Aux. Alternator for charging Lithium batteries

I have been reading many threads, YouTube, Google, etc. and I just do not feel like I have a really definitive answer for the Sprinter Aux. Alternator. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here! It just looks like after thousands of van conversions there would be one, and really one GREAT Alternator system you could buy and and not have to wonder if this is the right one??? You start reading this stuff and and you see really big alternators, but then is the engine housing large enough to handle the load for it? Do I want a three belt or a two belt system? It looks like Mercedes would have one of there own since they have the N62 bracket, but I don't see anyone mentioning it. ARV has a nice system, but then you have to throw out your $455 N62 bracket to use it. So far, Nations 280XP, 12 volts, lithium and the WS500 Wakespeed Advanced Regulator with two belts seems to be the way to go? They have a three belt system, but with the extra cost and then the ease of changing the possible broken two belt system, is it worth it? Nations also has the alternator decoupler pulley which is the same as the dynamic turque converter pulley at ARV.

Just wondering if anyone could help me out here? My battery bank is 400Ah and I will not be trying to power an A/C.
 
What year Sprinter are you talking about? I am working on setting up a 180ah batt pack and there are lots of issues that make them not just drop in.
It is a 2020, 144, 4x4, but I don't see why you would ask that? I am talking about the cabin battery system. I am not touching the two engine batteries, or their parts.
 

israndy

2007 LTV Serenity
FYI: Because different year Sprinters (like mine and yours) have different alternator options. If you had one of the good years I could learn something from following this thread. You posted in the generic Sprinter Talk forum where I could also post for my model year, but you didn't mention what year you were talking about and you don't have a signature that specifies what you own.
 
I have been reading many threads, YouTube, Google, etc. and I just do not feel like I have a really definitive answer for the Sprinter Aux. Alternator. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here! It just looks like after thousands of van conversions there would be one, and really one GREAT Alternator system you could buy and and not have to wonder if this is the right one??? You start reading this stuff and and you see really big alternators, but then is the engine housing large enough to handle the load for it? Do I want a three belt or a two belt system? It looks like Mercedes would have one of there own since they have the N62 bracket, but I don't see anyone mentioning it. ARV has a nice system, but then you have to throw out your $455 N62 bracket to use it. So far, Nations 280XP, 12 volts, lithium and the WS500 Wakespeed Advanced Regulator with two belts seems to be the way to go? They have a three belt system, but with the extra cost and then the ease of changing the possible broken two belt system, is it worth it? Nations also has the alternator decoupler pulley which is the same as the dynamic torque converter pulley at ARV.

Just wondering if anyone could help me out here? My battery bank is 400Ah and I will not be trying to power an A/C.
 

RVBarry

Active member
Hi, the three-belt is more reliable, but would ditch your N62.
 

Wrinkledpants

2017 144WB 4x4
I have been reading many threads, YouTube, Google, etc. and I just do not feel like I have a really definitive answer for the Sprinter Aux. Alternator. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here! It just looks like after thousands of van conversions there would be one, and really one GREAT Alternator system you could buy and and not have to wonder if this is the right one??? You start reading this stuff and and you see really big alternators, but then is the engine housing large enough to handle the load for it? Do I want a three belt or a two belt system? It looks like Mercedes would have one of there own since they have the N62 bracket, but I don't see anyone mentioning it. ARV has a nice system, but then you have to throw out your $455 N62 bracket to use it. So far, Nations 280XP, 12 volts, lithium and the WS500 Wakespeed Advanced Regulator with two belts seems to be the way to go? They have a three belt system, but with the extra cost and then the ease of changing the possible broken two belt system, is it worth it? Nations also has the alternator decoupler pulley which is the same as the dynamic turque converter pulley at ARV.

Just wondering if anyone could help me out here? My battery bank is 400Ah and I will not be trying to power an A/C.
I have a standard Nations 280A setup. Can't say I've heard what issues you're talking about in regards to this setup. I'm sure if you have a huge 600AH battery bank, you might want something bigger. It's a setup that's been around forever, and I can't recall the last time I've heard of someone having an issue with belts.
 
