Coach generators are like people: They need regular “exercise.” And we all know that a quick trip to the refrigerator is not sufficient exercise to stay in shape. Likewise, idling your generator for a mere five minutes every other month or so is not enough to keep it in good running order. If you don’t run your generator long enough under sufficient load on a regular basis, it may not be ready when you need it. But it’s easy to keep your generator in shape if you follow a simple and correct workout routine.
How much, how often?
One way to keep your generator in good running order is to run it periodically under load for at least an hour. This allows sufficient time to heat up the windings, lubricate the seals, and drive out moisture buildup.
The best way to run your generator under load depends on the season. In warm weather, running all of the coach’s air conditioners with the thermostats set so all are cooling will do the job. During the colder months, running the electric Aqua-Hot in combination with the electric heaters should be sufficient.
How often this should be done is a matter of some debate in the RV industry. But many experts—including the engineers at Newell and Martin Diesel Generators—agree that running your generator under a load at least quarterly will keep your generator fit and ready for action.
Preventing strain on the alternator
I’m a big fan of using the generator when driving, especially in warm weather. But some people think they can save fuel by using an inverter/alternator combo to power their 110-volt air conditioning.
I recommend against this practice for several reasons.
For one thing, it doesn’t save you anything. Whether you use the main engine or the generator to produce the necessary power, the net fuel usage is virtually the same because increasing the load on the alternator causes the main engine to consume more fuel. In addition, using an inverter to power your air conditioner puts a heavy strain on your alternator, especially when ambient temperatures are high. This is because, unlike conventional trucks, where the alternator sits at the front of the engine in free-flowing air, your coach alternator sits in the back of the engine, where the heat is high and air flow is minimal.
Here’s another important issue: Where a truck has only two batteries to charge, your coach alternator has to keep eight batteries charged in addition to keeping the beer cold and the lights on. Given that it can cost as much as $2,000 or more to replace your alternator, I recommend that you use your generator instead, especially in warm weather.
Built to be used
If you’re worried that using your generator as I’ve suggested might wear it out, don’t be. During a service seminar I conducted at our recent Newell rally in Fort Worth, Texas, I asked seminar attendees whether any of them had ever seen a worn-out RV generator. the answer was a unanimous no. That corroborates my experience. In the Newell Service Department, we’ve seen coach generators with over 19,000 hours still going strong. And we’ve heard reports of generators with over 30,000 hours still operating. That’s equivalent to traveling about 1.6 million miles at 55 M.P.H.
You own one of the finest generators on the market. So why not use it for the tasks it was intended rather than lose it due to underuse or neglect? And if you can’t use it frequently enough, giving it a proper workout on a regular basis in a well-ventilated area should keep it in fighting shape.
Newell V.P. of Customer Service
P.S. Remember to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Half the fun is getting there—especially in a Newell!