12-VDC from the fuel pump. I would change the fuel filter and the fuel pump. They are relatively cheap and easy to replace.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      dave gutman 

      2 years ago

      i have class c forrester 2004 onan 4000 microquiet 2 questions

      my generator cuts out after 2 hrs with load

      all fuel is good tank full , fuel pump flow is good, starts up again but constantly dies that

      secondly does the generator use 12v feedback in any way outside of starting , it cut out and realized my battery connection were loose ..

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Mark Deerhelm - Running your generator regularly, such as once a month IS a good idea. The reason is that over time the gas (and additives) in your fuel will evaporate and leave a residue that can "gum up" the fuel filter or fuel pump, or some of the parts in the carburator itself. by doing this, you keep everything cleaned out and ready to run efficiently.

      And, running the generator, if it's wired up properly, will not harm anything in your RV.

      Good luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Mark Deerheim 

      2 years ago

      Don, I have a generator in my toy hauler. I've been told that I should run it once every month. I'm hooked up to power. Does it hurt anything to start the generator while I'm hooked? Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Kathie - This looks like the classic case of a bad fuel filter or fuel pump. Read my hub on How to replace your fuel filter and fuel pump. It's actually a simple process that a person with a little maintenance skill can perform. Click on the link here;

      https://axleaddict.com/rvs/RV-Generator-Maintenanc...

      Good Luck, DON

    • profile image

      Kathie 

      2 years ago

      We have a diesel Winnebago Vectra 2004 with an Onan generator. When the generator is turned on, it runs for 5 minutes then quits. Do you have any idea why it might be doing this?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Rex - If your Tropi-Ca was originally wired for a generator, then you should be able to run the AC off of the generator as you travel. This has been a common way to keep your coach cool when traveling in very hot climates with motorhomes for decades.

      So, hook it all up and run your own test.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Rex 

      2 years ago

      I'm restoring a 1997 National Tropi-cal with a generac 55k built in generator. Almost done and about to do an 18 state coast to coast tour. The a/c from the engine works well now. But this thing is 36 feet long and the rest of the coach ain't so cool. I'd like to run aux zone a/c off the generator while trucking down the road for comfort of others. Is that an option or is there another way. My first motorhome. I'm ignorant.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Susan - First of all, almost all campgrounds do not allow generators to be used. They generate exhaust fumes and they're noisy.

      Second, I have had several motorhomes with a 5K-Onan generator, and with a half-load on the generator, it will burn around 1/3-to-1/2 of a gallon an hour.

      Whenever we dry-camp, my wife and I fall into a routine where we only run our generator in the morning, and then for preparing dinner, and finally at night when we are relaxing, maybe with a little TV, before bedtime.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Susan 

      2 years ago

      We are wondering how much gasoline a generator uses if we ran it overnight if we were dry camping. And if it is more economical to dry camp in a campground or to use electricity provided. Do we save money getting a site with no electricity rather that one that does.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Jamie - The newer RV's have conventional fridge units the same as in your home. But most use a 2-way fridge that operates either on 110-VAC or on propane. If you have one of these in your RV, then you'll be OK. If not, I can only recommend the purchase of a very large, high-quality cooler filled with ice.

      Sorry,

      DON

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      SUZY - RV Resorts and Campgrounds will almost all provide power hookup for your RV. In fact with these campgrounds, they do not allow you to run a generator except under specific conditions.

      RV's have generators for use under tow conditions; 1- rough camping in wilderness conditions, or 2- when you stop in a rest area or truck stop and need power while you cook or sleep.

      Some motorhome owners will run their generator while driving if the outside weather is so HOT that the dash AC cannot keep the RV interior cool. Otherwise, you shouldn't be using your RV generator very much at all.

      Have a nice trip,

      DON

    • profile image

      Jamie 

      2 years ago

      Okay so at the risk of sounding completely ditzy. ... is there something I can buy or whatever so I don't have to run my generator the whole time I'm camping?(I just bought one from Walmart online) I'm going to a festival and we can only run the generator an hour at a time but I need the fridge going as I'm festi mom this year and camping for friends and passers-by. . Also awesome article

    • profile image

      Suzy 

      2 years ago

      Hello, im about to rent an RV and travel from Texas to Nevada and plan to stay at several RV camps and resorts therefore will I be needing the generator alot.. I ask because they charge us an hourly usage of generator. Thank you in advance we are new to RV world.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Leonard Jauquez - Your generator is designed to; 1- keep your house batteries charged, and allow you to operate in a state park or out in the wilds where there is no power for your V. It powers your inverter so your 110-VAC appliances and air conditioner will work, and it uses the same gas tank for fuel.

      I hope this explains it for you.

      DON

    • profile image

      leonard jaquez 

      2 years ago

      I have a 1975 executive, not sure what my onan generator does for my rv does it have a inverter 4000 watts gen.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Walter Brokx - Most motorhomes will have two switches (that control high-current relays) that will turn OFF or ON 12-VDC to your Chassis accessories and to your Coach accessories. They are for use when you park or store your RV so that your batteries do not get drained. Check for these switches first.

