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Old 03-22-2017, 01:30 PM   #1
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What I thought was a Onan Generator problem...

What I thought was a Onan Generator problem has now led to something else...

Recap: My generator would not start and threw a Fault Code 27; I discovered that if I turned off the 30 amp breaker at the generator, the generator would start and run, but didn't supply 110v power since the generator breaker was turned off. Would instantly shut-down once the 30 amp breaker was turned back on.) The local repair shop discovered that there is a breaker panel (total of six breakers) under the refrigerator and that when one was turned off, the generator would start, run and produce power properly. They mistakenly told me it was the refrigerator circuit and that I needed a repair shop that could work on coach wiring and appliances. Their thought was that something with the refrigerator was putting too big a load on the circuit. (But the breaker has NEVER tripped.)

Looking through Winnebago wiring diagrams that I can't follow, I discovered that the 'bad' breaker is actually labeled as 'Recps 2' and seems to only power four 110v receptacles, one at the dinette and three in the bedroom. Just by chance, when I took the motorhome back to storage last night and before I discovered that it wasn't the 'refrigerator' circuit, I had checked around to see what was dead in the coach and came up with the exact same receptacles. None have anything plugged into them and only the one at the dinette do we ever even use, for charging iPads and using MacBook Pro's. While I had the generator running, I tried the microwave and turned on the A/C; both worked as they should and amperage-used showed up on the electrical monitor panel. Turned off the microwave and A/C and when I flipped the problem-breaker to 'on', the generator immediately shut-down.

Since Workhorse won't work on coach wiring or appliances, they gave me a couple of referrals, one of which I called. I did mistakenly tell him the problem seemed to be the refrigerator circuit, which I now know not to be correct. He insisted that it couldn't be the refrigerator as it only draws 300 watts, but I pointed out that whatever it was, it wasn't tripping a breaker. He then told me that it had to be the generator but I told him that I had already verified that the generator would start, run and supply power as long as I had the refrigerator breaker turned off. (Of course, it's actually the Recps 2 breaker.) He then stated it had to be a battery issue, but I told him I replaced all the batteries just a few months ago and both the engine and generator would turn over instantly. He then said it must be some sort of problem with the 12v wiring going to the generator but I pointed out again that it will start and run if the problem-breaker is turned off. He then told me I needed to plug into shore power and when I asked for an explanation of what that would tell me, he got pretty upset with me and essentially ended the conversation. I don't understand what the shore-power connection would tell me, since the generator wouldn't be running and couldn't shut down.

My father-in-law said I should start by disconnecting one wire on the Recps 2 breaker and then see if the generator will start and power the coach, but from there, I'm not sure what else I could check. Any ideas on what else I could check out?

Thank-you. -RT
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:36 PM   #2
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Shorepower and genset both supply your AC power.

If everything works perfectly on shorepower with all the breakers on then it would point to genset or the wiring from genset, etc.
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Old 03-22-2017, 02:02 PM   #3
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Nice write up on your problem. I think you have it narrowed down to the 4 outlets on the recep2 breaker. Since the outlets are accessible, I would shut off all power, remove the face plates from each of the receptacles and look inside with a flashlight. If you see anything "burned", then just replace the offending outlet. If you have a multi-meter, check between the hot/black wire on the outlet and the ground/green wire to look for a short circuit. Do the same between the black and neutral/white wire. You should see infinite resistance, these wires should not be connected to each other in the wall. If you see any continuity between the black and white, or the black and green that means you have a short circuit. The only problem then is to find the short. The only way to do that is by inspecting the outlets one by one. Hope this helps.

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Old 03-22-2017, 02:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
Shorepower and genset both supply your AC power.

If everything works perfectly on shorepower with all the breakers on then it would point to genset or the wiring from genset, etc.
Agreed, plug in shore power to see if the problem persists.
If yes then the problem is either the Recps2 breaker itself or something downstream of it.

