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Old 08-22-2022, 06:55 AM   #1
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Using RV generator to power house when power goes out

How do I hook up my Onan 4000 generator from my 29M Hurricane to power my house when the power goes out? We loose house power quite often from the power company and we end up in the RV on the generator. Has anyone hooked the RV generator to power the house or do I need to but another generator?
Thanks,

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Old 08-22-2022, 11:53 AM   #2
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I forget who, but somebody started another thread about this. Did you search.
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Old 08-22-2022, 12:31 PM   #3
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Many do, just follow code, especially at the house

Several threads about various methods
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Old 08-22-2022, 01:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dennisemory View Post
How do I hook up my Onan 4000 generator from my 29M Hurricane to power my house when the power goes out? We loose house power quite often from the power company and we end up in the RV on the generator. Has anyone hooked the RV generator to power the house or do I need to but another generator?
Thanks,
DKOldman has a long thread about trying to do this:

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/f2...tch-29616.html
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Old 08-22-2022, 02:01 PM   #5
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Since is only single phase 4000 watt unit, in cooler weather can run extension into house for fridge/lights. If in warm weather and A/C is needed in RV, is possible to overload 4000. We are rural and have 2 alternate small generators to power house off cords to fridge/freezers and well pump.
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Old 08-22-2022, 02:01 PM   #6
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4000W won't power much more than a fridge, freezer and a few lights. I use a stand alone 8000W Honda and installed a Progressive Industries transfer switch next to the breaker panel. It allows 120V to 6 different breakers of choice.
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Old 08-22-2022, 02:07 PM   #7
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There are two ways to power your house from a portable generator. I have done both.

1. The simplest is to run a heavy extension cord from your MHs outside outlet into the house through a window and hook it up to lights, fridge, etc. This is only good for 15 amps but with LED lights, etc., it should work fine. But you can't power any permanently wired appliances like a central heater that way.

2. The more comprehensive way requires some advance planning and equipment installation. For your MH, you have to install a 30A outlet from your main breaker so you can plug in a heavy shore power cord to bring 30A power into your house, preferrable through an outside outlet wired to a transfer switch installed next to your power panel.

Transfer switches are made for 3-6 circuits or more. You pick the critical circuits including the one that powers your central heating system (as long as it is 120V) and wire them through the transfer switch. Then when the power goes out you switch the ones you want to the external 30A circuit.

If you have 50A power from your RV generator, you can run a 50A single pole circuit the same way. It also may be possible to wire a 50A 240V circuit directly from your generator to a whole house transfer switch. That requires more electrical skills than I possess.

When I lost power after hurricane Irene ten years ago I had already set up the multiple circuit transfer switch and I used method #2 to power a couple of outlet circuits and the fridge. Later in another house when the power went out due to a local storm I used method #1. Both worked very well and I didn't see much of an advantage of one vs the other. My central heat pump required 240V power so neither could supply that.

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Old 08-22-2022, 04:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dennisemory View Post

.....cut..... Has anyone hooked the RV generator to power the house or do I need to buy another generator?
Thanks,

Thatís the first thing you need to decide which depends completely on what you want to power in your home and how much you are willing to spend to get that amount of electrical power.

Starting with your Onan which is rated 4,000 Watts maximum, and goes through a 30-Amp breaker (3,600 Watts), you should plan on no more than 80% of that, or 24-Amp in total steady loads. Call it 3,000 Watts.

As others mentioned, that will power refrigerator, lots of LED lights, TVs, alarm system, modem, etc. It will not power other large residential appliances at same time though, like central air conditioning.

My neighbor installed a Generac full-house natural gas generator earlier this year and a couple of days ago we lost power due to thunderstorms, and I heard it come on for the first time in actual use. Power fluctuated on and off a few times over a couple of hours and each time it started automatically, and shut down after a time delay when power came back on.

I do not know how large a generator it is, or exactly how Generac installers wired it in, but the best part is that it is all automatic. On power failure, it starts and transfers (some or all) loads automatically until no longer needed.

Your motorhomeís Onan by comparison would likely require manual connection and/or transfer of power anyway, at which point why not just run extension cords for most critical needs like refrigerator? Only you can decide how much power and automation is worth to you.

I have a portable generator but didnít even get it out last week. Power wasnít out long enough for me to worry about food in fridge spoiling. Had power stayed off for a few more hours, I would have gotten it out.

For what it is worth, my neighbor paid a lot for the full-house Generac and complete installation. I donít know exact cost but a comment he made led me to think it was around $30,000.

Obviously there is a lot of middle ground between running an extension cord from your motorhome to refrigerator and buying a permanent and automated full-house generator.
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Old 08-22-2022, 05:19 PM   #9
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It's probably better to just jump in the camper, and get the heck out of there...
4K won't run a house...
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Old 08-22-2022, 07:40 PM   #10
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It's probably better to just jump in the camper, and get the heck out of there...
4K won't run a house...
Actually, one of my excuses for buying an RV is that if a hurricane knocks out power for a while, we can sleep in the RV and enjoy the air conditioning.
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Old 08-22-2022, 09:29 PM   #11
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Everything is situational, differing requirements require different solutions.

I could use a whole house generator and match grid power. Adds ton of expense and complexity.

Our regular solution: If we lose power up to 24 hours we just use 3500 off race trailer and extension cords. Sleep in RV off internal 4000 onan. Would cook there as well though running toaster oven or air fryer works off extension cord as well in house but warm temps make cooking in RV better idea.

If over 24 hours and need water pressure run well pump off 4000 unit that can produce 220v.

Logic is neither 3500 or 4000 are gas hogs. Since running light loading are good 12 to 16 hours on 3 to 3.5 gallons of gas.

If power out extended due to major storm would leave area anyway and take generators with us.

