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Old 06-15-2016, 01:46 PM   #1
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Trilogy Generator Options

I have been pondering--since we bought our Trilogy last year--the best option (for us) for a generator. At this time we have a Champion 9750 watt dual-fuel (LP and gasoline) stand-alone generator. It works really well and I don't have any complaints about it (other than that it is very heavy). It is designed for use with an RV and has all the right plugs (50 amp and 30 amp) was well as an electric start.

However, I am interested in installing a permanent generator and so things get complicated because I do not know anyone with professional electrical skills and to complicate that: this is an RV, so even those with basic trade skills don't want to touch the topic because they aren't familiar with RVs.

I don't trust anything from the dealerships--they screw everything up that they touch.

My question comes down to this: the Champion that I have puts out 250v and that is somehow delivered in two distinct 125v phases over both of the hot legs on it's 50 amp receptacle. Works great. Love it.

However, when I am looking at these onboard generators, they all seem to be 120v output in a single phase.

How does this mesh up? I mean the Champion will literally run everything I can possibly turn on. The trailer does not know that it is plugged into a generator.

But if an onboard generator is installed, then it seems that it is online going to supply 120v in a single phase to the trailer. I just can't wrap my head around how that will work. It seems like if that is the case then only some appliances or outlets will work (assuming the two phases from mains service are actually divided up throughout the camper).

My lack of understanding how these things are wired is the biggest issue. Does the power coming from the pre-wire go into the trailer the same was as the mains does? Or is it wired in separately through a different path? If so, then there is nothing saying what the overall amperage load of the pre-wire is really capable of. The Onan 8000 QD is capable of 67 amps at 120v (single phase), but obviously the camper itself cannot handle more than 50 amps on a leg, but is the pre-wire even less than that?

I guess I am thinking out loud here--or in text as it were. Looking for any thoughts or input on this subject. Does anyone else have an onboard generator? Does it supply power to all appliances and receptacles?

There is very little real life information out there available to people who purchase these fifth wheels with regard to these kinds of specifications. In fact, there is nothing anywhere in any documentation regarding the Trilogy that in any way gives a max or min power output spec for a generator based on how it has been pre-wired.

As normal, emailed questions to Forest River/Dynamax on this issue go unanswered.

It's a big topic, but any thoughts anyone?
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:45 PM   #2
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First of all, I have no fifth wheel generator experience....all my thoughts come from owning a diesel generator in a motorhome.

I have to believe that your local RV dealer can install one of these things. If not, they probably have someone local they use.

If I was going to do this, I would have the output of the single phase generator routed to 2 places. The circuit that has the inverter and charger on it and the circuit that has one of airconditioners on it. They may be the same circuit. I wouldn't care about the other circuits.

Looking at my electrical sheet, that would be Line 1.

How the electrical people install it with the generator setup in my fifth wheel, I have no idea.

This does not help you at all, I know. I'll be waiting to see what the others have to say.

I bought a 115 to 50A adapter that lets me run an extension cord to the main electrical input. It will run 1 a/c and charge the batteries. But I would like to know how to install a generator as well.
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Old 06-16-2016, 01:24 PM   #3
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Response from Forest River

I got a response from Matt Swihart at Dynamax just a few minutes ago.

He says the Trilogy trailers are designed for a 5500 model Onan only. So, basically anything bigger is not guaranteed to be within spec from an electrical or size perspective.

We will probably just stick with our external RV generator from Champion. It's a pain to drag it around separately, but it is powerful, not too loud for such a large generator and has multi-fuel options. Most importantly it runs everything with no sweat over the standard 50 amp 2 leg input like a normal power pedestal.

Running 2 ACs while being able to run the microwave and separate oven at dinner ( my wife and daughter are both cooks ), as well as running the electric water heater and residential fridge is not really an option in this area. Unlike the dry areas of the country, we do not even have a "cool" time of day for about 8 months of the year. ACs run all day and night. So, around 8,000 watts is absolute minimum for that kind of load and even then may require alternating use of some appliances to manage power.

An onboard generator was a nice thought, but I'm not willing to risk installing something that would result in damage or total destruction to our trailer.
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:35 PM   #4
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I'm not questioning what Matt told you, but it seems odd that they specify one brand and model of generator when it's only 120vac single phase. Wouldn't take rocket science to put in any other single phase gas generator.

And that beast is heavy. Almost 300lbs. I would not want that on my pin weight.

I also checked with a distributor. Onan/Cummins makes these on order. Doesn't give me a warm fuzzy as far as timing of delivery and issues right of the box. But they do have great warranty and a pretty vast network.

Like you, I'll stick with my haul around 4000watt. Its only 85lbs and fairly quiet.
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Old 06-17-2016, 11:46 PM   #5
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If your Trilogy came "generator prepped" from the factory that means it is set up to take the 5500 Onan.
Btw. every RV I am aware off takes 120 Volt only, however to keep the size of the cabling, breaker and everything else managable a 2nd 120 Volt line is connected and protected by 2 50 Amp breakers - this is not a 250 Volt system.
Now to your question - we have the 5500 Onan and it is propane only bec. gasoline can not be stored safely and in a legal manner in a travel trailer or 5th wheel - don't ask me why, toyhaulers can. If I had to make the decision again I would install a pair of heavy duty drawer slides in the generator compartment, set the generator on a tray and run a cord to either the charge controller or just plug the main power cord in. Running the generator out in the open this way would help the front of the 5th wheel stay cooler too.
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Old 06-23-2016, 04:56 PM   #6
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I would stick with your current generator. Install twist plug on the front of the RV connected to the generator input. Then run the cord to the generator sitting in the truck bed. No lifting required.
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