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Old 01-09-2022, 08:49 AM   #1
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Batteries and Cold Weather

I am wondering if anyone else has experience with the situation I am finding myself in. Last summer I had to take apart my qg4000 and replace some parts because I didnít exercise my generator as often as I should have and the old fuel caused major problems. After I did the repairs the generator ran great all summer. This year I am attempting to exercise my generator every month to avoid the pain of needing to do those repairs again. Here is my problem. I live in northern MN and we have had quite a cold snap as of lately. The other day I woke up to -36 degrees Fahrenheit. Durning the day it does warm a bit, into the low 20s at times, but the temps are usually hovering in the teens durning the day and plummeting far below zero once the sun goes down at about 5pm. I have been waiting until the ďwarmestĒ part of the day to attempt to exercise my generator, but the generator will only click and wonít crank. I am guessing this is because the generator starts on the house batteries and being that the house batteries are deep cycle batteries they donít provide enough CCA to start the generator. If the generator ran off the chassis battery I am guess there would be enough CCA to start the generator. I have made sure both my house batteries and chassis batteries are fully charged. I have fully synthetic 5w30 oil in the generator. To make things worse I did not have a fuel stabilizer in my fuel tank when the generator ran last which means I am on track for more fuel related issues once it warms enough to get the generator started. I have tried the battery boost button which had no effect. Anyone have any ideas about this? I really donít want to swap batteries around if at all possible. Itís too cold for that.
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Old 01-09-2022, 10:41 AM   #2
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Have you tried to start it while the engine is running? I would start the engine, wait a few minutes and then try to start the generator. Not sure if that will make any difference, but that would be my next move if it was me.
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Old 01-26-2022, 08:55 PM   #3
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The RV generator user's guides I'm familiar with (Onan) say to run them 2 hours per MONTH. In that cold, I wouldn't run it at all. More stress on it starting up at 0 F then just letting it sit all winter. Besides, the heat from running it might attract vermin who try to camp out in the air filter housing. Not good when you start it up the next time...dust the engine. (Yes, I had that almost happen but the torn up paper didn't make it into the air intake).

The battery issue you could just try using some heavy duty jumper cables from the house to the chassis, see if that starts it better. If it does, then your AUX solenoid is likely bad.

I would just service the batts if needed and disconnect the battery grounds and let everything sit until it's back up to 20 F at night. Or wait until spring. RVs should be fun, not a chore.

Survived 3 winters in Fairbanks AK with no issues to the generator or the batteries. Flooded cell batts are good to -75F if properly serviced & watered before winter. Mine sat all winter and just needed a couple hours charging to be back up to full charge in the spring.
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Old 01-27-2022, 07:48 AM   #4
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Some basic info on what may be happening may fit.
Starting the RV engine is almost always a good idea when trying to start or use the heavy electrical user items like slides or generator starting as it does several thing swhich help.

When you push the boost switch, it should use start battery power to close the mode solenoid connecting start and coach battery for the time while you have the button pushed. However it is only while pushed, so if you push the button and then go back to start the gen. you will not have actually connected them! The boost button drops off as soon as you release it.

But if you start the RV engine, the system does the solenoid connection to connect both the battery strings as well as the engine alternator together and that is the best shot at having full voltage to start the generator!

To test, you may be able to hear the solenoid move when you push the button. Try pushing the button several times and see if you can hear the solenoid go "thump" each time to let you know it is moving?

You may need to stand close to hear it while somebody else hits the switch. This is the location and it is behind the breakers on the passenger side.
Note that hearing it only tells you it is moving but not if the contacts are corroded and not making the connection, even when they close. They get a lot of wear and do tend to be a trouble point for not connecting the two batteries to charge while you drive.

Industry use we run the genset every month to be sure it will go when needed but for my use, I would say every two months to help get new fuel into the system but still not work so much! What you have found is that the fuel will sludge up or lose the good parts of the gas and may not work if that sludge is left on the vital parts of the fuel system.
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Old 02-11-2022, 07:14 PM   #5
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So I had my coach batteries at home. I had them load tested. They told me there is a little age on the being almost a year old, but nowhere close to being bad. Once they warmed up a little they took a good charge on the trickle charger. I just put the coach batteries back in once fully charged. Same issue. I can it priming just fine, but when I go to start it it just clicks. I noticed now the hour display is blank. I will check all the connections on the gen side tomorrow. I know battery side is good. I did check them a few months back when I replaced the fuel pump so I don’t believe it’s a loose connection, but I guess anything is possible. When I parked the RV back at the end of October I didn’t add fuel stabilizer because I didn’t have any on hand. I came back and added the fuel stabilizer later and drove the RV for an hour or so. I went to fire up the gen to let the fuel stabilizer run through it. That’s when I realized the gen won’t start. This is my main concern. If there was fuel stabilizer in the gen I would let it sit until spring, but I really don’t want a gummed up carb and fuel pump. Someone mentioned carefully warming the control board. I am a little hesitant to do this. I am concerned it will get damaged somehow. Has anyone tried warming the control board? Yes I have tried the boost button and tried starting it with the rv running.
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Old 02-11-2022, 08:05 PM   #6
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Check your cables and connections since your installed the batteries. Don't just look , check them and tighten them . It's always the ground .
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Old 02-11-2022, 09:16 PM   #7
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I don't see any harm in warming the control board. What I'd do is get a 1500 watt floor heater and put it under the chassis near the generator. Warm air rises so it just needs to be close. Maybe let it run an hour...that would be enough of a test to see if it does any good.