I'd say to plug in the shore power the Recps2 OFF, check some things to see if they work and THEN turn Recps2 on. If the breaker trips don't fight it or try to turn it back on, just start looking for loose wires. Pull each outlet and check for loose connections. If one of the four outlets is GFCI then start with that one.
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Old 03-22-2017, 02:16 PM   #5
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Wow! Thank-you everyone for your replies. RV storage is closed today but hopefully can try some of the suggestions posted. I'm anxious to see if I can figure this out... -RT
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:43 PM   #6
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I would take the breaker panel cover off and see if a wire is somehow shorting out to one side of the Recp2 breaker or that the wires on the breaker itself are loose? I would also think about replacing that breaker itself as well. It sounds from your write up that everything really works, but something is causing a dead short in that circuit which the generator somehow senses and shuts itself off. You may also want to check the wire connections for each of the four outlets on that circuit as well.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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I would take the breaker panel cover off and see if a wire is somehow shorting out to one side of the Recp2 breaker or that the wires on the breaker itself are loose? I would also think about replacing that breaker itself as well. It sounds from your write up that everything really works, but something is causing a dead short in that circuit which the generator somehow senses and shuts itself off. You may also want to check the wire connections for each of the four outlets on that circuit as well.
All great suggestions that I will do. I already ordered a OEM breaker which I may not need, but they aren't expensive, so why not replace it and cross that off the list. Since there are only four receptacles on that circuit with easy access, I can check the wiring there too. Next will require further testing down-line from the breaker and will require me to figure out where those breaker wires go to at the other end, along with the ground.

I again thank all those that have posted suggestions! -RT
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:37 AM   #8
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...I already ordered a OEM breaker which I may not need, but they aren't expensive, so why not replace it and cross that off the list...
Because then you are just throwing parts at the problem without actually determining what the cause is.

Check the wiring, as suggested, and the surrounding area before changing parts.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:53 AM   #9
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nomoreaz is correct. take the 4 outlets out and disconnect the black wires., check each wire for a short to ground. did you just fasten something to the walls, or outside using a screw? any repairs done near the area of the wires?
ive found that to be a common problem. anyway, you will find the offending wire.
repair it from there, dont just throw parts at it.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:21 PM   #10
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If there was a short to ground somewhere on the offending circuit, shouldnt the breaker for that circuit kick out, or if it fails, shouldnt the breaker on the generator kick out? Seems to me there is another issue at play here. Do you have an inverter that is powering that circuit, and the inverter is on?
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Old 03-23-2017, 02:23 PM   #11
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If one of the outlets is a gfci on the circuit that is in question, I would replace it before the panel breaker. GFCIs in RVs seem to be prone to failure so that might very well be the cause of the problem in the circuit. Good luck and insure the power and inverter are off before you tackle any wiring in the coach.
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Old 03-23-2017, 07:10 PM   #12
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So to cover a few of the above questions, there is no GFCI and there is no inverter on this particular circuit. The circuit consists of four receptacles, with three of them in the bedroom and I'm pretty sure we have never used any of them. The fourth one though is at the dinette and definitely used a lot when traveling and camping to charge iPhones, iPads and use MacBooks, so I'm going to start the inspection process there.

I did have a few minutes to run over to the RV storage today to look things over a bit more; the breaker physically looks good, no burnt wires or arc marks in the panel and all the wires were tight. The generator will run and produce power by turning off the Recps 2 breaker and it will also continue to run if I disconnect the wire from the breaker. That should mean the the breaker likely isn't 'bad' but I'm going to change it out anyway. It was noted that just changing parts may not really solve the issue but for $12, the cost seems insignificant and I can keep the old one (or the new one) as a spare. Had the breaker been available locally, I actually would have checked things out further and only ordered if needed. But since I have a weekend away scheduled at the end of the month and need the motorhome, I figured it was worth the gamble.

