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Old 02-17-2020, 12:47 PM   #1
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Default Are the current Onans orphans?

We have always seen our share of Onan repair horror stories concerning the factory service centers, with many unhappy customers. The "too expensive to fix so better to replace" line has been all too commonly used, IMO, to sell new generators.



Now we are starting to hear more about no parts being available to fix the "older" units, which according to a recent post includes 2012 models, which aren't all that old in typical generator life we would typically expect.


We recently heard, but still not completely confirmed, that Onan is changing to a different engine soon. It does appear that Robin Subaru quit making engines and their own generators a while ago, so that makes sense as it is likely they were the engine vendor and maybe even the generator parts of the Onans. We don't know if the new engine will just make it an engine change or if Onan will wise up and go to an inverter style at the same time yet. There seems to be very little information out there right now, so perhaps Onan is keeping it quiet for now.


What certainly has to be a point of worry for owners, I think, based the fact that the "no parts" availability thing is seeming to be gaining speed, is just how long any of the current Onans in class b vans will be able to be kept functioning. Onan is still selling, it appears, generators to replace failed units or new installs that would be made with orphan engines that were from a vendor that is now out of the small engine business completely and won't be supporting them. How many of the parts in a brand new one are the same as the 2012 that can't be fixed because of no parts? There was a model change to "quieter" recently but that probably didn't change much in the guts of the unit as they are still pretty noisy. It would be interesting to compare a parts list between the two models and see, though.



It would be very good to hear from Onan just how long they will be supporting the various older years of units out there, I think, as it really would be unfortunate for a customer to have to $4K to replace a less than 10 year old generator and then find out in a couple of years the replacement is also no longer supported. I wouldn't be surprised if Onan is holding back enough units and parts to be able to maintain still in warranty ones, but after that it could go downhill fast, I think. I don't know if any of the old rules about needing to support products for 7 years still applies, but even if there are some rules, a lot of companies don't do that for their products anymore. There may be an outside chance that someone in Asia will reverse engineer some of the parts and make them available, or perhaps even a complete knock off engine to fit, but the market is just not all that big to make that likely.


I can say that if I had a 2012 that I was told was obsolete, and Onan wanted me to pay full boat for new one that is, or soon will be, obsolete also, I would certainly hesitate. We don't know for certain that this is how it all will go, but seems to be leaning that way. I think anyone who gets into such a situation should be asking some very pointed questions about support time frames, and if buying a new one try to get Onan to put the support life in writing.


I think we need the petrol and/or propane fuel cells to get finalized, and mass produced, sooner rather than later so generators could be not needed.
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Old 02-17-2020, 01:08 PM   #2
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I would replace my current 2800 watt Onan with an Onan quiet 2800 watt inverter generator which, at the moment, is not available and may not ever be.

Until then I would repair the one I have, should it fail.

I, too, am rooting for the propane fuel cell.
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Old 02-17-2020, 01:21 PM   #3
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I would replace my current 2800 watt Onan with an Onan quiet 2800 watt inverter generator which, at the moment, is not available and may not ever be.

Until then I would repair the one I have, should it fail.

I, too, am rooting for the propane fuel cell.

It will be interesting to see how long folks can keep the older ones running. The bad is that it appears that Onan has all the parts lists copywrite protected and heavily enforced, so that complicates the whole parts thing a lot. I did find an article for 2016 about the Subaru stopping the small engine business and it said Yamaha in the US picked up some of the special engine support in the US. I don't know if that ever happened though as it would be nice to find someone who knew enough about the Robin/Subaru and Onan engines to see how many internal parts were not specific to the Onans as it might open up sources for them that don't say Onan on them.
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:24 PM   #4
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It will be interesting to see how long folks can keep the older ones running. The bad is that it appears that Onan has all the parts lists copywrite protected and heavily enforced, so that complicates the whole parts thing a lot. I did find an article for 2016 about the Subaru stopping the small engine business and it said Yamaha in the US picked up some of the special engine support in the US. I don't know if that ever happened though as it would be nice to find someone who knew enough about the Robin/Subaru and Onan engines to see how many internal parts were not specific to the Onans as it might open up sources for them that don't say Onan on them.
booster, I'm kind of thinking given your thinking that my LOUD ONAN might become valuable. Sell the thing and replace it with a nice quiet generator that maybe I quiet some more. I would place it on the Stowaway hitch that would swing out of the way and only extend about a 15 inches or so beyond the spare tire.

Could I just extend the cable/wire under the van that is there for the onan? Add a plug?

