Sprinter or Transit?

HarryN

Well-known member
Since I am almost certain it will be a Transit with dual alternator, I am quoting only numbers for that vehicle. So... If I have 400 Ah 12 V LiFePo4 battery pack, how long I have to drive to charge it? How do I "translate" 3000 Watt-hrs to Ah? Since it is 12-V system, does it means it will charge with ~ 20 amps? About 20 hrs? With 1000 Ah 48 hrs?

What is the advantage of going to 48V instead of 12V? Can the Transit charge it?
Sorry for not being more clear.

So using 4 each, 100 amp-hr, LiFe batteries, I consider that to be a medium size battery pack.

Assuming a:
- Ford Transit dual 250 amp alternator setup
- Driving down the road
- Powering at 2 kW into the battery pack
- It will go from 25% charged to 75% charged in ~ 1 hour.

___

With the right battery to battery charging system, any van can charge a 24 or 48 volt auxiliary battery system.
_______

As far as going to higher battery pack voltages, such as 24 or 48 volts:
- The higher the voltage, the better it is for transferring electricity efficiently
- It is also slightly more efficient in higher power inverters
- For most power systems, it doesn't matter that much
- For higher powered systems it becomes very useful.

- > 95% of upfitters use 12 volt only systems
- A few use 24 volt systems, especially marine electricians
- A few crazy people like me build 48 volt systems for vans, both for local use and I ship them to customers in a crate

If you clink on the web store link in my signature, you can look at them. Click on the photos for more detailed info.
Harry
 

Ulter

Member
- > 95% of upfitters use 12 volt only systems
- A few use 24 volt systems, especially marine electricians
- A few crazy people like me build 48 volt systems for vans, both for local use and I ship them to customers in a crate
More like 99% of upfitters use 12 volt systems. You are most likely the only one building 48 volt systems for vans.
 

Polonus

New member
I made my RV stealthy with windows all around and even with that I made the dinette open to the rear.
You don't want to spend your vacations sitting in dark rat hole.
If it has windows, it's not stealthy by definition. Of course one can have different definition of "stealthy", but what I meant by stealthy was the "cargo van look". And I don't want to spent vacation sitting in my van at all. I want to see the beautiful National Parks, mountains and forests. Van will get me there and give me roof over my head at night.

On my previews vacations I was sleeping in the motels and hotels. Probably about 100 nights. Maybe two or three times the outside view was worthy of moving out shades from the windows.

I may, however, go for a marine grade skylight in the roof of the van. It will be invisible from the outside and give me a lot of natural light inside the van.

BTW do you have more of the pictures of your camper? Where I can see them?
 

MsNomer

Member
Polonium, we are just completing a month in Central Colorado, boondocking except when NF campground was necessary to position for 14’ers. We are serious hikers and spent many days out on trails. But there were also rest days, rainy days, mosquito-heavy days spent comfortably in the van still enjoying the outdoors through our maxed out windows which we never cover. Without windows, we would have missed the comical squirrel sex and this fellow (photo taken through window):

 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
BTW do you have more of the pictures of your camper? Where I can see them?
My bus looks like regural shuttle from the outside to untrained eye.
Going on your knees you might notice gray water dump valve and with 10' ladder you might notice solar panels, but nothing that association prohibiting RV parking can notice.
Bottom line, it is registered as limo. 20191219_121024.jpg
 

Polonus

New member
Polonium, we are just completing a month in Central Colorado, boondocking except when NF campground was necessary to position for 14’ers. We are serious hikers and spent many days out on trails. But there were also rest days, rainy days, mosquito-heavy days spent comfortably in the van still enjoying the outdoors through our maxed out windows which we never cover. Without windows, we would have missed the comical squirrel sex and this fellow (photo taken through window):
I have to learn all that lingo, vernacular or jargon associated with "vaning" and RVing. :unsure: I have enough problems with "regular" English. What "boondocking" means? What is NF? What does it mean to "position for 14'ers"?

