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Old 10-13-2017, 03:26 PM   #1
DTB
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THOR #6977
Generator Woes Sprinter Citation 2017

We are having much difficulty with our generator and are presently trying some experiments. We really need some answers to the following two questions regarding a Cummins Onan 3500 RV generator on a 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis for a 2017 Thor Citation.
1. While the generator is running should it be charging the house batteries?
2. While the vehicle is running should it be charging the house batteries?
I've asked Thor these questions and they haven't replied. I've asked our dealership these questions as well and they don't seem to know the answers.
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:34 PM   #2
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1. Yes
2. Yes
Either will charge the house batteries. If the house batteries aren't charging check the converter. Breaker for converter is on panel under bed. Converter itself is under the bed litterally.
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:46 PM   #3
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For most Thor RV's, duncii's 'YES' answers are correct... (The converter/charger would not be involved in charging the coach from the engine - but is from the generator.)

But this specific question is for the Mercedes chassis. From what I have seen here - I think the Mercedes chassis is an exception...

Recall another owner reporting Mercedes doesn't allow the chassis and house batteries to join... No emergency start, no charging coach from alternator, no chassis charging from genny/shore power.
May want to verify - as I am just relaying what I've seen here.
(If you don't have an emergency start - there is likely no means to tie the battery banks together...)

The generator should charge the coach batteries via the converter/charger. (Use/store switch must be in 'USE')

Just further reason the only correct answers at times are 'maybe' or 'it depends'...
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:00 PM   #4
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Is there any way to check to actually verify that either the generator or the vehicle is charging the house batteries?
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:03 PM   #5
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I have the Quantum KM24 which is on the Merc chassis. Just installed a solar power system with charging monitor. I can verify that both charge the house batteries. I turn the converter off when traveling and plug the inverter into the main house plug and the batteries are still being charged by the alternator. I have 2 100w flex solar panels that are not permanently connected to the coach or charger. Store them while traveling because alt does a better job of charging the batteries. Hardly use the generator any more. Note: we are mostly traveler boondockers. Set up so the panels can be placed on any side of the rv or up to 25' away if we park in shade on a portable pvc stand.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DTB View Post
Is there any way to check to actually verify that either the generator or the vehicle is charging the house batteries?
A voltmeter is your friend here...
You should see an increase in voltage measured at the battery when being charged.
I'd expect 12-12.4 volts from the battery alone - and closer to 13 volts when being charged.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:10 PM   #7
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To be clear both gen and alt charge the house batteries independently. Gen goes through the converter. Check the breaker and wiring to converter visually and with multitester. Other issue could be controller the should switch over to gen from shore power when gen starts. Usually anout a 30ish sec delay.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:13 PM   #8
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Answer to DTB, the monitor panel will do so if you don't have a multitester.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:26 PM   #9
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I have a Gemini 24TX on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, and yes both the generator, as well as the engine alternator will charge house batteries. I do not believe the generator will charge the chassis battery, however, nor will plugging it into shore power. Only sure way to charge both chassis and house batteries, is running the engine.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:32 PM   #10
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Laco, agree. That is my experience also. Only alt charges chassis battery.
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:17 PM   #11
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I have a small smart charger I will connect to the chassis battery, if we are in one place for very long, or if its stored for a long period of time. I'm looking for a way to permanently install the charger and leave it plugged in, or connected to 120 volts, so when the motorhome is plugged into shore power it automatically will charge and float the chassis battery. Have some ideas, but the location of the chassis battery presents the need for some careful thought as to, how, and where kinds of things.
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Old 10-16-2017, 08:24 PM   #12
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I would like to thank everyone who has posted regarding this issue I've been having with the generator. I finally broke down and purchased a multimeter.
1. Put the batteries on the charger until they were fully charged.
2. Tested the house batteries after a full charge. Indicated reading was in the 12.7 volt range.
SIDE NOTE: After turning on generator, vehicle, and shore power I checked the battery level and it was in the 12.7 range
3. Turned on the generator, voltage reading jumped to 13.2 volts. Is this sufficient from a generator?
4. Turned off the generator and turned on the vehicle. voltage reading was in the 14.1 volts area. Is this normal and/or sufficient from the vehicle.
SIDE NOTE: It would appear that the vehicle alternator is connected to the house batteries albeit I've read the Mercedes does not allow the connection.
5. Turned the vehicle off and plugged in shore power. Indicated voltage was in the 13.1 range. Is this an appropriate charge from shore power?
6. Unplugged shore power and the battery voltage dropped back to the 12.7 range. Is this normal.
BY THE WAY. During my experiments the checked the battery level on the panel inside the door. When fully charged it indicated 4 lights. When the generator was running it indicated four lights. When plugged into shore power it indicated 4 lights. When I turned everything off it indicated ONE light. I switched the STORE USE switch from USE to STORE than back to USE. The panel then indicated FOUR lights. This is very confusing, confounding, and troublesome.
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DTB View Post
...
2. Tested the house batteries after a full charge. Indicated reading was in the 12.7 volt range.
SIDE NOTE: After turning on generator, vehicle, and shore power I checked the battery level and it was in the 12.7 range
12.7 sounds good...
Not sure what the side note is referring to - seems to contradict what is below...

