Use That RVGenerator!

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Like most motorhome owners, we have a generator in our rig to supply electric power when we are not plugged into a campground’s power outlet. And like many RVers who own generators, we had been abusing our Onan auxiliary power plant for a long time. Not by using the generator too much, but by not using it hard enough!

Yes, we used our generator. Once in a while when we were dry camping we would start it up and let it run an hour or two to charge our batteries, or in the morning for a few minutes to make coffee or run the microwave oven. But that was about it. We thought we were using our generator properly, but in actuality, we were abusing it!

Over time carbon began to build up on the pistons, and the generator began to knock when it was running, and the knocking began to grow louder every time we had the generator on.

A couple of years ago we spent some extended time dry camping and living off our generator and solar panels. An experienced dry camper listened to the sounds our generator was making and told me that just like an automobile that is always operated at low speeds in stop and go traffic, and needs to be taken out onto the highway and have the carbon blown out of it, our generator needed a good hard workout.

 We fired up the genset and began applying loads to it. The rooftop air conditioner, then the microwave oven, we even plugged in a big electric frying pan! The old generator began to cough and wheeze, and I shot some Marvel Mystery Oil into the carburetor a few times. Smoke belched out of the generator’s exhaust pipe, and it would lug down to the stalling point, then come back to full power. We did this over and over for an hour or more, and then began to back off on the loads.

I was surprised at the difference it made! The generator quieted down considerably and runs much smoother. Just like an old Ford, it needed the carbon blown out to be able to perform at its best.

So now we use our generator. Really use it. We’re not shy about traveling down the road with our rooftop air conditioner running at full power on hot summer days. When we are plugged into campground power for any length of time, we will disconnect the shore power and fire up the generator at least once a month and give it a hard workout under load for an hour or so. Like all of us, our generators need some strenuous exercise once in a while to stay healthy.