Squirrel sex is appealing... maybe I change my mind. ;)

My bus looks like regural shuttle from the outside to untrained eye.
Going on your knees you might notice gray water dump valve and with 10' ladder you might notice solar panels, but nothing that association prohibiting RV parking can notice.
Bottom line, it is registered as limo.
I am not sure how they gonna to register my van in NC, but in practice it shouldn't matter. I was driving coast-to-coast for many years, parking my 18-wheeler in strange places, avoiding truck stops always, if possible and very rarely had any problem with it. Of course traveling in the van I'd look for different places to park, but the point is still valid - most people probably doesn't care if that parked van near by has, or has not any windows. As long as it is not a 40-foot bus, it won't bother anyone.

BTW since I made my decision about the van and now we are talking mostly about building it, should I start a new thread? Or is it possible to change the title of it? It is little misleading now, but I don't want to end our discussion, I am learning from you, guys, a lot.
 

oldblue

New member
You can analyze it to heck, but the simple answer to the original question is - if you have the money, and have a place to get it serviced, get a diesel sprinter. If you are stressed about cost constantly, get a transit.

Have a healthy dose of skepticism about all the reliability comments. The newest sprinters are too new to know how they will hold up. If you service it on schedule at the dealer, it will most likely last a really long time long time. I constantly wonder, if sprinters are so unreliable, why would Amazon be running so many of them?
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
You should start paying attention how you register your vehicles.
Years ago I drove bus conversion, who had huge sign above windshield saying "Private vehicle"
Yet I got a ticket for parking it on the street in So California becouse I did not pay attention that DMV making the inspection classified it as commercial. Good thing the city had sergeant with Polish roots and he voided the ticket on the spot.
More and more associations and more cites make "no RV parking" restrictions and even they have to allow visitor parking with proper permit, it becomes a hassle.
Since I build Sprinter to visit my sons (who spread in 2600 miles radius) and my friends, I want to be able to park the Sprinter in front of their houses without looking around.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
You can analyze it to heck, but the simple answer to the original question is - if you have the money, and have a place to get it serviced, get a diesel sprinter. If you are stressed about cost constantly, get a transit.

Have a healthy dose of skepticism about all the reliability comments. The newest sprinters are too new to know how they will hold up. If you service it on schedule at the dealer, it will most likely last a really long time long time. I constantly wonder, if sprinters are so unreliable, why would Amazon be running so many of them?
I couldn't care less about cost. If I could pay more money and make my Sprinter reliable, I would gladly do so. They are great vans to travel in and would be worth expensive maintenance. What I care about is having trip after precious trip ruined by limp modes and "Visit Workshop" displays and "N starts remaining" conditions. Sadly, no amount of money will salvage a ruined trip that my family will never get back. Maybe the new Sprinters will be different. Maybe. But somebody other than me is going to have to do the experiment.

And the reason Amazon is running so many of them is that they have been buying up every van they can get their hands on, regardless of marque. Moreover, reliability is not that big a deal for a fleet. The problems are easily repaired if you have access to the talent and parts. Not a big issue for them. Very big issue for me.
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
A long time ago on a page far away:
Since I am almost certain it will be a Transit with dual alternator, I am quoting only numbers for that vehicle. So... If I have 400 Ah 12 V LiFePo4 battery pack, how long I have to drive to charge it? How do I "translate" 3000 Watt-hrs to Ah? Since it is 12-V system, does it means it will charge with ~ 20 amps? About 20 hrs? With 1000 Ah 48 hrs?
"watts" are volts multiplied by amps. (W=V*A)
So to convert back and forth, just shuffle the numbers
Your 400 amp-hour 12v battery pack is therefore 400*12= 4800 watt hours
3000 watt-hrs at 12 v means A = W/V = 3000/12 = 250 amp-hours (the "hours" just pass through unmolested)
so, in a perfect world, 250 amp hours would require 250AH/20A = 12.5 hours
(the world is never perfect, so it will take longer).
((there's also the nuance that a "12v" system may really be running at 13.x volts ))
What is the advantage of going to 48V instead of 12V? Can the Transit charge it?
48 v allows thinner wires for the same *wattage* in a fixed time frame.
So to charge a 3000 watt hour 12v system in one hour would require delivering 250 amps.
If using 48 v (4x12v), you'd only need 250/4= 63 amps for one hour.