I have a standard Nations 280A setup. Can't say I've heard what issues you're talking about in regards to this setup. I'm sure if you have a huge 600AH battery bank, you might want something bigger. It's a setup that's been around forever, and I can't recall the last time I've heard of someone having an issue with belts.
Thank you very much for the reply! I is so nice to hear someone has this setup, I am guessing (two belts, or is it three) and there are no problems.
 

Wrinkledpants

2017 144WB 4x4
Two belt, I believe. Three sounds like too many failure options. Belts and tensioners are one of the easiest items to replace early before you have a problem, and really easy to visually watch for underdamped tensioners that may be on their way out.

I might be naive here, but the Nations alternator kit is factory on the Revel, and just about every van upfitter I know. On top of supplying Sportsmobile for decades. I’m sure you could home-brew a different setup, but I’ve found it to be reliable, quiet, and a known entity. I think it’s a small minority of people that go outside of this setup.
 
Two belt, I believe. Three sounds like too many failure options. Belts and tensioners are one of the easiest items to replace early before you have a problem, and really easy to visually watch for underdamped tensioners that may be on their way out.

I might be naive here, but the Nations alternator kit is factory on the Revel, and just about every van upfitter I know. On top of supplying Sportsmobile for decades. I’m sure you could home-brew a different setup, but I’ve found it to be reliable, quiet, and a known entity. I think it’s a small minority of people that go outside of this setup.
Thank you so much! It is so nice to see positive comments for something you are going to depend so much on!
 

RVBarry

Active member
FWIW, on the two-belt system, if you lose the alternator belt, you lose ALL charging from BOTH alternators. Which could leave you stranded.
On the three-belt system, you would only lose one, which would not be catastrophic if you can jump both systems together.

Also there is another thread here which mentions pulley or alternator reliability issues with two alternators on the MBZ two-belt system.
 

VanGoSki

Active member
FWIW, on the two-belt system, if you lose the alternator belt, you lose ALL charging from BOTH alternators. Which could leave you stranded.
On the three-belt system, you would only lose one, which would not be catastrophic if you can jump both systems together.

Also there is another thread here which mentions pulley or alternator reliability issues with two alternators on the MBZ two-belt system.
No ya don't, at least not on my VS30. The aux alternator is driven from the front fan belt which normally drives only the fan and water pump. The factory alternator is driven by the rear belt which drives everything else.
 

mikecol

Active member
If I had the N62 bracket, I would probably just stick with the 2-belt Nations model. My van came without one and really hated that the water pump would be disabled when the belt failed, so went with the 3-belt model. The big cost increase is mostly the two monster wrench tools to hold the harmonic bal from rotating during install.

I got the newer designed 3 belt bracket to fit the 2019-2020 models with good clearance around the van hoses. Belt length also bit larger than before to get "good" wrap on the alternator pulley and position for the tensioner. The pulley sizes were picked to get the alternator into the "working" RPMs while the van is idling. I can put on a new belt in a few minutes.

I am very happy with the performance of my 3 belt model. With no solar and 1100AH battery bank, my van design needs a reliable charging source. The alternator/Balmar regulator combined with 60A Sterling DC-DC (stealing from van alternator too) gives me solid 3KW charging without any worries.
 
No ya don't, at least not on my VS30. The aux alternator is driven from the front fan belt which normally drives only the fan and water pump. The factory alternator is driven by the rear belt which drives everything else.
If I had the N62 bracket, I would probably just stick with the 2-belt Nations model. My van came without one and really hated that the water pump would be disabled when the belt failed, so went with the 3-belt model. The big cost increase is mostly the two monster wrench tools to hold the harmonic bal from rotating during install.

I got the newer designed 3 belt bracket to fit the 2019-2020 models with good clearance around the van hoses. Belt length also bit larger than before to get "good" wrap on the alternator pulley and position for the tensioner. The pulley sizes were picked to get the alternator into the "working" RPMs while the van is idling. I can put on a new belt in a few minutes.