Quote:
3. Turned on the generator, voltage reading jumped to 13.2 volts. Is this sufficient from a generator?
Yes... Indicates the generator engaged the converter - and is charging/maintaining the house batteries... Level is only 13.2 because batteries are near fully charged... Should start higher if batteries are discharged.

Quote:
4. Turned off the generator and turned on the vehicle. voltage reading was in the 14.1 volts area. Is this normal and/or sufficient from the vehicle.
SIDE NOTE: It would appear that the vehicle alternator is connected to the house batteries albeit I've read the Mercedes does not allow the connection.
Yes... The alternator doesn't know the state of charge - and doesn't use the converter - so not surprised the voltage measured here is higher...

Quote:
5. Turned the vehicle off and plugged in shore power. Indicated voltage was in the 13.1 range. Is this an appropriate charge from shore power?
Yes... Same as on genny - shows the converter was engaged and is charging/maintaining the house batteries.

Quote:
6. Unplugged shore power and the battery voltage dropped back to the 12.7 range. Is this normal.
Yes - the batteries were back on their own (no charging source) showing their voltage only.

Quote:
BY THE WAY. During my experiments the checked the battery level on the panel inside the door. When fully charged it indicated 4 lights. When the generator was running it indicated four lights. When plugged into shore power it indicated 4 lights. When I turned everything off it indicated ONE light. I switched the STORE USE switch from USE to STORE than back to USE. The panel then indicated FOUR lights. This is very confusing, confounding, and troublesome.
There is a reason I suggested a voltmeter...

Backing up a step... what is the issue you were seeing that started us down this path??
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gmc View Post
12.7 sounds good...
Not sure what the side note is referring to - seems to contradict what is below...
I just wanted the readers to know that I checked the battery voltage levels after each of my procedures.
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:46 PM   #15
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Backing up a step... what is the issue you were seeing that started us down this path??
First of all THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your response and insight.

What led me down this path? That is difficult to answer without going on and on and on, so let try me summarize.

1. Purchased the motorhome (new) in April.
2. Used the generator for the first time in early June. Worked great.
3. Drove to the Eclipse in August. Started Generator, it shut down after about three minutes with "Generator Alert" showing in the Generator start window.
4. Would not immediately restart.
5. On subsequent restarts the generator would ALWAYS shut down. Sometimes the Generator start window would indicate "Generator Alert" on other occasions it would indicate "Oil Temp - Press"
6. Checked Generator oil, was okay.
7. Discovered that if I started the vehicle and then started the Generator that the Generator would stay on.
8. Drove sixty miles on a very hot day. The vehicle was running as was the generator AND the house air conditioner. Generator would shut down periodically. Sometimes indicating "Generator Alert" other times indicating "Oil Temp - Press".
9. Took the motorhome to National Battery Sales in my area, they discovered a very loose connection on one of the house batteries. Tightened the connection, drove home Generator worked great. Thought the problem was solved.
10. Drove 200 miles, stayed in a campground plugged into shore power. Stayed two days. Drove home. After arriving home I decided to check the generator yet again. Remember I had just driven 200 miles and the batteries should have been at full charge. Started the generator, it quit after about 4 minutes. "Generator Alert" was showing in the generator start window.

I don't want to take it to the dealership because I don't trust them and I don't want to take it to Cummins Onan until I'm sure it's a generator issue or something else.

Anyhow, that's a quick trip from A to B
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:56 PM   #16
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DTB, I think Mercedes does not want anything but their Mercedes alternator charging the chassis battery, so neither shore power or running the generator will charge the chassis battery. Going the other way, they apparently do not have a problem with, that is using the Mercedes alternator to charge the house batteries, which it does. By the way all your voltages seemed to be right in range. Since I have an inverter installed, the panel for that is to the left of entry steps mounted on the cabinet the sink is in, so I get constant voltage displays from that.
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Old 10-16-2017, 10:09 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Laco View Post
DTB, I think Mercedes does not want anything but their Mercedes alternator charging the chassis battery, so neither shore power or running the generator will charge the chassis battery. Going the other way, they apparently do not have a problem with, that is using the Mercedes alternator to charge the house batteries, which it does. By the way all your voltages seemed to be right in range. Since I have an inverter installed, the panel for that is to the left of entry steps mounted on the cabinet the sink is in, so I get constant voltage displays from that.
Agree w/ Laco.
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Old 10-16-2017, 10:13 PM   #18
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Start at the battery, clean and tighten all connections back to converter and then to gen. Go back to battery and repeat towards the alt.
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Old 10-16-2017, 11:51 PM   #19
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So sounds like when its running - it is doing what it should...
The issue is the shutdowns - typically from lack of fuel, lack of oil, or overheat...

I don't have the text display - the Onan manual describes fault trouble codes by flashing lights for mine. Don't know if you can get more info than 'Generator Alert'... The 'Oil Temp / Pressure' sounds like overheat (considering you checked oil levels that would lead to low pressure...)

Checking/tightening connections is always a good idea - but won't solve an overheat issue if that is what it is...

No experience with diesel versions of the Onan... Hopefully someone else can chime in.
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Old 10-22-2017, 01:52 PM   #20
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I would love more details about your setup! I'm kind of lost when you plug the main house plug into the inverter.
Thanks!!!
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