Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-21-2017, 01:30 AM   #1
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default Underhood versus Onan

Don't yet own a Class "B" but hopefully will!

Many things I need to learn about!

After spending many hours reading forum posts and looking at websites, I am strongly attracted by the concept of an underhood generator as opposed to the more conventional Onan - obviously for the reasons of it being much quieter, taking less space, and resulting in one less engine to maintain.

In reality, we may not use any generator much. At present we mostly camp with our trailer in full hookup campgrounds. We do carry a Honda i2000EU just in case, but rarely use it - usually just for overnight stops at the Flying J !

If we move to a "B" though, I suspect we could well be camping more often at spots without hookups so I would want to have a gennie to be prepared!

I am keen on the underhood generators to the point of almost not considering a unit that is not so-equipped. I guess that would limit me to Roadtrek/Hymer unit.

I find it odd that other manufacturers are not going the same route. Just a matter of time, or are there big disadvantages?

The only disadvantages I can think of would be:

- extra wear on the vehicle engine (I doubt that would be an issue for us given the limited use we would make of it)

- the vulnerability of the extra alternator which often seems to be mounted low under the engine. I'm thinking of road salt/water on winter roads when we travel south each year.

- issues I have heard of with defects. I haven't read enough to understand if the problems are with the actual auxiliary alternators, or rather with ecotrek controllers, or the voltstart electronics instead.

For now, it seems a major plus in my books, and it will likely affect my choice of motorhome unless I learn reasons not to feel that way!

Any advice or comment? Are Onans as noisy and obnoxious as I have read? Our little Honda is pretty quiet, but if we downsize to a "B" I don't think we'll have room for it!

Am I putting too much emphasis on this one aspect when looking for a Class B?

Thanks for any comments


Brian
__________________

<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 01:51 AM   #2
BBQ
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: East
Posts: 2,484
Default

.

You can always order an RV without the Onan option,
and install the underhood generator afterward.

It will come out cheaper than RT.

https://www.nationsstarteralternator...Kits-s/209.htm
__________________

__________________
BBQ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 02:07 AM   #3
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 133
Default

You might consider the third alternative. Use the alternator that comes with the van.

My Dodge Ram Promaster has a 220 amp alternator that will put out more than my AGM batteries can take.

Rather than trying to run the roof AC from the alternator-inverter I run the dash AC and rear evaporator/fan. That way it is running directly from the engine and not through the alternator-battery-inverter-roof AC.

Simple and reliable.
__________________
2015 Promaster Sportsmobile
2000 Winnebago Brave
1984 S2-9.2c Sailboat
1980 ? Pickup Camper
DCHitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 02:21 AM   #4
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
.

You can always order an RV without the Onan option,
and install the underhood generator afterward.

It will come out cheaper than RT.

https://www.nationsstarteralternator...Kits-s/209.htm
Maybe true - I do have welding equipt and all kinds of tools left over from my past hobby or restoring British sports cars (Stil have a restored and much modified original BMC Mini!) but at this stage of my life, not so keen - plus I like a warrantee!

Thx .... Brian
<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 02:34 AM   #5
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCHitt View Post
You might consider the third alternative. Use the alternator that comes with the van.

My Dodge Ram Promaster has a 220 amp alternator that will put out more than my AGM batteries can take.

Rather than trying to run the roof AC from the alternator-inverter I run the dash AC and rear evaporator/fan. That way it is running directly from the engine and not through the alternator-battery-inverter-roof AC.

Simple and reliable.

Interesting, but I'm no electrician (retired mech eng!) but doesn't the existing wiring from your vehicle's alternator and fusing of same drastically reduce the charging that your regular alternator can provide to the coach batteries?

That was what I thought, and I am not sure I'd know how to work around this if it were to be an issue.

If it were feasible, why would Roadtrek not just do it that way?

I think that although it would cost me more $ rather go with an Onan, or a factory warranted underhood gennie arrangement.


The Onan mainly concerns me because of the noise issue that I have read about.

I need to hear one first hand to hear how bad it really is. I am sensitive to not being an annoyance to my neighbors, so that is probably the biggest consideration for me in making a choice!

