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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am going to full time RV and would like to idle the engine for a period of hours or overnight to run AC while at Truck Stops whatnot
How much damage does this actually cause the engine? Does it decrease lifespan by 10% or 75%? Or does anyone truly know?
I wonder if the diesel engine is more dangerous to idle than the gas engine?
Hard to understand in 2018 and we still have not invented an engine that can safely run at idle?

Thoughts?
 

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Engines have been built that can idle indefinitely for over 100 years, its not rocket science. It’s not that they cannot be built, it’s that idling has ceased to be important when designing a modern clean engine because it is so seldom done and difficult to accommodate. In places trucks used to be idled regulations have forbidden it. I see more and more “NO Idling” signs in exactly the places you plan to do it. Modern emissions in gasoline and diesel (even more) which control NOx and particulates use rather extreme measures to reduce them and often require higher exhaust temperatures than idling generates. Instead of building and programing these emissions systems to accommodate idling the manufacturers have warned against it. It is frowned upon as wasteful.
All that being said, you can idle the gasoline engine without issue as far as reported here. We have had suspicions idling might be bad for the engine but it proved very unlikely to have caused the issues. Idling the diesel may result in emission systems problems but we have no proof of that. It has been done.
Would I do it,- NO. It is potentially bad for the emissions of the diesel, the oiling of some components of the gas engine, it is wasteful, often forbidden, and like smoking sets one up as a social pariah.
 

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Gas PM...I just traveled to ND for three weeks. Temps were very warm high 90s with a few 100 degree days. I traveled with my dog; she does not get along well with other dogs. During the day we were "banished" to my van until my brother came home from work and could take his and my mother's dog for a few hours. We hung out in the my van (I got caught up on Orange is the New Black) and I would start the engine to get some A/C flowing for 20min or so, a couple times I let it idle for a few hours at a time. The only thing I did was monitor the engine temp and make sure it wasn't going to overheat.

Prior to leaving ND I bought about 20lbs of smoked country style sausage from a local butcher (it's that good). I put it in my Dometic fridge that while parked in ND I used a 75' extension cord, but when mobile I used the 12v cig lighter plug (I don't have any electrical set up yet). On the drive back I stayed at rest stops/areas and in order to keep everything frozen over night I did idle the vehicle. I went through maybe a gallon of gas each night...two nights.

No immediate issues, and I don't plan on making this a regular thing. In a couple weeks I am taking my van in for it's first service since I've had it...if anything comes of that I'll post here.
 

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Gas seems to be ok but diesel is definitely a no no unless you want emissions problems down the road
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Even though idling may not be the environmentally smart thing to do, it is a very important thing to consider before my purchase, or for any RVer.
In fact, for me this is a huge deal killer for the diesel. If you are in Florida or parked at the beach, I am gonna want AC on and off throughout the day/ There has to be some acceptable limits while at stop lights and traffic jams, otherwise diesel engines would be failing all the time.
Nonetheless, I would rather accept poorer gas mileage and be able to idle maybe 1800-2000 hours per year, than risk destroying my engine.
 

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I pointed out there have been owners of diesels who have idled lots. Over nights lots of times with no issues. Adrian a former poster used to take his son M/C racing and idled lots. He had on problems. No one said it was a problem sitting in traffic or at stoplights so, you are right there. Would it be a problem to idle a diesel for cooling down at the beach a few times during the day, NO. Are you really going to idle as many hours a year as people work at their job?? 2,000 hours? Really! WOW buy a gasser and it may fail too. If it was 200 I believe the diesel wold be fine. Expeditors used to idle all often but even they probably did not hit the 2,000 hours a year. Thats 40 hours a week for 50 weeks! Buy a parking heater for cold and an AC for heat and a generator about every two years as you are gonna wear a bunch of them out. Your vehicle would be idling an equivalent of about 70,000 miles a year! Wow!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok I might be exaggerating a bit there. But I can realistically see myself idling the engine 4 hours a day ( 2 hours in the afternoon, 2 hours in the evening) @ 200 days a year
I am at the beaches a lot and BLM camping in warmer climates


That's 800 hours a year.
 

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google ram promaster owners manual diesel engine supplement

go to the engine idling section
 

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I doubt if any major automobile companies recommend long term ideling for new diesels. It's not the engine that's the problem it's the emissions. If you don't mind spending lots of money on replacing emission parts you are probably ok. I'm not aware of any definition of long term idling but I would assume several hours a day would filt the definition.
 

