Can You Replace an Onan Generator With Honda? (Helpful Guide)

When your Onan generator stops working it is tempting to find a replacement. Not with the same Onan model but with a different brand and different design. The cost may be cheaper which is why it is so tempting to make the switch. However, that may not be such a good idea.

Can you replace an Onan generator with Honda? It is possible but you may run into a few technical difficulties when you attempt. Sometimes the Honda generator is not powerful enough to run the 13,500 BTU AC units many RVs have. Before making the switch, cover all the bases first.

To learn more about this topic just continue to read our article. it explores the issue so you can see if this is a good move to make. Take a few minutes to see if moving to a Honda will be the perfect fit for your RV situation.

Can You Replace an RV Generator?

Can-You-Replace-a- RV-Generator

Again this is possible and it may be more common than people think. However, it is not always a safe move to make due to the differences between an onboard generator and a portable one.

The first difficulty will be getting enough power. Many Honda models are not large enough to handle the workload that is given to an onboard generator. You may have to go really large or hook up more than one to your system to make sure everything is powered correctly.

Another issue will be keeping the generator cool. It is said that the Onan models are made to cool from the bottom. Honda generators may not have that capability. Then, the exhaust is another issue you will have to face.

On-board generators are already connected to an exhaust system whereas the Honda may have to be refitted for it to exhaust safely. Most Hondas are not designed to operate inside an onboard generator space.

Finally, a small Honda generator doesn't come with an electric starter. That may make starting the generator a little difficult once it is in position. The height of the Honda may be an issue as well.

Replaced an Onboard Onan Generator With a Regular Honda Generator


One of the main reasons why people decide to do this project is the noise. Onan generators are well-known to be noisy and many RVs don't like being parked next to a trailer, etc., that uses one.

The Hondas are supposed to be a lot quieter and when turned on they do not disturb the neighbors. The biggest problem you may find with replacing an Onan with a Honda is overheating. The Honda is designed to work in open spaces to avoid this issue.

It is not designed to handle the closed confines of an onboard generator compartment. Then the second biggest challenge you would have is to ven the exhaust properly. There is a large risk of having CO2 enter the RV while the generator is running.

These are not impossible challenges to overcome and with the right tools and parts you should be able to reconfigure the Honda so it can operate safely in the same space. It will take some thinking to do this.

Once you figure out how to solve those challenges, you will still have to figure out how to fit the Honda inside the compartment. This brand of generators may be too tall to fit easily.

Honda Onboard RV Generators


We took a look at Honda’s generator product page and did not find a model that would be considered an onboard generator. All the Hondas listed are pictured as being outside of any enclosure and well away from any RV.

To use a Honda to replace your current onboard unit, you would have to make sure you have plenty of space around you to set it up correctly and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Even the more expensive models need to have open-air around them to prevent overheating. The good thing about many of their models is that they come with carbon monoxide detector systems.

In looking at the photos of the different Honda models, you would be hard-pressed to fit one of these units in the little space reserved for an onboard generator. Some models come with rails wrapped around them to protect the motors and components from damage.

Those rails would make it difficult to adapt the generator to fit that limited section. The cost of the Honda may not be worth making the switch nor would the actual savings in fuel. That latter benefit is not large enough to justify the switch.

How Much Does it Cost To Replace an RV Generator?


Several factors have to be taken into consideration in this topic. First off, if the onboard generator is not broken, there is no real need to replace it. Just get a couple of quiet portables and use them. You may lose a little storage space but that is better than spending lots of money on a replacement generator.

One of the costs you have to factor in is the price of the new generator. Since they are not free, you will have to see which one will fit your budget. These can cost anywhere between $1000 and $7000 depending on make, model, size, and brand.

Next will come to the labor costs if you do not do this yourself. Some mechanics have quoted very high prices for their labor. The reason behind those high quotes is that they are looking at the condition and size of your RV and think you can afford the higher expense.

Don’t forget all the parts that need to be added if the generator you are replacing is not the same as the one that will replace it. We cannot give a specific figure as every mechanic will have a different price and parts, generators, etc., are also listed at different prices.

Your final cost will be what generator you pick, how many parts you will need as well as the mechanic you choose to do the work.

Onan RV Generator Replacement Tips


1. Replace an Onan with an Onan- if you want to save on labor, frustration, and so on, then replace your current model with an exact same one or something very close.

2. The purpose for changing the Onan- the biggest reason people swap out their Onan generator is noise. These generators are not the quietest machines around and some people have been known to move when a new neighbor parks beside them and turn on their Onan.

If the noise bothers you, there are tips you can employ to quiet them down and avoid the expense of replacing the generator.

3. Check to see if it can be repaired- Onans are good generators and replacing them may be more costly than you would like. Check to see if the device can be repaired easily. If so, go that route as it will save you a lot of money.

4. Disconnect all power- if you go ahead with the replacement, make sure to turn your RV off, disconnect all power cables and make sure there is no electricity running to the unit at any time.

5. Watch the movement of the machine- one of the issues you have to watch out for is spilling any fuel inside the fuel tank. As you loosen the screws and brackets, make sure the generator does not tip

6. Don’t lose parts- have a container handy to put all your screws and brackets into. This will make attaching the new unit easier and faster. There is no need to waste time looking for screws.

7. Double-check to see if the new generator will fit- before you make the purchase, look at the design of the old model and take accurate measurements. You will need this information to find a compatible generator for the space and design you have in your RV

8. After installation- not only do you need to double-check all the screws and brackets to make sure they are secure, but you also have to check your connections. You need them secure as well

9. Find the right fittings- there are different types of these fittings and many are adjustable. Those are the ones you want. The compression style are the ones you want but they are also said to be the most expensive.

Some Final Words

It is possible to replace your Onan generator with a Honda. However, if you are looking for an exact replacement this is not going to be the step you take. Hondas are made to sit outside in the open air, not in enclosed spaces.

While you can replace an Onan with a Honda, it may be too costly and too much work. Plus, you may not get all the power you need.

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