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Old 09-09-2016, 06:19 PM   #1
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Default Why Onan Generators Anyway?

I have been researching RVs for a couple of years and just bought a 2004 Roadtrek Popular 190. It has the ubiquitous Onan generator (2800). What has confounded me for a long time is why use these high maintenance generators when Honda and Yamaha (to name a couple) have much quieter and lighter options which can be easily converted to draw from the fuel tank in place of the Onans?
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Old 09-09-2016, 06:27 PM   #2
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I have been researching RVs for a couple of years and just bought a 2004 Roadtrek Popular 190. It has the ubiquitous Onan generator (2800). What has confounded me for a long time is why use these high maintenance generators when Honda and Yamaha (to name a couple) have much quieter and lighter options which can be easily converted to draw from the fuel tank in place of the Onans?
You can do a search on the subject here and find plenty of information on this topic. It all comes down to the fact that none of the other generators fit in the van mounted areas, with remote start. You have to lug them around, chain them up, hook up or fill up gas, start by hand, etc. Convenience vs noise--your choice.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:44 PM   #3
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.

Onan has lots of good features

eg.
There is a sensor connected to the fuel tank. If you ran the fuel level to less than a quarter tank, the Onan will shut itself off. So that you won't get stranded somewhere in the boondock.

There is a sensor connected to the oil pan. If the oil level is less than the minimum requirement, the Onan will not start. So that you won't ruin your generator and get stuck with an expensive repair bill.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:54 PM   #4
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thanks everybody - I've done some more research on the forum and my thoughts on the Onans have evolved - I have a newfound appreciation for the machines
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Old 09-09-2016, 08:04 PM   #5
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thanks everybody - I've done some more research on the forum and my thoughts on the Onans have evolved - I have a newfound appreciation for the machines
Many have made the same decision, basically choosing the best of the not so good.

The only current option other than a Honda is to do a lot upgrades to be able to go without any generator. It could include big shore charger/inverter, solar, big engine alternator, lots of batteries, etc. You can cover pretty much everything except air conditioning. Not cheap, but also no hassle and not all the noise. If you need AC, you are stuck with the Onan, or shore power, IMO.
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Old 09-10-2016, 03:51 AM   #6
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There is a group of owners of Roadtrek and Advanced RV and DIY vans who do expect to run the AC using power from the van engine mounted auxiliary alternator/underhood generator with or without auto engine start/Voltstart to recharge the batteries during the AC operation.

Queue the comments on all the possible issues related to doing this...
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Old 09-10-2016, 08:52 AM   #7
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re power use- excepting the A/C and microwave..i can get a couple of days of 12 volt from my single battery.

we just don;t use much power when parked- all low draw led lighting and a 12 volt native tv. I do have extra fans on the fridge but our water pump doesn't run that much- there are only the 2 of us.

a few hours driving or landing back on shore power and the battery recharges.

of course if we are somewhere where we need ac it's a different story.
the microwave we use to store our dishes- doesn;t get used much

Mike
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Old 09-10-2016, 06:56 PM   #8
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There are lots of "no Onan" options. For AC I idle my gas engine and have a "rear evaporator/heater" that is driven from the van engine. The van engine at idle uses about the same amount of gas (1/2 gal/hr) as an Onan and burns the gas cleaner. It also charges my batteries while cooling the van. I undersand that if you have a diesel there are idle issues and that is why I like gas.
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Old 09-10-2016, 07:38 PM   #9
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If I had to do it over, I would have just increased my lithium battery bank size for the money I spent on the Onan. I like the convienance of just pressing a button for 110v but an extra 450AH of lithium battery capacity added to my 900AH would supply enough power for very long durations and the van's 220amp alternator and solar would suffice in most of my boon docking outings.
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