--dick
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
I have to learn all that lingo, vernacular or jargon associated with "vaning" and RVing. :unsure: I have enough problems with "regular" English. What "boondocking" means? What is NF? What does it mean to "position for 14'ers"?
"Boondocking" .... parking in a completely random location (i.e. not an official campground) and being able to exist without external hookups (power, water, sewer) for your desired length of time. In-city it might be called "stealth camping".

NF ... National Forest ... the US department of agriculture "owns" the national forest system.
Except where marked/signed otherwise, it is legal to camp ("distributed camping" is the official term) for free almost anywhere along a "forest road" ... **in a spot that has been used before** (i.e. where there's evidence of a previous campfire in the form of a ring of rocks surrounding dead ashes.). Inquire at a Forest Service office for rules, regulations and maps of the nearby road system.

There's also "BLM lands" ... Bureau of Land Management ... (different federal agency) ... also frequently a source of free-to-use camping (but with different rules/restrictions/courtesies).

Both BLM and NF (Forest Service) also have "real" campgrounds .. usually minimal services (pit toilets, may or may not have water (NF usually does)). Very inexpensive. Usually located in areas where "distributed camping" is NOT allowed.

--dick
p.s. this is a guess (with background): "14'ers" means that he likes to climb mountains, and those peaks over 14,000 foot elevation are known as "14'ers". In the New England area similar "peak baggers" speak of the "4000 footers".
Google "14ers" and you'll be pointed at lists and maps of such mountains.
"Position for 14ers" means "park in a convenient location to go play in those mountains"
 
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Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I couldn't care less about cost. If I could pay more money and make my Sprinter reliable, I would gladly do so. They are great vans to travel in and would be worth expensive maintenance. What I care about is having trip after precious trip ruined by limp modes and "Visit Workshop" displays and "N starts remaining" conditions. Sadly, no amount of money will salvage a ruined trip that my family will never get back. Maybe the new Sprinters will be different. Maybe. But somebody other than me is going to have to do the experiment.

And the reason Amazon is running so many of them is that they have been buying up every van they can get their hands on, regardless of marque. Moreover, reliability is not that big a deal for a fleet. The problems are easily repaired if you have access to the talent and parts. Not a big issue for them. Very big issue for me.
You are not alone. Once the fear of the vehicle quitting a long way from a service location that fear does not go away.

Also in my case, having a vehicle that decides it wants to go into LHM whenever it wants is reason to get rid of it. That happened to me just moments after I was passing cars on a two lane road. A few moments earlier and an accident could have occurred.

I suspect Amazon will learn not to buy Sprinters.
 

Polonus

New member
if sprinters are so unreliable, why would Amazon be running so many of them?
They are buying anything they can find. I see more and more Transits with Amazon logo too. Plus, if I am correct, they lease them to "Contracted Amazon Delivery Service Partners", who actually made the delivery, so they do not care. And usually they are located in big cities.

You should start paying attention how you register your vehicles.
Looks like I have to fill up a form, where I get those options:

1. ■ HOUSE CAR (HC): A vehicular unit, designed to provide temporary living quarters, built into as an integral part, or permanently attached to, a self-propelled motor vehicle chassis or van. The vehicle must provide at least 4 of the following facilities: ■ cooking ■ refrigeration or ice box ■ heating or air conditioning ■ self-contained toilet ■ separate 110-125 volt electrical power supply ■ LP gas supply ■ portable water system including faucet and sink

2. ■ MULTI-PURPOSE VEHICLE: A converted van used for recreational purposes which is not equipped with permanent living and sleeping facilities. Fee $36.00 Auto registration plate. (A vehicle registered as a recreational vehicle with a private passenger registration plate cannot be used for property carrying purposes. To be used for property carrying purposes, a plate of the private truck series is required.) (MP)