      Typically, your RV generator will utilize your Coach batteries, but when you start your RV, these relays can be turned ON.

      So, your most probable problem is having your Coach switch turned OFF.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Larry - First of all, most motorhomes have a safety feature where the fuel line for the generator only goes down into the fuel tank to the 1/4-full level.Tis is to prevent campers from becoming stuck in a far-away campsite with no fuel to get out.

      Second, replace your generator fuel filters. Diesel fuel is pretty dirty and filters can get clogged.

      These are the two most probable causes of your generator turning off.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Larry 

      2 years ago

      Is it necessary to have diesel engine running along with generator??Have a diesel 5500 Bigfoot and after about 10-15 minutes the generator shuts off don't mean to sound stupid

    • profile image

      walter brokx 

      2 years ago

      Help what can i check or replace.

      My c coach has 2 batteries to start the generator.

      They are new batteries.

      Wont turn over.

      But when i start my Coach Ford 450 engine the generator will start.

      IS there a relay or something ?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Vince - RV generators are air-cooled, so I'm not sure what yours is. But You didn't mention the fuel filter for the generator. Diesel fuel is a dirty fuel, so I would immediately change the fuel filter. On some Rv's the fuel filter is attached to the generator while on others, it may be mounted on the RV chassis near the Generator. This filter must be changed regularly, and I suspect it's your problem. If not, it's time to take your Rv to a service center so a PRO can check the Gen out.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      vince 

      3 years ago

      i have a diesel gen i change the oil and filter drain water very little water came out i fill oil and water but only took 1/2 qt water it sart run then stop after 3 to 4 minn

      help please thank vince

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      3 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      The two most common problems with RV generators are; the FUEL FILTER and the FUEL Pump. Over the years, I have had to replace both on several generators.

      These two parts on these Onan 5500 generators are usually mounted under the generator. If you crawl under there you will see the pair mounted with a couple of screws.

      If you are interested, I have written an article on how to replace these two items. It is called RV Generator maintenance, How to replace your Fuel Filer and fuel Pump.

      Good Luck,

      DON

    • profile image

      Randy 

      3 years ago

      My gen wouldnt start or run. suspected bad carb. Onan 5500 Gold. spent the $$$ on the carb, installed it and viola, it ran, for about 5 min anyway, and not will not run again. HELP!!!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Teri- OK the steps and your internal lights are 12VDC. If they all work then your DC COACH system is OK.

      If your Microwave actually works, by that I mean heats, then you have 110VAC coming into your Class-C OK.

      If all of your breakers are actually functioning then your AC distribution system is OK. If your Roof AC works and you just do not have power to your appliances plugged into receptacles then you probably have ground fault receptacles that have kicked out. Find the master ground fault receptacle and reset it.

      DON

    • profile image

      Teri 

      5 years ago

      I'm plugged into the house. I have a class c two days ago I had power today I have power only to the microwave. Nothing else. I've checked breakers and fuses and all appears well The steps work too but absolutely nothing else. Where else do I look

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      mona- Without any other information, on your RV or generator, I can say that almost all Onan generators are "self-contained" and that yourt fuel filter will be found under the covers.

      Just find the fule line going into the generator, and it should go into the covered unit and connect to the fuel filter itself.

      One other thing. Some Class-C motorhomes are built on truck frames and will have an original truck/van fuel tank. And, many of these tanks have the fuel PUMP built inside the tank itself. You should checkthat this is working properly also.

      Good Luck!

      DON

    • profile image

      mona 

      6 years ago

      we have aclass c motorhome with a onan gas generator, we arent getting any fuel. does this generator have a fuel filter and if it does where is it located?

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Dave, Almost all of the generators on older motorhomes require that there be at least a little load on them or they will cycle and give you poorly regulated output voltage, but yours sounds like something else.

      First,you say that the lights go on and off but the outlets still work? Do you mean that if you plug a lamp into a receptacle the camper lights cycle on and off but the lamp in the outlet doesn't? IF the lamp cycles also, then I recommend that you get your generator checked, things like; 1-a clogged fuel filter, clogged jets in the carburator, rotten fuel lines to the generator allowing air into the fuel line, are some the most probable causes.

      PS. Turn on a TV and see if the lights cycle then.

      Good Luck.

    • profile image

      dave 

      7 years ago

      My 1970 Travelmaster camper Lights go on for a well then go off for a well but the outlets still work its plug into the mane. it also has a battery hookup with a fuse

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Sorry keelym. But a Motorhome usually, either has a separate generator that, for convenience runs on the same fuel type as the RV itself. And,with either,you generator is your alternate power source for your camper accessories when you are parked and do nothave anyother power source available.

      Thanks for the comment though!.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks Jesse, I hope you enjoyed the article. MAny people don't understand that these RVs are complex equipment, and include a lot of accessories that require the concerned owner to learn many different skills, even if only to understand when something in the RV requires maintenance, or not.

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