Other than 2 weeks of cleaning and painting at start, have only slept in RV two nights in 5 years.
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Old 08-22-2022, 11:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dennisemory View Post
How do I hook up my Onan 4000 generator from my 29M Hurricane to power my house when the power goes out? We loose house power quite often from the power company and we end up in the RV on the generator. Has anyone hooked the RV generator to power the house or do I need to but another generator?
Thanks,

As others have mentioned, I have done this ands it works very well.

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/f2...tch-29616.html

I will allow you to read through the thread so you can get the journey of my quest, limitations, solution and final results.

To be clear, in my case it was to so because I could. I already had a 30amp transfer switch to my house that I supplied power from my now 10 year old 3500 watt generator which is also 30 amps.

30 amps is plenty to run all of our key breakers in the house during an emergency. I only have 10 breakers on my switch and I try to balance based on need. If true emergency we don't need ACs, Washer / Dryer, or Electric Stove in the house. We have propane grills, propane burner not to mention charcoal. Both refrigerators have power, all the TVs, all the lights. If there was something I wish we had was the pool equipment.

But it is cool to use the RV generator to supply30 amps because #1 it is a lot quieter to run 24/7, #2 the other 30 amps feeds other critical items in RV that we could use like 1 of the ACs, the Heater and microwave lights etc.

Another driver was I was expecting my portable generator to have died by now, but it is still going. When and if it dies, I will not buy a new one in favor of having up to 60 gallons available to run that RV generator around the clock. During Texas freeze, I had to refill the fuel every 6 hours and it was a real PITA as it was very cold outside.
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Old 08-27-2022, 07:13 PM   #13
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I kept it simple

Last house we ran extension cords to fridge and some lamps and a phone charger and space heaters.

My HVAC guy added a plug to the house oil heater power line. He installed an outlet that to plug into. During power outages we disconnected that and inserted an extension from the RV generator or a portable propane generator to that outlet. That way we could heat the whole house. If I recall correctly we had to shut a breaker so no power went to the outside electric lines. That would be for the protection of linemen.

The propane generator ran off of regular propane tanks. They lasted at least 8 hours and I had 5. Bought all but one used to save money.

Now I have electric heat and an all electric house. Have to start over somehow. I would like to be able to run the well pump too.
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Old 08-27-2022, 07:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Dennisemory View Post
How do I hook up my Onan 4000 generator from my 29M Hurricane to power my house when the power goes out? We loose house power quite often from the power company and we end up in the RV on the generator. Has anyone hooked the RV generator to power the house or do I need to but another generator?
Thanks,
Had the power go out in my area 2 years ago. I had the RV in the driveway so I just started the generator and ran two entension cords out to it. One powered the fridge and freezer. Other porered a few fans and a tv. Were got a whole house generator installed the next year. Now we don't care when the home power quits.
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Old 08-28-2022, 08:40 PM   #15
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I've done exactly what you are talking about at my house.
The greatest danger is, when power is restored, that the utility power will destroy your generator.
Another consideration is that your generator power could backfeed to the street and injure a utility worker.
So, it is critical that utility power and generator power are NEVER (never) connected to the panel at the same time.

There are several ways to make sure that never happens. One is to use a transfer switch as other responses have suggested. But, I wanted the ability to deliver power to any breaker in the panel, not just 4 or 6 of them. So, I removed the existing electrical panel and replaced it with a Reliance panel that has a mechanical interlock and two watt meters. This prevents the generator input from being on at the same time the main is on.

The next problem is that your Onan 4000 is a single-phase generator and your panel is 2-phase. If you connect to L1, only half of the single-pole breakers will work. If you connect to L2, only the other half will be energized. And, no appliance connected to a 2-pole breaker will work, so there goes the A/C.

Finally, as others have said, 4000W isn't much power for your house. You would have to keep most of the breakers switched off and be very selective about which were flipped on.

Ultimately, I bought a 6000W 2-phase Champion gas generator that seems to power almost everything in the house. My next project is to install a conversion kit so it can run on natural gas.

The last problem is how to know when the utility power is restored. I solved that by connecting a whistle to the mains. Of course, I also had to install a switch so it could be disabled.
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Old 08-28-2022, 10:38 PM   #16
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......cut..... So, I removed the existing electrical panel and replaced it with a Reliance panel that has a mechanical interlock and two watt meters. This prevents the generator input from being on at the same time the main is on.

.....cut.....

Thatís a good option to consider.

I helped my son rewire his house (upgrade capacity at panels), which included a 30A X 240VAC breaker dedicated to a portable generator. One of the SquareD panels he purchased has a mechanical interlock which requires turning off main breaker first before generator breaker can be closed. Breaker runs to a Generac plug just outside garage wall so that portable generator can be located outdoors and far from house.

Other than doing something unsafe like using a suicide extension cord to connect a portable generator to a house, the above approach is probably the simplest and cheapest way to connect a generator directly to the house. Requires manual control of loads, but that also allows greater flexibility in controlling what runs at any one time if generator power is limited.

I may do the same eventually by modifying my old GE panel. In addition to new panels, there are upgrade kits that mechanically interlock so that generator breaker has to be off before main can be closed. Below is a picture of one that ďmayĒ fit my houseís panel, though I havenít really looked at options in much detail.

For what itís worth, his SquareD OEM interlock is better than this picture if I recall correctly.
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Old 08-28-2022, 11:07 PM   #17
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Yes, I would NOT attempt without a switch.

Here is switch I have https://www.homedepot.com/p/Connecti...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

Note: I bought the Switch 8 years before buying a RV. My switch was to size up with my 3500 watt portable generator. I only feed the switch from one leg of the generator.

Works like a champ, easier to setup a nd a lot quieter than my portable inverter and can run all night with no gals filling required.
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