3. ■ TRUCK: Vehicle used for property carrying with gross weight of 7,000 pounds or more. Fee based on gross weight declared. (TK)

When new, it will be a "TK", but when I start to build it, I can register it as a "MPV". After I finish my job, it will become a "HC". Unless I leave it as a "MPV". (https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/downloads/Documents/MVR-51.pdf#search=recreational vehicle)

Good thing the city had sergeant with Polish roots and he voided the ticket on the spot.
I know a Polish Sheriff in Nevada. Very nice guy. https://szeryfusa.com/ We met last year in Reno. No, he didn't have to help me with anything, I was good and clean. :cool:


What I care about is having trip after precious trip ruined by limp modes and "Visit Workshop" displays and "N starts remaining" conditions. Sadly, no amount of money will salvage a ruined trip
That's mine biggest concern. Especially if you go to Alaska. No problem in Charlotte, or in San Francisco, but in the middle of nowhere - that's different story. However that doesn't means that everyone, or the most of them breaks down. Most of them probably are trouble free. Hey, I even have 32-year old Fiat with no rust and running good. It happens.

A long time ago on a page far away:

48 v allows thinner wires for the same *wattage* in a fixed time frame.
So to charge a 3000 watt hour 12v system in one hour would require delivering 250 amps.
If using 48 v (4x12v), you'd only need 250/4= 63 amps for one hour.

--dick
Thx. What about the 12 appliances? If I have 12V lights, fans, refrigerator etc, do I need another adapter/converter to power them?
If I have the same double alternator in my van, can I charge faster 48V battery pack? And if so why?
 

HarryN

Well-known member
Ignoring overheating, what's the use of 2*250A alternators in parallel if you can only get 175-235A out of them combined?
Thanks
Because you can't ignore overheating, especially for extended use when stationary or at low speeds. Also the output of an alternator is very rpm dependent.

Keep in mind that this is what is available for the customer to use, in addition to all other loads on the van.

Think about a contractor with a pick up truck or van at a work site.
- They often need power to run tools
- Usually they have to buy a generator and deal with the fuel / maintenance of this additional unit
- Smaller inverter / generators like a honda 3000 will need refueling at least each day.
- Larger non inverter / generators use a lot of fuel and are noisy.

At least in theory, this arrangement provides a path for the vehicle engine + alternators to behave a lot like an auto variable speed inverter generator with enough power to run loads such as medium size compressors and most power tools.

Since the exhaust all goes through the normal vehicle emission control system, it is potentially much more efficient and low emission than a stand alone generator. Also a much larger fuel tank.

I will speculate on why it seems like more power could be possible than the rating:

- This is a relatively new feature set for Ford and it is possible that they are under rating it on purpose as a way to see how it behaves in the field when of course people will push it a bit past spec.

- It could also be that US emissions standards limited what can be done. It wouldn't be the first time.

- The dual starter batteries that come with this option have to be able to buffer the surge of rapid load shifts (both up and down). It might be that this is the limit of the batteries for example in an highly inductive load environment, such as compressors and circular saws.

It appears that Ford and GM are pushing this area and will continue to make enhancements over time.
 

HarryN

Well-known member
Thx. What about the 12 appliances? If I have 12V lights, fans, refrigerator etc, do I need another adapter/converter to power them?
If I have the same double alternator in my van, can I charge faster 48V battery pack? And if so why?
Many of the items that you would use in a van are available in both 12 and 24 volts (example refrigerators) so for a lot of people, especially DIYers, 24 volts makes more sense than 12 or 48 volts. 24 volt provides ~ 80% of the benefit of 48 volts which is very decent.

48 volt implementations require a lot more thought and experience than 24 volt, which is why usually they are used on higher end yachts and RVs and a few RV companies routinely build using battery packs similar to your target.

For applications that are pure 12 volt only, which won't be many, DC - DC converters are used as they supply voltage regulated output. In other words, a much more stable voltage than a battery will supply.

Yes you can charger faster with higher voltages. Feel free to contact me either via pm or email if you want to discuss it more.