NoMoreAZ and azpete, my next step is to check all the receptacles for a short. Also, about a year ago I had the awning replaced and the new awning had shorter arms, so in essence they were pop-riveted into the sidewall in a slightly different location, or at least the pop-rivets probably were. While the bedroom receptacles are within the overall width of the bedroom side and the awning arms are more forward of the slide, I guess conceivably the installers could have hit the circuit wire if the wiring runs horizontally in that area. If that's the case, not sure how the heck I could repair the wire. Could a pop-rivet through the gelcoat sidewall, if it hits a wire, short it out? I'm assuming that the pop-rivet would be only touching gelcoat, maybe some thin wood and some styrofoam. Anyway, I'll start with the dinette receptacle and move on from there.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!! -RT
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:42 AM   #13
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You might also want to trace the route of the conductor between outlets. Winnebago uses covered plastic outlet boxes in the circuit as wire junction connection points between outlets if necessary. These are usually located on the floor of the coach. You can usually access them by checking under furniture or by removing bottom drawers if there are cabinets on route. You should also look for signs of any damage that may have been caused by mice chewing. I would check for this after you have verified the frequently used outlet is good. Good luck,
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:04 AM   #14
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May not help but you can buy a very inexpensive tester that plugs into a receptacle that has 3 lights and indicates proper polarity and ground. May point you to a wiring problem.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:21 AM   #15
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Back to my question about the breaker in the panel for this circuit, and the breaker at the generator. Am I correct in assuming that if there was a short to ground in this circuit shouldnt the breaker in the panel for this circuit kick out, and if that circuit breaker were to fail shouldnt the circuit breaker at the generator then kick out?

If I am correct in this assumption, wouldnt that indicate that a short to ground is not the problem?

For the OP, do you have an inverter in your RV, and if so, is it on when you try and start the generator?
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:46 AM   #16
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In the motor home I just traded, (Itasca Sunstar 30T) the bedroom and dinette receptacles were energized by the inverter. When the generator was on, or we were plugged in, the inverter allowed the power to 'pass through' whether it was turned on or off.
Given the symptoms, I'd take a good hard look at the inverter. Perhaps the 'pass through' function isn't working right, thus killing the generator somehow.
One easy check would be remove the AC wiring from the inverter and wire nut the like colors together, effectively taking the inverter out of the AC circuit, and see if that cures the problem.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:48 AM   #17
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Which model of 2005 Sunova do you have?

IPD 27C
IFD 29R
IFD 30B
IFD 33L
IFD 34A
IFD 35N
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:13 PM   #18
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Which model of 2005 Sunova do you have?
I have the 34A. -RT
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:20 PM   #19
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In the motor home I just traded, (Itasca Sunstar 30T) the bedroom and dinette receptacles were energized by the inverter. When the generator was on, or we were plugged in, the inverter allowed the power to 'pass through' whether it was turned on or off.
Given the symptoms, I'd take a good hard look at the inverter. Perhaps the 'pass through' function isn't working right, thus killing the generator somehow.
One easy check would be remove the AC wiring from the inverter and wire nut the like colors together, effectively taking the inverter out of the AC circuit, and see if that cures the problem.
While it's hard for me to follow wiring diagrams, I have looked at them for my model. The Recps 2 breaker only serves four receptacles, three of which are in the bedroom. But there is actually another receptacle in the bedroom that ties into the inverter circuit and serves in part the bedroom T.V., which I have verified has 110v power with the generator running. The only breaker that the generator is having issues with is the Receps 2 breaker, also referred to as 'brown', but neither the breaker or wire color is actually brown in color. I assume that the 'brown' means that's how the wire is labeled from Winnebago for that particular circuit.

Thank-you. -RT
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:26 PM   #20
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Back to my question about the breaker in the panel for this circuit, and the breaker at the generator. Am I correct in assuming that if there was a short to ground in this circuit shouldnt the breaker in the panel for this circuit kick out, and if that circuit breaker were to fail shouldnt the circuit breaker at the generator then kick out?

If I am correct in this assumption, wouldnt that indicate that a short to ground is not the problem?

For the OP, do you have an inverter in your RV, and if so, is it on when you try and start the generator?
I'm not expert at all on electrical issues, which you can tell with all my questions, but I've read that the Onan generator, at start-up, in milliseconds takes a voltage reading in millivolts and if the number doesn't match up to the required specifications, it shuts down the generator to protect it. Because of this, I could have some sort of short but maybe not a dead short that would trip the breaker. I'm told it's a lesser type of short but can't really explain it properly.

I do have the OEM 300 watt inverter, but it's on a different wiring circuit. It is 'on' and doesn't trip a breaker or effect the generators' ability to run properly if I turn off the Recps 2 breaker, which is a different circuit.

Thank-you. -RT
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