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 > Running a generator to exercise it when there's shore power?

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afidel

Cleveland

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Posted: 02/23/21 11:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Other than the reasons stated to run the generator there's also a great reason to run it regularly, experience. And by that I mean there were conditions we only caught with our data center generators because we exercised them weekly, like finding out that they don't like to start at -5F without a block heater and battery heater pad, or that in super humid conditions the slats in the vandal covers needed to open more or it ran like a poorly tuned truck. All of that tuning only happened because we excercised them regularly so when we actually need them we never had an issue.


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rlw999

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Posted: 02/23/21 11:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

afidel wrote:

Other than the reasons stated to run the generator there's also a great reason to run it regularly, experience. And by that I mean there were conditions we only caught with our data center generators because we exercised them weekly, like finding out that they don't like to start at -5F without a block heater and battery heater pad, or that in super humid conditions the slats in the vandal covers needed to open more or it ran like a poorly tuned truck. All of that tuning only happened because we excercised them regularly so when we actually need them we never had an issue.


The only tuning I have on my generator is how long I push the "prime" button before I press the "start" button, and it's pretty much the same all year round.

wa8yxm

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Posted: 02/24/21 04:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When I was full tim9ing I'd use the generator camp to camp at least once a month (I moved every week or 2) but if parked for an extended period I still ran it every month

Kill shore power. WAIT 3 Minutes.. Then Fire up generator.. Half an hour under load later kill generator WAIT 3 MINUTES restore shore power.


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valhalla360

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Posted: 02/24/21 05:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As long as you put them to bed properly, no reason to be concerned letting it sit for months.

In fact starting once a month is likely doing damage. That's long enough for the oil to drain off all the internal surfaces. Until oil gets pumped back up to the surfaces, you are getting accelerated wear. I would prefer to keep that to a minimum.

Now, if you are going to exercise it, it needs a good load. Particularly the newer inverter generators may not get up to full operating temp and burn off any moisture introduced as they will run at a low idle with no load. A 1500w heater is a good option for a small generator.

Obviously, shore power needs to be disconnected unless the generator has a means of syncing with the shore power (small generators we are discussing won't)


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DrewE

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Posted: 02/24/21 08:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:


Obviously, shore power needs to be disconnected unless the generator has a means of syncing with the shore power (small generators we are discussing won't)


Any RV with a built-in generator will have a transfer switching arrangement of some sort which will disconnect the shore power when the generator is supplying power, and vice-versa, so they are not interconnected. Usually it's an automatic transfer switch, but sometimes it's simply having a power outlet connected to the generator that the shore power cord is plugged into.

It is not necessary to disconnect shore power when using the generator, though some do out of an abundance--perhaps overabundance--of caution. It is wise to avoid having the transfer switch operate under any (significant) load, so turning off air conditioning, electric heat, etc. before starting or stopping the generator is highly recommended.





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Posted: 02/24/21 08:24am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:

As long as you put them to bed properly, no reason to be concerned letting it sit for months.

In fact starting once a month is likely doing damage. That's long enough for the oil to drain off all the internal surfaces. Until oil gets pumped back up to the surfaces, you are getting accelerated wear. I would prefer to keep that to a minimum.



First statement, absolutely.
Second statement, not so much. If starting a (insert any ICE engine powered device or vehicle) effects enough wear to be detrimental to the lifespan of the (insert engine here), then the engines that actually get used regularly or semi regularly would certainly come to an early demise.

OP, if propane, maybe worry about it a couple times a year to prevent any theoretical loss of residual magnetism (which I haven't ever experienced, but understand the theory).
If gasoline powered, it's good to run gas through them, again, every couple months if running on older, ethanol content and/or untreated fuel. If fuel is treated or of sufficient quality, then the benefit is only to keep the magnets excited (theoretically).

Or to simplify it, it never hurts to exercise mechanical or ICE equipment periodically.


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valhalla360

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Posted: 02/24/21 11:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DrewE wrote:

valhalla360 wrote:


Obviously, shore power needs to be disconnected unless the generator has a means of syncing with the shore power (small generators we are discussing won't)


Any RV with a built-in generator will have a transfer switching arrangement of some sort which will disconnect the shore power when the generator is supplying power, and vice-versa, so they are not interconnected. Usually it's an automatic transfer switch, but sometimes it's simply having a power outlet connected to the generator that the shore power cord is plugged into.

It is not necessary to disconnect shore power when using the generator, though some do out of an abundance--perhaps overabundance--of caution. It is wise to avoid having the transfer switch operate under any (significant) load, so turning off air conditioning, electric heat, etc. before starting or stopping the generator is highly recommended.


The OP didn't indicate if the generator was built in. Unless there is something wonky set up where you can get both connected and feeding power at the same time, it's usually hard to do...hence my use of the term "obviously".

That said, there are some systems (uncommon) that can sync and merge power from two sources. Most are inverters not generators.

Matt_Colie

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Posted: 02/24/21 12:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do you know why the Onan Manual suggests that you start and run the APU one a month? There are two very real reasons and neither has anything to do with the health of the machine.

Reason 1 - The manual was copied from a WWII edition and the techincal writer that got the job doesn't have any experience with engines and generators and such.

Reason 2 - It was written by the people that sell the parts that will need replacing sooner with this practice.

The thing about drying out the windings is most of a century out of date. The varnish that the windings are coated with in recent (last 50) years is not at all hydroscopic.

Running the machine too much is a poor substitute for draining the fuel system. Learn to do this and you will never have trouble with the carburetor again. That is unless it is so old it is not compatible with current crapahol sold as motorfuel. You can have any small engine shop swap in fuel line and carburetor parts that are.

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way2roll

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Posted: 02/24/21 12:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'd rather exercise my genny monthly and know it's going to work than find out I have a problem when I really need it. All this doom and gloom about problems it causes by those of us that exercise them monthly is gibberish. It doesn't take a ton of common sense to know that running any mechanical engine frequently is far better than not running it for long periods of time and there is far more evidence behind that than the few who claim running it too frequently causes more problems than it solves. Luckily there are very few people who fall into this category who offer such advice. That is not to say that a genny can't be stored for long periods if certain things are done, like draining it etc. But I'd much rather have a genny that's periodically exercised than one that sits dormant. That's usually the advice that engineers will offer and they don't all have a hidden agenda.


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Grit dog

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Posted: 02/24/21 01:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

way2roll wrote:

I'd rather exercise my genny monthly and know it's going to work than find out I have a problem when I really need it. All this doom and gloom about problems it causes by those of us that exercise them monthly is gibberish. It doesn't take a ton of common sense to know that running any mechanical engine frequently is far better than not running it for long periods of time and there is far more evidence behind that than the few who claim running it too frequently causes more problems than it solves. Luckily there are very few people who fall into this category who offer such advice. That is not to say that a genny can't be stored for long periods if certain things are done, like draining it etc. But I'd much rather have a genny that's periodically exercised than one that sits dormant. That's usually the advice that engineers will offer and they don't all have a hidden agenda.


Truth.

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