There is a ton of info on my web store about van power system options, including a version that I am optimizing for the Transit dual 250 amp alternator setup.. Click on some photos and a lot of details will come up. I am working with a local customer with a 148 transit MR and have been using this as a basis for fit up, solar, etc.

Harry
 
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autostaretx

Erratic Member
Thx. What about the 12 appliances? If I have 12V lights, fans, refrigerator etc, do I need another adapter/converter to power them?
If I have the same double alternator in my van, can I charge faster 48V battery pack? And if so why?
As HarryN writes, 24v is a better choice if you're going to differ from the far more common (among RVs) 12v systems.
In the US's AWG wire-gauge system, halving the current (as 24v lets you do) drops the wire-size required by 3 "gauge" numbers. In a metric system, it allows lowering the cross-sectional area by half. (so the diameter drops by the square root of two: 1.414)

BUT .... the Transit document T-town provided shows that the two alternators are dealt with *separately* for "customer connections".
So you (at best) have 175 amps maximum from one of them, and "only" 60 amps from the other.
They are not designed to be directly combined (i.e. don't bolt them both to the same terminal).
((this is a safety issue (due to fuses), not a technical issue ... as the Transit Body guide shows on page 94, both batteries are connected to a common "positive bus bar" in Ford's own wiring system))
*and* you apparently only get that 2nd (175 amp) connection point *if* you order the 2nd battery.
I have no idea if you can get that 2nd (175 amps) alternator at a voltage other than 12v.
Ford's system also requires(*) a user-supplied disconnect relay that Ford's Body Control Module can (de)activate to shed the user's loads (and additional batteries) when the engine management system deems it necessary.
(( * -- "requires" is a directive to RV conversion companies planning to use Ford's Transit in a way that keeps them in a warrantied-by-Ford condition.))

The Sprinter "does it different" by only having one alternator for the Sprinter and "light" (40 amp) customer duties.
The N62 option just provides a bracket and the belt-drive pulley for a 2nd alternator ... and thereby lets you install *anything you want* onto that bracket: 3v, 6v, 12v, 24v, 48v ... they don't want to know or care ... it's in your lap.
(there's probably a horsepower/torque limitation ... 4800 watts (for example) is 4800/750= 6.4 horsepower. )

--dick (gets by on his normal Sprinter 115 amp alternator and 12v devices (plus an inverter-driven microwave).)
 
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Polonus

New member
Feel free to contact me either via pm or email if you want to discuss it more.
Harry
Thx. I still have to learn more to even know how to ask the right questions. However when I start building that electric system, I would.

the Transit document T-town provided shows that the two alternators are dealt with *separately* for "customer connections".
So you (at best) have 175 amps maximum from one of them, and "only" 60 amps from the other.
They are not designed to be directly combined (i.e. don't bolt them both to the same terminal).
*and* you apparently only get that 2nd (175 amp) connection point *if* you order the 2nd battery.
I have no idea if you can get that 2nd (175 amps) alternator at a voltage other than 12v.
I can order Transit online with dual alternator without checking the "double battery" box. However that alternator has no options - it is a 12V unit. But if the 24/48V systems are build from 12V batteries, can they be charged from 12V alternator?

I think there is good reason why 95% or more campervans have 12V systems. Unless I see clear advantage of changing to 24V, I stay with the simpler 12V one.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
I have no idea if you can get that 2nd (175 amps) alternator at a voltage other than 12v.
Ford's system also requires a user-supplied disconnect relay that Ford's Body Control Module can (de)activate to shed the user's loads (and additional batteries) when the engine management system deems it necessary.

The Sprinter "does it different" by only having one alternator for the Sprinter and "light" (40 amp) customer duties.
The N62 option just provides a bracket and the belt-drive pulley for a 2nd alternator ... and thereby lets you install *anything you want* onto that bracket: 3v, 6v, 12v, 24v, 48v ... they don't want to know or care ... it's in your lap.
...which raises the question of whether one could order a Transit with only a single alternator and use the mounting position for the second alternator to mount a third-party (independent) alternator and do it the "Sprinter way".
 

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