Thx.... Brian
<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 03:22 AM   #6
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 133
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Interesting, but I'm no electrician (retired mech eng!) but doesn't the existing wiring from your vehicle's alternator and fusing of same drastically reduce the charging that your regular alternator can provide to the coach batteries?
If you plan to use Li batteries then they can take the high amps and need special treatment. In this case an added alternator may be the thing to do.

Lead acid/ AGM's will take a lot of amps for a vary short time and at 14.5 volts the amps will taper off quickly. I figure you need no more than 20 amps per 100 Amp/Hr battery (40 amps for 200 AH of batteries)

You should not need to change any of the coach systems. Just connect the house batteries to the coach battery through some switching device automatic or manual.
__________________
2015 Promaster Sportsmobile
2000 Winnebago Brave
1984 S2-9.2c Sailboat
1980 ? Pickup Camper
DCHitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 03:38 AM   #7
BBQ
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: East
Posts: 2,484
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
.

You can always order an RV without the Onan option,
and install the underhood generator afterward.

It will come out cheaper than RT.

https://www.nationsstarteralternator...Kits-s/209.htm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Maybe true - I do have welding equipt and all kinds of tools left over from my past hobby or restoring British sports cars (Stil have a restored and much modified original BMC Mini!) but at this stage of my life, not so keen - plus I like a warrantee!

Thx .... Brian

RT buys the underhood generator kit from Nations.

This is the same unit that goes into police cars and ambulances.

You do need to find out who does the police cars in your city.
It is not a difficult install. It is just a hassle and takes time.
__________________
BBQ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 04:41 AM   #8
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 278
Default

I agree with the posts above..
Unless you have some excessive power demands, and are going with lithium, an extra alternator is probably not needed. I have a Travato, with the standard promaster alternator, some solar, and two AGM batteries; and my power needs are always met. I removed the Onan genny because after 2 years, I found no need of it (and it IS a little loud and irritating). If I ever ran my batteries low (which I have NOT done in 30,000 miles), I could simply start and run the "underhood generator" that came on my promaster - the battery bank would be charged up in less than an hour.
We boondock almost exclusively, and stay away from really hot areas. We DON'T use a bunch of electric-centric appliances like toasters (toast is better in a pan), Kuerig coffee makers (I prefer my french press), Insty Pots (that aren't instant), electric cooktops, or blow dryers. You COULD use those things if you wished, but you would need to be plugged in.
Scottbaldassari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 03:42 PM   #9
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,175
Default

It is not just the obnoxious noise of the Onan, it is the fact that they require constant care, service, and all too often replacement of expensive parts. The one that I had for 4 years required the replacement of the carburetor and two fuel pumps. (at least it wasn't a Roadtrek, so it didn't have to be dropped 3 times at double the expense) And I religiously "exercised" it as advised by Onan and the techs that worked on it. I will NEVER own another.

I have the underhood gen on my 170. Those that have had issues were with the Balmar regulator being set incorrectly or failing. Mine wasn't set properly, but that was because I had to dump the lithium batteries and replace them with AGMs. (mine was one of the first out and wasn't ready for prime time) That said UG issues have been minimal compared to the voltstart and lithium issues. These issues have mostly been worked out to the point where the majority are now user errors.

Whether you need a generator or no depends on your RV usage. If you have managed for ages with your little Honda, that may be all you need even with a B.
__________________
Mumkin
2019 Roadtrek Simplicity SRT (almost a Zion)
2015 Roadtrek 170
2011 LTV Libero
2004 GWV Classic Supreme
mumkin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 04:04 PM   #10
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 8,119
Default

I agree that most don't need an engine generator for their power needs and battery bank size, but there a few thing to go along with that.

AGM batteries will accept a lot amps as mentioned, and they don't reduce the amount they will take because you want them to. 220ah of AGM will accept something like 150 amps when low, and up to about 70% state of charge. This much power for a long period is going to be very hard on a factory alternator. Most of them will have heat issues at 50% of capacity or less, and they usually don't have thermal sensors to reduce output to cool them. At that output, the batteries will also get hot.

About 40 amps per 100ah of battery is a good place to be to keep the batteries cool, and at 88 amps (for the 220ah) the alternator will likely last a lot longer.

I think the best way to do this would be with a battery to battery charger sized in the 80-100 amp range. It would limit the current to the batteries to it's rating, so the alternator and batteries will be happy. It will also do a "smart" charge on the batteries, so they will get better charging.