It's good you are keeping the electrical connectors in mind as metal shrinks in the cold and I've seen intermittent opens occur when it gets cold. Also keep in mind that those big ground straps can open circuit in the cold too.

What I like to do is grab my rubber mallet and whack on things in the area of interest. Not only does it relieve stress but if there is an electrical problem due to cold, often that will make it show up or even cause the device to work again...for a while anyway. It really works well if there's a ground issue.

When you mentioned having the batteries tested then putting them back in fully charged but it only clicked on start that rang the 'bad ground' bell in my mind.
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Old 03-11-2022, 08:14 AM   #8
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Hey guys thanks for all the replies. I realize this thread is getting some age on it now, but I would like to update to possibly help someone in the future. I had the problem narrowed down to the starter solenoid or the starter itself. Being I could easily reach the starter solenoid without removing the generator from the coach I started there. I purchased a replacement starter solenoid online for around $50. Once I put the new starter solenoid in I still had the same problem. A repetitive clicking noise from the solenoid, but nothing else. At this point I figured it was a bad starter. Being winter in MN I was not going to drop the generator out of the coach in the middle of winter. I am also leaving for a trip tomorrow so was limited. I brought it in to have it repaired. The shop also agreed it was a bad starter. I waited about 5 days for the new starter with a weekend in that 5 days. They replaced the starter and it runs great again. I was charged 3.5 hours labor and $185 for the starter. Hope this gives Simone some help down the road. Happy travels!
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Old 03-11-2022, 09:17 AM   #9
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Now that you have it fixed, please put a good gasoline stabilizer like Stabil in the gas tank at the end of each camping season. Drive the MH around for a few minutes to mix and work its way through the chassis engine. Then run the generator for a half an hour to push the old fuel through and fill it with stabilized fuel.

If you do that then there is no need to start the generator to deal with fuel issues during the winter. Some and maybe even Cummins believe that the generator windings need to be warmed up to force out condensate once in a while. If you share that concern, then run the engine on a load for an hour every once in a while. I don't share that concern.

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Old 03-11-2022, 09:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidM View Post
Some and maybe even Cummins believe that the generator windings need to be warmed up to force out condensate once in a while. If you share that concern, then run the engine on a load for an hour every once in a while. I don't share that concern.
David, if that's not a concern... wouldn't it be better to simply add a manual cutoff in the fuel line just in front of the fuel filter so you could run the generator out of fuel for storage. It would take a lot of fuel stabilizer to effectively treat the large fuel tanks in an RV. I've got 80 gallons in mine and I store it full to the top.
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Old 03-11-2022, 11:44 AM   #11
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Running the fuel dry is a good solution for carbureted gasoline engines. I do that with my Honda generator.

Stabil isn't that expensive. I bought 32 oz of Stabil, enough to treat 80 gallons on Amazon for $11.00: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e?ie=UTF8&th=1

So for just $11.00 I can cover the generator and the chassis engine. The latter doesn't really need it with an EFI engine.

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Old 03-12-2022, 11:05 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by DavidM View Post
Now that you have it fixed, please put a good gasoline stabilizer like Stabil in the gas tank at the end of each camping season. Drive the MH around for a few minutes to mix and work its way through the chassis engine. Then run the generator for a half an hour to push the old fuel through and fill it with stabilized fuel.

If you do that then there is no need to start the generator to deal with fuel issues during the winter. Some and maybe even Cummins believe that the generator windings need to be warmed up to force out condensate once in a while. If you share that concern, then run the engine on a load for an hour every once in a while. I don't share that concern.

David
Absolutely. I did have the 80 gallon fuel tank treated with Stabil, but then the generator failed to start so it didn’t get a chance to run into the generator. I learned more than a few lessons from this one. Anyway fixed in the nick of time. Just pulled out of the driveway and headed to FL. Warmer days ahead.
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