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New Hymer and Roadtrek Class B camper vans come with a second alternator used in lieu of a regular "generator", requiring engine to idle a lot more. I would think that if it's a significant problem that it would affect the warranty, which I haven't heard anything about.


From the perspective of being seen as a "pariah" by environmentalist, I wonder if most realize an Onan running at 3,600 RPMs will likely consume more gasoline and pollute more than idling a V6? An be a lot louder too.
 

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I never said anything about environmentalists, and I don’t consider them the enemy here either. I remember the exhaust and soot in every town from the cars of the 50’s to 80’s. If environmentalists were responsible for the change I applaud them, and whatever folks were responsible for getting smoking out of public spaces too. I just don’t think of myself as one. What I did mean was the other folks around us. I boon-dock in the desert and we can hear a generator (or vehicle) running a mile away -literaly. It’s interesting that the Border Patrol folks often sit watching with the engine idling to cool it or heat it. We know where they are long before we see them when we are hiking. I dislike siting next to a generator or vehicle idling at a truck stop, Casino or any parking lot. If I am on BLM and there are idlers or generators nearby even if we can’t see them we move. Oh my, perhaps my intolerance has made me an environmentalist!
 

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No one is judging environmentalist, and agree they shouldn't be seen as an enemy. I certainly don't like noisy and dirty 15-liter diesel truck engines idling all night to run a small A/C when I sleep in rest areas.


The comment is about some laws that prohibit idling while allowing a worse alternative, like a dirty generator. Seems misguided when applied in some cases like gasoline vans, although it may be justified if viewed as a whole. Often laws are too broad to make them easier to enforce (like no idling), instead of taking specific cases into account.

Personally, I'd rather park next to an idling V6 van than an Onan generator.
 

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Good points Chance.
I hear you on that (pun) and you are right most generators are way worse than any modern car as far as noise and emissions are concerned. Your comment about regulations (laws?) is right on too. Often the unintended consequences are way worse than the origional issue.
When the SBI (Secure Border Initiative) built surveillance towers in the desert near us in AZ the Supervisor for Organ Pipe Cactus NM pushed them to have very quiet and clean generators at the edge of the largest piece of wilderness in the lower 48 and they managed 35 dB! In the quiet of a home in the quietist part of the night it seldom gets that silent. We would hike up to one (and smile for the video) and 10 feet from the generator YOU COULD NOT TELL IF IT WAS RUNNING! Now they are all solar powered so the generators actually are not running. Generac just built a new model quieter than the Honda which at 25 feet should be unnoticeable and quieter than a car. They still are not as clean though.
 

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For me, idling the diesel would be more about topping off my batteries after a cloudy day or two. In order to get the job done (and maybe avoid the emissions issues), it seems like I could push the idle up, maybe 1500 or 2K. Of course, this would be with no one around to bother. That 220amp alternator should push those batteries up in a few hours, don't you think?
 

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Perhaps not idling. I am not convinced the difference between the two alternators will make much difference in this situation. If the batteries are very low then driving at 2000 rpm would be much better. Alternators produce power with revs. They are generally low output devices at idle so they don’t over rev when at 3000-5000 RPM. Perhaps other have more specific data.

https://autoelectricalsystems.wordp...-capacity-rating-to-consumers-on-the-vehicle/
 

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I agree the difference between the two alternators will not matter much unless there is significant other load while charging.

I do not know the specifics of the Promaster but typically on vehicles and boats the pulley sizes are such that the alternator runs at about twice the engine speed. Generally for both an engine speed of about 1200 RPM is what it takes to get significant output from an alternator. Anything faster does not help much as the battery(s) being charged have internal resistance to limit their rate of acceptance of amps. Interesting Sprinter offered an option of a preset fast idle setting or an adjustable setting. The preset was around 1100 to 1200, the adjustable allowed faster engine RPMs.
 

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I don't recall seeing curves for a PM alternator, but the Ford curves below should be indicative of how modern alternators perform.

Note the pulley ratio is 3:1 in this case, so at 800 RPM engine speed the alternator should spin 2,400 RPM, enough to produce well over half of its maximum rating, and probably close to 160 Amps (about 2/3 of rating).

Since a couple of AGM batteries probably would not take that much charge, maybe it would make sense to add more battery capacity just so that more energy could be stored in a shorter idling time. With large alternator lithium's ability to take fast charge would be nice (and expensive).

However, it would be great to know the duty cycle first for these alternators. Could they handle hours at a time at over 150 Amps? I don't have enough information to feel comfortable with that question yet. Which is why I like a second standalone house alternator so I don't end up stranded.
 
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