I will also point out, as usual, that running the engine for an hour will not get your batteries "charged up", at least not to full. Depending on how discharged they were, you might get to 70-80% full, but to get totally full will take something like 6+ hours longer. Nothing wrong with getting a short charge to get capacity for more time off grid, but you need to get to 100% full every 7-10 cycles if you want the batteries to not "walk down" on capacity over time.
booster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2017, 04:28 PM   #11
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Northern VA, USA
Posts: 193
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
In reality, we may not use any generator much. At present we mostly camp with our trailer in full hookup campgrounds. We do carry a Honda i2000EU just in case, but rarely use it - usually just for overnight stops at the Flying J ! Road
My 2 cents: I would just hang on to the Honda genny and get a rig without an onboard genny - then see over time if it's even needed.
ManWonder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2017, 01:23 PM   #12
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ManWonder View Post
My 2 cents: I would just hang on to the Honda genny and get a rig without an onboard genny - then see over time if it's even needed.
Good point - but in reality, I am thinking I will wind up with whatever vehicle I wind up making a deal from at a local dealer, sounds like lead times are pretty long when ordering one.

As for carrying the Honda in a class B, , my concern in downsizing from a 31 foot travel trailer is that space for carrying the Honda gennie will be a problem.

Truth is we rarely need to use it, I just like to be prepared, and so it would just be a nuisance in a class B.

It has been a great little unit though and I find many other uses for it - such as running a little MIG welder when there is no easy access to 110v.

Thx ......... Brian
<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2017, 01:29 PM   #13
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mumkin View Post
It is not just the obnoxious noise of the Onan, it is the fact that they require constant care, service, and all too often replacement of expensive parts. The one that I had for 4 years required the replacement of the carburetor and two fuel pumps. (at least it wasn't a Roadtrek, so it didn't have to be dropped 3 times at double the expense) And I religiously "exercised" it as advised by Onan and the techs that worked on it. I will NEVER own another.

I have the underhood gen on my 170. Those that have had issues were with the Balmar regulator being set incorrectly or failing. Mine wasn't set properly, but that was because I had to dump the lithium batteries and replace them with AGMs. (mine was one of the first out and wasn't ready for prime time) That said UG issues have been minimal compared to the voltstart and lithium issues. These issues have mostly been worked out to the point where the majority are now user errors.

Whether you need a generator or no depends on your RV usage. If you have managed for ages with your little Honda, that may be all you need even with a B.
Thanks for that great summary - it is helpful!

My feeling is that for the type of camping we usually do, (unless things change dramatically in downsizing from a larger travel trailer) I don't really think I need the added complexity of lithiums and associated controllers, nor the voltstart option. Probably don't "really" need the GU either but I just rather like the idea of having it! I did think about using our present Honda, but for the little use we would make of it, I think after the first trip or two I would get fed up carrying it in such a small vehicle and wind up leaving at home. It is still fairly large and heavy

Thx Brian
<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2017, 02:17 PM   #14
Platinum Member
 
markopolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 8,054
Default

The type of camping you do may very well change as the differences between a larger travel trailer and a Class B are vast.

For convenience, I'd choose some type of installed generator over a portable unit if the budget permits it. That generator could be as simple and economical as using the stock alternator and an installed inverter.

The choice of generator is greatly influenced by the anticipated usage.

I'd get solar charging as well if using lead acid batteries.
__________________
Two bikes on sliding cargo box: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/m...icture206.html & 1997 GMC Savana 6.5L Turbo Diesel Custom Camper Van Specifications: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...vana-5864.html
markopolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2017, 11:57 AM   #15
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 407
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo View Post
The type of camping you do may very well change as the differences between a larger travel trailer and a Class B are vast.

For convenience, I'd choose some type of installed generator over a portable unit if the budget permits it. That generator could be as simple and economical as using the stock alternator and an installed inverter.

The choice of generator is greatly influenced by the anticipated usage.

I'd get solar charging as well if using lead acid batteries.
That's sort of what I'm thinking - ie that we may well rethink our camping practices quite a bit. While we have been very happy with our Airstream and truck, there is no denying that it limits the places we can camp quite a bit.

