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Old 08-19-2018, 03:22 PM   #1
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Question Can you run the Onan LP generator while driving?

I've been lurking for a while and really considering getting a class B+ (I'm having trouble fitting in class Bs being 6'4" and banging my head everywhere) but because they're all 24'+ I'm also thinking of getting a light (~210lbs without batteries) Zero electric motorbike on the hitch (https://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-fxs/ ) as a bike for fun & errands, just because they're really cool

Obvious problem of a 7.2kW electric bike (beside range) is charging. This bike has an 800W onboard charger but can also be optioned with a 1200W external charger that can be used to charge the bike in roughly 3.5h for a near full charge when combined. Aside from charging in a campground (or charging station) it would be nice to charge (or at least top off) when boondocking from the generator.

Another idea would be would be to use the 1200W external charger and the removed batteries (80lbs) and charge them from an Onan while driving the RV.
My rough estimate is that the normal van alternator/200Ah batteries/2000W inverter setup would be too taxed for this kind of load.

So I have two questions:

1) Anyone with experience with an electric motorbike with a RV setup? and if so how do you manage charging when off grid.

2) Is it a big no no to run the Onan while driving? (in most applications I assume it would be to power the coach A/C)

Thanks for any info you could give me and sorry if I rehash already explored themes or ask for newbie-ish questions.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:36 PM   #2
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If you are mainly concerned about charging while driving, just run the bike charger off an inverter powered by the van engine alternator.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:46 PM   #3
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Hi booster, thanks for the quick and informative reply.

a 1200Wh charger would probably draw 120+ amps from the alternator, isn't that a bit high for a regular b+ alternator (like a Sprinter 220A one)?

My understanding reading many threads here is that number is very far from the actual amperage you'll get in real life.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:30 PM   #4
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There is no technical problem with running an Onan while under way. I have done it occasionally.

Of course, as you probably know, there is a subset of the community that believes that driving with the propane turned on for any purpose is foolishly dangerous. I have never seen a convincing rationale for this belief, and I don't subscribe to it myself. Of course, gas stations are a different matter. The consensus is to always shut down while refueling--especially if that fuel is gasoline.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooTallforB? View Post
I've been lurking for a while and really considering getting a class B+ (I'm having trouble fitting in class Bs being 6'4" and banging my head everywhere) . . .


First, you don't stand up inside that much.
I know, I know, the problem is when you need to stand up.

You can check out the Advanced RV. . .
they build their RV on the Mercedes Sprinter Super-High Roof Chassis.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:44 PM   #6
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Hi avanti, thanks for confirming what I had kinda gathered from reading around, you can run the Onan in the same way people do run with the fridge in LP mode while driving (by forgetting to set it to 12v or on purpose), I would see doing it in cases where all other alternatives aren't available, but also thinking about booster's suggestion to have an invertor directly hooked up on the alternator/chassis battery, although I'd see the numbers work better with the onboard 800W charger vs the 1200W external one, but the practicalities while driving aren't good (it means leaving the 80lbs of battery on the bike dangling off the hitch vs inside or a in a storage compartment)

I guess I'll have to try and experiment!

Thanks for all the input.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
First, you don't stand up inside that much.
I know, I know, the problem is when you need to stand up.

You can check out the Advanced RV. . .
they build their RV on the Mercedes Sprinter Super-High Roof Chassis.
yes I've seen (and salivated) over the super-high roof ARV (plus all the lithium & UG!) but it's just a tad 100Ks over my budget. Maybe the less costly solution is to wear a bike helmet
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:08 PM   #8
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.

Bear in mind,
usually, RVs don't have as much LP on board compared to other types of fuel (gas or diesel).

ie it is easy to run short on LP if you are going run your Onan a lot.
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooTallforB? View Post
yes I've seen (and salivated) over the super-high roof ARV (plus all the lithium & UG!) but it's just a tad 100Ks over my budget. Maybe the less costly solution is to wear a bike helmet
First thing to consider is you will hit your head. But you'll only do it once (ok, maybe twice or three times) and then avoidance becomes automatic and you'll no longer even think about it. It helps to not wear a hat or cap inside, so just take it off so the brim doesn't block you from seeing your "duck now" cues.

Second, I'm 6'2" and own a Chevy Express-based class b which means I have one of the shortest ceilings. Still, I stand straight up under the Maxxfan vent (with shoes on). I don't really mind the ducking, because as others mention, you're not walking around that much inside.

If you choose a Sprinter-based class b for example, you will have an extra inch or two of roof height over my model, which should mean your roof vent is your friend. Should be just enough when you want to straighten up to avoid any kinks.

You need go check out some models for yourself, but within the cramped confines of a class b, headroom is not that bid a deal. You also need to consider looking for an 80" bed that can be found it the long Sprinters. Much more important than headroom, in my opinion.

Finally, the wise saying goes like this, "You don't live in a class b, you live out of a class b."
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
.

Bear in mind,
usually, RVs don't have as much LP on board compared to other types of fuel (gas or diesel).

ie it is easy to run short on LP if you are going run your Onan a lot.
Thanks, I understand that the Onan is the least favored power source for many reasons, and also see the irony of using a fossil fuel source to charge an electric bike instead of going with a better range combustion engine motorbike...

Clearly the ideal setup would be an UG for recharging, as I believe it would provide enough power to charge the bike while driving or idling. At this point, I'm thinking of buying a 4-5yo used RV to use semi-permanently (6-7mo a year) and I don't think that I would find one with an UG although most do seem to have Onans. Maybe getting an UG installed aftermarket and getting rid of the Onan would be a better route.

My primary thinking was how light the electric motorbike is without the removable batteries, allowing it to be carried on the hitch (<200lbs vs 350-500lbs tongue capacity) so there would be no need for a trailer. But maybe it's too soon, once UGs and lithium are more common (or less costly) it might make more sense.

As I've read many times on this forum, it's all a matter of finding the right compromises.
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