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Old 02-17-2020, 04:43 PM   #5
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With the price of lithium batteries dropping, is it possible that at some point a failed Onan could be replaced for near the same cost as a lithium install?
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Old 02-17-2020, 05:27 PM   #6
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With the price of lithium batteries dropping, is it possible that at some point a failed Onan could be replaced for near the same cost as a lithium install?
LPG contains way more energy even if extracted with low efficiency IC engines.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:23 PM   #7
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So how do you recharge that LPG? You don't, you pack up and find a refill. Everything has it's downside.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:26 PM   #8
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So how do you recharge that LPG? You don't, you pack up and find a refill. Everything has it's downside.
Refill would be a good way.
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Old 02-18-2020, 06:38 AM   #9
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I wonder how that energy density calculation would change if you considered the mass of the generator, in addition to the propane.
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:40 PM   #10
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I wonder how that energy density calculation would change if you considered the mass of the generator, in addition to the propane.
Good thinking, looking forward to see it.
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:23 PM   #11
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Onan had an inverter generator for a few years in the Class C Rialta.
Wouldn't hold my breath on them making it again.
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:27 PM   #12
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You still have to be able to have power when your lithium batteries get drained. So lots of solar an under hood generator, regular generator will be needed to keep up with needs. You can't run your AC 24 hours a day on just lithium batteries.
Even just running the AC all day you can't recharge them on solar at night. There is no unicorn out there yet.
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:26 PM   #13
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There was an advertisement in the March 2020 Motorhome magazine about a new Onan QG 2800i generator. I couldn’t find anything about it on the internet and nothing on the Onan/Cummins website. Onan/Cummins dealers don’t know about them and don’t have them in stock. Presumably an inverter generator.

Apparently a “teaser” advertisement; Onan’s advertising department must have put out the advertisement without coordinating with the rest of the company.
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:58 PM   #14
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"Apparently a “teaser” advertisement; Onan’s advertising department must have put out the advertisement without coordinating with the rest of the company."

I doubt it, or by that I mean that it was intentional, no mistake.

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Old 02-23-2020, 11:24 PM   #15
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I wasn’t really serious. But it’s definitely odd that nobody at the distributor levels of Onan/Cummins knows anything at all about the generator in the advertisement. By knowing nothing at all, I mean they don’t even know the supposedly new generator even existed. I called two large Onan/Cummins distributors and three different sales reps had zero information about the generator in the Motorhome magazine advertisement.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:32 PM   #16
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Onan has had some inverter generators for quite a while, I think, but they were the Robin/Subaru portable units which have now gone away with Subaru getting out of the business. Perhaps that is where the confusion is coming from.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:37 AM   #17
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I wasnít really serious. But itís definitely odd that nobody at the distributor levels of Onan/Cummins knows anything at all about the generator in the advertisement. By knowing nothing at all, I mean they donít even know the supposedly new generator even existed. I called two large Onan/Cummins distributors and three different sales reps had zero information about the generator in the Motorhome magazine advertisement.
Again, I don't think it's "odd", rather is IF there is a new onan, my guess is that there is no mistake on anyone's part. Deliberate, no over site, no mistake on anyone's part. A deliberate Mystery? Folks like to gossip, talk including dealer's, distributors, RV Dealers.............. Kind of like free Ambassadors?

Again, a guess about whether someone ran their mouth without permission or thinking. Saying the same thing again, I doubt it.

Hey, isn't a quiet LOUD onan wishful thinking in the first place? Maybe not, I want one I think, or a new B with $25,000 of lithium batteries and 2 Volta alternators.

How many orders for new onan generator for a B that is like the latest Honda generator would there be in the first 3 months!? From existing B owners in addition to the B manufactures? I tried to initiate a thread that I thought there was a profitable market for such a generator, a large enough market. I still think so, it is not too late before $10 lithium batteries and $25 propane, methane, hydrogen B stuff arrives.

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Old 02-24-2020, 01:27 AM   #18
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I wish Honda made a unit to go into compartment of older class Bs. I have a 1995 with Onan 2800 which has been repaired many, many, many times.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:39 AM   #19
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I’m with you Joe. I owned two of the Onan 2800 KV generators. Both were junk, even though they were maintained meticulously and ran each and every month. Except when they broke down, which was frequently. My son and I got pretty good at removing and installing the beasts.

We now have a 2012 Pleasure-Way without a generator. It’s pre-wired for one. Like you, I wish Honda made a suitable generator that could be mounted in place of the Onan 2800.

Perhaps the mysterious Onan 2800i is real. Time will tell.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:46 AM   #20
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I owned two of the Onan 2800 KV generators. Both were junk, even though they were maintained meticulously and ran each and every month. Except when they broke down, which was frequently. My son and I got pretty good at removing and installing the beasts.
I have had two as well, but I have rarely bothered to "exercise" them (because I think it is ridiculous). Neither has ever failed. Maybe it is all that extra running that makes them unreliable.
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