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Why do some appliances work on LP but cooktop and generator do not?

Dear Dave,
In the recent past all the propane appliances in our RV worked fine, but on our last outing the generator would not start and the cooktop would not light. The fridge, water heater and furnace all worked as they should. There was never a smell of propane from the cooktop. Any suggestions? —Howard, 2017 Winnebago Fuse 24A

Dear Howard,
According to the brochure on the Winnebago website, your Fuse came standard with a 2500-watt Onan LP generator, 2-burner stovetop, 2-way Norcold absorption refrigerator and 6-gallon water heater, the latter two of which run on 120-volt AC power or LP.

The documentation shows that there was only a 23A and 23T model available, but they are listed as 24’ in length so that might be why you thought it was a 24A?

My first thought was the LP might be turned off or the regulator is bad, as the refrigerator and water heater can run on 120-volt power if the unit is plugged into shoreline power. However, the furnace is strictly propane, so that throws a wrench in that theory. That is, unless there is a heat strip option that you might be getting heat from.

Are you plugged into shoreline power?

So, the first question is, are you plugged into shoreline power? If you are, the refrigerator will automatically run on 120-volt power.

Can you verify the refrigerator, furnace, and water heater are running on LP? This will help verify the valve is open and the regulator is also working.

What to check if not plugged in

If you are not connected to shoreline power, verify the batteries are at 12.6 volt or close to that. When you turn on the stove knob, do you hear air moving like the lines might need to be purged? Try using a handheld lighter placed against the burner to see if it jumps around somewhat, which would indicate air is coming through. It is possible the piezo or spark is not working or the ceramic is cracked and the spark is following the crack to ground rather than at the burner. If you use the handheld lighter and it lights, it is an issue with the piezo and the generator might be a separate issue.

If it does not light, there is something wrong with the line or regulator and you will need to have a qualified technician check the water column pressure at the stovetop and further back.

Generator issue

As for the generator, a common issue with the LP versions is the oil from the pumping station that is present in LP fuel can accumulate in the regulator and cause hard starting issues. This can only be cleaned by a qualified technician.

Items you can check are the air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug. You should be able to pull the plug, ground it to the unit with the plug wire connected, and turn it over to verify spark. If it does not spark, it is in the electronics and needs to be taken to a qualified technician. If there is spark, it could be the fuel filter or even the fuel pump.


 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Water heater works on 120-volt but not on LP. What to check?

Dear Dave,
I have a Suburban water heater with dual 120-volt/LP. It works fine on electric. However, when I try to use the LP, the pilot light lights and stays on. But when I try to turn the valve to “On” for the burner to light, the pilot light goes out. What should I check out? Thanks. —Virgil

Read Dave’s answer.


Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here

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