I am very happy with the performance of my 3 belt model. With no solar and 1100AH battery bank, my van design needs a reliable charging source. The alternator/Balmar regulator combined with 60A Sterling DC-DC (stealing from van alternator too) gives me solid 3KW charging without any worries.
Thanks so much for the reply. I will get the Nations two belt. I now have the confidents to make the move.
 

VanGoSki

Active member
@mikecol Did you install your 3-belt kit yourself? I remember looking at the install instructions and it wasn't trivial. Lots of disassembly required to even get at the harmonic balancer, and maybe rerouting of AC lines at the like?
 

mikecol

Active member
Hey VanGoSki,
Yes, I did the install myself. I'm 63 and hate motor work, but really needed it so had to do it.

No AC line disassembly and no water hoses off.

Hard parts to do were:
1) breaking the fan loose...I used Lisle 43390 36mm wrench and Lisle 43370 rod. Tried impact but nothing...ended up just one blow with sledge did it.
Fan gets put on threaded extender to leave room for new pulley.
2) removing fan shroud....this is a real trick to wiggle and lift side to side to remove without taking any hoses off; wetting/soap the plastic really helps.
3) breaking the harmonic bal bolt loose...very little space between radiator to work. Tried all kinds of impact but nothing...ended up using a 3' Harbor Freight ICON 3/4" breaker bar w/socket.... pulled with both arms and finally moved. used same tool to replace the longer new bolt supplied in kit.

Wired with 4/0 to mid van battery bank.. used positive sense on Balmar to tighten voltage stops.

To be truthful: it was at my limit...bit scary to tear apart new (200mi) working Van. But keeping at it, finished all and super happy with it. When you put every bolt and wire in your build it sure is easy to debug when you have a problem.
 

_Zach

•͡˘㇁•͡˘
I got the newer designed 3 belt bracket to fit the 2019-2020 models with good clearance around the van hoses. Belt length also bit larger than before to get "good" wrap on the alternator pulley and position for the tensioner. The pulley sizes were picked to get the alternator into the "working" RPMs while the van is idling. I can put on a new belt in a few minutes.
Is this the Nations 3 belt system, (or some MB OE system?) I didn’t see any options for year or pulley size on the Nations site. Does one need to call them to work out the details?
 
Hey VanGoSki,
Yes, I did the install myself. I'm 63 and hate motor work, but really needed it so had to do it.

No AC line disassembly and no water hoses off.

Hard parts to do were:
1) breaking the fan loose...I used Lisle 43390 36mm wrench and Lisle 43370 rod. Tried impact but nothing...ended up just one blow with sledge did it.
Fan gets put on threaded extender to leave room for new pulley.
2) removing fan shroud....this is a real trick to wiggle and lift side to side to remove without taking any hoses off; wetting/soap the plastic really helps.
3) breaking the harmonic bal bolt loose...very little space between radiator to work. Tried all kinds of impact but nothing...ended up using a 3' Harbor Freight ICON 3/4" breaker bar w/socket.... pulled with both arms and finally moved. used same tool to replace the longer new bolt supplied in kit.

Wired with 4/0 to mid van battery bank.. used positive sense on Balmar to tighten voltage stops.

To be truthful: it was at my limit...bit scary to tear apart new (200mi) working Van. But keeping at it, finished all and super happy with it. When you put every bolt and wire in your build it sure is easy to debug when you have a problem.
Yes, the debuy (and little money) is the reason I am doing, or rather planning to do mine. I got the two belt system. I will carry an extra belt if it breaks. One question, did you run two 4/0 cables back, a positive and a negative? A 2/0 ground should do it though.
 

mikecol

Active member
Hi Zach,
The pulley sizes were picked by Nations. They did a good job. It is a balance between idle output current and the rpm limit of the alternator (need great bearings).

Hi johnplyler,
I ran a single 4/0 for the positive. The alternator mounting bolts and bracket are not perfect for the neg path. I added a small (maybe 3ft) 1/0 neg jumper from the alternator body to the vans frame (bolt on passenger side that is opposite the grounding point on the drivers side). This path takes some of the current so worth adding.
 

Top Bottom