We do like state parks, provincial parks and such, and use them when we can, but often cannot with our rig. Even when sites are long enough it becomes sometimes be a real frustrating chore shoe-horning the trailer onto the site due to tight access / trees etc. It may be my imagination but the older I get the more frustrating it is getting to be when I try.

This indeed is one of the several reasons that I am contemplating the change at this point in time.

I would like something pretty flexible and if possible, due to what I have heard about the Onan generators think I would like to avoid one.

I'm not sure we would need the lithium ions nor the voltstart. I really don't thnk we would be boondocking for any great length of time.

With space limitation, I don't think I would use our present Honda gennie.

So I think I am aiming at an underhood generator, 2-300 watts solar, and AGMs,

In reality, I suppose it is more a question of what we find available at a dealer!

I would like to either buy new or not more than a couple of years old.

Brian.
<<B-Guy>> is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2017, 01:02 PM   #16
BBQ
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: East
Posts: 2,484
Default

.

The best Roadtreks are the ones built before the last market crash.
__________________
BBQ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2017, 06:02 PM   #17
Platinum Member
 
GeorgeRa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,604
Default

Our van uses diesel for water and space heating, alcohol for the galley stove, and 85l Isotherm compressor fridge. 300W solar, 230Ah AGMs are sufficient for our style camping, a few days in one place without starting the engine. If campsite is sunny and in good weather we can stay for long. My engine alternator is directly charging house AGMs, work in progress to limit it to 40A.

I always carry with me a small Honda 1000W generator for just in case. It is rated for 59 dB at full load and 53 dB at ľ load so for my need of about 50% it is between these 2 numbers. I can move this generator to the least annoying location around the campsite. It has enough oomph to power the Magnum MMS1012 to its full charging current, in my case I set the maximum charge at 40A. Most likely this generator is quieter than any underhood generator and undoubtfully quieter then Onan (I had one, an obnoxious beast), but, I didnít have to use it yet with our current van so will carry it for some trips only.
GeorgeRa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2017, 02:41 AM   #18
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Posts: 124
Default

Ideally you should do an energy audit to try to pinpoint your needs. Obviously this is more difficult to do before actually owning your B, since going from a large trailer to a small motorhome will change the style of camping you do. If you normally get out with your truck nearly every day, remember that you'll now be doing it with your camper, charging the battery as you go.
WJones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2017, 06:43 AM   #19
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: California
Posts: 45
Talking My two cents on UG + lithiums.

Brian: You ask good questions; the same ones ran thru my head. While I don't have any experience in these matters, I have been reading a lot about it. Reading between the lines I concluded that the advantage of the UG is that it can be programmed to match the needs of lithium batteries, which are very different than AGMs and a bit quirky. It is hard to mix and match.

I gather solar works well with AGMs. Nice trickle charge. UG can pump out huge amounts of DC amps, which the lithiums eat up but AGMs can't handle. Lithiums can also dump out lots of power, which works well with AirCond. AGMs don't like long heavy drawdowns.

Therefore if you have the lithium/UG combination you can weather hot climates better. But beware, hot underhood temperatures limit how much power a UG can put out. Same is true for the alternator, but no-one pays it much attention.

Because of the heavy wires required and complex regulator programming, it is best if you have the factory install your UG+lithiums and heavy duty inverter. James of "TheFitRV" indicated that the 12 volt high amp wires were so thick going from the UG to the batteries that he didn't save much weight by ditching the Travato Onan generator. Funny stuff.

And James also didn't like the hang-low position of the UG on a Dodge Promaster. After much T&E he came up with suitable protection.

DougB.
dougbaty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2017, 01:55 PM   #20
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 8,119
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeRa View Post
Our van uses diesel for water and space heating, alcohol for the galley stove, and 85l Isotherm compressor fridge. 300W solar, 230Ah AGMs are sufficient for our style camping, a few days in one place without starting the engine. If campsite is sunny and in good weather we can stay for long. My engine alternator is directly charging house AGMs, work in progress to limit it to 40A.
How are you planning to limit the amperage to the batteries?

With 230ah, one of these would likely work well, or even a bigger version like 60 or 80 amps would be fine for the batteries and factory alternator, I think.

https://www.amazon.com/Sterling-ProC...F6F574XDJGBYDS
__________________

booster is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 08:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×